UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis looking to spoil Mark Hunt's homecoming at UFC Fight Night in Auckland

Lewis has a pro record of 18 wins, 4 losses  (Getty file)
Lewis has a pro record of 18 wins, 4 losses (Getty file)

The last thing UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis foresaw in his professional career was a journey to the depths of the southern hemisphere for a potential milestone fight.

But that's exactly where the Louisiana native finds himself as he eyes a June 12th date in the octagon with New Zealand's Mark Hunt at the UFC Fight Night in Auckland.

"The only thing I know about New Zealand is the rugby team – the 'Black Skins' or the 'Black Shirts' or something like that?" Lewis told Newshub.

However the 32-year-old's intentions are much more sinister than mere sightseeing, looking to pit his explosive punching power against Hunt's in what will be a seismic collision of raw brute force.

Both Lewis and Hunt care little for the finer arts of grappling or jiu-jitsu and the expectation for their main event should be nothing less than a square-up slugfest.

It's the very reason Lewis asked for the South Aucklander by name following his emphatic knock-out of the future Mr Ronda Rousey, Travis Browne, back in February.

"It's just stylistic. Mark Hunt comes forward, he doesn't make it a boring fight and he'll bring out the better fighter in myself."

And the parallels between these two heavyweights extend well beyond the cage.

Lewis, much like Hunt, was raised in a cocoon of violence amid impossibly impoverished circumstances, enduring daily beatings from his stepfather who was equally belligerent towards his mother.

They were undoubtedly dark times, but Lewis also believes they were ultimately responsible for shaping him into a hard-nosed competitor.

"Going through a 20 minute fight is easier than going through all the stuff I went through as a child…it all adds to the mental.

"I believe it really gave me strength."

The teenager and his mother eventually fled to Texas found a positive outlet for his anger at a local gym where he dabbled with both boxing and MMA before opting, much to the disappointment of his trainers, to commit to the latter.

It was during a three and a half year prison stay for aggravated assault - a result of self-defense when pursed by the ex-husband of his then girlfiend - when Lewis genuinely found his focus and committed himself wholeheartedly to the sport.

UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis looking to spoil Mark Hunt's homecoming at UFC Fight Night in Auckland

Now 23 professional fights deep and amid a six-fight win streak, Lewis is at ease and allowing his true character to shine through – earning himself a legion of new fans and near cult status for his post-fight antics on the microphone.

In the interview immediately following his win over Browne, Lewis blamed the clutching at his stomach during the fight as a result of a need to "doo-doo", before asking "where's Rousey's fine a*s at?" after making a blatant jibe at his opponent's alleged history of domestic violence.

Lewis insists he's simply being himself.

"I'm way more comfortable than I was at the beginning of my career – everyone gets to see the real me now.

"I don't care what people say. They booed Jesus - they hated Jesus."

At 1.91m tall and weighing in at over 120kg, The Black Beast' certainly isn't intimidated by the prospect of fighting in enemy territory, almost inviting the hostility which likely awaits him as he steps into the heart of Hunt country.

"I expect the crowd to come out and boo me and throw bananas and stuff like that. But I'm used to all of that – it's fun.

"I want them to go out there and cheer for him, he deserves it. He's a legend in the sport and they should be going out there and cheering for their hero.

"I'm pretty sure he's like Michael Jordan out there in New Zealand."

With the UFC's heavyweight division talent pool thinner than ever it only takes a couple of convincing wins to move within the realm of title contention, and the American's win streak has him right on the cusp of a shot at current champion Stipe Miocic.

And he's not looking to take his time with Hunt, determined to make the long expedition south worthwhile.

"Hopefully I can get him out of there first or second round, the fight will be over with before it goes to a decision.

"It's going to be a 20-something hour flight out there to you guys, you guys already live on the next day so it's going to be a long ride home if things don’t go my way.

"I'm going out there preparing for war…kill or be killed."