Derrick Lewis is REALLY excited for the opportunity to fight Daniel Cormier at UFC 230 next month ... but tells TMZ Sports he's shocked Stipe Miocic didn't get first crack at the heavyweight champ.
The Black Beast was rockin' his The Money Team hat -- because "I'm getting that money now!" -- and told us he's super happy to sign his fight contract.
But, Lewis said he's not just there to get a check, he really believes he can win -- because he carried the more powerful punch and he's got more heart than D.C.
"I'm going there to win, especially at Madison Square Garden," Lewis told us.
That's when Lewis brought up Stipe -- the guy Cormier beat for the heavyweight title back in July -- and told us he was confused as to why Stipe didn't get a rematch with D.C. first.
"I believe that Stipe really deserved the shot since he was the champion for a while ... I don't know why they gave it to me before they gave it to Stipe."
When asked if he thought Stipe was more deserving of a title shot right now, Lewis replied, "Yes. For sure."
As for Miocic, he has vowed to get his belt back -- one way or another.