This Saturday (June 29, 2019), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels to Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., for UFC on ESPN 3. In the main event, Heavyweight knockout artists Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos will settle their mild beef with major punches. The co-main event features a Flyweight title eliminator, and generally the event has interesting match ups throughout. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main card fights!
Remember: Later in the week, MMAmania.com’s Jesse Holland will preview and predict the main- and co-main events.
Lightweight: Roosevelt Roberts vs. Vinc Pichel
Best Win for Roberts? Darrell Horcher For Pichel? Anthony Njokuani
Current Streak: Roberts is undefeated with two UFC wins, while Pichel came up short last time out
X-Factor: Pichel’s underrated knockout power
How these two match up: This is classic prospect vs. veteran matchmaking as well.
Roberts is far earlier in his UFC career than Martin, but the Lightweight has shown plenty of talent. Well-rounded with sneaky chokes, Roberts pushes a hard pace while seeming plenty comfortable wherever the fight goes. Pichel is a bit more straightforward in his approach: “From Hell” combines a wrestling background and good physicality to bully opponents, but he’s also shown moments of great skill, such as his counter uppercut knockout of Damien Brown.
Pichel is a solid test for Roberts, likely the toughest opponent of his career. It’s also a winnable fight, as Pichel tends to succeed because of toughness and strength. At this point in the game, that’s something a serious Lightweight prospect should be able to deal with.
In addition, the 11-year age difference is a big advantage for Roberts. Maybe Pichel scores a couple early takedowns or lands some hard shots in the first, but will Pichel be able to maintain that pace against a younger, faster opponent? It doesn’t seem likely.
Prediction: Roberts via decision
Lightweight: Drew Dober vs. Marco Polo Reyes
Best Win for Dober? Frank Camacho For Reyes? Matt Frevola
Current Streak: A single loss for each
X-Factor: Reyes’ punching power
How these two match up: It’s time for a slugfest.
Dober has grown a lot over the years. When he first joined the roster, I would’ve struggled to describe what his actual strengths were. Now, Dober is a high-volume kickboxer who has learned to sit down on his punches, and though he still struggles with grapplers, Dober’s offense takedowns have improved considerable.
Reyes is a simple fighter. The Mexican athlete is tough in a brawl and throws serious heat behind his shots. There’s nothing crazy complex about his game, but quick combinations of hard punches can take a fighter pretty far.
There’s a chance Dober gets creamed by Reyes. He’s never been impossible to hit, and Dober’s high rate of activity means there will be opportunities for Reyes to land. Generally, when Reyes lands, fighters fall.
Dober is just better though. His kickboxing is more refined, his offensive wrestling will always be an option, and Dober is far more consistent across three rounds. Perhaps most important given Reyes’ general path to victory — Dober has shown an excellent chin inside the Octagon, surviving plenty of wild brawls without getting place on his butt.
Prediction: Dober via decision
Light Heavyweight: Alonzo Menifield vs. Paul Craig
Best Win for Menifield? Vinicius Moreira For Craig? Magomed Ankalaev
Current Streak: Menifield recently won his UFC debut to improve his record to 8-0, while Craig scored another late submission to get back in the win column
X-Factor: This whole fight is an X-Factor
How these two match up: Here we go again.
Alonzo Menifield is a monster of a man, a living chart of human musculature. As one would expect, he’s thoroughly battered each of his opponents with relative ease, but he also hasn’t fought anyone particularly challenging. Enter Paul Craig, the perfect opponent for these Light Heavyweight prospects who need to be kept on their toes. Craig’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu is pretty excellent, but his kickboxing is rushed and his wrestling is downright atrocious to witness.
Once more, we have two very clear possibilities. In the first, Menifield absolutely smashes Craig in the opening minutes, punishing his poor kickboxing and finishing him when Craig pulls guard. In the other, Craig survives those early exchanges, Menifield’s muscles fail to get enough Oxygen, and a tired Menifield falls into a triangle choke late in the fight.
Ankalaev is probably a better fighter than Menifield, and it happened to him, so there’s a real risk that Menifield’s hype dies on Saturday. At the same time, Menifield has the type of power that simply melts opponents. When Menifield connects — and he will — I have a hard time seeing Craig recover.
Prediction: Menifield via knockout
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live UFC on ESPN 3 results on fight night, which is as good a place as any to talk about all the action inside the Octagon, as well as what you’ve got riding on the sportsbook.
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