Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is expected to produce the next contender for the heavyweight title when Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos collide in the UFC on ESPN 3 main event, which takes place this Sat. night (June 29, 2019) inside Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Check out the finalized fight card right here.
Ngannou (13-3) came up short in his bid to capture the crown when Stipe Miocic took him to school at UFC 220. “The Predator” graduated cum laude with a degree in five-round cardio, then laid an egg in his rebound fight against Derrick Lewis.
Since then, the 32 year-old Cameroonian was able to regain some of his earlier momentum by starching Curtis Blaydes at UFC Beijing, then followed that up by turning Cain Velasquez into heavyweight origami at UFC Phoenix.
As for Dos Santos (21-5), he also went down in flames against Miocic when they ran it back at UFC 211, but just like his UFC Minneapolis rival, bounced back with a couple of big wins, including back-to-back finishes over Tai Tuivasa and the aforementioned Lewis.
The Brazilian may be 35 at this stage of his combat sports career, but he’s been throwing hands like the old “Cigano” and will no doubt remain a threat wherever the fight goes. Simply put, this titanic tilt features the top two dogs in the heavyweight division.
A title shot seems inevitable.
That’s why I’m rooting for Daniel Cormier, who will defend his 265-pound strap against Miocic when they rematch at UFC 241 this August in Anaheim. “DC” has yet to face either Ngannou or Dos Santos and original programming is always more appealing than reruns.
Plus we have this fun little piece of history.
I’m sure the fighters feel differently and rightly so. The opportunity to avenge a loss, particularly when they are as one-sided as Miocic’s trouncing of both Ngannou and Dos Santos, are motivating factors for any prize fighter worth his salt.
It’s why Cormier, despite his hall-of-fame career, still yearns for a Jones trilogy.
Hopefully, the Olympian doesn’t flip the script and retire after UFC 241. I’m not sure the promotion would give Miocic a title shot coming off two straight losses, and that would leave the winner of Ngannou vs. Dos Santos with no one to fight for the vacant crown.
Unless Jon Jones jumped up in weight to claim the title of “champ champ.”
Still lot of moving pieces to this 265-pound puzzle, but the heavyweight division feels fun again. Let’s just hope nothing stupid happens, like a low-blow foul that ends the fight prematurely, or a wacky five-round draw that keeps the division on hold.
We’ll find out in less than 48 hours.