Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its presence known to Minneapolis, Minn., last night (Sat., June 29, 2019) for UFC on ESPN 3. Like many of the FOX events that preceded it, Heavyweights headlined last night’s event on prime time television. The combined punching power of Ngannou and dos Santos made for an intriguing main event, but all-in-all, there was a fair amount of talent throughout the card.
Let’s take a look at the best techniques and performances of the night!
Francis Ngannou Claims Another Soul
There were reasons to pick Junior dos Santos ahead of his latest main event slot.
His boxing is — on paper — more technically proficient. “Cigano” had some momentum behind him, a solid three-fight win streak. Perhaps most crucially, dos Santos had a massive experience edge on “The Predator,” both in general terms and in five-round fights against elite competition.
None of it mattered. Immediately, Ngannou set the tone with a pair of brutal low kicks, letting dos Santos know that this would be no staring contest nor would any free jabs be allowed. “JDS” kicked back, which was smart, but when he committed to an overhand — his first of the fight — he fell forward. It was not dissimilar to Alistair Overeem’s awkward lunge against Ngannou, as the two were clipped while off-balance because of strikes of their own initiative.
It’s a terrifying situation for the rest of the division: Ngannou hits so unbelievably hard that he’s making the most experienced Heavyweight strikers on the roster trip over their own feet in apprehension. Bet against that man at your own peril!
Benavidez Batters Formiga
Joseph Benavidez has been making his case for another title shot since 2013.
In that time, Benavidez has picked up nine wins in 10 attempts, only losing a split-decision following an ACL surgery and 18-month layoff. He handed Henry Cejudo his most recent loss. There is no one who deserves to face Cejudo next more — certainly not any of the fights Cejudo has been calling for.
Last night, all the things that make Benavidez a great fighter were on display. Against the premier back-taker in his division, Benavidez instantly scrambled into top position twice from threatening positions. On the feet, Benavidez tied together crafty combinations while shifting between stances. Making it even more difficult for Formiga, Benavidez switched targets masterfully, ripping into the calf, liver, and throwing heat towards his opponent’s jaw.
Every time something landed, it hurt.
The high kick and following flurry were classic Benavidez as well, proof that “Beefcake” still has all the skills necessary to contend for a world title. Let’s see it happen!
‘Ya Boi’ Gets A Win
Eryk Anders entered last night’s bout in a pretty desperate situation.
His last three fights have been disastrous. Thiago Santos battered him to a third-round stoppage in a fun fight, but Elias Theodorou won a strange split-decision that was frustrating to watch — Anders could have done a lot more. Finally, Anders was surprised by the sudden Muay Thai-stylings of Khalil Rountree Jr. and his trip to Thailand, which saw Roundtree kick Anders’ leg across the cage a dozen times.
In this do-or-die moment, Anders thrived. Vinicius Castro came out and wrestled hard, snatching up a single and attempting a lot of different finishes to the shot. Anders did a great job of technically defending and using his powerful hips to both deny the shot and escape the hold. As soon as he was free, Anders dropped a massive left hand on the Brazilian’s jaw that leveled Castro.
It was smart, violent work from Anders, who is still early in his career. Hopefully, he can recover fully from that string of defeats and reach his full potential at 205 pounds.
- Drew Dober defeats Marco Polo Reyes via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): At some point in the last few years, Dober learned how to sit down on his punches, and the results have been pretty tremendous. Rather than being a high-volume fighter who relies on the judges, Dober has been seating opponents more and more often. That trend continued last night, as Dober simply overwhelmed Reyes with combinations of power punches to put him away quickly.
- Alonzo Menifield defeats Paul Craig via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): There’s not a ton to discuss here. Craig kicked and clinched in the opening minutes, denying his foe many opportunities to land but failing to accomplish much himself. When Craig attempted a spin kick, however, Menifield side-stepped the blow and crashed into the grappler. As Craig fell to the mat, Menifield dive-bombed him with a massive right hand that shut off the lights.
- Dalcha Lungiambula defeats Dequan Townsend via third-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): Lungiambula is a fighter to watch at 205 pounds. The muscular Judoka showcased extreme explosiveness, flying forward with both punches and chains of takedowns. He’s definitely rough around the edges from a technical stand point, but his combination of strength and speed already makes him a threat to much of the division already. After two rounds of top control, Lungiambula absolutely blasted Townsend with a pair of rolling hooks to end the fight.
- Amanda Ribas defeats Emily Whitmire via second-round rear naked choke (HIGHLIGHTS): It’s been three years since Ribas last competed, but you wouldn’t know it from her performance last night. Ribas immediately went after Whitmire, closing distance into the clinch before jumping into the back mount. She spent a majority of the fight in that position, eventually finding her way under the chin to secure the finish. It was a great win for the 25-year-old, whose post-fight interview was very endearing.
- Maurice Greene defeats Junior Albini via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): Despite generally low expectations for this bout, this was a fun slugfest. Early on, Albini found success in walking through Greene’s kicks and stinging him with the left hook, but Greene sat down on a pair of long crosses that hurt “Baby” badly. The Brazilian managed to regain his footing and return the favor by stunning Greene with a big overhand, but this momentum shift would not last. Just moments later, Greene dropped an overhand of his own into Albini’s chin, sending the giant man-baby to the mat in a heap.
For complete UFC on ESPN 3 ‘Ngannou vs. Dos Santos’ results and play-by-play, click HERE!