Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Target Center last night (Sat., June 29, 2019) as UFC Fight Night 154 took place inside in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the headlining act, Francis Ngannou starched Junior dos Santos in a little over a minute to earn his third straight knockout win (highlights). Also, Joseph Benavidez went up 2-0 on Jussier Formiga, this time around knocking him out with a vicious head kick in the co-main event of the evening (see it).
Biggest Winner: Francis Ngannou
After suffering back-to-back losses to Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis, “The Predator” has returned to his old head-hunting ways, earning three straight knockouts against some pretty stiff competition. And it took him only a combined time of 142 seconds to dispose of Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez and dos Santos with his heavy hands.
By starching “Cigano,” Ngannou clearly moves to the top of the championship line, and will be a very interested observer when Daniel Cormier defends his title against Stipe Miocic at UFC 241. If Stipe wins, then “The Predator” gets a chance to avenge his championship loss to Miocic from two years ago. If Cormier wins and subsequently retires, then Francis will without a doubt be one half of the equation fighting for the vacant strap later this year. Either way, it’s a win-win situation for “The Predator,” who has reminded everyone just how dangerous he can really be.
Runner Up: Joseph Benavidez
Joseph Benavidez may have just earned his chance to prove that he is indeed better than current UFC champ-champ Henry Cejudo, as “Joe Jitsu” scored a spectacular head kick knockout over Jussier Formiga to earn his third straight win. Since Dana White recently revealed that the Flyweight division is sticking around, Joe now gets the chance to go up 2-0 on Cejudo, though when that will be remains to be seen.
That’s because he has the Bantamweights wondering “where his balls are,” which could entice the Olympic gold medalist to stay put at 135-pounds to silence the competition. Still, Benavidez faces a tough decision moving forward, as Henry will likely be out for the remainder of 2019, and could very well decide to defend his 135-pound strap, first. That means Joseph could be waiting from anywhere to six to nine months for the Cejudo rematch. He can also take a gamble and take another fight in the interim to stay busy, risking his title fight in the process. Still, it’s not a bad problem to have.
Biggest Loser: Junior Albini
We’re going to go way down to the very bottom of the “prelims” to find the fighter who lost most in Minnesota, as Albini has now dropped four in a row with his knockout loss to Maurice Greene. After making an impressive Octagon debut with a first round knockout over Timothy Johnson in 2017 to earn his tenth straight win, Junior’s steam quickly ran out, dropping four straight including three stoppage losses.
It’s not a good look for the 28-year old Brazilian, as he will now have to wait on pins and needles to see if UFC keeps him around much longer. Because at the end of the day, it’s one thing to keep Andrei Arlovksi around after five straight losses, it’s a whole other question when we’re talking about keeping a fighter around who hasn’t had an impact inside the Octagon whatsoever.
Get UFC on ESPN 3: “Ngannou vs dos Santos” play-by-play right here.