Francis Ngannou made quick work of former champion Junior dos Santos at UFC on ESPN 3 on Saturday night in Minneapolis, Minn., cementing his claim to another shot at the UFC heavyweight championship.
Ngannou started strong, landing a couple of hard leg kicks to dos Santos’ lead leg, but the Brazilian seemed to get back into the fight, briefly putting Ngannou on the canvas by clipping him with a low kick.
As the tide tends to turn on the stop of a dime in the heavyweight division, it did in Minneapolis. Dos Santos moved in, but Ngannou caught him with a right hand that caused him to drop to the canvas. Ngannou followed him down, landing a hammerfist and followed with several more punches, forcing referee Herb Dean to step in and wave off the fight.
And just like that, at 1:11 of the first round, Ngannou easily positioned himself as the only contender to the UFC heavyweight title, which is on the line at UFC 241 on Aug. 17 in Anaheim, Calif.
While champion Daniel Cormier has hinted at finally walking away from the sport after his rematch with former champ Stipe Miocic at UFC 241, a showdown with Ngannou, whom he has never fought, might prove too tempting.
“Of course, it gives me some confidence, but of course, I already had some confidence. I believe I am the best boxer in the UFC heavyweight division,” Ngannou said after the fight, calling for his shot at the belt.
“I think the only thing left now is the winner of Stipe Miocic and DC. I deserve some respect. I deserve some respect.”
— UFC (@ufc) June 30, 2019
Joseph Benavidez stops Jussier Formiga to regain top spot in the UFC flyweight division
Joseph Benavidez regained his position as the top flyweight contender on Saturday, as he overcame a strong start by Jussier Formiga.
While the two went toe-to-toe throughout their UFC on ESPN 3 co-main event, Formiga struck early, opening a cut around Benavidez’s left eye, forcing him to be distracted by the blood trickling down into his eye.
Formiga took Benavidez’s back in the second frame, but there is a reason for the Joe Jitsu nickname. Benavidez escaped the position and unloaded on his feet, rocking Formiga and sending him reeling. Benanvidez continued to unload until the referee stepped in and called a halt to the fight.
Formiga was the top 125-pounder without a belt coming into the fight, but Benavidez regained that designation, earning the TKO stoppage at 4:47 of the second round.
The Dapper Scrapper!
— UFC (@ufc) June 30, 2019
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Demian Maia wins again, keeps setting records
UFC welterweight Demian Maia maintained his position as the top grappler in the sport and one of the longest reigning contenders in the division.
Maia out-grappled Anthony Rocco Martin in the first two rounds, but Martin rocked him in the third, staggering Maia with a right hand. The Brazilian again pulled the fight to the canvas, where he was able to finish the round without skipping a beat.
Maia earned the majority decision, which put him in sole position of second place for most victories in UFC history with 21 victories, only two behind Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.