UFC: Ngannou vs Dos Santos Preview
By Alex Conway
The UFC is headed to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a fight night event tonight on ESPN.
The main event is a heavyweight slobberknocker featuring former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos against the heaviest hitter in the UFC, Francis Ngannou.
The co-main is a showdown between the top fighters in the dwindling flyweight division, Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga.
The feature bout is a welterweight clash between Demian Maia and Anthony Rocco Martin.
Ngannou vs. dos Santos
The main event is a battle between two men who have had to rebound from less than stellar times coming off title fight losses to Stipe Miocic.
Ngannou has won two in a row over Curtis Blaydes and Cain Velasquez, with both fights ending within seconds of beginning via Ngannou’s unworldly knockout power, and dos Santos has a three-fight streak over Blagoy Ivanov, Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis.
Junior dos Santos is the more skilled fighter, but he doesn’t always fight carefully, which is a recipe for disaster against a guy like Ngannou, who only needs one strike to end the night.
I’m putting my money on dos Santos circling in and out, using his jab and then getting restless and running into something heavy from Ngannou inside the first round, and that’ll be all she wrote.
Junior dos Santos wins this fight, right up until he doesn’t and Ngannou gets his hand raised by the referee.
Benavidez vs. Formiga
This fight was a lot more exciting when it had stakes attached to it, but now that flyweight king Henry Cejudo is also the bantamweight champ and had shoulder surgery that could keep him out the rest of the year, it’s hard to tell what this rematch does for whoever wins.
Benavidez has proven he can beat everybody in the flyweight division not named Demetrious Johnson (and Sergio Pettis), while Formiga has slowly filled the holes in his game that left him vulnerable earlier.
Formiga has tightened up his striking defense and has a little bit better output on the offensive end on the feet. But on the ground is where he really shines. I doubt he can get it there, but he would surely be at an advantage there.
I’m predicting a bit of an upset here in that I think Formiga does enough to upset Benavidez by surprising him on the feet, and winning a few grappling exchanges against the fence to take the fight on points.
Maia vs. Martin
Anthony Rocco Martin has been on a run, even if hardly anybody knows about it.
He’s own four in a row including finishes over Ryan LaFlare and Jake Matthews and he won his last fight decision against world class BJJ player Sergio Moraes.
Moraes isn’t on the same level of Maia, but Martin has proven he can stay out of danger against someone with a similar style, and he’s shown good power on the feet.
At some point Maia is going to show up and look old. Maia is a guy that can beat everybody below the A+ level, but he’s also 41 and it’s about time for some decay in his game.
I think this is the fight where we begin to see the slide, and Martin gets a career defining win via points due to a distinct striking advantage on the feet.