Junior dos Santos didn’t look like a top-level boxer in the UFC on ESPN 3 headliner. It’s fine to miss with big punches, but you never leave yourself vulnerable and show a guy your back. It was like he was trying to match Francis Ngannou’s power with a wild shot that was nowhere close to landing. And it’s not very surprising that a guy with Ngannou’s timing and power took advantage of that and floored the vaunted MMA boxer.
In just 71 seconds, Ngannou made himself the clear-cut leader to get the winner of Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic’s rematch. I’m sure JDS will watch this back and be extremely mad at himself for such an undisciplined decision. He was totally fine as soon as the fight was over. But the mental anguish might be way worse than any physical pain he suffered at the hands of Ngannou, because he’s probably never getting another shot at the gold after that.
- Jussier Formiga has been on the cusp of a flyweight title shot for a long time, and something or someone has always derailed it. Tonight, it was Joseph Benavidez that tripped him up. We got to see some great scrambles, which has come to be expected from these two men. But at the end of the second round Benavidez found Formiga’s chin with a head kick, and then he showed off some great killer instinct to finish him off. If flyweight is still a thing, give this man to Henry Cejudo when he’s healthy again in 2020. After all, Joe B. already owns a win over Triple C.
- Demian Maia has always been one of my favorite fighters and I’m a bit of an apologist for him. He used his vaunted grappling to take the first two rounds against Anthony Rocco Martin. But true to form for a guy with cardio issues, Maia largely just ran away in the third to secure a decision. He won, cool. But that was not pretty, and at 41, it wasn’t a good look either.
- I liked Vinc Pichel’s decision win over a game Roosevelt Roberts. His grappling has improved by leaps and bounds over his time in the UFC and instead of slugging it out, he went to that in the third round of a pretty even fight. And it worked. He’s now won five of his last six fights in the UFC and deserves a step up in competition.
- Drew Dober has been looking for a signature win, and he got it against Marco Polo Reyes. Reyes really did his best to get back into the fight after getting dropped early, but Dober wasn’t accepting that and he iced Reyes in just 67 seconds.
- Alonzo Menifield looks to have a real future at 205. To be fair it’s probably the thinnest division in MMA, but he has fight-stopping power in his hands, decent fight IQ, and some charisma on the mic. Paul Craig got a little too fancy and got toasted early.
- The undercard largely delivered in terms of action. Maurice Greene iced Junior Albini early in the opener. Albini initially looked like he could hang in the UFC, but apparently not. Amanda Ribas’ grappling was too much for Emily Whitmire. Dalcha Lungiambula put it on Dequan Townsend and finished him late. Jared Gordon was relentless and picked up an important win over Dan Moret. Eryk Anders looked to be in a bit of trouble right off the bat, but showed off his power and vanquished Vinicius Moreira just 78 seconds into their light heavyweight fight. And in the featured prelims fight, Ricardo Ramos grinded out a decision over Journey Newson. It wasn’t that great, but a win’s a win.