Francis Ngannou, you’ve gotten our full and undivided consideration as soon as once more.
Ngannou (14-Three) was essentially the most feared heavyweight on the planet going into 2018, however a five-round loss to then-champion Stipe Miocic that January (adopted by an entire no-show towards Derrick Lewis later that summer season) had “The Predator” wanting very human.
Properly, it is secure to say “scary Ngannou” is again. The French-African heavyweight demolished former champion Junior Dos Santos in 71 seconds at UFC Struggle Night time on Saturday in Minneapolis, good for his third first-round knockout in a row.
What’s subsequent for Ngannou, Dos Santos and the opposite large names of UFC Struggle Night time? This is ESPN’s take.
Francis Ngannou has made a powerful case for an additional heavyweight title shot, having recorded three straight first-round knockouts towards high-level competitors. Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Photos
Francis Ngannou, heavyweight
End result: Defeated Junior Dos Santos by way of first-round KO
Subsequent: Winner of Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic on Aug. 17
UFC president Dana White was noncommittal to a Ngannou title shot on Saturday, saying he must see how issues play out. And it’s true: There’s a lot to type out at heavyweight. What occurs within the Cormier-Miocic rematch? Will Cormier retire instantly after? Assuming Jon Jones remains to be mild heavyweight champion, does he slot in?
These are legitimate questions, and the UFC is keen on preserving its choices open — however come on, all roads result in a Ngannou title shot at this level, do not they?
Let’s play the choices out. Cormier wins on Aug. 17 and retires: Ngannou vs. Jones for the vacant heavyweight title, please. Miocic wins: Ngannou vs. Miocic 2, clearly. Cormier wins and decides to struggle once more: At this level, I would reasonably see Cormier struggle Ngannou than Jones for a 3rd time. With any of those eventualities, I am in on an Ngannou title shot.
Junior Dos Santos, heavyweight
End result: Misplaced to Francis Ngannou by way of first-round KO
Subsequent: Cain Velasquez
The UFC has loaded up one other pay-per-view card, that includes two title fights: Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos and Amanda Nunes vs. Holly Holm. Additionally, the favored Ben Askren takes on Jorge Masvidal, with potential title implications on the road at 170 kilos.
UFC 239: Jones vs. Santos
• Saturday, Las Vegas
• Early prelims: ESPN+ 6:15 p.m. ET
• Prelims: ESPN eight p.m. ET
• Foremost card: ESPN+ PPV 10 p.m. ET
Subscribe to ESPN+ to get unique dwell UFC occasions, weigh-ins and extra; Ariel and the Unhealthy Man; Dana White’s Contender Collection; and extra unique MMA content material.
This could be the worst, greatest thought I’ve ever had. On one hand, JDS vs. Velasquez four? Why on earth would we have to revisit that now?
However the extra I give it some thought, I lean extra towards: Why on earth not? Dos Santos had received three in a row earlier than Saturday, however let’s not sugarcoat issues. This was a really, very unhealthy outcome for the previous champ. Shedding on this trend, in 71 seconds, kills any momentum Dos Santos had. And with Velasquez, nobody may even present a straight reply as as to if or not he’ll even struggle once more. In different phrases, each of those all-time greats are at a low level.
Give Dos Santos day without work after the knockout, and perhaps discover this concept for early 2020. It could be a nostalgic experience for longtime MMA followers, revisiting among the finest matchups within the historical past of the heavyweight division — and it truly would go a good distance in rebuilding the winner.
End result: Defeated Jussier Formiga by way of second-round TKO
Subsequent: Henry Cejudo
That is actual easy. No must overanalyze the scenario. Joseph Benavidez has mainly been the true No. 1 contender at flyweight for years. His profession went sideways in 2013, when he suffered his second loss to the division’s dominant champion, Demetrious Johnson.
Since then, all Benavidez has performed is win 9 of 10 (towards the most effective of the burden class). His solely loss throughout that stretch was a cut up determination, in his first look after reconstructive knee surgical procedure in 2017. And oh, yet another factor — he has a win over Cejudo, from 2016.
The truth that Cejudo is a champion in two weight lessons and sidelined with harm complicates issues a bit, however even No. 1 bantamweight contender Aljamain Sterling has come out and stated he’ll fortunately give Benavidez the primary crack at Cejudo as soon as he is wholesome, as a result of he deserves it. That basically tells you all it’s worthwhile to know.
End result: Defeated Anthony Rocco Martin by way of majority determination
Subsequent: Diego Sanchez
Maia requested for Sanchez postfight, and I am unable to provide you with a single cause towards it. He additionally talked about his subsequent struggle could be his final.
The UFC likes to ebook guys like Maia towards up-and-comers, to provide them a check and construct their title. But when Maia is admittedly searching for a retirement struggle at this level, he is earned the precise to have a say in who it is towards. Sanchez faces Michael Chiesa subsequent week at UFC 239. Win or lose, if he is keen to face Maia subsequent, it is sensible to me.
End result: Defeated Paul Craig by way of first-round TKO
Subsequent: Devin Clark
Add Menifield to the rising listing of recent expertise at 205 kilos, which could be essentially the most welcome improvement the UFC has seen in years. Gentle heavyweight has been in determined want of latest faces, and it is lastly getting them with the emergence of Menifield, Dominick Reyes, Johnny Walker, Corey Anderson and others.
Menifield remains to be comparatively untested, however his potential is clear and the extent of competitors he is confronted is respectable (mixed file of 48-15). A top-15 opponent is not far off, however a lot of the ranked mild heavyweights are already booked. Preserve Menifield busy, maintain giving him expertise. Clark can be coming off a win earlier this month and is an acceptable subsequent step for the undefeated Menifield.