The UFC is off to Minnesota this weekend for another exciting UFC on ESPN card. Francis Ngannou vs Junior Dos Santos looms as a tasty main event, while Jussier Formiga vs Joseph Benavidez will decide the #1 Flyweight contender. We’ll analyse and provide our best bet for the top 3 fights on this card.
Despite being relatively new to MMA, the 32-year-old from Cameroon has made quite the name for himself. He sports a 13-3 career record, beating Velasquez, Overeem, and Arlovski in the process. Known primarily as a knockout specialist, all of his wins have been finishes.
Junior Dos Santos
The Brazilian veteran lines up for another main event fight, sporting a 21-5 career record. He has been in strong recent form, winning 4 of his last 5 fights and getting consecutive early knockouts. Another very powerful man, 15 of his 21 wins are by submission.
Prediction: Ngannou by KO
While Dos Santos is a strong opponent, he hasn’t faced anyone of Ngannou’s quality of late. Ngannou looked excellent in his bout with Cain Velasquez, delivering yet another excellent early KO. For a bit of extra value, I like the win by KO market for Ngannou, who is rarely pushed to a decision.
The Brazilian has been in excellent recent form, moving to 23-5 and becoming a top flyweight contender. He has won each of his last 4 fights very comfortably, beating tough opponents like Pettis and Figueiredo. 10 of his wins are by submission, indicative of his quality on the ground.
The 34-year-old American veteran is one of the best UFC fighters to never win a title. He sports an excellent 27-5 career record, however 2 losses to Demetrious Johnson ultimately proved catastrophic. Benavidez has an excellent all-around game, with 16 of his 27 wins coming via finish.
Prediction: Benavidez to Win $1.55
This fight means a lot to Benavidez and could represent his last legitimate chance at a title shot. He is one of the more underrated fighters in this division and I believe he has a strong technical edge over Formiga here. I think a decision win is likely, but $1.55 is a decent enough price for a straight up win.
One of the best UFC Jiu-Jitsu fighters of all time, Maia sports a strong 26-9 career record. He had an excellent 7-fight win streak before a title loss to Tyron Woodley really halted his career. With an incredible 13 submissions to his name, Maia is someone you just can’t give your back to.
‘Rocco’ enters this one in solid form, sporting a 16-4 career record. He has comfortably won each of his last 4 fights, rarely looking troubled in any of them. With 9 wins by submission, he is also very much a ground game specialist.
Prediction: Maia by Submission/Points
Even if you consider yourself a ground-game specialist, chances are that Demian Maia will outclass you on the ground. I expect both of these fighters to try and take this fight to the ground, where Maia simply has better technical quality. It’s all over if Maia can take his back and I think a submission win is most likely here.