If we are being honest, some UFC Fight Night cards are rather weak because there are only so many quality fighters in the organization and they can’t fight once a month. Most top UFC guys fight no more than three times a year. It’s an incredibly dangerous sport, so guys shouldn’t be in the Octagon too often.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
All that said, this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night headliner from the Target Center in Minneapolis is one of the best we may see all year outside of a main UFC event. It features rising star and top heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou against former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. Ngannou is a -260 favorite with dos Santos priced at +200.
Well, that’s if the fight actually happens. The two were originally to fight at UFC 215, but dos Santos was pulled from the card due to a potential doping violation. They were scheduled to fight again at UFC 239 but moved to this card as the headliner after the original main event, a welterweight fight between Tyron Woodley and Robbie Lawler, was scrapped due to a Woodley injury. Got all that?
The 32-year-old Ngannou (13-3), a Cameroonian/Frenchman who now lives in the USA, is No. 2 in the heavyweight division behind champion Daniel Cormier and No. 1 Stipe Miocic. “The Predator” fought for the title at UFC 220 in January 2018 against Miocic and closed as a -190 favorite but had a 10-fight winning streak snapped in a unanimous decision loss. Ngannou’s star was lessened further when he lost next time out at UFC 226 by another unanimous decision to Derrick Lewis.
However, Ngannou has bounced back with a first-round TKO (punches) win over Curtis Blaydes and then a hugely impressive first-round knockout (punches) of former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in February to get back in the title picture. None of Ngannou’s 13 wins have gone to the judges.
Dos Santos (21-5), a 35-year-old from Brazil, won the heavyweight belt in 2011 by beating Velasquez by first-round knockout (punches) and defended it with a second-round TKO of MMA legend Frank Mir. Dos Santos lost the belt at UFC 155 in a rematch against Velasquez, lost another title rematch against Velasquez at UFC 166 and lost his last title shot against Miocic at UFC 211.
“Cigano” has since risen to No. 3 in the division with wins over Blagoy Ivanov, Tai Tuivasa and Lewis. The latter was in March and ended by second-round TKO (punches). Fifteen of dos Santos’ 21 wins are by knockout or TKO. He hasn’t been a betting underdog since the Miocic fight.