The UFC is back in action this weekend, as the promotion is headed to Minneapolis for UFC on ESPN 3. With the card being aired on ESPN, the UFC was surely looking to book high level fights, and they sure succeeded. Two potential title eliminators, two under-the-radar, undefeated prospects, and some fun grapplers make this a must-see card. Below, we take a closer look at each of the main card fights, and what could be at stake for each man in each fight.
UFC on ESPN 3 Main Card
Alonzo Menifield vs. Paul Craig
Alonzo Menifield is one of the undefeated prospects that is fighting on this card. 8-0 with eight finishes, Menifield is starting to get on some people’s radars. The 31 year old striker was a two time winner on Dana White’s Contender Series, including an eight-second knockout victory, until he earned a UFC contract. In his promotional debut, Menifield knocked out Vinicius Moreira in the first round to remain undefeated. Across the octagon from Menifield will be Scotland’s Paul Craig, who knows a thing or two about beating undefeated prospects. “Bearjew” is the only loss on the records of Kennedy Nzechukwu and Magomed Ankalaev. Coming into the fight a sizable underdog, Craig will likely look to use his jiu-jitsu against a striker of Menifield’s caliber. This should be a great start to a fun night of fights.
Drew Dober vs. Marco Polo Reyes
The second fight on the main card is a battle between veteran lightweights Drew Dober and Marco Polo Reyes. Both men are coming into this fight looking to get back on the right track, as both are coming off of stoppage losses. Dober had his three fight win streak ended via second round submission to Beneil Dariush in March. Reyes was finished by Damir Hadzovic in February. Both guys have been involved in fights of the night in their career, and will be looking to deliver yet again on a big stage. In the deepest division in the UFC, neither guy can afford to drop a second straight fight if they plan on working their way into the lightweight rankings.
Roosevelt Roberts vs. Vinc Pichel
Roosevelt “The Predator” Roberts is the other undefeated prospect on this card, and he has been nothing short of impressive so far in his career. Sitting at 8-0, Roberts’ grappling has caught the attention of many fans in his three octagon appearances. He earned a contract following a submission win on the Contender Series, and submitted Darrell Horcher in his debut. Across from Roberts will be knockout artist Vinc Pichel. Pichel is returning from a year-long layoff, as he was last submitted by Gregor Gillespie last June. 4-2 in the UFC, Pichel will have his hands full with the grappling of Roberts. Roberts will likely look to get the fight to the ground and use his jiu-jitsu to remain undefeated and start a climb to the lightweight rankings.
Demian Maia vs. Anthony Rocco Martin
This fight is sure to deliver some very fun grappling exchanges. Demian Maia has only lost to the best of the welterweight division in his career. He is coming off of a very impressive rear-naked choke victory over Lyman Good in February. Anthony Rocco Martin is currently riding a four fight win streak, including a very impressive anaconda choke victory over Jake Matthews and a highlight reel headkick KO of Ryan LaFlare. He last defeated Sergio Moraes in March. Both guys are most comfortable when they are grappling, and that’s what makes this fight so interesting. Maia is definitely the better grappler of the two. Martin will probably look to keep the fight standing, but if he gets a chance to sink in a submission, he won’t pass it up. Don’t blink when this fight hits the floor.
Jussier Formiga vs. Joseph Benavidez
Speaking of fun grappling, this flyweight showdown will showcase plenty of that. Jussier Formiga and Joseph Benavidez are two of the most fun fighters in the division. The winner of this fight will undoubtedly get the next crack at the title against Henry Cejudo. Formiga is on a three fight win streak, as he last defeated the highly praised Deiveson Figueiredo via unanimous decision. Benavidez is 8-1 in his last nine fights, including a split decision victory over Cejudo. He last defeated Dustin Ortiz via decision. Each of these guys showed impressive grappling in their most recent fights. The scrambles and battles for position will be very fun in this one. With both guys looking to get a crack at the title, this has fight of the night written all over it.
Francis Ngannou vs. Junior dos Santos
This heavyweight main event is one that you will not want to miss. It pits the hardest hitter in the UFC against arguably the best boxer in the heavyweight division. The winner of this one will likely be the man to challenge the winner of Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight belt. Francis Ngannou has knocked out his last two opponents in a combined 1:11. Curtis Blaydes and former champion Cain Velasquez both fell victim to the unprecedented power of Ngannou. Junior dos Santos has been returning to his championship ways since he returned from his suspension. In his last two fights, “Cigano” knocked out both Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis in the second round. This fight was originally scheduled to take place in December 2017, but was scrapped due to JDS’s suspension. It was also scheduled to take place at UFC 239, but was moved up to main event this card. The five-round dynamic is an interesting change, and it is one that likely helps out dos Santos. This fight won’t be going to the floor, and it will be a battle between power and skill to see who gets the next shot at the heavyweight title.
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