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UFC on ESPN 3: Ngannou vs dos Santos - Odds and Predictions

Written by: Ryan Bristlon
Updated October 14, 2022
6 min read

How to Watch

Where: Target Center – Minneapolis, MN.

When: Saturday, June 29, 9PM EST


Francis Ngannou (13-3) vs Junior dos Santos (21-5) – Heavyweight division

These two behemoths were originally set to face each other one week later at the UFC 239 card on July 6 that will be headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Thiago Santos. But when Tyron Woodley pulled out of the original main event for this card with Robbie Lawlor, this fight was promoted to main event status and neither of these knockout artists seem to mind the change to their schedule as the winner of this fight is likely to receive the next crack at the heavyweight title.

Francis Ngannou, 32, tore through the UFC heavyweight rankings with stoppage after stoppage, ultimately landing him a title fight against then-champion Stipe Miocic. It was in that fight where Ngannou’s lack of grappling skill was exposed. He lost to Stipe and all eyes were on his next bout with fellow knockout king Derrick Lewis. The fight was lackluster as both men seemed tentative to engage ultimately out of respect for each other’s power. Lewis took a decision victory. Ngannou did, however, bounce back in a big way following his back-to-back loses with a first-round TKO victory over Curtis Blaydes. Ngannou then made it two victories in a row on when he fought a returning Cain Velasquez on February 17. Ngannou stunned the world and knocked out Velasquez just 26 seconds into the first round. Although some saw it as controversial, as Velasquez seemed to blow his knee out, there is no doubt that a hard uppercut from Ngannou caused Cain to fall the way that he did.

”The Predator” stands at 6 feet, 4 inches tall and has a reach of 83 inches. The Cameroonian, who now lives in Las Vegas and trains regularly at the UFC Performance Center, also fights out of Paris, France where he works with the MMA Factory. He is mostly known for his boxing technique but has been adamant about how his ground game has improved after the wake up call that was the Stipe Miocic fight. He is officially ranked number two in the UFC heavyweight division.

Junior dos Santos 35, went through a rough patch of his own following his title fight against Stipe Miocic in 2017. Dos Santos was scheduled to fight Ngannou following that loss but when flagged and later suspended by USADA for what was later proven to be the accidental ingestion of performance-enhancing drugs due to a tainted supplement. Dos Santos was cleared to return in 2018 where he has looked better than ever, stringing together a three-fight winning streak that includes victories over Blagoy Ivanov, Tai Tuivasa, and most recently, a second-round TKO over Derrick Lewis on March 9.

”Cigano”, like Ngannou, stands at 6 feet, 4 inches tall, but sacrifices six inches in reach to Ngannou as he possesses a reach of 77 inches. Active in MMA since 2006, dos Santos fights out of Brazil and also works with American Top Team in Florida. He trains boxing and capoeira under coach Luiz Dorea and has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Yuti Carlton. He is ranked just behind Ngannou at number three.

Bet on UFC on ESPN 3 here, if you are in New Jersey:

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Jussier Formiga (23-5) vs Joseph Benavidez (27-5) – Flyweight division

Jussier Formiga, 34, comes into this matchup of a four-fight winning streak. Formiga last fought on March 23 where he defeated Deiveson Figueiredo via unanimous decision. Prior to that, he won another unanimous decision over Sergio Pettis. His last loss was in 2017 and one of the five losses in his MMA record was to his opponent Joseph Benavidez.

The Brazilian Jussier Formiga stands at 5 feet, 5 inches tall. He has a reach of 67 inches. Formiga has recently moved most of his training out of Brazil and over to Coconut Creek, Florida and the American Top Team gym. He has black belts in both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo. With four wins in a row, the UFC has him ranked at number one in the flyweight division.

As mentioned earlier, Joseph Benavidez, 34, already holds a win over Jussier Formiga – but that was all the way back in 2013 and a lot has changed for both fighters since then. Benavidez is 3-1 in his last four fights. The loss came against a man Formiga defeated- Sergio Pettis. But one of those victories came over current champ-champ (and gold medalist) Henry Cejudo. Benavidez’s last fight came on January 19 where he fought and defeated Dustin Ortiz via unanimous decision.

The US born Benavidez comes in one inch shorter than Formiga at 5 feet, 4 inches tall. His reach is 65 inches meaning that Formiga will also have a two inch advantage in reach. Benavidez was once associated with the team Alpha Male gym in Sacramento, California but has recently left them in the rearview following multiple controversies. He has a brown prajied in muay thai under Duane “Bang” Ludwig. He is currently ranked at number two in the flyweight rankings.

Sportsbook Formiga, Jussier Benavidez, Joseph Link
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Demian Maia (26-9) vs Anthony Rocco Martin (16-4) – Welterweight division

World-renowned grappler Demian Maia, 41, steps back into the octagon for the first time since his last fight on February 2 against Lyman Good. In that fight, Maia earned a much needed first-round stoppage victory via rear-naked choke submission. Prior to his victory earlier this year, Maia had dropped three fights in a row, but few could hold that against him as he dropped three decision victories in a row: one to then-champion Tyron Woodley, one to now interim champion Colby Covington, and one to current champion Kamaru Usman.

Maia, who stands at 6 feet, 1 inch tall, has a 72 inch reach. The Brazilian fights out of his own country where he mostly focuses on his grappling with his own gym – Demian Maia Jiu-Jitsu. Maia has a fourth-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Fabio Gurgel. He is ranked 12th in the UFC welterweight division.

Anthony Rocco Martin, 29, has won his last four fights in a row and, coincidentally enough, his last two victories came on Junior dos Santos fight cards (so if you’re feeling superstitious….). His last fight came on March 9 where he won a unanimous decision over Sergio Moraes. Prior to that, Martin pulled off an anaconda choke submission to defeat Jake Matthews on December 2 last year. This will be his fourth fight in less than a year.

Martin stands at 6 feet even, giving up one inch of height to his opponent. However, with a 73.5 inch reach, he will have a 1.5 inch advantage over Maia in that regard. The American trains out of Boston, Massachusetts with team Sityondtong. He has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has been active in MMA since 2012. He is currently unranked by the UFC.

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Roosevelt Roberts (8-0) vs Vinc Pichel (11-2) – Lightweight division

Roosevelt Roberts, 25, will be making his third appearance under the UFC banner. He debut for the promotion on November 30, 2018 at the Ultimate Fighter finale. There he defeated Darrell Horcher with a guillotine choke in the first round. He followed that performance by winning his last fight against Thomas Gifford on April 4 by unanimous decision.

Lightweight ”GoGetta” stands at 6 feet, 1 inch tall and has a reach of 73 inches. Born in Miami, Florida, Roosevelt fights out of Lathrop, California. The undefeated fighter has three KO victories, four submission victories, and one decision win.

Vinc Pichel, 36, is eleven year the elder to Roosevelt. Pichel’s last fight was a loss that came on June 1 of 2018. He lost via submission to Gregor Gillespie. Prior to that loss, Pichel had won four fights in a row, including a first-round KO of Damien Brown.

”From Hell” stands at 5 feet, 10 inches tall, giving up three inches of height to his opponent. He has a 72 inch reach – also a disadvantage for him. Pichel is a very experienced fighter, however, and also possesses a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

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Drew Dober (20-9-1) vs Marco Polo Reyes (8-5) – Lightweight division

Drew Dober, 30, has been with the UFC since 2013 and his record has gone rather back-and-forth. His last fight was on March 9 against Beneil Dariush. He was submitted by Dariush in the second round via a triangle armbar. Prior to that loss, however, Dober has picked up three victories in a row – two by decision and one by knock out over Josh Burkman.

Fighting out of Denver, Colorado, Dober stands at 5 feet, 8 inches tall. The southpaw also has a reach of an even 70 inches. He fights with the Elevation Fight Team and has been active in MMA since 2009.

Marco Polo Reyes, 34, has gone 2-2 in his last four fights. His last bout was on February 23 where he lost via TKO to Damir Hadzovic. Prior to that, he hadn’t fought in over a year with his last victory coming via KO on January 14, 2018.

Standing at 5 feet, 11 inches tall, “El Toro” has a reach of 71 inches. He will have a three inch height and one inch reach advantage. The Mexican fights out of his home country with the Entram Gym and has also been active in MMA since 2009.

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Ryan Bristlon

435 Articles

Ryan Bristlon is a Canadian writer currently residing in Hamilton, Ontario. He studied print and broadcast journalism at Humber College and has been a lifelong fan of hockey, the NHL in general, and UFC.

Email: [email protected]

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