Fight Notes: UFC On ESPN 3
With all the promotional hype centred on the guarantee of mayhem in the heavyweight main event, UFC On ESPN 3 ended up delivering one of the most violent fight cards of the 2019 calendar year. With 2/3 of the bouts involving finishes and a bunch of competitive, engaging match-ups, this fight card delivered on all fronts. The prelims kicked off with a vicious KO and the night featured only a few lulls before being capped off with a main event that delivered as promised.
Alonzo Menifield took a little over 3 minutes to starch Paul Craig. The latter tried to pull guard a few times, but to no avail, and got caught after throwing one too many spinning kicks. Menifield clipped Craig while his back was turned from the rotation of a kick, then followed him to the ground and pounded him out violently. Craig's incredible good luck ran out this time, and Menifield continues to rack up quick finishes.
We got another fast, brutal KO as Drew Dober and Marco Polo Reyes went to war immediately in their fight. Dober rocked Reyes, who managed to hang on to a single-leg takedown attempt for dear life, and eventually clear his head. Dober kept the pressure on, however, and backed Reyes into the cage where he landed land-hand that put him out cold. An impressive win for Dober who gets back on track after a disappointing loss to Beniel Dariush in a fight he seemingly had locked up.
Vinc Pichel and Roosevelt Roberts had a gritty, three-round battle. Roberts took the first, while Pichel rallied back in the following 2 rounds — winning the clinch battles and doing well in the striking exchanges. It was a tough test for Roberts, and he wasn't completely outclassed but Pichel's veteran savy and toughness were the difference maker tonight. I'm still finding myself impressed with how long Pichel's UFC tenure has lasted.
Demian Maia had one of his typical fights, as he was able to soundly out-grapple Anthony Martin for the first two rounds. Maia seemed to really fade by the third, however, and did almost nothing except survive and defend until the bout ended. It was still enough to win a majority decision, but one judge gave Martin a 10-8 score for the third, as Maia really did not do anything whatsoever. I'm going to turn a blind eye to this performance, as a sucker for any time one of the old guard manages to pick up a win.
For as long as it lasted, the rematch between Joe Benavidez and Jussier Formiga was an amazing battle to behold. Alternating between striking exchanges and crazy scrambles on the mat, both flyweights looked really good. The first round was really hard to score, as it was almost dead-even. In the second, though, Benavidez was able to slowly takeover the fight and began to hurt Formiga with calf-kicks. As the strikes began to add up, Formiga was backed against the cage, cracked with several hard shots, dropped and pounded out. Benavidez defeats Formiga again, and just as convincingly as last time. Benavidez should get a title shot against Henry Cejudo, but the fate of the flyweight divison remains unknown — but with a grim outlook.
The main event promised a KO and it pretty much delivered. After exchanging a few leg kicks, Francis Ngannou clipped Junior Dos Santos while he was out of position and sent him stumbling to the canvas. It took only a few additional punches for referee Herb Dean to step in. Just like that, it took a little more-than a minute for Francis Ngannou to (T)KO another former world champion. There's not much else to be gleaned from this fight other than a reminder that Ngannou hits ridiculously hard. He's probably earned a shot at the winner of Daniel Cormier / Stipe Miocic at UFC 241.
- Francis Ngannou def. Junior Dos Santos by TKO (punches) @ 1:11 of Round 1
- Joseph Benavidez def. Jussier Formiga by TKO (head kick and punches) @ 4:47 of Round 2
- Demian Maia def. Anthony Martin by Majority Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
- Vinc Pichel def. Roosevelt Roberts by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Drew Dober def. Marco Polo Reyes by TKO (punches) @ 1:07 of Round 1
- Alonzo Menified def. Paul Craig by KO (punches) @ 3:19 of Round 1
The opening fight of the card was fun heavyweight scrap between Junior Albini and Maurice Greene. Thankfully this one was short and sweet; Greene got briefly staggered by punch, in between scoring a pair of knockdowns on Albini. The second knockdown was quickly followed by some ground-and-pound which earned Greene a TKO in his third consective UFC win. Albini racks up another rough loss and may find himself cut as a result.
Debutting strawweight Amanda Ribas steamrolled Emily Whitmire, spending most of round 1 on Whitmire's back, fishing for submissions. Whitmire managed to end the first round in top position, but accomplished nothing. In the second, Ribas bulled Whitmire to the mat, landed some hard ground-and-pound — which forced Whitmire to surrender he back — and transitioned to a fight-ending rear-naked choke in short order.
Five-foot-eight light heavyweight Dalcha Lungiambula managed to physically dwarf his 6'3" opponent, Dequan Townsend, and ragdolled him accordingly. After spending the bulk of the first two rounds tossing Townsend around and maintaining top position, he charged out in the third, blasted him with punches and didn't stop mauling until the referee stopped the fight. Initially it looked like Lungiambula was tiring, but that was seemingly not the case when he switched gears and demolished Townsend.
Lightweights looking to get back in the win-column, Dan Moret and Jared Gordon both had a fun, sloppy fight. The first round was really close, with wild exchanges of striking and grappling. Gordon was able to dominate the second with a takedown and superior top control and took the third in similar fashion. Moret had moments of offence but Gordon's defensive grappling was excellent. There is a good argument that Moret won the first round, but only a single judge saw it that way. Gordon took a clear decision win and likely handed Moret his walking papers.
Vinicius Moreira almost immediately attempted to take Eryk Anders down, but was stuffed. From there, things just worse for the Brazilian; Anders cracked Moreira with two HARD punches, put him to sleep with a follow-up on the ground and was able to land 3 more coffin nails before the referee called the fight off — a horrifically late stoppage. Anders violently exits a losing streak with a terrifying finish.
Ricardo Ramos may have blanked his last-minute replacement opponent, Journey Newson, but the two had a really fun fight. Newson, touted as a boxer, displayed very good grappling and an incredible chin. Ramos chopped away at Newson with leg kicks and landed several spinning elbows, but somehow Newson would not give up. Aside from a brief moment in the third round, where Newson had a very tight guillotine choke, it was all one-way traffic from Ramos. Newson showed a lot of skill and I hope the UFC gives him another chance to fight with a full training camp.
- Ricardo Ramos def. Journey Newson by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Eryk Anders def. Vinicius Moreira by KO (punches) @ 1:18 of Round 1
- Jared Gordon def. Dan Moret by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Dalcha Lungiambula def. Dequan Townsend by TKO (punches and elbows) @ 0:42 of Round 3
- Amanda Ribas def. Emily Whitmire by Submission (rear-naked choke) @ 2:10 of Round 2
- Maurice Greene def. Junior Albini by TKO (punches) @ 3:38 of Round 1
This was an A-level show. Aside from the third round in Maia / Martin, the whole fight card was nonstop action. An almost perfect UFC event and easily one of the most violent.
Published: June 30th, 2019.