Brett OkamotoESPN Team CreatorShut
- MMA columnist for ESPN.com
- Analyst for “MMA Stay”
- Covered MMA for Las Vegas Sun
Francis Ngannou, you contain our plump and undivided attention as soon as extra.
Ngannou (14-three) used to be the most feared heavyweight on this planet going into 2018, nevertheless a 5-round loss to then-champion Stipe Miocic that January (followed by a total no-level to in opposition to Derrick Lewis later that summer season) had “The Predator” having a eye very human.
Successfully, it be excellent to divulge “upsetting Ngannou” is encourage. The French-African heavyweight demolished weak champion Junior Dos Santos in 71 seconds at UFC Warfare Evening on Saturday in Minneapolis, correct for his 1/three first-round knockout in a row.
What’s subsequent for Ngannou, Dos Santos and the opposite enormous names of UFC Warfare Evening? Here is ESPN’s lift.
Francis Ngannou, heavyweight
Result: Defeated Junior Dos Santos via first-round KO
Subsequent: Winner of Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic on Aug. 17
UFC president Dana White used to be noncommittal to a Ngannou title shot on Saturday, saying he wants to evaluate how issues play out. And it’s some distance candy: There’s loads to style out at heavyweight. What happens in the Cormier-Miocic rematch? Will Cormier retire in an instant after? Assuming Jon Jones is soundless light heavyweight champion, does he slot in?
These are marvelous questions, and the UFC is taking into consideration conserving its alternate solutions starting up — nevertheless come on, all roads consequence in a Ngannou title shot at this level, develop no longer they?
Let’s play the alternate solutions out. Cormier wins on Aug. 17 and retires: Ngannou vs. Jones for the vacant heavyweight title, please. Miocic wins: Ngannou vs. Miocic 2, clearly. Cormier wins and decides to fight again: At this level, I could well rather eye Cormier fight Ngannou than Jones for a 1/three time. With any of those eventualities, I’m in on an Ngannou title shot.
Junior Dos Santos, heavyweight
Result: Lost to Francis Ngannou via first-round KO
Subsequent: Cain Velasquez
This could probably additionally be the worst, most effective thought I’ve ever had. On one hand, JDS vs. Velasquez Four? Why on earth would we now wish to revisit that now?
However the extra I judge it, I lean extra in opposition to: Why on earth no longer? Dos Santos had received three in a row sooner than Saturday, nevertheless let’s no longer sugarcoat issues. This used to be a truly, very wicked consequence for the weak champ. Shedding in this trend, in 71 seconds, kills any momentum Dos Santos had. And with Velasquez, no one also can provide a straight acknowledge as to whether or no longer he’ll even fight again. In other phrases, every of those all-time greats are at a low level.
Give Dos Santos break day after the knockout, and perhaps hit upon this thought for early 2020. It is going to be a nostalgic hump for longtime MMA followers, revisiting one of the essential best probably matchups in the historical previous of the heavyweight division — and it really would shuffle a lengthy blueprint in rebuilding the winner.
Joseph Benavidez, flyweight
Result: Defeated Jussier Formiga via 2d-round TKO
Subsequent: Henry Cejudo
Here’s proper easy. No must overanalyze the difficulty. Joseph Benavidez has most ceaselessly been the qualified No. 1 contender at flyweight for years. His profession went sideways in 2013, when he suffered his 2d loss to the division’s dominant champion, Demetrious Johnson.
Since then, all Benavidez has completed is retract 9 of 10 (in opposition to the best probably of the burden class). His most effective loss all over that stretch used to be a break up resolution, in his first appearance after reconstructive knee surgical procedure in 2017. And oh, one extra factor — he has a retract over Cejudo, from 2016.
The reality that Cejudo is a champion in two weight classes and sidelined with injury complicates issues a shrimp bit, nevertheless even No. 1 bantamweight contender Aljamain Enough has come out and acknowledged he’ll fortunately give Benavidez the first crack at Cejudo as soon as he’s wholesome, on story of he deserves it. That in actuality tells you all it be crucial to understand.
Demian Maia, welterweight
Result: Defeated Anthony Rocco Martin via majority resolution
Subsequent: Diego Sanchez
Maia requested for Sanchez postfight, and I can not give you a single reason in opposition to it. He additionally talked about his subsequent fight could additionally be his perfect.
The UFC likes to e-book guys care for Maia in opposition to up-and-comers, to give them a take a look at and originate their title. But if Maia is de facto having a eye for a retirement fight at this level, he’s earned the exact to contain a divulge in who it be in opposition to. Sanchez faces Michael Chiesa subsequent week at UFC 239. Select or lose, if he’s spicy to face Maia subsequent, it makes sense to me.
Alonzo Menifield, light heavyweight
Result: Defeated Paul Craig via first-round TKO
Subsequent: Devin Clark
Add Menifield to the increasing list of unique skill at 205 kilos, which could additionally be the most welcome enhance the UFC has viewed in years. Light heavyweight has been in desperate need of most modern faces, and it be finally getting them with the emergence of Menifield, Dominick Reyes, Johnny Walker, Corey Anderson and others.
Menifield is soundless somewhat untested, nevertheless his probably is glaring and the stage of competition he’s faced is legit (combined chronicle of Forty eight-15). A top-15 opponent is no longer some distance off, nevertheless plenty of the ranked light heavyweights are already booked. Sustain Menifield busy, contain giving him experience. Clark is additionally coming off a retract earlier this month and is an acceptable subsequent step for the undefeated Menifield.