UFC on ESPN 3 Results: The Real Winners and Losers

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterJune 30, 2019

UFC on ESPN 3 Results: The Real Winners and Losers

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    Junior dos Santos (foreground) and Francis Ngannou embrace after their fight Saturday.
    Junior dos Santos (foreground) and Francis Ngannou embrace after their fight Saturday.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    UFC on ESPN 3 went down Saturday night from Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

    As you know, when it comes to big network TV cards, be it Fox before or the Worldwide Leader now, the UFC has a special eye for the heavyweights. Or maybe it's just Junior dos Santos.

    JDS famously flattened Cain Velasquez in a so-fast-it-was-anticlimactic main event in UFC on Fox 1, and that win netted Dos Santos the heavyweight title. Saturday, he closed UFC on ESPN 3 alongside Francis Ngannou. It might have been the most exciting matchup possible from the current heavyweight roster.

    How did Dos Santos, Ngannou and the rest of stars perform on ESPN flagship? As always, the final stat lines do not reveal all. These are the real winners and losers from UFC on ESPN 3.

    For the literal-minded among us, results appear at the end.

Winner: Francis Ngannou

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    Ngannou (background) punches Dos Santos.
    Ngannou (background) punches Dos Santos.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    If you take Derrick Lewis and Stipe Miocic out of the equation, Francis Ngannou would be perfect in his UFC career, and after knocking out Junior dos Santos in the first round Saturday, he would be the owner of a five-knockout win streak.

    The thing is, you can't take Lewis and Miocic out of the equation. Natural laws simply forbid this. And no one can unsee Miocic wrestling him into the ground or his barren stalemate with Lewis.

    Yet here he is, on a three-fight streak that includes knockouts of Curtis Blaydes, the fading Cain Velasquez and now Dos Santos. Things were pretty straightforward Saturday, as you might expect for something that ended in a little more than a minute.

    During a fray, Dos Santos turned his back to Ngannou. That's not a good idea, and Ngannou sent a right hand around the bend like a locomotive and whistled it across the front of Dos Santos' mug. A few ground strikes sealed it from there.

    Daniel Cormier is your UFC heavyweight champion; he's already booked with Miocic. If Ngannou thought Miocic's wrestling was tough, he may not want any part of DC, much less Miocic.

    "I want the winner of DC and Stipe," Ngannou told broadcaster Jon Anik after the fight, as if he wanted extra tomatoes on his hamburger.

    It would be hard to argue against that, and he's earned as much, even if his future may not look much different than his past.

    "I need some respect now," Ngannou said. "I deserve it."

Winner: Joseph Benavidez

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    Joseph Benavidez (left)
    Joseph Benavidez (left)Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Joseph Benavidez's post-fight callout was a little on the existential side.

    But first, these two first fought in 2013. Benavidez got the better of that one, swarming and pounding Jussier Formiga into a first-round TKO.

    In Saturday's return bout, the script was written a little differently.

    It was a second-round TKO.

    This time, a left leg along the jaw started it, and a barrage of hooks along the fence finished it. Formiga, whose base is jiu-jitsu, was tough but outgunned (it also doesn't help that he's outsized at flyweight). He fought better than he did in the original, scoring a knockdown of his own.

    We don't need another one of these, though, do we? Nah. What we may need, though, is Benavidez to get a shot at flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo. But at which weight class would it occur?

    "Come back down," Benavidez said to Anik, referencing Cejudo in the cage after the fight.

    Benavidez has been vocal about preserving the 125-pound division, which faces extinction on the UFC stage. Benavidez's next fight announcement will be telling on multiple fronts.

Winner: Alonzo Menifield

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    Alonzo Menifield
    Alonzo MenifieldJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Light heavyweight Alonzo Menifield hasn't wasted much time in showing he was more than a flash in the reality show pan.

    Coming out off Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series, Menifield's one-touch knockout power was evident. How long would it take for him to reach the level of competition of the UFC proper?

    Turns out the answer is seven minutes and 15 seconds.

    Earlier this year, Menifield wasted Vinicius Moreira in 3:56. Saturday, he handed Paul Craig his fourth pro loss and needed just 3:19 to do so. Both were by knockout, as you might expect.

    There's an asterisk here. This wasn't exactly the stiffest competition, particularly Moreira, who fell on that same dented shield of his again Saturday in service of the popular but slumping Eryk Anders. When the big boss has a public hand in the curation, you can be sure the matchmakers will be there to offer their own hands as well.

    Even so, kudos to Menifield. Regardless of cynicism, he had a heck of a good performance on ESPN and presented himself as an electric and likeable new presence in a light heavyweight talent brimming with young talent.

Loser: Roosevelt Roberts

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    Roosevelt Roberts (left) and Vince Pichel.
    Roosevelt Roberts (left) and Vince Pichel.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Unfortunately for White and Roosevelt Roberts, the big reality show went 1-1 on the evening.

    Further up the card than Menifield, Roberts—who captured White's eye for dazzle with some nifty submissions, such as a standing guillotine—was a significant favorite to win, but a tough and still-improving Vince Pichel was a tall order. Pichel smothered and oustruck Roberts for a close decision loss.

    Don't look now, but that's six wins in seven contests for Pichel. And don't feel bad for Roberts. He will have another, better chance before too long.

Loser: Intelligent Defense

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    Eryk Anders (center) and Vince Sherdan (right).
    Eryk Anders (center) and Vince Sherdan (right).Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    MMA refereeing is not exactly the airtight ship one might hope to board while navigating Planet Cage Fight. That shouldn't feel like an unfamiliar perspective.

    Still, refs do work hard to get it right, and most fans return the favor by acknowledging the real-time adrenaline boil that is mixed martial arts contest.

    Yet egregious stuff is not uncommon and should be acknowledged when it happens. It's difficult to know where referee Vince Sherdan was during the fight between Eryk Anders and Vinicius Moreira, but it wasn't on Planet Cage Fight.

    At least for a few key moments, during which time he inexplicably allowed Anders to hammer an unconscious Moreira with as many as three unabated ground strikes. With Sherdan on top of the action, Anders himself paused for a moment with his fist poised over Moreira's dome. Sherdan's pause in response was a little more consequential.

    Winces aside, it was a solid win for Anders, the former University of Alabama linebacker who got off a three-fight losing streak with the convincing effort, which only took him 78 seconds to achieve.

UFC on ESPN 3 Full Card Results

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    South African Dalcha Lungiambula celebrates a third-round knockout of Dequan Townsend.
    South African Dalcha Lungiambula celebrates a third-round knockout of Dequan Townsend.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Main Card

    Francis Ngannou def. Junior dos Santos by TKO, 1:45, Rd. 1.

    Joseph Benavidez def. Jussier Formiga by TKO, 4:47, Rd. 2.

    Demian Maia def. Anthony Rocco 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 KO, 1:07, Rd. 1.

    Alonzo Menifield def. Paul Craig by KO, 3:19, Rd. 1.


    Preliminary Card

    Ricardo Ramos def. Journey Newson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

    Eryk Anders def. Vinicius Moreira by KO (punches), 1:18, Rd. 1.

    Jared Gordon def. Dan Moret by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).

    Dalcha Lungiambula def. Dequan Townsend by TKO, 0:42, Rd. 3.

    Amanda Ribas def. Emily Whitmire by submission (rear-naked choke), 2:10, Rd. 2.

    Maurice Greene def. Junior Albini by TKO, 3:38, Rd. 1.


    Scott Harris covers MMA and other sports for Bleacher Report.