On June 29, the Ultimate Fighting Championship touched down in Minneapolis, Minnesota and provided a solid card with multiple finishes in the City of Lakes. We look at the nights top winners and where their next stop should be.
5. Maurice Greene vs. Tai Tuivasa
Greene improved to 3-0 in the UFC Saturday night after garnering a first round TKO victory over Junior Albini in the cards opening bout. Greene garnered a reputation on the 28th season of the Ultimate Fighter for his unique submissions skills as a Heavyweight. Of his eight career wins, four have come by way of submission, all by triangle choke. However, Greene relied on the use of his heavy punching power to get the job done Saturday night, proving that the Virginia-born fighter is dangerously well-rounded.
Greene has obtained interest with this big win and the UFC should look to capitalize on the potential star power of a rising up-and-comer in Greene by pitting him against a notable name. The heavy-hitting Tai Tuivasa fits that bill. Tuivasa will be looking to get back in the win column after losing to former World Series of Fighting Heavyweight champion Blagoy Ivanov in his last outing and will need to prove he can still contend with the other hungry lions in his division.
4. Jared Gordon vs. Marc Diakese
Jared Gordon garnered a big win Saturday night and should look to eye someone of more name value after amassing a much-needed win. The New Jersey native in Gordon dominated nearly all three rounds en-route to a unanimous decision win against Dan Moret. Gordon had dropped two of his last bouts prior and this was a much needed victory.
Gordon impressed upon entering the UFC with two solid victories both at Featherweight and his new home at Lightweight. Should he be after that same momentum that he lost following his back to back losses, a name value win would benefit Gordon and Marc Diakese following his dominant win over veteran Joe Duffy this past March.
3. Drew Dober vs. Vinc Pichel
Two other Lightweights picked up notable wins on the main card region of the night as Vinc Pichel would turn away rising contender Roosevelt Roberts while Drew Dober picked up arguably the biggest highlight win of his career after knocking out Marco Polo Reyes in the first round.
Both men were coming off losses before Saturday night and both will look to capitalize on their rise in momentum. A bout with each other could spell fireworks for the fans and further improve the winners stock en route to a potentially ranked opponent.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Henry Cejudo
Benavidez continues to prove that he is still one of the best Flyweights, not only on the planet today, but of all time after once again defeating No. 1 ranked Jussier Formiga via TKO stoppage for the second time. Along with that, Benavidez now has the most knockout victories in the Flyweight division and is tied for the most wins in the division alongside future Hall of Famer Demetrious Johnson.
After securing three straight victories, and going 9-1 since his last title fight against Johnson back in 2013, Benavidez has once again cemented himself as the clear number one contender in the Flyweight division and he can not be denied a shot any longer. With no clear cut contender at Bantamweight, Cejudo will likely have to defend his Flyweight strap first and Benavidez should be given one last chance at glory.
1. Francis Ngannou vs. Daniel Cormier / Stipe Miocic winner
Many people had written off Ngannou as just a flash in the pan following his defeat against Stipe Miocic for the UFC Heavyweight championship early last year. But since the following loss to Derrick Lewis, Ngannou has reinvented himself and revived the aura of destruction that followed him before his fight with Stipe. Now with three first round finishes to his credit, two of which are over former Heavyweight champions, Ngannou feels ready to take another crack at the Heavyweight crown.
The title will be up for grabs at UFC 241 as Daniel Cormier will defend the belt against Stipe Miocic in a rematch that saw the crown switch hands last summer. The winner will likely have to face Ngannou next as no other Heavyweight holds a better resume to the title of No. 1 contender. Should Cormier retire with the belt following the bout with Stipe, it’s likely we will see Stipe and Ngannou rematch regardless for the vacant belt.