Big men with small gloves hit Minneapolis, Minn., this Saturday (June 29, 2019) when the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight division’s premier knockout artists, Junior “Cigano” dos Santos and Francis “The Predator” Ngannou, headline UFC on ESPN 3. Also on tap are a Flyweight No. 1 Flyweight contender eliminator rematch between Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga, as well as the latest from towering Lightweight prospect Roosevelt Roberts.
Three more UFC on ESPN 3 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict (check out the first batch here). Shall we?
135 lbs.: Ricardo Ramos vs. Journey Newson
Ricardo Ramos (12-2) kicked off his Octagon career with three consecutive victories, among them a bonus-winning spinning back elbow knockout of unbeaten Aiemann Zahabi. His undefeated UFC run came to an end in February when fellow top prospect Said Nurmagomedov caught him with a spinning back kick midway through the first round.
“Carcacinha” stands four inches taller than Journey Newson (9-1) at 5’9.”
Newson won his first three professional mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts before running into future UFC competitor Benito Lopez, who knocked him out midway through the first round. He has since picked up three (technical) knockouts and two submissions in six victories, the most recent of which saw him score an 80-second knockout just last month.
He steps in for the injured Sergio Pettis on less than two weeks’ notice.
I can’t find squat as far as recent footage of Newson. One of his recent bouts is on Vimeo, but it’s $2.99 to rent. Not $2.99 to rent the event, $2.99 for one fight. Screw that.
From what I can gather, Newson is primarily a grappler who’s made an effort to improve his boxing. Ramos has a similar skillset, but is a good bit rangier and more proven against strong opposition. Indeed, if a tank like Kyung Ho Kang couldn’t consistently overpower Ramos, Newson will find it more than a little difficult. Ramos leans on his length to control the striking and peppers in a couple of takedowns.
Prediction: Ramos via unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Vinicius Moreira vs. Eryk Anders
Vinicius Moreira (9-2) brought a four-fight, four-finish streak onto “Contender Series: Brazil,” where he tapped knockout artist John Allan Arte with a second-round triangle choke to earn himself a contract. His Octagon debut saw him face top prospect Alonzo Menifield, who handed the hulking Brazilian his second knockout loss at Barclays Center last January.
All nine of the professional wins for “Mamute” have come by submission, six of them in the first round.
Once the talk of the town, Eryk Anders (11-4) finds himself just 1-4 in his last five after starting his Octagon career perfect (2-0). Since destroying Tim Williams with a vicious head kick, the former Alabama linebacker has been mauled by Thiago Santos, outworked by Elias Theodorou, and broken down by Khalil Rountree, leaving him winless since Aug. 2018.
He is a late-notice replacement for Roman Dolidze, who withdrew because of injury early in May.
This is pretty much just Moreira’s fight with Menifield again — it’s another “two true outcome” fight. On the feet, “Mamute” is a slow-moving punching bag for Anders. On the mat, Moreira holds nearly as much of an edge. Either Anders obliterates him in the first few minutes or Moreira torches him from top position.
This is more winnable for Moreira than his debut just because of the size advantage, but while Anders belongs at 185 pounds, he’s still got what it takes to wipe out a stationary target.
145 lbs.: Jordan Griffin vs. Vince Murdock
Jordan Griffin (17-6) — whose only loss in his last nine fights before “Contender Series” came against current Bellator standout Juan Archuleta — punched his ticket to the Octagon with an impressive submission of Maurice Mitchell in July. Fellow “Contender Series” alumnus Dan Ige proved a step too far, unfortunately, out-grinding “The Native Psycho” in his Octagon debut in Dec. 2018.
He has submitted eight professional opponents and knocked out another five.
Team Alpha Male’s Vince Murdock (10-5/12-3) has ended all but two of his pro victories inside the distance, knocking out seven. He last competed in December, knocking out Justin King to claim the Total Warrior Combat Featherweight title.
He replaces Chas Skelly on short notice.
To explain the confusion about Vince’s record up there: he had two bogus stoppage losses in Super Fight League, one from a cut that was nowhere near his eye and another when he took repeated low blows that the ref claimed were clean leg kicks. Sherdog.com has them both listed as losses, hence 10-5, and doesn’t list his win over King. Tapology, meanwhile, includes the King victory and lists the SFL fights as a win and a “No Contest.”
As far as this fight, Murdock is a fairly bog-standard Alpha Male wrestleboxer, while Griffin is an insanely aggressive all-rounder. Whichever way it goes, it ought to be plenty entertaining. I say Griffin’s volume carries him to a narrow decision victory.
Prediction: Griffin via split decision
dos Santos vs. Ngannou is pure dynamite, and seeing as this whole thing’s on free television, there’s no excuse not to watch. See you Saturday, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 3 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN “Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also air on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC on ESPN 3: “Ngannou vs. dos Santos” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.