ESPN Prelims, 6pm/3pm ETPT
Maurice Greene def Junior Albini via tko in round 1, 3:38
St. Cloud’s Maurice Greene thrilled fans at Target Center in the heavyweight opener, as he stopped Junior Albini in a single round to improve to 3-0 in the UFC.
Greene was on the attack as soon as the bout commenced, and while Albini took the early assault in stride, midway through the opening round he was sent to a knee by a right hand then to the canvas by a left. Albini weathered the storm and got back to his feet, and though he got rocked again, he returned the favor moments later. But with 90 seconds left, Greene began to close the show, drilling Albini with a right hand that put the Brazilian down. A follow-up barrage ended matters, with referee Jason Herzog stepping in at the 3:38 mark of round one.
With the win, Greene moves to 8-3. Albini falls to 14-6.
amanda ribas def. emily whitmire via submission (rear naked choke) in round 2, 2:10
The long-awaited UFC debut of Amanda Ribas lived up to expectations, as the Brazilian submitted Emily Whitmire in the second round.
Ribas’ first round as a UFC fighter was a dominant one, as she took Whitmire down and then locked in a body triangle as her foe rose to her feet. And though Ribas wasn’t able to lock in the rear naked choke to finish the matters, she had the Las Vegan on the defensive for much of the round until Whitmire escaped and spent the late stages of the round in the top position.
The Brazilian didn’t let Whitmire get away in the second, though, as she took her opponent down, opened her defenses up with strikes, then sunk in the fight-finishing rear naked choke. The official time of the finish was 2:10 of round two.
With the win, Minas Gerais’ Ribas moves to 7-1. Whitmire falls to 4-3.
Dalcha Lungiabula def. Dequan townsend via TKO in Round 3, 0:42
Light heavyweight prospect Dalcha Lungiambula delivered a finish in his UFC debut, halting fellow newcomer Dequan Townsend in the third and final round.
Lungiambula was putting thunder behind everything he did in the first round, from his punches to his takedowns, but Townsend was able to avoid any serious danger, even though he clearly lost the opening frame.
The Congo native put Townsend on the canvas to begin round two and kept him there until referee Travis Metteer restarted the bout with 15 seconds left, not enough time for Lansing’s Townsend to mount any significant offense.
After a less than thrilling second round, Lungiambula erupted in the third, with a vicious combination putting Townsend on the canvas. “Champion” then went on the attack with ground strikes until Metteer halted the bout at :42 of round three.
With the win, Lungiambula moves to 10-1. Townsend, who replaced Justin Ledet on less than a week’s notice, falls to 21-9.
jared gordon def. dan moret via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Queens’ Jared Gordon snapped a two-fight losing streak in lightweight action, winning a three-round unanimous decision over Mankato’s Dan Moret.
Scores were 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Gordon, now 15-3. Moret falls to 13-6.
The first round was fast-paced, with Moret holding the edge thanks to some solid shots on the feet early and a late charge that included a takedown and several knees at close range. But Gordon had his moments as well thanks to a takedown and a spell of ground control.
Moret returned the fight to the mat in round two and took the New Yorker’s back, but Gordon was able to scramble his way into the top position. Moret worked for an armbar, but Gordon kept punching, allowing him to take the frame.
A slip by Gordon early in the third led to a Moret guillotine attempt, but Gordon got loose and again settled into the top position. After some good work by Gordon on the mat, Moret got free and was nearly able to take his opponent’s back, but again, it was Gordon finding his way to the top position, where he remained until the final horn.
eryk anders def. vinicius castro by KO in round 1, 1:18
Eryk Anders snapped a three-fight losing streak in style, halting Vinicius Moreira 78 seconds into their light heavyweight bout.
Moreira tried to get the bout to the mat early, but Anders defended well, and when he found an opening, he landed a straight left that rocked the Brazilian. Another left put Moreira down, and a follow-up series of strikes forced the stoppage by referee Vance Swerdan at 1:18 of the opening stanza.
With the win, Anders moves to 12-4. Moreira falls to 9-3.
ricardo ramos def. journey newson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Bantamweight prospect Ricardo Ramos may have won a shutout decision over Journey Newson, but he got a fight out of the newcomer, who was there to fight for all three rounds.
All three judges saw it 30-27.
After Ramos landed several hard kicks, a takedown attempt by Newson was turned into a favorable position by the Brazilian, who took his opponent’s back. Newson scrambled out of trouble and got back to his feet, and while he was busy with his strikes, he got clipped by a spinning back elbow from Ramos before the horn.
Ramos controlled the range and the fight in round two, using his height and reach to full advantage, but in the third, Newson got close and sunk in a tight guillotine choke. Ramos got loose after some dicey moments and took control with a thudding slam. The two later returned to their feet and Ramos landed with his spinning back elbow, but again, Newson took it and kept going until fight’s end.
With the win, Sao Paulo’s Ramos moves to 13-2. Portland’s Newson, who replaced Sergio Pettis on short notice, falls to 9-2.
ESPN Main Card, 9pm/6pm ETPT
alonzo menifield def. paul craig via KO in round 1, 3:19
In the main card opener, light heavyweight up and comer Alonzo Menifield kept his perfect record intact with a first-round knockout of Paul Craig.
Menifield fought a disciplined fight, avoiding Craig’s takedowns and attempts to goad him into a ground battle. It went to the ground anyway after Craig missed a spinning kick, but it didn’t last long there, as a right hand stunned the Scotland native and a couple more follow-up shots brought in referee Herb Dean to stop the bout at 3:19 of round one.
With the win, Dallas’ Menifield moves to 9-0. Craig falls to 11-4.
drew dober def. marco polo reyes via ko in round 1, 1:07
Action was expected in the lightweight bout between Drew Dober and Marco Polo Reyes and it delivered, with Dober ending it early via first-round knockout.
Not surprisingly, the two came out throwing, and Dober drew first blood, rocking and nearly finishing Reyes with a barrage of blows. Reyes was able to survive the initial attack, but once the two stood, Dober kept the heat on, with another series of shots dropping the Mexican battler. This time, referee Jason Herzog had seen enough, stopping the bout at 1:07 of round one.
With the win, Denver’s Dober moves to 21-9 with 1 NC. Reyes falls to 8-7.
vinc pichel def. roosevelt roberts via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Lightweight veteran Vinc Pichel pinned the first loss on the record of hot prospect Roosevelt Roberts, earning a hard-fought three-round unanimous decision.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Pichel, now 12-2. Roberts falls to 8-1.
Outside of a brief combination by Pichel in the second half of round one, the first stanza belonged to Roberts, who pressed the action and got a roar from the crowd for a slam of his foe in the closing minute.
Pichel got a takedown of his own in the second minute of round two, and he landed some good strikes before the two returned to their feet. Roberts went back to work, with his straight punches allowing him to regain control of the action. Another trip to the canvas followed, but just when Pichel appeared to be in trouble, he scrambled into the top position and scored with more ground strikes.
A confident Pichel returned the fight to the mat in round three and after some solid work there, he locked in a tight guillotine choke. Roosevelt got loose, but Pichel kept pressing, scoring another takedown with under two minutes remaining. With less than a minute to go, Pichel got into the mount position, and though he didn’t finish the fight, his late surge was enough for the victory.
demian maia def. rocco martin via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Anthony Rocco Martin saw his four-fight welterweight winning streak come to an end at the hands of veteran contender Demian Maia, who took their bout via majority decision.
Maia shot for his first takedown in the second minute of round one, and he got it, bulling Martin to the fence. Maia kept Martin grounded until there was a minute left in the frame, but the Minnesotan wasn’t able to mount any offense before the horn sounded.
Martin was a different fighter in round two, as he landed some hard strikes and defended Maia’s takedown attempts. But in the second minute, the Brazilian again put the bout on the mat, and he kept it there until referee Vance Swerdan restarted the bout with less than a minute to go, allowing Martin to make a late offensive surge.
Martin briefly stunned Maia in the third with a right hand, but he was unable to capitalize, leaving the fight in the hands of the judges, who rendered scores of 29-28 twice and 28-28 for the No. 12-ranked Maia, now 27-9. Martin falls to 16-5.
joseph benavidez def. jussier formiga via TKO in round 2, 4:47
Flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez repeated his 2013 victory over Jussier Formiga in the UFC Minneapolis co-main event at Target Center, stopping the No. 1 contender in the second round, making a strong case for another rematch, this one with 125-pound champion Henry Cejudo, who Benavidez defeated in 2016.
Benavidez opened with a pair of body kicks, showing Formiga that he meant business, but the Brazilian took them well and later landed a shot that opened a cut over Benavidez’ left eye. With a little over a minute left, Formiga got the fight to the mat, but Benavidez scrambled out of trouble and returned to his feet, where he remained busy.
With the cut closed between rounds, Benavidez was able to refocus and get down to business, and after winning the grappling scrambles, he went back to his striking game, and after stunning Formiga with a flush left kick to the head, he opened up with both hands, ultimately dropping the Brazilian and prompting a stoppage from referee Jason Herzog, who called the bout at 4:47 of round two.
With the win the No. 2-ranked Benavidez moves to 28-5. Formiga drops to 23-6.
francis ngannou def. junior dos santos via TKO in round 1, 1:11
The scariest man on the planet struck again in the UFC Minneapolis main event at Target Center on Saturday, as Francis Ngannou may have secured another shot at the heavyweight title with his first-round knockout of former champion Junior Dos Santos.
“I deserve the winner of DC and Stipe,” said Ngannou of the UFC 241 main event between Daniel Cormier and former foe Stipe Miocic in August.
The victory was Ngannou’s third in a row, with his victories over Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez and Curtis Blaydes lasting a combined two minutes and 22 seconds.
Ngannou opened the fight with a pair of leg kicks, and Dos Santos responded with one of his own that sent the Cameroon native to the deck briefly. Ngannou came back with a hard right hand, and with each swing, it was clear that neither fighter was interested in sticking around for five rounds. And they wouldn’t have to, as Ngannou made Dos Santos pay for a wild miss with two rights that sent the Brazilian to the mat. Dos Santos tried to recover, but it was not to be, as Ngannou’s follow-up shots ended the bout, with referee Herb Dean stepping in at the 1:11 mark of round one.
With the win, the No. 2-ranked Ngannou ups his record to 14-3. The No. 3-ranked Dos Santos falls to 21-6.