For the next seven consecutive Saturdays, UFC will provide violent entertainment inside the Octagon including the return of Jon “Bones” Jones next week at UFC 239 on PPV. Before we get too far ahead, the UFC will host 13 fights this Saturday, June 29, at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
By Chad Cooper
The entire card will be shown on ESPN beginning with seven prelims at 5 p.m. The 6-fight main card begins at 8 p.m. CST. We went 3-2 last week on the main card including calling the main event underdog win – Korean Zombie KO (+305).
No. 2 Francis Ngannou (13-3) vs. No. 3 Junior Dos Santos (21-5)
Odds: Ngannou (-240), Dos Santos (+205)
Interesting heavyweight matchup between “The Predator” Francis Ngannou and “Cigano” Dos Santos. Ngannou is coming off two impressive wins after two bad losses.
The Predator smoked Curtis Blaydes in less than a minute and finished former champion Cain Velasquez even quicker. Scary m’fer if you ask me. Dos Santos, another former champion, has put together a 3-fight win streak but are there power still left in those punches? Dos Santos is 0-2 as an underdog and has been in plenty of wars. Ngannou also has a love affair with Zion.
PICK: Ngannou, KO/TKO Rd 2
No. 1 Jussier Formiga (23-5) vs. No. 2 Joseph Benavidez (27-5)
Odds: Benavidez (-170), Formiga (+145)
It’s the small fellas here, or midgets you might say. Benavidez, who has won two in a row, defeated Formiga in 2013 with a 1st Rd KO.
Formiga has elevated his game after a bad loss to Ray Borg by winning four in a row. Benavidez is now 34, and I think this a good chance to take a stab at the Brazilian underdog here.
PICK: Formiga UD
No. 12 Demian Maia (26-9) vs. Anthony Rocco Martin (16-4)
Odds: Maia (-180), Martin (+150)
The old man Maia, 41, has lost 3 of his last 5 fights, but those have come from the hands of champion Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman and former champ Tyron Woodley.
He isn’t the most exciting fighter, but 13 of his 26 wins come by way of submission. Martin has won 4 in a row and has improved, but don’t think he is good enough to stuff all of Maia’s takedowns.
PICK: Maia UD
Roosevelt Roberts (8-0) vs. Vinc Pichel (11-2)
Odds: Roberts (-260), Pichel (+210)
“The Predator” Roosevelt Roberts grabbed a UFC contract last summer and is looking to go 3-0 inside the Octagon. He has been effective with his strikes as well as his takedowns.
He will definitely take a step up in competition here against Vinc “From Hell” Pichel, who is a dangerous, yet 36-year-old fighter. I’m so tempted to take the +210 here and will probably regret not doing it.
PICK: Roberts SUB, Rd 2
Drew Dober (20-9-0-1NC) vs. Marco Polo Reyes (8-5) – El Toro
Odds: Dober (-350), Reyes (+275)
Both fighters enter this weekend off a loss. Drew Dober is from Nebraska. I don’t know about you, but how many bad asses do you know from the Cornhusker state? Not many.
Both fighters do like to throw punches so this could actually be exciting? What I’m not excited about is that -350 behind Dober’s name. Looks decision-ish to me.
PICK: Dober UD
Alonzo Menifield (8-0) vs. Paul Craig (8-3) – Bear Jew
Odds: Menifield (-310), Craig (+250)
Scotland’s Paul Craig has a slew of submission victories and several miracle wins on his resume. He beat Kennedy Nzechuwu with less than a minute left in his last fight in March and is another interesting underdog on this card. Newcomer Alonzo Menifield fights out of Fortis MMA in Dallas.
He made quick work of Dashawn Boatwright on Dana White’s Contender Series then smoked Brazilian Vinicius Moreira in his UFC debut. Most wise-guys are taking a chance with Craig +250 because of his takedown abilities and grind out an ugly win. Not much value with -310 unless you parlay with others.
PICK: Menifield KO, Rd 2
Prelims • 5 p.m. on ESPN
Ricardo Ramos (12-2) vs. Journey Newson (7-1)
Eryk Anderson (11-4) vs. Vinicius Moreira (9-2)
Jordan Griffin (17-6) vs. Vince Murdock (10-5)
Jared Gordon (14-3) vs. Dan Moret (13-5)
Dalcha Lungiambula (9-1) vs. Justin Ledet (9-2-0, 1NC)
Emily Whitemire (4-2) vs. Amanda Ribas (6-1)
Maurice Greene (7-2) vs. Junior Albini (14-5)