Francis Ngannou vs. Junior dos Santos Moved to UFC Minneapolis Main Event

Francis Ngannou UFC Minneapolis
Francis Ngannou Credit: Dave Mandel/

Following Tyron Woodley’s injury, UFC Minneapolis needed a headliner. Instead of finding a new opponent for Robbie Lawler, Francis Ngannou vs. Junior dos Santos will take place one week earlier.

Brett Okamoto of ESPN first reported the new UFC Minneapolis main event.

Tyron Woodley pulled out of the original main event against Robbie Lawler with a lingering hand injury and also reportedly had yet to sign the bout agreement. Many welterweights stepped up and said they’d love to fight Lawler, but none were fortunate enough to get the headlining slot. So the promotion took a fight from the stacked UFC 239 card and moved it up one week to headline the ESPN card.

Francis Ngannou is looking to bulldoze his way to the title again, rebounding from a two-fight losing streak with a pair of knockouts that lasted a total of 61 seconds. First was a 45 second knockout of rising contender Curtis Blaydes followed by a 26 second knockout against former champion Cain Velasquez. The Cameroonian is 8-2 in the Octagon with all of his wins coming via stoppage.

Junior dos Santos has been a permanent top contender since starting his UFC run in 2008 with seven straight wins, a title-winning knockout against Cain Velasquez in 2011, and one defense of that belt. He alternated losses and wins in his next seven fights, receiving two shots at the belt and falling both times. The Brazilian has hit his stride since his last loss in 2017, defeating Blagoy Ivanov and knocking out Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis.

Robbie Lawler will receive a new opponent for a future event.

UFC Minneapolis takes place on June 29 from the Target Center in Minnesota. In addition to the main event, top flyweights Jussier Formiga and Joseph Benavidez go to battle, and grappling wizard Demian Maia takes on Anthony Rocco Martin.