Ngannou routs dos Santos in first-round TKO

MMA news

Junior dos Santos was the polished boxer, the former UFC heavyweight champion. He had the pedigree. But Francis Ngannou had the raw punching power. In the end, that’s all that mattered.

Ngannou crushed dos Santos with a combination of looping, crushing punches early on — a right hook followed by a left and another right for good measure. Dos Santos crumpled to the mat, and referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop it at 1:11 of the first round and rule it a TKO finish for Ngannou in the main event of UFC Minneapolis on Saturday at Target Center.

Ngannou called for a heavyweight title shot next, saying he should face the winner of August’s Daniel Cormier versus Stipe Miocic championship bout. Ngannou has won three straight, all by first-round knockout.

“I hope the UFC realizes I deserve the title shot right now,” Ngannou said.

Ngannou (14-3) has the most UFC finishes in the heavyweight division since 2015, with nine. The Cameroon native, by way of France, has seven wins within two minutes, fourth-most in UFC history. Ngannou, 32, has won 10 of his 14 career victories by KO/TKO. For his part, dos Santos had never been finished within the first two minutes of a fight.

This is the third straight fight that Ngannou has won within 1:11. Ngannou fought once for the title before, a unanimous decision loss to Miocic at UFC 220 in January 2018.

Dos Santos (21-6) had won three straight coming in, the previous two by TKO. The Brazilian slugger has fought in five UFC title fights and could have been in a sixth had he beaten Ngannou. Dos Santos, 35, has been one of the best heavyweights of his era. He held the title in 2011 and 2012.

Cormier will defend his UFC heavyweight title against Miocic, the former champion, in the main event of UFC 241 on Aug. 17 in Anaheim, California.

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