UFC on ESPN 3 has a new headliner, as a heavyweight clash between Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos will top the June 29 card in Minneapolis, Minn.
The promotion’s broadcast partner, ESPN, confirmed on Tuesday that Ngannou vs. dos Santos had been moved from a main card slot on UFC 239 to the headlining spot at UFC on ESPN 3.
The change came after Tyron Woodley withdrew from a rematch with Robbie Lawler due to a hand injury in what was originally scheduled to be the UFC on ESPN 3 featured bout. The promotion searched for a replacement opponent for Lawler, but instead the former welterweight champion will fight at a different event.
Ngannou rose to No. 1 contender status on the strength of six consecutive finishes in the Octagon. His stock declined following lackluster decision losses against Stipe Moicic and Derrick Lewis, but “The Predator” has since rebounded to post first-round stoppages of Curtis Blaydes and Cain Velasquez in his last two Octagon appearances.
A former heavyweight champion, Dos Santos has crafted a three-bout winning streak that includes a decision triumph over Blagoy Ivanov and technical knockouts of Tai Tuivasa and Lewis. “Cigano” owns other notable victories against the likes of Miocic, Mark Hunt, Velasquez, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Ben Rothwell and Shane Carwin, to name a few.