Junior Dos Santos vs. Francis Ngannou now headlines UFC on ESPN 3

A heavyweight tilt between ex-champ Junior Dos Santos and onetime title challenger Francis Ngannou will play fill-in as UFC on ESPN 3’s headliner.

Following the withdrawal of Tyron Woodley from a scheduled main event opposite fellow ex-welterweight champ Robbie Lawler, the UFC bumped up Dos Santos vs. Ngannou by one week for the June 29 card at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Previously, the heavyweight stars were set for UFC 239 on July 6 in Las Vegas. ESPN.com first reported news of the switch, and MMA Junkie subsequently confirmed the plans with multiple people with knowledge of the booking who wished to remain anonymous because the promotion hasn’t officially announced the move.

The heavyweight matchup between Dos Santos (21-5 MMA, 15-4 UFC) and Ngannou (13-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) was teed up after key wins for both fighters. In March, Dos Santos earned his third straight win with a second-round stoppage of Derrick Lewis, while Ngannou quickly stopped ex-champ Cain Velasquez one month earlier for his second straight win.

With ex-champ Stipe Miocic set to rematch Daniel Cormier in August, the winner of Dos Santos vs. Ngannou will be on the short list for a title shot. For Dos Santos, it would be his third attempt at taking back gold after a short-lived run as champ in 2011-2012. Ngannou rocketed up the ranks to earn a shot at Miocic in 2018, only to fizzle in a five-round fight.

Woodley withdrew from UFC on ESPN 3 citing a hand injury that prevented him from training properly. Lawler remains unbooked as of this writing.

For more on UFC on ESPN 3, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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