The scariest finisher in MMA added yet another first-round knockout in his quest back to a heavyweight title shot.
Francis Ngannou (14-3) needed just 71 seconds to finish his second straight former champion when he stopped Junior dos Santos on Saturday at UFC Fight Night in Minneapolis and instantly called for a second shot at the championship.
Dos Santos (21-6) joined Cain Velasquez and Curtis Blaydes as first-round knockout victims against Ngannou over the past eight months, with all three heavyweights lasting a grand total of two minutes, 22 seconds against the native of Cameroon.
"I feel very good. I am very happy now and then I hope the UFC is going to realize that I deserve the title shot right now," Ngannou said. "I deserve the winner of DC [Daniel Cormier] and Stipe [Miocic]."
Cormier defends his heavyweight title against Miocic in August at UFC 241. Ngannou lost his lone title shot against Miocic in January 2018 but rebounded from a two-fight skid to regain his mojo with a dominant stretch of finishes.
The 35-year-old dos Santos had his moments in the early going, including a brief trip of Ngannou on an outside leg kick that he immediately followed up with a left hook. But Ngannou bounced back up to his feet and began to land hard kicks of his own.
The finish came shortly after as dos Santos badly overcommitted on a counter right hand attempt and went on to briefly turn his back on his opponent. Ngannou followed with a right hand that dos Santos never saw coming.
Dos Santos, a native of Brazil, dropped to the canvas and succumbed to a flurry of hammer shots shortly after as referee Herb Dean jumped in.
"Junior moves a lot so the goal was to throw him off and strike," Ngannou said. "Of course, it gives me some confidence but before that I was already confident because Junior is a striker and a boxer but I believe I am the best boxer in UFC.
"The only thing left now is the winner of Stipe and DC. I want a title shot back. I need some respect now and I deserve it."
In the co-main event, Joseph Benavidez thunderously stopped Jussier Formiga and declared himself the top contender for Henry Cejudo's flyweight title. After a frantic first round saw a cut open on the side of Benavidez's left eye, Benavidez stormed back in the second with a solid combination against the cage that Formiga was unable to answer as he crumpled in a heap next to the fence.
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UFC on ESPN 3 card/results
Francis Ngannou def. Junior dos Santos via first-round TKO (punches)
Joseph Benavidez def. Jussier Formiga via second-round TKO (punches)
Demian Maia def. Anthony Rocco Martin via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
Vinc Pichel def. Roosevelt Roberts unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Drew Dober def. Marco Polo Reyes via first-round TKO (punches)
Alonzo Menifield def. Paul Craig via first-round TKO (punches)
UFC on ESPN 3 updates, highlights
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