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UFC 239 Preview

UFC 239 (TV: Early Prelims ESPN+, Prelims ESPN, Main Card ESPN PPV)

Saturday, July 6th 8:00 PM ET T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas, Nevada)

UFC Light Heavyweight Title Fight

Main Event: Jon Jones (24-1-(1 NC)) vs. Thiago Santos (21-6)

Fight odds: Jon Jones -770 Thiago Santos +500

UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title Fight

Co-Main Event: Amanda Nunes (17-4) vs. Holly Holm (12-4)

Fight odds: Amanda Nunes -400 Holly Holm +310

Welterweight Bout

Third Fight: Ben Askren (19-0-(1 NC)) vs. Jorge Masvidal (33-13)

Fight odds: Ben Askren -250 Jorge Masvidal +200

UFC 239 Pick Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos

UFC 239 will return to Las Vegas with one of the biggest cards of the year. There are two Titles on the line as some all time greats in Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes prepare to defend their belts. In the third fight rising welterweights, Jorge Masvidal will face Ben Askren at 170 lbs. Askren is 34, 5’11 with a 73 inch reach. Masvidal is 34, 5’11 with a 74 inch reach. This should be an interesting stye matchup between a striker and a wrestler. Masvidal has fast and powerful hands capable of scoring a knockout at any point. Askren will have to stay aware and be aggressive with his savvy wrestling. If Askren can be successful with his takedowns the fight will be to his advantage.

In 20 fights, Askren is undefeated with 6 wins by knockout and 6 by submission. Masvidal is 33-13, but has impressive knockout wins against Donald Cerrone and Darren Till. In his most recent fight, Masvidal got the 2nd Round knockout on Till with a huge overhand left that landed on the chin followed by another big left hand to end the fight. Askren is coming off a 1st Round submission over Robbie Lawler. Askren was losing the fight early, withstanding some huge shots from Lawler before methodically wrestling Lawler and taking his back when he lined up a bulldog choke in quick succession. The referee stopped the fight after it appeared that Lawler was unconscious when his arm went limp. Lawler didn’t tap and was still alert after the stoppage, making it an early stoppage as the fight seemingly could’ve continued.

Nonetheless, it goes down as a win and showed that Askren has a good chin that can take some punishment before imposing his will with his wrestling tactics to set up his advantageous position. Masvidal may not be as great of a challenger to Askern as Lawler was. With many losses in his career, Masvidal has taken more punishment and has lost to Damian Maia previously, a fighter with a similar style to Askren. Masvidal is a dangerous fighter, but Askren’s overall technical ability should be able to overwhelm Masvidal and either get the submission or decision win.

In the Co-Main event, Holly Holm will face Amanda Nunes for her Bantamweight Title, at 135 lbs. Nunes is 31, 5’8 with a 69 inch reach. Holm is 37, 5’8 with a 69 inch reach. Nunes is the double champion, holding both the Bantamweight and the Featherweight Titles. Nunes may be the greatest women’s fighter of all time after getting wins over fellow greats such as Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko and most recently, Cris Cyborg. Holly Holm is also an accomplished MMA fighter and boxer that is capable of landing lethal kicks as well. Holm also knocked out Rousey, but lost by decision to Shevchenko and Cyborg. Having shared opponents somewhat helps to predict how they will match up against each other.

Holm is coming off a decision win over Megan Anderson and did well to dominate with her wrestling and striking skills. Holm is entering this bout after more than a year layoff as her last bout against Anderson was in June of 2018. Nunes’ most recent fight, a First Round knockout of Cris Cyborg was in December of 2018. With both fighters having long layoffs they should come in fresh and ready to put on an exciting fight. Nunes will need to be wary of Holm’s striking abilities and fight a disciplined fight.

Nunes is undefeated since a knockout loss to Cat Zingano in 2014. Since that fight, Nunes has progressively improved and it seems like she has worked on her weaknesses to become nearly unbeatable. Holm’s most realistic chance to get an upset win will be to land a head kick or catch Nunes on the way in. Nunes seems to have mastered distance and has proven to have one punch knockout power. Holm will need to control the distance with her kicks and takedown attempts. If she can’t, Nunes will be able to close the distance and land a big shot to end the fight. While Holm does have 4 losses, she has never been knocked out, with 3 losses by decision and one by submission. This will be a tough fight for Holm as Nunes seems to be at the top of her game, while Holm has lost 4 of her last 6 fights.

UFC 239 Pick Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos

In the Main Event, Jon Jones will face Thiago Santos for the Light Heavyweight Title, at 205 lbs. Jones is 31, 6’4 with a 84.5 reach. Santos is 35, 6’2 with a 76 inch reach. If one were to create a light heavyweight fighter in a lab, he would likely come out looking similar to Jon Jones. A freak of nature with long limbs and great submission skills, Jones may be the most well rounded fighter in MMA history. Jones is the greatest light heavyweight of all time and further cements his legacy with each successive win. Jones also has a tough chin as he has taken damage in past fights, but still came out with the win. Jones is a versatile striker able to use his reach to land combination punching and nasty elbows from close range along with utilizing different kicking techniques to keep his opponents off balance. Jones is capable of winning by knockout or submission, with 10 wins by knockout and 6 by submission.

Santos will need to use his takedown defense and close the distance to try and hit Jones with a big shot. Santos has great power in both hands and can end the fight win one punch. Out of Santos’ 21 wins, 15 have come by knockout. Santos will be looking for that knockout punch because it is unlikely he has an advantage over Jones in any category, other than power. The height and reach advantage that Jones has may be too much for Santos to overcome. Jones has never truly lost inside the octagon and has had success against shorter fighters in the past with recent wins over Daniel Cormier and Anthony Smith.

Jones’ striking skills and overall ability should be enough to get the win against a dangerous striker in Santos. Jones is coming off a decision win over Anthony Smith in March of 2019. Jones dominated with wrestling and wore down Smith over the course of 5 Rounds. Santos is coming off a 3rd Round knockout over Jan Blachowicz in February of 2019. Santos is undefeated in his last 4 fights to set up this Title matchup. Expect a great night of fights from Las Vegas as two GOATs, in Jones and Nunes prepare to further build on their legacy and all they’ve done for men’s and women’s MMA.

Picks: Ben Askren by Decision

Amanda Nunes by 3rd Round Submission

Jon Jones by 2nd Round Knockout