Every year around the July 4 holiday in the USA, the UFC stages arguably its best card of the year. Doubt any will be better in 2019 than Saturday’s UFC 239 from Las Vegas, which is headlined by all-time great Jon Jones putting his light heavyweight title on the line against Thiago Santos. Here’s a look at that bout and another title fight with their Mybookie Sportsbook odds.
- When: Saturday, 10 PM ET (main card)
- Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
- Live Stream: UFC Fight Pass
Jon Jones (24-1) vs. Thiago Santos (21-6)
Jones is a -800 favorite at Mybookie Sportsbook – Santos is +530 — as he looks to successfully defend his light heavyweight title again – and a victory could lead to a mega-fight with current heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. For some reason, Cormier is ranked No. 1 on the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings and Jones No. 2 even though Jones has beaten Cormier twice already.
Well, the last time they fought it was ruled a no-contest after because Jones tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs yet again and was suspended yet again. That’s the only thing stopping Jones from being the best fighter in MMA history. His one loss wasn’t even a loss – he was disqualified for illegal elbows while he was beating the crap out of Matt Hamill in December 2009.
Jones is coming off a dominant title defense against Anthony Smith at UFC 235, which he won by unanimous decision despite being deducted two points. The only thing of note in the fight came in the fourth round when Jones landed a flush knee to a downed Smith’s head. Smith was able to continue the fight, and Jones was deducted two points with no disqualification. The title defense was officially the first of Jones’ third run with the light heavyweight championship. After having the title stripped, he won it back in December when he defeated former rival, Alexander Gustafsson.
Jones’ current 16-fight UFC unbeaten streak in light-heavyweight competition is the longest active streak in the division and longest in the history of the weight class. It’s also the longest UFC unbeaten streak among active fighters. His 16-fight unbeaten streak in UFC competition is tied with Anderson Silva for the longest in company history. His 18 UFC light-heavyweight victories are the most in divisional history. Finally, Jones’ 10 stoppage victories in UFC light-heavyweight competition are tied with Glover Teixeira for the most in modern divisional history. Jones has never been knocked down or submitted in MMA competition.
Santos is fighting for a title for the first time in his career and on a four-fight winning streak. He decisioned Kevin Holland and finished Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa and Jan Błachowicz. His string of impressive performances is the reason he is now ranked No. 2 at light heavyweight and was awarded the opportunity to challenge Jones for the belt. With 16 career stoppages in 21 victories, Santos prides of a 76 percent finishing rate. He has recorded 15 wins by KO or TKO and one by submission. Only five of his career wins came by decision.
Santos’ range kicking could give Jones trouble, and Santos’ finishing ability should at least bring some tension to this fight, but there’s a reason the odds are where they are.
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Amanda Nunes (17-4) vs. Holly Holm (12-4)
There’s no question that Nunes is the top female fighter going right now and she puts her bantamweight title on the line. Nunes is -350 at Mybookie.ag and Holm at +280.
Nunes is a three-time defending bantamweight champion. She moved up to the 145-pound featherweight division in December and upset Cris “Cyborg” Justino in a first-round knockout for the UFC’s featherweight championship.
Cyborg, unbeaten in 20 fights since losing her debut bout in 2005, was facing a woman in bantamweight queen Nunes who was on a seven-fight win streak and bidding to be crowned the first female UFC champion in two divisions. The undersized Nunes dominated her fellow Brazilian from the start, buckling Justino’s knees and knocking her down twice before landing the overhand right that ended it.
Nunes is the third fighter in UFC history to hold two title belts simultaneously, joining Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier. Nunes has fought and beaten all previous UFC women’s champions in both the bantamweight and featherweight divisions including Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, and Cyborg. Holm represents the last fighter on that list.
Holm had one of the biggest upsets in MMA history in November 2015 when she knocked out champion Ronda Rousey but has lost four of six since. She has no wrestling skills as a former boxer. A lot has been made of this being an undeserved shot for Holm, but there are not any better options for Nunes at the moment.
“Holly has very good movement,” Nunes said. “She moves a lot, she goes in and out. I know she’s going to look to outpoint me. Try to hold me against the cage… because all my opponents think that. I feel like she’s going to run, run, run and play the point, point, point until she finds the right moment.”
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Expert UFC 239 Picks
Jones by decision & Nunes by KO/TKO.
Tune in to MMAWeekly.com on Saturday, July 6, for full UFC 239: Jones vs. Santos live results from Las Vegas. UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones puts his belt on the line opposite Thiago Santos in the UFC 239 headliner, while Amanda Nunes puts her bantamweight belt up against Holly Holm in the night’s co-main event.