UFC 239 - Breakdown & Predictions
When is UFC 239? Sunday 7th July, 2019 – 01:00 (UK)
Where is UFC 239? T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
What channel is UFC 239? BT Sport Box Office (£19.95)
Where can I stream UFC 239? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT website
For viewers in the United States, the event will be shown live on ESPN+ which can you sign up to here!
Are tickets still available for UFC 239? https://www.ufc.com/tickets
Jon Jones vs Thiago Santos
The imperious and polarising champion Jon Jones is sticking to his word of being more active as he makes his third appearance in seven months and confidently welcomes the next challenger Thiago Santos to the cage.
After Jones’ most recent ban he has got two fights under his belt and looked as dominant as ever. He violently finished Alexander Gustafsson in the third round, putting their rivalry to bed in the process, and then put a beating on Anthony Smith for five rounds back in March. He is now well on the way to cleaning out the division for a second time but has a dangerous assignment next up.
Santos has only lost once in his last nine fights and has looked even more dangerous since moving up to light heavyweight, finishing Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz. These were all thrilling fights where he menacingly exchanged heavy blows and although he is now up against the best light heavyweight of all time, his aggression will be crucial to dethroning the champion.
Jones has never been outclassed, out-struck or out-grappled so Santos is going to have to fight in his natural way and be as aggressive as possible: forcing the action, stepping in and out of range and throwing heavy combinations.
Jones is a master of distance control with his monstrous 84.5-inch reach. He has the ability to keep Santos out of danger and pick him off with a variety of kicks and jabs but he is also dangerous in the clinch with tie ups and vicious elbows.
Santos is going to have to stay away from the cage and blitz Jones from angles mixing punches and kicks hoping to catch him to stand any chance. It is possible, but Jones is too good in every department and is likely to win the stand-up battle, take Santos down at will and even show off his submission prowess to finish the fight.
Winner: Jones via Submission
Amanda Nunes vs Holly Holm
Amanda Nunes makes the fourth defence of her bantamweight strap and as a sign of how shallow the division is at the moment, Holly Holm steps back down from featherweight with four losses from her last six but this is still one of the hardest match-ups out there for the two-division champion.
Nunes has got to be the best female fighter of all time. She has almost cleaned out the bantamweight division and moved up a class to take on the then-considered best female fighter Cris Cyborg and starched her in the first round. She is on an eight-fight winning streak and her stand-up has been so good she has not had to call upon her grappling skills.
Holm has also earned her keep with her striking. With a successful background in Boxing she has evolved into a complete MMA striker and although she has lost four of her last six, she is the former champion and is also coming off an impressive decision win over fellow striker Megan Anderson. She has shared the cage with some of the very best fighters in the world and this experience makes her more of a threat to Nunes than any other bantamweight right now.
This is will be a close and technical battle on the feet. They both have knockout power, particularly in Nunes’ hands and Holm’s feet but they are so technically sound defensively that this is likely to stretch into the championship rounds.
Holm will have a well-thought out strategy involving constant footwork and head movement to avoid the punches and counter with her own combinations but Nunes does not need to land often to pile on the damage and, as this is likely to go down to the wire, the power advantage of Nunes is likely to add up and sway the judges.
Winner: Nunes via Decision
Jorge Masvidal vs Ben Askren
There are mouth-watering match-ups everywhere you look in the welterweight division right now. The unbeaten and elite Wrestler Ben Askren makes his second UFC appearance against the veteran Jorge Masvidal who will be happy to scrap wherever the fight goes.
Masvidal walks out for his 17th UFC fight and is coming off a spectacular knockout over Darren Till. Although he lacks consistency, Masvidal is one of the most game fighters on the roster with all the skills in the book. Prior to his starching of Till, he lost decisions to Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson - an elite grappler and elite Kickboxer. Although he lost, he took these guys on at their own game and was never out of the fight.
Askren finally got his chance in the UFC after Dana White put their beef to one side. Although it has come too late in his career, he is still a huge threat to the title. In his UFC debut he was handed one of the hardest match-ups possible in Robbie Lawler who almost finished him with strikes but Askren rallied to grab a hold of him and eventually and controversially submit him via a bulldog choke. It was a premature stoppage but Askren’s grappling was there for everyone to see.
Masvidal is exceptional everywhere but this fight will all come down to Askren’s control. He knows it will be too dangerous to stand with Masvidal and he will hunt the takedown. Masvidal has great takedown defence, and training with Colby Covington will be ideal practice but Askren will tie him up and eventually get him to the ground.
This is likely to follow a similar pattern to Masvidal’s fight with Maia. Masvidal will fight off the takedown attempts for as long as possible and is too good to get finished but the control over the three rounds will be enough to earn Askren the points.
Winner: Askren via Decision
Jan Blachowicz vs Luke Rockhold
Luke Rockhold makes his long-awaited return to the octagon and debut at light heavyweight. Everything seems set for a new run at a title as he has recovered from injuries and does not have to worry about a weight cut but he has a big Polish shaped obstacle at the start of his journey in the form of Jan Blachowicz.
The staunch 205er is a very consistent performer but Blachowicz is coming off a devastating loss after a four-fight winning streak. He met the headline act, Thiago Santos back in February and suffered the second knockout of his career. He looks to bounce here back but faces one of his most difficult challenges to date.
Rockhold has only lost three of his last 18 but these were high-profile fights and highlight-reel knockouts which has diluted his past achievements. The losses to Vitor Belfort, Michael Bisping and Yoel Romero in his last outing were huge setbacks but he is one of the most skilled and well-rounded fighters on the roster and we could easily see the best version of him with less weight to cut.
Blachowicz is a solid and powerful striker and an exceptional grappler with high-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but Rockhold is better everywhere, on paper. As long as Rockhold can avoid any more damage to the chin he has the speed and technique to pick Blachowicz apart on the feet.
Blachowicz usually relies on his grappling but Rockhold has some of the most underrated grappling in the sport and if he finds top position on the ground he is more than capable of finding the submission despite Blachowicz’ black belt.
Although Blachowicz is extremely durable, a healthy and more powerful Rockhold will be a severe threat on the feet and on the ground. He has all the ability to inflict the necessary damage on the feet and if he can gain top control, there will be little chance of escape for the Pole.
Winner: Rockhold via KO/TKO
Diego Sanchez vs Michael Chiesa
Michael Chiesa steps out for his second fight at welterweight and has a good match-up in the form of another former lightweight Diego Sanchez who steps out for his 30th UFC fight.
The very first winner of The Ultimate Fighter had a horrific welcome to the welterweight division back in November 2017 when Matt Brown buried him with a vicious elbow. However, in true Sanchez fashion, he dusted himself off and picked up two wins - a decision over Craig White and a TKO over Mickey Gall.
We saw the full effects of Chiesa’s cut down to lightweight in his fight with Anthony Pettis. He missed the mark and looked very depleted before getting finished with an armbar. Then, on his welterweight debut he looked energised taking on Carlos Condit, notching the 11th submission of his career.
Chiesa will be confident with a size advantage at welterweight as Sanchez has fought as low as 145 lbs. Sanchez will have the advantage on the feet knowing Chiesa is yet pick up a knockout win in his career and he will be desperate to avoid the inevitable takedown attempts.
Chiesa is most comfortable on the floor and if he can take Sanchez down he has the attributes to control the veteran. Although Sanchez has never been submitted in his career, he will do well to avoid the grasp of Chiesa.
Winner: Chiesa via Decision
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric