The main and co-main events for this summer’s blockbuster UFC International Fight Week card have been revealed. UFC 239 takes place July 6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and ESPN has reported the following bouts.
Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos, UFC 239
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will return to the Octagon at UFC 239 when he puts his title on the line against knockout artist Thiago Santos.
Jones (24-1, 1 NC) is 18-1, 1 NC in the UFC and in the minds of many observers of the sport is the greatest talent to ever step into the Octagon. Of course, problems outside of the sport with the law and with USADA have hindered his career, but he’s finally back on a consistent fight schedule and that’s a good thing for everyone. Since his No Contest against Daniel Cormier in the summer of 2017, Jones has looked better than ever. He won back the vacant title with a brutal knockout win over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 and then defended the belt with a decision over Anthony Smith at UFC 232 just a few weeks ago. Jones has promised the fans that he will fight more often now that his personal issues have been taken care of, and this bout with Santos will be his third fight in less than less than eight months.
Santos (21-6) is 13-5 overall in the UFC and is currently riding a four-fight win streak, including three straight wins since moving up to light heavyweight. Since moving up to 205lbs, Santos has knocked out Jimi Manuwa, Eryk Anders and Jan Blachowicz in devastating fashion. He is actually second all-time now behind Vitor Belfort on the list of the UFC’s all-time greatest knockout artists. Though he was inconsistent as a middleweight, it appears the move up in weight has helped him gain some durability that could make him a true threat in this fight against Jones.
While Santos has a puncher’s chance against Jones, you just can’t go against the champion. Jones, for all his problems, is the greatest MMA fighter of all time, and he’ll be a heavy favorite here to defend his belt.
MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas has already released the opening betting line for this bout. Jones opened as a -900 favorite, with Santos as a +600 underdog. Click the link to read Kalikas’ rationale for the opening line.
Amanda Nunes vs. Holly Holm, UFC 239
UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes will stick around 135lbs and defend her belt at UFC 239 against top contender Holly Holm.
Nunes (17-4) is 10-1 overall in the UFC and is currently riding an eight-fight win streak. After going through every challenger thrown her way at bantamweight, including Valentina Shevchenko twice, Ronda Rousey and Raquel Pennington, she moved up to featherweight in her last outing and became the first woman to knock out Cris Cyborg, becoming the featherweight champion in the process. In this fight against Holm, she’ll move back down to bantamweight and defend her belt there.
Holm (12-4) is just 5-4 in the UFC, but she has fought elite competition in nearly all of her bouts inside the Octagon and her record is skewed as a result. Since her shocking upset head kick KO win over Ronda Rousey in late 2015, Holm is just 2-4 in the UFC, but she has won two of her last three bouts including a decision win over Megan Anderson in her last outing. Despite her inconsistencies the last few years, she’s still one of the most respected female MMA fighters ever.
Though Holm is a formidable challenge for Nunes, the UFC’s first-ever women’s double champion deserves to be a large favorite heading into this bout.
MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas also opened the opening betting line for this bout as well. Nunes opened as a -345 favorite, with Holm a +275 underdog. Click the link to read Kalikas’ rational for the opening line.
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