The UFC is back at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 239 on Saturday night.
The main event takes place in the light heavyweight division where Jon Jones will defend his
UFC light heavyweight title against Thiago Santos.
Jon Jones returns to the octagon four months after defeating Anthony Smith via decision at UFC
235. Prior to that win, “Bones” took out Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 in their highly
The Jackson-Wink product boasts sixteen finishes in twenty-four career
victories. At the age of thirty-one, Jones will make the walk for the twenty-seventh time on
Thiago Santos enters his fight against Jones on Saturday night riding a four-fight win streak. His
most recent victory occurred at UFC Fight Night 145 where he finished Jan Blachowicz with
punches in the third round.
The other three wins were against Jimi Manuwa, Eryk Anders and
Kevin Holland. All but one of the four wins were via (T)KO. Fifteen of the Brazilian born
fighter’s twenty-one career victories came by way of (T)KO to go along with one via
This will be the thirty-five-year-old’s twenty-seventh professional fight.
Amanda Nunes defends her UFC bantamweight championship against Holly Holm in the co-
main. This will be Nunes’ fourth title defense at bantamweight. She has successfully defended
the title against Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko and Raquel Pennington.
The “Lioness” most recent fight took place at UFC 232 where she demolished Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino to
capture the UFC featherweight title and become the first ever women’s “champ-champ.”
Nunes comes into Saturday night’s fight the winner of her previous eight in a row. The last time she
failed to get her hand raised was at UFC 178 where she was finished at the hands of Cat Zingano.
Fifteen of the Brazilian’s seventeen career wins ended inside the distance.
Holly Holm’s career took a dramatic left turn after she shocked the world by destroying Ronda
Rousey to win the bantamweight championship at UFC 193 back in November of 2015. After
that victory she went on to lose her next three fights in a row.
First, she lost the title to Meisha Tate at UFC 196 then she dropped unanimous decisions to Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie. To Holm’s credit she bounced back and is 2-1 over her previous three fights. Her most recent fight occurred at UFC 225 where she beat Megan Anderson via unanimous decision.
At thirty-seven years old, “The Preacher’s Daughter” will make the walk for the seventeenth time on Saturday night. Eight of her twelve career victories ended inside the distance.
The third fight on the main card takes place in the welterweight division where Ben Askren takes on Jorge Masvidal. The longtime ONE Championship veteran, Ben Askren will make his second appearance inside the UFC cage on Saturday night.
Askren won his UFC debut by subbing Robbie Lawler at UFC 235. At thirty-four years-of-age and nineteen career professional fights,
Askren has yet to taste defeat. Twelve of those nineteen victories ended inside the distance.
After losing two fights in a row, Jorge Masvidal bounced back in a big way when he knocked out
Darren Till in the first round at UFC Fight Night 147. The UFC veteran has fought every big name in the division. At thirty-four years old, Masvidal will make the walk for the forty-seventh time on Saturday night. In thirty-three career victories, fourteen are via (T)KO and two are by
Also, on the main card Luke Rockhold makes his light heavyweight debut when he goes up
against Jan Blachowicz. and in the welterweight division long time UFC veteran and fan favorite, Diego Sanchez takes on Michael Chiesa.
The early prelims will stream on ESPN+ beginning at 5:15 PM (CST) with the prelims airing on ESPN starting at 7:00 PM (CST). The main card will stream on ESPN+ PPV at 9:00 PM (CST).
Note: The predictions in this column do not necessarily mean that I will be betting them. I have
changed my mind in the past and gone the other way after conducting more research. For all of
my official bets follow me on Twitter @MichaelGrocke.
Jon Jones (24-1, 1 NC) vs. Thiago Santos (21-6) – Light heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: Jones -650; Santos +450
Pick: Jones by (T)KO.
Thiago Santos has a chance to beat Jones. However, if it doesn’t happen within the first two
rounds it’s not going to happen. I’d like to see Santos come out, get in Jon’s face and let his
hands go. I don’t think Jones has faced anyone with Santos’ power. Santos needs Jones to feel
his power and make him think about it the rest of the fight. Jones is a master at figuring out his
opponent as the fight goes on. He is brilliant at changing strategy if needed and exposing his
opponent’s weakness. If Jones survives the first round onslaught eventually Santos will gas and
by then Jones will have him figured out leading to a third, maybe fourth round finish.
Amanda Nunes (17-4) vs. Holly Holm (12-4) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Nunes -400; Holm +300
Pick: Nunes by decision, but a finish wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
There are multiple ways Amanda Nunes can win this fight. That said, Holly Holm will get the
fight she wants. Holm likes to fight off her back foot and counterstrike. Nunes likes to walk
forward, clinch, get her opponent against the cage and let her hands go. Holm will really have to manage distance with her kicks and jab because if Nunes has success getting inside then it’s
going to be a long night for the preacher’s daughter. If the fight goes to the ground Nunes has an even bigger advantage. I like Holly Holm, but her recent body of work has not been impressive and in order to beat Nunes she’ll have to fight the perfect fight. I just don’t see that happening.
Jorge Masvidal (33-13) vs. Ben Askren (19-0, 1 NC) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Askren -220-; Masvidal +180
Pick: Askren by decision.
Masvidal must be able to defend Askren’s takedown attempts and keep the fight standing where
he has a massive advantage. That said, Askren has a rock-solid chin which was on display when
he took huge shots from Robbie Lawler and survived. Masvidal does not have Lawler’s power so
I don’t see Masvidal being able to knock Askren out. I think Askren will be able to take Jorge
down and smother him for long periods of time leading to a decision victory.
Jan Blachowicz (23-8) vs. Luke Rockhold (16-4) – Light heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: Rockhold -240; Blachowicz +200
Pick: Rockhold by decision.
Moving to 205 was a smart move by Rockhold. I also think Blachowicz is a good match-up for
his light heavyweight debut. Blachowicz doesn’t knock opponents out. In fact, his last (T)KO was
back in 2014. He also doesn’t fight at a fast pace and doesn’t throw a high volume of strikes.
This all bodes well for Rockhold who’s chin is always in question. What I don’t know is just how
shot is Rockhold’s chin? The Romero knockout could very well be a career altering knockout.
Rockhold is the more well-rounded fighter and should have the advantage regardless of where
the fight goes. I expect Rockhold to manage range with his kicks and jab and outpoint
Blachowicz. The questions surrounding Rockhold’s chin will prevent me from making him a
Diego Sanchez (29-11) vs. Michael Chiesa (15-4) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Chiesa -365; Sanchez +290
Pick: Chiesa by submission.
This is just a bad match-up for Sanchez. Michael Chiesa is just better everywhere. I think fans
are caught up in Diego’s recent wins. Mickey Gall and Craig White are no Michael Chiesa.
Gilbert Melendez (22-7) vs. Arnold Allen (14-1) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Allen -340; Melendez +265
Pick: Allen by decision.
I just don’t know what to expect from Melendez at this point in his career. I’m more than happy
backing the younger, hungrier fighter.
Marlon Vera (13-5-1) vs. Nohelin Hernandez (9-2) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Vera -420; Hernandez +320
Pick: Vera by decision.
Claudia Gadelha (16-4) vs. Randa Markos (9-6-1) – Strawweight 115 lbs.
Current Odds: Gadelha -240; Markos +200
Pick: Gadelha by decision with little confidence.
Alejandro Perez (21-7-1) vs. Song Yadong (13-3, 2 NC) – Bantamweight 135
Current Odds: Yadong -220; Perez +180
Pick: Yadong by (T)KO, but I will keep an eye on this one. Perez is a live dog in my opinion.
Edmen Shahbazyan (9-0) vs. Jack Marshman (23-8) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Current Odds: Shahbazyan -600; Marshman +400
Pick: Shahbazyan by (T)KO.
Ismail Naurdiev (18-2) vs. Chance Rencountre (13-3) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Naurdiev -535; Rencountre +385
Pick: Naurdiev by (T)KO.
Julia Avila (5-1) vs. Pannie Kianzad (11-4) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Avila -200; Kianzad +160
Pick: Avila by decision.
Enjoy the fights!
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