The UFC is bringing in the July 4th weekend with a bang in UFC 239, this Saturday, July 6th, from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Early prelims kick off 6:15/5:15 Central with main card action commencing at 9:00/8:00. Featured on the main card are five bouts, all of which could easily headline an event, culminating in two electric title fights – Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes defending the women’s Bantamweight gold against Holly Holm, and Thiago Santos taking his shot at the seemingly impenetrable Jon Jones. Follow along as we break down each of the five main card matchups of UFC 239, and we’ll give the current betting odds and our predictions to how we see the fights going down.
Diego Sanchez (29-11) vs. Michael Chiesa (15-4)
Odds as of 7/3/19: Michael Chiesa -330; Diego Sanchez +260
UFC staple and TUF 1 winner Diego Sanchez enters this fight at more of an underdog than most would probably expect. Sanchez won his last two, most notably a second-round TKO victory over Mickey Gall at UFC 235. Sanchez’s career, however, has been anything but consistent over the last decade, and he hasn’t strung together 3 consecutive wins since 2009. Michael Chiesa fell short in two out of his last three, but looked sensational in his Welterweight debut at UFC 232 – locking up a second-round kimura on Carlos Condit. Of Chiesa’s 15 professional victories, none have come by way of knockout or TKO, and Sanchez has never found himself on the opposite end of a submission.
Our pick: Michael Chiesa, decision
Jan Błachowicz (23-8) vs. Luke Rockhold (16-4)
Odds as of 7/3/19: Luke Rockhold -180; Jan Blachowicz +150
Next on the main card, Jan Blachowicz will take on Luke Rockhold, and Blachowicz comes into this one as a slight underdog. Blachowicz had won four in-a-row, but is coming off of a loss to Thiago Santos via 3rd-round TKO in Prague back in February. Rockhold is 6-2 in his last eight fights, but has fallen short in two out of his last three – knockouts to Michael Bisping and Yoel Romero. Eleven out of Blachowicz’s last fifteen fights went the distance, and seven of his last ten victories were decided by the judges. Conversely, in Rockhold’s 20 professional appearances, only 2 of his fights have been decided on scorecards, and he’s never lost a decision.
Our pick: Luke Rockhold, 2nd-round TKO
Jorge Masvidal (33-13) vs. Ben Askren (19-0, 1NC)
Odds as of 7/3/19: Ben Askren -250; Jorge Masvidal +200
In what’s probably the most highly-anticipated fight on this card, Jorge Masvidal looks to derail Ben Askren in only his second UFC appearance. The undefeated Askren is coming off of a controversial bulldog choke victory over Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 back in March. Although the stoppage may have been questionable, Askren’s toughness is not, as he endured an early onslaught by Lawler that could had very well given “Funky” his first loss. Jorge Masvidal has seen his stock rise exponentially after his Fight of the Night winning knockout of Darren Till. However, Masvidal has only mounted 4 wins since 2015, and he’s fallen short in two out of his last three. That being said, Masvidal hasn’t been out of the fights that he’s been losing – he hasn’t been finished since 2009.
Our pick: Ben Askren, decision
Amanda Nunes (17-4) vs. Holly Holm (12-4)
Odds as of 7/3/19: Amanda Nunes -350; Holly Holm +275
In the first of two title fights, champ-champ Amanda Nunes will look to defend her women’s Bantamweight belt against Holly Holm. Two notable commonalities between these two women are that they are the only two to have ever defeated Ronda Rousey, and they both fought Cris Cyborg – the big difference here being Holm lost to Cyborg via unanimous decision, and Nunes knocked her out in under a minute.
Since starting her career 10-0, Holly Holm has been on a serious skid. After force-feeding Ronda Rousey her first taste of defeat at UFC 193, Holm has lost 4 out of her last 6. Amanda Nunes’ career, however, has been on the opposite trajectory. She is currently riding an 8 fight win streak spanning nearly 5 years and 2 weight classes. She is coming off of arguably the greatest performance in women’s mixed martial arts, a first-round knockout of Cris Cyborg, making her only the third ever UFC fighter to hold titles in two separate divisions simultaneously.
Our pick: Amanda Nunes, 1st-round KO
Jon Jones (24-1-0, 1NC) vs. Thiago Santos (21-6)
Odds as of 7/3/19: Jon Jones -700; Thiago Santos +500
Suspensions aside, Jon Jones has reigned supreme over the UFC Light Heavyweight division since 2011. He’s technically undefeated, and the only person to ever defeat current UFC Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. He will probably go down as the greatest mixed martial artist ever, and hold that title for a very long time. Although Santos does have more than a fair chance of getting the upset here, if he doesn’t, then nobody really knows what’s next for Jon Jones. He’s already cleared out the top ranks of the LHW division, and other than Johnny Walker, there are no other exciting match ups awaiting the champion there. He could allow Daniel Cormier a third chance at him, but, other than a huge payday, there’s nothing else there for Jones.
That being said, Thiago Santos is probably the best match up for Jon Jones since Jones first fought Cormier back in 2015. Santos is on a 4 fight win streak, he’s up 8 of his last 9, and he’s finished all but one of those opponents. He’s got notable wins over a who’s who list of LHW contenders, including Anthony Smith and Jan Blachowicz. Unfortunately for him, the UFC Light Heavyweight division belongs to Jon Jones, and it doesn’t look like that will be changing for a long time.
Our pick: Jon Jones, 4th-round submission
Safest pick: Nunes over Holm
Best chance for an upset: Masvidal over Askren
Tell us what you think! Where do we have it right, and where do you think we got it wrong? Comment with your picks, and don’t forget to bookmark our page and check back often for more predictions and fight coverage. If you like what you see, go ahead and give our Facebook page a like and follow us on Instagram @mmatribune.