UFC 239 Preview
By Anuj Datta
UFC 239 on July 6th will emanate from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Fitting that the fight capital of the world will play host to international fight week, which starts with fan events, the Hall of Fame and will culminate in the one of the most stacked UFC cards of the year.
It will be headlined by light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, defending the belt against new contender Thiago Santos.
In the co-main, veteran Holly Holm will challenge Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight crown.
This championship double header was put together to befit the high expectations of the fans, who look to international fight week to provide the marquee match ups of the year. Jones and Holm, who are team mates at Jackson-Wink Academy, return to do battle with Santos and his Brazilian compatriot Nunes.
There was a choice of contenders that could have fought for the strap, but the decision was to pit Jones against Thiago Santos. Santos has devastating power in both hands and can knock out anyone given half a chance. Since losing to David Branch, he has been riding a four-fight win streak, including notable wins over Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz.
Whilst there is no animosity and trash talking between the two, expect fireworks come fight night.
Amanda Nunes has been formidable lately, winning nine of her last ten bouts. “The Lioness” has stated she often felt overlooked by the UFC brass in the past, so she let her performances do the talking.
An emphatic 51 second knockout over the feared powerhouse Cris Cyborg, cemented her place as the number one pound for pound female fighter in the organisation.
The stakes are high for her adversary – “The Preachers Daughter” Holly Holm. A wily striker who has an impressive record, she will be the champs toughest test to date.
Holm has been campaigning for another title tilt and the UFC has granted her wish. With 20 knockouts between them, don’t be surprised if this fight doesn’t go the full 25 minutes.
Elsewhere on the main card, Ben Askren squares up against Jorge Masvidal. The classic clash of styles of a wrestler vs Muay Thai practitioner.
Askren has been undefeated since transitioning from freestyle wrestling to mixed martial arts. He has amassed a record of 19-0 and silenced critics that said he was a one trick pony.
He will be fighting a veteran in Jorge Masvidal, a fighter who initially made his name bare knuckle street fighting. He has fought in three different weight classes and found success in them all.
Masvidal and Askren have been trading barbs on Twitter on and off since the fight announcement. This one is sure to entertain.
Luke Rockhold makes his light heavyweight debut against Jan Blachowicz. A staple of the middleweight division, Rockhold moves up in his quest to be remembered as a great. “The Prince of Poland” will be no pushover though and is keen to welcome the former to the division. Rockhold juggles being a fighter with a Ralph Lauren model but has given his undivided attention to his opponent, a sign of respect to Blachowicz’s ability.
But “The Charismatic One” is looking to make a statement, and run through the competition at 205lbs to set up a future meeting with Jon Jones.
The two title challengers in the main event will have to be better than ever to dethrone the current champions, who are considered to be the greatest of all time.