UFC 239 tips: Best bets for Jon Jones v Thiago Santos
Jack Green gives his UFC betting tips for Saturday night's light heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas, plus the rest of the main card.
JON JONES V THIAGO SANTOS
It’s difficult, at this point, to see how Jones is ever going to lose.
The light heavyweight champion is undefeated in 16 fights since he was disqualified against Matt Hammill in 2009, with the only blemish in that run being a victory over Daniel Cormier that was ruled a no contest after Jones failed a drug test.
Jones remains a puzzle that no fighter has managed to solve. He’s a creative striker who has mastered the ability to disrupt his opponent’s rhythm, and a dangerous grappler who can secure submissions on the ground.
He’s a genuine all-around fighter, unlike the challenger he faces on Saturday night.
Santos is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, but he relies almost entirely on his immense power with both his hands and feet.
It’s a style that earned the 35-year-old three successive knockout wins coming into this fight, but he’ll struggle to do the same to the champion.
Santos has looked uncomfortable in the past when opponents have pushed him back and got inside his kicking range, and it’s very likely that Jones will try to smother him and take this fight to the ground, where the Brazilian is far less dangerous.
Expect Jones to secure takedowns throughout this fight and to eventually get the submission victory.
Jones to win by submission
AMANDA NUNES V HOLLY HOLM
Nunes established herself as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC – and arguably the greatest female fighter ever – when she knocked out Cris Cyborg in the first round back in December.
That earned the Brazilian the featherweight title, making her just the third fighter ever to hold two belts simultaneously.
Nunes’ power makes her a seemingly unstoppable striker, so this weekend’s match-up with former boxer Holm suits the champion nicely.
Holm will keep this fight on the feet, where she is at her most comfortable but also in the most danger.
The American has lost four of six fights since she stunned Ronda Rousey to win the bantamweight title in 2015, so she doesn’t have much chance of an upset here.
Nunes to win by stoppage for the fourth time in five fights looks the best bet.
Nunes to win by KO/TKO/DQ
BEN ASKREN V JORGE MASVIDAL
This is a classic grappler v striker match-up featuring arguably the UFC’s best trash talker.
Askren has won plenty of fans with his press conference antics, but he’s also a credible contender in the welterweight division, having never lost in 20 professional fights and beaten Robbie Lawler in his UFC debut in March.
The American isn’t very athletic and can’t really strike, but his wrestling is so good that he manages to find a way to win every single time.
Masvidal is a big test. He has a 10-6 record in the UFC after knocking Darren Till out cold back in March, and will have a major advantage over Askren when it comes to striking.
The 34-year-old has lost by decision 10 times in his career, though, so it’s worth betting on Askren getting enough takedowns to control the bout and edge a victory on points.
Askren to win by decision
JAN BLACHOWICZ V LUKE ROCKHOLD
It has been nearly 18 months since Rockhold last fought, and he now returns in a new division against a tough opponent.
Rockhold was knocked out by Yoel Romero back in February 2018 – his second defeat in three fights – and that has prompted a move to light heavyweight after years of struggling to make the middleweight limit.
The 34-year-old has shown a tendency to take too many shots in his last three fights, which doesn’t bode well for him against Blachowicz, who is a solid boxer with sound technique.
The Pole had won four successive fights before he was knocked out by Thiago Santos in February, and he’s bigger than anyone Rockhold has fought at middleweight.
Blachowicz’s side and strength should cause major problems for Rockhold, and the American’s time away from the ring makes it hard to see him coming back with a victory.
A Blachowicz victory by decision looks the likeliest outcome.
Blachowicz to win by decision
DIEGO SANCHEZ V MICHAEL CHIESA
Sanchez has been in as many wars as any fighter in the UFC over the past decade, and his chin has almost completely gone as a result.
Nevertheless, the 37-year-old has managed to win his last two fights, and his opponent on Saturday isn’t the kind of puncher that could put him to sleep with one shot.
Chiesa has never knocked an opponent out, but he is a great wrestler who has only lost to Anthony Pettis and Kevin Lee – both recent interim title contenders – in his last six bouts.
While Sanchez has relied upon his vast experience for a long time and will be tough to submit, he has lost seven times in his last 13 fights and hasn’t beaten a particularly good opponent since a 2016 win over Jim Miller.
Chiesa should be just good enough to beat the veteran without being able to knock him out.
Chiesa to win by decision
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