Saturday 6th July 2019 at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Main Card: 10pm ET on Pay-per-view
Prelims: 8pm ET on ESPN
Early Prelims: 6:15pm on ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass
Following a profitable UFC on ESPN 3, we’re back in search of more profit from this weekend’s event, UFC 239. The card is nicely stacked with intriguing young prospects, seasoned veterans, perennial contenders, former champions, and both the heavily argued female and male G.O.A.Ts of MMA. On top of all this, there’s two titles on the line and a few dogs I’ve got my eye on. Let’s get into this week’s picks for UFC 239: Jones vs. Santos!
Early Preliminary Welterweight (170lbs) Bout - Ismail “The Austrian Wonderboy” Naurdiev (16-2-0) vs. Chance “Black Eagle” Rencountre (13-3-0):
Naurdiev looked very impressive in his first UFC bout against Michel Prazeres. He demonstrated good skills on both the feet and mat, although a lack of finishing instinct against a seriously fatigued opponent. Prazeres is the furthest things from a pushover, especially for a UFC newcomer, but it’s impossible to draw the sole conclusion that Naurdiev’s win wasn’t due to his opponent looking out of sorts, and out of shape.
Rencountre is no world beater, but he’s durable, decent on the ground, and sometimes that’s enough to warrant being a substantial underdog against a relatively untested prospect on MMA’s grandest stage.
1u – Chance Rencountre @+380
Preliminary Bantamweight (135lbs) Bout – #13 Alejandro “Turbo” Perez (21-7-1) vs. Song “The Terminator” Yadong (14-4-0):
Yadong is the male prospect Chinese mma has been waiting for. He’s slick, well-round and with him only being 21 years of age, he’s still got a long time to develop his skills. Perez has a similar set of skills, although prefers to stand, whereas we’ve seen Yadong utilize a grapple heavy approach since he join the UFC. I don’t doubt Yadong could be special in the years to come, but with Perez’s experience, this will make him the toughest opponent Yadong has ever had to face, and one that certainly doesn’t warrant a near 2-1 price tag.
1u – Alejandro Perez @+196
Co-Main Event – UFC Women’s Bantamweight (135lbs) Championship Bout – (C) Amanda “Lioness” Nunes (17-4-0) vs. #2 Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm (12-4-0):
In the card’s Co-main we have Amanda Nunes seeking to cement herself as the MMA women’s GOAT. It’s not easy to dispute it right now, but if she were to beat Holly “The Rousey Killer” Holm, then it would mean Nunes has pretty much toppled every major player in women’s MMA (besides the 2009 retired Gina Carano), and then would make her the absolute undisputed GOAT of women’s MMA.
Holm’s on the other hand has faced some turbulent times since losing her title a few years ago. It’s been such a rocky road, that she’s now only won two of her last six, meaning that this shot seems a little unwarranted. Although that being said, the UFC needed a name and now they’ve we’ve got a very intriguing fight on our hands.
I’m expecting Nunes to get into Holly’s face pretty quickly, but as we’ve seen from Holm’s grit and determination, it could be very difficult for Nunes to actually make her powerful strikes pay dividends with an early stoppage. The female bantamweight champion does pose a slight submission threat, but it’s been so long since we’ve seen her actively looking for takedowns, over trying to use her effective power-striking. With this being said, I anticipate this fight going harder and for longer than ‘The Lioness’ has had to deal with for some time.
Holm’s work in the clinch, mixed in with her good takedown defense and kickboxing should make this a lot closer of a contest than many are anticipating. Add in her cardio and durability and you’ve got a recipe for trouble against a fighter that’s show serious fatigue in the past when going five hard rounds. To make matters worse for the double champ, Nunes is also going to be fighting 10lbs down from her last bout, meaning that this weight cut could further affect her cardio. It’s now three for three on dogs, we’re taking Holm to get the job done, most likely via decision.
1.5u – Holly Holm @+320
Main Event – UFC Light Heavyweight (205lbs) Championship Bout – (C) Jon “Bones” Jones (24-1-0) vs. #2 Thiago “Marreta” Santos (21-6-0):
I can’t speak highly enough of this main event. We’ve got the GOAT, ‘Jonny Bones’ taking on the violence god, Thiago “Marreta” Santos. I’m going to start off by saying that I’m not picking against Jon Jones, and I won’t be betting him straight at -550 either (although this is a decent number to parlay up). I see value in a prop for this one.
Thiago Santos is known for being a reckless power striker, capable of throwing madness and breaking the will of his opponents. For this reason I’ve had a strong belief that his live or die attitude could give him a window of hope that very few others have had against Jones. The problem with this is however is that he’s been ‘caught’ in the past, and he’s skilled enough that he now realizes that he can bide his time in the cage and wait for his opening. He displayed this amazingly in his bout with Jan Błachowicz, which resulted in a 3rd round knockout win for him, which paved the way for this shot. There’s no telling which Santos will show up on Saturday, but I think the calculated Santos will step forward again and he’ll seek to go strike for strike with Jones.
Jones hasn’t been one recently for throwing one-shot knockout blows, so with a tentative Santos and a technically Jones, this fight can very likely go into the championship rounds and beyond. I don’t see Jiu-Jitsu playing a huge role in this one (or at least not a fight ending role), so it seems like this could be one long drawn out striking affair. Santos is a fighter that’s smart enough to know if he’s behind, so there’s some concern that he might over step and get caught late, but there’s still notable value on this one going the distance.
0.5u – Fight To Go The Distance @+350