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411’s UFC 239 Report: Jones Wins by Split Decision

July 7, 2019 | Posted by Robert Winfree

UFC 239 MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
Champ Jon Jones (205 lbs.) vs. #2 Thiago Santos (204.5 lbs.) – for light heavyweight title
Champ Amanda Nunes (135 lbs.) vs. #2 Holly Holm (133.5 lbs.) – for women’s bantamweight title
#5 Ben Askren (171 lbs.) vs. #4 Jorge Masvidal (170.5 lbs.)
#6 Jan Blachowicz (205.5 lbs.) vs. Luke Rockhold (204.5 lbs.)
Michael Chiesa (170.5 lbs.) vs. Diego Sanchez (169 lbs.)

Arnold Allen (145.5 lbs.) vs. Gilbert Melendez (145.5 lbs.)
Nohelin Hernandez (136 lbs.) vs. Marlon Vera (136 lbs.)
#5 Claudia Gadelha (115 lbs.) vs. #14 Randa Markos (116 lbs.)
Alejandro Perez (135.5 lbs.) vs. Song Yadong (135.5 lbs.)

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+, 6:30 p.m. ET)
Jack Marshman (185 lbs.) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan (185 lbs.)
Ismail Naurdiev (171 lbs.) vs. Chance Rencountre (170.5 lbs.)
Julia Avila (135 lbs.) vs. Pannie Kianzad (135 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC 239. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening, relaying all of the action to you just as I see it. The UFC concludes International Fight Week with UFC 239, and for the first time in four or five years it looks like the top two fights will actually go off as planned. The curse is broken! I mean really, the last several years it’s been an uncomfortable tradition that I’m happy to see gone.

Tonight the UFC brings a very stacked main card on paper headlined by two title fights. In the main event UFC light heavyweight champion and possible GOAT Jon Jones will try to maintain that status against Brazilian bruiser Thiago Santos. The co-main sees women’s GOAT and dual champion Amanda Nunes trying to take out the last former UFC women’s champion that she hasn’t beat when Holly Holm will try to take back the bantamweight title. Also on this card Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal battle for title position at welterweight, former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold makes his light heavyweight debut against top ranked Jan Blachowicz.

UFC 239 comes to the world from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. On commentary we have Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and lightweight contender Paul Felder. As for the rules we’re under a stupid hybrid set of rules because Nevada just can’t make things easy. They’re using the old rules for a downed fighter, so anything other than the soles of your feet on the mat means you’re downed, but they are allowing the use of instant replay. I’m not sure if they’ll have the different scoring system either, but going purely off of memory I think the hybrid rules they have do use it so I’ll operate on that assumption until corrected.

Pannie Kianzad lost her UFC debut last year but has since won a fight outside of the UFC and is now back and trying to get her first UFC win. Julia Avila brings a two fight winning streak into her UFC debut, she’s trying to make a positive first impression to the UFC audience. Avila is the -200 favorite against +170 for Kianzad.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Edwin Julia Avila (6-1, 135 lbs.) vs. Pannie Kianzad (11-4, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Avila has two inches of reach advantage. Leg kick from Avila then Kianzad lands a counter right. They clinch up, Avila lands a knee and an elbow before Kianzad gets her to the fence. Avila is breaking her posture and lands a knee then turns her against the cage. A bit more positional jockeying and Avila lands a couple of knees to the head. Kianzad is after a takedown but Avila defends and lands more knees then a couple of elbows to the head. Avila is really starting to rough up Kianzad with offense. Body shots then a right from Avila as they break, Kianzad lands a right of her own. Kianzad finds another right and they clinch again. Both women land punches, Kianzad drops for a takedown but Avila defends then Kianzad lands a right on the break. Avila with some front kicks to the body as they circle. Bit of a right from Kianzad, Avila wobbles her with an uppercut though and drives her into the fence. Avila lands some body shots then knees to the body. Kianzad drops for a takedown but she’s not really driving or getting her hands together so Avila is able to defend. Another knee from Avila and they trade left hooks on the break just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Avila

ROUND TWO: They quickly clinch up and Avila drives Kianzad into the fence. They spin a few times in the clinch, Avila lands an elbow then they break. Kianzad lands a leg kick after eating a left hook. Kianzad catches a body kick and gets a takedown, lands a hammer fist and then Avila gets up. Avila now with a few thrust kicks to the knee. Kianzad lands a left hook as she takes a low calf kick. Bit of a right from Avila lands. Avila pushes forward and lands a couple of punches before they clinch up. Elbows and a few knees from Avila as they break, then Kianzad lands a punch that has Avila bleeding from the corner of the right eyebrow. Avila wobbles Kianzad with punches and drives her to the fence but willingly engages in a clinch to halt her own finishing momentum. Kianzad is able to stall things out and spin Avila, they start trading knees to the body then break. Avila lands a front kick to the body. Double leg from Kianzad, Avila sprawls then moves to the back and the round ends as they’re starting to scramble.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Avila, 20-18 Avila overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Both women land rights but Kianzad is the one who starts backing up. Leg kick from Kianzad, Avila returns it. Avila punches Kianzad to the fence, Kianzad is bleeding from the bridge of the nose as they clinch up. Knees to the body from Avila and they break. Right from Avila drops Kianzad and she follows her down into guard. Avila lands a few punches but Kianzad is able to tie her up and stall things. Avila spins to the back when Kianzad rolled to her knees, she gets both hooks in and is looking to flatten Kianzad out. Kianzad gets to a hip and gets half guard but Avila knee slices to 3/4 mount and gets the back again with both hooks in. Avila is riding well, gets mount again, then back to back mount but Kianzad is hand fighting well so far. Mount again for Avila, then the back but she loses one hook as she takes the ride position. Kianzad is hanging out in the turtle guard, Avila gets both hooks in again. Kianzad keeps defending but wont escape the position as time runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Avila, 30-27 Avila overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Julia Avila via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26 x2)

No issues with a 10-8 for Avila under the new rules, should have given her one. Mic time for Avila, she jokes that she’s not sure if she’s the toughest female geologist in the world (her day job is geological technician I think they said). She expresses desire to show her well rounded skills then thanks God before saying she’s just an athlete as there are fighters out there battling cancer or single mothers who are really fighting before dedicating the win to her yoga instructor who’s battling cancer.

Ismail Narudiev is on a three fight winning streak that includes an impressive UFC debut when he bested Michel Prazeres, now he’s looking to continue that streak and establish himself as a prospect at welterweight. Chance Rencountre has gone 1-1 in the UFC but is coming off of a win and is trying to get his first UFC winning streak up and running. Narudiev is a hefty -550 favorite against +375 for Rencountre.

Welterweight Bout: Ismail Naurdiev (18-2, 171 lbs.) vs. Chance Rencountre (13-3, 170.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Rencountre is four inches taller but only has one inch of reach on him. Southpaw for Rencountre as we get going. Narudiev is pressing forward, lands a jab then avoids the counters. Body kick from Narudiev lands. Another body kick but Rencountre catches this one and can’t do anything with it. They clinch, lateral throw from Narudiev and they scramble back up then Narudiev lands more punches. Rencountre clinches again after eating a kick and they scramble down to the mat. Narudiev lands punches then a bit of a high kick as they break. Right form Narudiev lands then another high kick that lands to the chest. They clinch, Narudiev huts Rencountre to the body with knees and looks to exploit that with a kick on the break but Rencoutre clinches up to give himself time to recover. Rencountre is able to spin him down with a single leg, finally, and get on top along the fence. Narudiev is sitting on the fence looking to wall walk. Rencountre is doing a good job of keeping a hand on whatever limb Narudiev is posting with to keep him down. Narudiev winds up turned away from the fence and Rencountre is on top in half guard. Rencountre is trying to get elbows going but he’s not really landing flush yet. Narudiev is just going to defend for the final seconds of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Narudiev

ROUND TWO: Rencountre comes out swinging but missing. Narudiev lands a body kick but gets taken down, Rencountre moves to the back but he’s high on the back as he gets both hooks in. He’s able to flatten out Narudiev and is now after the choke. Narudiev doesn’t seem to really know what to do here with his lower half and Rencountre is hitting him. The punches aren’t hard but there’s a lot of them. Narudiev is able to hip escape to half guard but he’s still not really working to get up without the fence to help him. Rencountre smothers an attempted explosive escape and lands a couple of elbows. Narudiev gets to a hip but Rencountre is doing a great job of smothering him. A few short elbows from Rencountre bring the round to a close.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Rencountre as this was a dominant round for him, 19-18 Rencountre overall

ROUND THREE: Narudiev looks pretty tired for this round. Bit of a kick from Rencountre then he shoots for a double leg that winds up stalled out on the fence, Narudiev then spins free. Narudiev lands a bit of a right and avoids another takedown attempt. Jumping knee from Narudiev but Rencountre is able to get a scramble off of it and Narudiev is able to avoid being downed. They trade power hand punches but Rencountre landed better, then he walks into another knee to the head as he’s in on the clinch. Narudiev lands a few elbows to the head while looking to defend the take down. Rencountre is after a single leg but Narudiev gets his leg back and spins free. Narudiev misses an elbow and Rencountre gets a clinch and then moves to the back with both hooks in standing. Rencountre flattens out Narudiev and starts landing punches but stops himself for some reason once he gets full mount. Narudiev hip bumps to half guard but again isn’t really able to regain his feet. Narudiev is trying to wall walk again but is stalled out on his seat. Rencountre is working to keep him on the mat, Narudiev is back up but still clinched on the fence. The ref separates them as they’d stalled out. Double leg from Narudiev and he ends the round landing some elbows from half guard.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Rencountre, 29-27 Rencountre overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Chance Rencountre via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27)

I don’t agree with 30-27 as Rencountre did nothing with his control in the first but the right guy won. Mic time for Rencountre, he tells people to stop betting against him. He provides some inspirational words for the reservation he’s from, puts over his coaches and team mates to close.

Edmen Shahbazyan is undefeated including being 2-0 in the UFC, now he’s looking to extend that streak and start moving up the ranks. Jack Marshamn just broke a two fight losing streak with a dreadfully dull split decision win, now he’s trying to get his first UFC winning streak going by stopping the hype for Shahbazyan. Shahbazyan is a massive -650 favorite to +450 for Marshman.

Middleweight Bout: Jack Marshman (23-8, 185 lbs.) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan (9-0, 185 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Shahbazyan is two inches taller and has an inch of reach advantage. Both men doing some feinting to start, Shahbazyan then lands a leg kick. They clash and trade power hands. Single leg from Shahbazyan, it takes a second effort but he gets Marshman down and starts laying into him with punches. Some serious offense from Shahbazyan as he moves to side control, gets the back when Marshman got to his knees and locks up the choke to get the early finish.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Edmen Shahbazyan via Submission, rear naked choke, at 1:12 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Shahbazyan for his work this evening. Mic time for Shahbazyan, he puts over his coaches and everyone who’s helped him get here to perform like this. He says he was trying to show off all of his skills, then says he’s young and wants to become the youngest champion in UFC history.

This wasn’t even close, which was largely what the matchmaking was designed to showcase. Shahbazyan keeps his head level while launching blows at Marshamn’s head, forces him to make a bad decision on the mat and then capitalizes.

OK everyone, that wraps up the prelims from Fight Pass/ESPN+ we’re on ESPN for the rest of the prelims.

Alejandro Perez is coming off of his first loss since 2015 when he dropped a decision to Cody Stamann, he’s trying to rebound from that setback and avoid his first ever losing streak while proving he still has the potential to be a player at bantamweight. Song Yadong is riding a six fight winning streak half of which has taken place in the UFC, now he’s looking to take out a ranked opponent and start moving up in competition. Yadong is the -220 favorite while the ranked Perez is a tempting value bet at +180.

Bantamweight Bout: Alejandro Perez (21-7-1, 135.5 lbs.) vs. Song Yadong (13-3 2 NC, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Yadong is two inches taller but they have identical reaches. They touch gloves to get things going. Yadong is circling early, Perez is feinting his way forward and looking to engage. They get close and trade hooks, then again and Yadong’s left hook landed rather well. Yadong has started pressuring forward now, and both men miss punches. Perez throws a naked leg kick, never a good idea, and Yadong blasts him with a right hand that ENDS his night.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Song Yadong via KO, punches, at 2:04 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Yadong for his work this evening. Mic time for Yadong and his translator, he opens with some broken English then goes back to I think Mandarin to thanks his coaches and team mates. Asked what he’d like to do next, gain more experience or step up the contention ladder he just defers to those who put all the work into making him as good as he is.

Two major errors here from Perez. First he drops his hands when he kicks, keep your guard up people, and he doesn’t set up the kick with anything and naked leg kicks get you floored.

Claudia Gadelha has been a top strawweight for a long time but has been struggling a bit recently, she’s coming off of a loss to Nina Ansaroff and is trying to avoid her first ever losing streak. Randa Markos has been trading wins and losses for most of her career but she is coming off of a win and could get both the biggest win of her career and her first ever UFC winning streak. Gadelha is the -210 favorite to +175 for Markos.

Strawweight Bout: #5 Claudia Gadelha (16-4, 115 lbs.) vs. #14 Randa Markos (9-6-1, 116 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two have the same height and reach. Both women using a low stance, Gadelha is the one stalking forward while Markos circles. Bit of a right from Gadelha then they split jabs. They clash on rights in close, every time they engage Markos winds up very straight in the air with her chin exposed, I’m curious to see if Gadelha has a read and a strategy for that habit. Markos is trying to get her jab working as Gadelha moves her towards the fence. Gadelha lands a left hook that lands flush. Bit of a leg kick from Markos and Gadelha lands a counter left. Very awkward fight so far, neither woman doing a whole lot. Markos lands a jab to counter an inside leg kick. Gadelha blocks a blitz attack and lands a bit of a right. They get close and each land a few hockey punches before they break a loose half collar tie. Gadelha lands a right, Markos responds in kind. Bit of a lunging jab from Markos, they trade rights in close then Markos lands a jab to close out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Gadelha

ROUND TWO: We pick up where we left off, a bit of forward pressure from Gadelha and circling from Markos. Markos is trying to get her jab working while Gadelha is looking to kick more this round. Calf kick from Markos, Gadelha responds with a left hook. Left hook then a straight right lands for Gadelha. Gadelha is using the same set up for that combination, a rear had uppercut then a left hook and right straight but Markos doesn’t seem to have an answer for it. A few mostly blocked rights from Markos. Gadelha misses a right. They get into that single collar tie again and trade some rights to the body and head before breaking. Bit of a combination from Markos in close. Markos tries a spinning back fist that’s blocked, Gadelha then lands a right. Another right lands for Gadelha. Markos lands a right, Gadelha tries a double leg that hits the fence and things will stall there until the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Gadelha, 20-18 Gadelha overall

ROUND THREE: Markos is back to circling. Slight lunging left hook from Gadelha. Markos lands a jab or two. Another bit of a left from Markos, Gadelha lands a left of her own. Left hook from Gadelha lands. Again that right uppercut to left hook combination from Gadelha lands. Gadelha is trying to wave Markos on, to the annoyance of everyone. Markos lands a right, Gadelha lands a counter. Leg kick from Markos but Gadelha lands a counter left hook. Right from Gadelha lands and she avoids the counter rush. They just kind of stare away the final seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Gadelha, 30-27 Gadelha overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Claudia Gadleha via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Uneventful fight, if Markos was expecting Gadelha to just gas by being in the cage that’s not how this works. You have to make a questionable gas tank work hard along the way to exploit it. Mic time for Gadleha, she notes she’s been fighting since she was 18 years old and talks about being with a new camp and still dealing with some growing pains relative to that. She credits her new camp for moving her beyond her brawling phrase, then points out that her gas tank was good, and speaks some Portuguese to her mother as it’s her birthday.

Marlon Vera is on a three fight winning streak with all of those being finishes, now he was supposed to take on Sean O’Malley here before O’Malley’s drug testing issues so now instead of a step up in terms of visibility Vera has to defend his general position from a newcomer. Nohelin Hernandez took this fight on short notice but could take a recognized veteran of the UFC and make a big impact with a win here. The odds are with Vera at -450 to +325 for Hernandez.

Bantamweight Bout: Nohelin Hernandez (10-2, 136 lbs.) vs. Marlon Vera (13-5-1, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Hernandez is two inches taller and has half an inch of reach on Vera. Southpaw for Hernandez, Vera showing stance switches. Hernandez lands a leg kick. They trade left hooks in close then Vera lands a heavy inside leg kick. Vera catches a leg kick, trips Hernandez down and moves to the back with one hook in almost immediately. The second hook is now in, and Vera goes to a body triangle. Vera lands some lefts to the body and head while trying to open up the choke. A few more lefts from Vera land. Vera switches to attack an armbar, gets to spiderweb control and is really after the arm but Hernandez is trying to defend. Vera switches to a bicep crusher but loses it after a grimace from Hernandez. Hernandez on top now landing some elbows and hammer fists. Vera gets to a hip, Hernandez gets a front headlock as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Vera

ROUND TWO: Vera lands a bit of an inside leg kick. Both men are showing stance switches now, Vera lands a couple of body kicks. Head kick from Hernandez lands but Vera remains upright. Leg kick from Vera and Hernandez lands a couple of body shots in close. Double leg from Hernandez and he’s got Vera down in guard. Vera fires a few elbows, Hernandez lands one of his own. Hernandez gets his posture but Vera gets wrist control and is looking to get his guard in play. Short elbow from Hernandez lands. Hernandez lands a couple of punches then stands free and Vera is back up as well. Vera is coming forward, lands a couple of lefts to the body then a knee as Hernandez was ducking then pushes him over and gets full mount. Hernandez gives up the back and Vera grabs the choke then forces the submission.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marlon Vera via Submission, rear naked choke, at 3:25 of Round 2

When Vera turns things on he’s got some serious skills. Vera gets an interview, asked about the short notice opponent he says he trains by day and listens to the Joe Rogan Experience by night. He hopes O’Malley will be able to fight again soon, he runs down the list of events that happened before this fight and mentions he just kept training and stayed ready so he could capitalize. He says he works hard and remains dedicated and that is what leads to success then puts over Hernandez and thanks his coaches. While talking us through the finish he notes that he wasn’t expecting the takedowns from Hernandez and he heard his coach warn him about the second one and he was ready with the flying knee.

This has the finish but sadly doesn’t contain the moment Vera gets up and just seems to decide he’s had enough of this.

Gilbert Melendez was once one of the best lightweights in the world but has fallen on some hard times lately, he’s on a four fight losing streak spanning two weight classes and has a failed drug test in there as well. Melendez last won a fight back in 2013 against Diego Sanchez, now he’s trying to halt the free fall his career is in. Also of note, Melendez hasn’t fought in nearly two years. Arnold Allen brings a seven fight winning streak that includes five UFC wins into this fight, and while Melendez isn’t in the competitive position he used to be this is definitely a step up in terms of name value for Allen giving him the chance for the biggest win of his career. Allen is the -360 favorite to a +280 comeback on Melendez.

Featherweight Bout: Arnold Allen (14-1, 145.5 lbs.) vs. Gilbert Melendez (22-7, 145.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Melendez is an inch taller and has three inches of reach on Allen. Southpaw for Allen and both men start showing the jab. Melendez has shockingly skinny legs at featherweight. Bit of a let to the body from Allen and Melendez misses counters. Allen is trying to get leg kicks working, both men miss punches in close quarters. Allen swings to the body again. They trade power hand punches. Straight left from Allen definitely backs up Melendez for a second or two. Melendez is pressuring forward but he’s taking a bit of offense when he does so. Allen with another leg kick and a body shot. Melendez in close and swings to the body. Allen catches a kick and sweeps the legs but doesn’t get reckless following down and Melendez is able to get up. Now it’s Allen stalking forward, lands a jumping body kick then a left hand. Melendez lands a right. Allen to the body again then a right upstairs. More body shots from Allen, Melendez is already slowing down a bit. Allen sprawls away from a double leg without much difficulty. Melendez avoids a few leg kicks but he’s struggling to find offense. Allen lands a straight left then folds over a couple of elbows in close as they clinch up on the fence. Bit of an elbow from Melendez as they break. Allen is back to jabbing and avoiding the punches of Melendez. Left uppercut from Allen lands then goes to the body as well. Allen is starting to really piece up Melendez technically. A few more lefts from Allen sneak through the guard then a spinning back kick to the chest. One last left to the body from Allen closes out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Allen

ROUND TWO: Allen is back to forward pressure, lands a bit of a lead leg high kick. Bit of a straight left from Allen lands. Allen digs the body again and evades the looping hooks from Melendez. Melendez is constantly planting his feet to swing while Allen stays mobile and finds better angles to attack and retreat from. Allen wobbles Melendez with a combination but wont engage in a prolonged brawl. Left lands for Allen again and he blocks the counters without issue. Calf kick from Allen lands. Allen swings a left to the body again then resumes constant punches to the body and head. Allen slips a loopy hook and lands a couple of counters. Another calf kick from Allen lands. Again Allen lands the left to the body. Body kick from Allen then a left to the body and a blocked high kick. Melendez doesn’t seem to have anything to offer at this point. Allen cracks Melendez with a left in combination. Allen lands a body kick. They stare away the final five seconds or so.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Allen as Melendez did almost nothing, 20-17 Allen overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Allen lands a calf kick as he’s resuming forward pressure. Melendez is coming forward, Allen lands a body kick and punches as they hit the fence in a clinch. Allen is after a takedown, gets it and lands in the guard of Melendez. Melendez kicks Allen off and regains his feet. Melendez lands a bit of a left and a right. Allen responds with a punch and a calf kick. Straight left lands for Allen, Melendez is doing a lot of coming forward behind his guard and trying to force sloppiness that Allen just isn’t engaging in. Melendez blocks a high kick and misses an elbow. Allen lands a jab. Bit of a right from Melendez, Allen responds with a series of calf kicks and Melendez is limping badly. Allen with a bit of a left then another calf kick. Allen pushes forward with kicks and drives Melendez across the cage but he stays upright. Counter right hook from Allen lands then a bit of a high kick. Body kick from Allen then a high kick that’s blocked. Jumping switch kick from Allen lands, and they both land flush in close then engage in a bit of brawling just as the clock runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Allen, 30-26 Allen overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Arnold Allen via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Technical dissection from Allen, the man keeps looking good. Mic time for Allen, he says his performance was alright but he’d rather get a finish then notes that he wasn’t really expecting to finish someone as tough as Melendez. He talks a bit about threading the needle on his left through the guard of Melendez but they have to cut the interview short for time.

That will do it for preliminary action, on to PPV for the main card.

Diego Sanchez finds himself on a two fight winning streak after being matched up with fighters who’s spot on the roster is somewhat dubious to begin with. Sanchez is taking on a much more proven UFC caliber fighter here but is still looking to continue his career renaissance with a win. Michael Chiesa broke a two fight losing streak by moving up to welterweight and is coming off of a win, now he’s looking for his first winning streak since 2016 as well as further establishing himself in his new weight class. The odds are with Chiesa here at -350 to a +275 comeback on Sanchez.

Welterweight Bout: Michael Chiesa (15-4, 170.5 lbs.) vs. Diego Sanchez (29-11, 169 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Chiesa is three inches taller and has three and a half inches of reach on Sanchez. Both men fighting southpaw, Chiesa comes out circling. Sanchez hits a single leg, Chiesa grabs a bit of a body lock and sweeps Sanchez to be on top, spins to the back, grabs an armbar, tries to switch to a triangle but Sanchez postures through it. Chiesa is back up, hits a judo throw but Sanchez is back up and Chiesa lands punches before they clinch again. Knees to the body from Chiesa, Sanchez is able to spin him. Chiesa gets a trip and lands punches from the ride position and moves to the back again and lands punches. Full body triangle from Chiesa now and he’s looking for the choke. Sanchez gets to his base but can’t shake him off, Chiesa gets under the chin and squeezes but loses the grip. More punches and elbows from Chiesa as he’s looking for the choke again. Sanchez is able to scramble and escape out the back when Chiesa tries to adjust his legs and he’s up, looks for a takedown but gets switched by Chiesa and Chiesa lands elbows from top position. Chiesa stands and stacks Sanchez up, lands some punches and is looking to pass. Sanchez is able to get guard, Chiesa stacks him up and lands punches. Sanchez scrambles up but is getting smothered against the fence with knees from Chiesa.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Chiesa

ROUND TWO: Chiesa quickly gets a double leg and stacks Sanchez up and lands offense. Sanchez gets a bit of half guard, or at least a knee shield and Chiesa just punches through it. Sanchez is trying to wall walk now but Chiesa just mauls him along the fence as he gets up. Chiesa avoids an elbow, lands a couple of punches and looks to tee off then takes Sanchez down with ease. Punches from Chiesa and hammer fists as Sanchez works to retain guard. Elbows from Chiesa as he’s got Sanchez all kinds of stacked up and immobile. Sanchez tries for a leg lock of some variety but Chiesa spins free easily and lands more punches. Choke attempt from Sanchez, he can’t finish it but does get full mount. Full back mount now from Chiesa and he tees off on Sanchez, gets full mount, back mount, whatever he can and keeps punching. Again on the back for Chiesa, Sanchez is able to turn into him and they’re back up with Sanchez holding a rear waist lock. Chiesa turns into him easily, blocks a takedown attempt and moves to a crucifix position on the scramble. Elbows from Chiesa as he’s after a kimura now from side control. Sanchez is able to spin through but gives up his back without hooks, Chiesa might be working for an armbar from the back but time is going to save Sanchez.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Chiesa, 20-16 Chiesa overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the last round. Sanchez lands a bit of a right hook. Chiesa gets a single leg and drives Sanchez to the fence then takes him down with ease. This looks like a man fighting a boy. Chiesa to the ride position landing some blows but he’s trying to set up a submission from a modified crucifix position. Sanchez is able to scramble towards top position but Chiesa sweeps him easily and they wind up on the feet again. They’re still clinched on the cage then break. A few punches from Chiesa then another takedown to half guard. Sanchez is working to wall walk, Chiesa moves to the ride position. Chiesa nearly has a cradle position, moves back to a ride and lands a few lefts. Sanchez is back up but Chiesa has a rear waist lock and drives Sanchez back down then takes the back with one hook in. More punches from Chiesa and he’s looking to tie up an arm. Chiesa gets the back with a body triangle. Sanchez with some comical elbows to the thigh while Chiesa is after the choke really trying to finish but the clock and Sanchez’s general saviness will prevent that.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Chiesa, might be 10-7, 30-24 Chiesa overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Michael Chiesa via unanimous decision (30-26 x3)

Seriously? Only one 10-8 round? That’s ridiculous. Mic time for Chiesa who puts over Sanchez as a tough guy and notes that he’s pretty tired. Rogan asks about him making 155, he says he did it with sheer stupidity and he’s at his real division now and wants a top ten opponent next. He wanted the finish but when he goes the distance he always gets at least one 10-8, then dedicates the win to a friend who passed away recently. To close he asks for tickets to Rogan’s upcoming show in Portland, Rogan seems amenable to that.

The UFC announces a few locations and dates for upcoming events, much needed but there’s still a lot of blank stuff on the schedule.

Luke Rockhold is a former middleweight champion but has struggled a bit since losing that title to Michael Bisping. Rockhold hasn’t fought in over a year and was last seen being knocked out by Yoel Romero, now he’s trying to avoid his first ever losing streak and find some new life in his career by moving up to light heavyweight and avoiding the serious weight cut he’s dealt with for most of his career. Jan Blachowicz just had a four fight winning streak snapped when he was stopped by Thiago Santos, now he’s trying to get his career back on track against one of the more recognizable names he could be fighting. Rockhold will be a -250 favorite for his debut in the weight class against +200 for Blachowicz.

Light Heavyweight Bout: #6 Jan Blachowicz (23-8, 205.5 lbs.) vs. Luke Rockhold (16-4, 204.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Rockhold is an inch taller while Blachowicz has an inch of reach on him. Rockhold fighting southpaw, Blachowicz will switch his stance. A few body kicks from Rockhold to get us going then he dives for a takedown along the fence. Blachowicz is defending so far, Rockhold is really working for this takedown. Rockhold is trying for a reap but Blachowicz is still defending. Blachowicz winds up on a knee, Rockhold grabs a front headlock but loses it and tries to transition to another takedown but again Blachowicz is defending. Single leg attempt now for Rockhold, Blachowicz lands a short elbow in close. They trade some knees as Blachowicz pummels his arms, Rockhold has settled for chest to chest now. Another knee from Rockhold, Blachowicz lands a couple of left elbows in close. They break and Blachowicz lands a bit of a left. Rockhold tries a high kick that mostly misses. Blachowicz checks a leg kick and Rockhold didn’t like that at all. Front kick from Rockhold, Blachowicz responds with a right. Blachowicz blocks a high kick and lands a body kick. Rockhold is showing stance switches now and misses a couple of punches. Blachowicz lands a right. Spinning back kick from Rockhold lands. They get close and Blachowicz drops Rockhold with a high kick just as the round ends. The round likely saved Rockhold there.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Blachowicz

ROUND TWO: Rockhold lands a left off of a kick and Blachowicz lands a counter right. Inside leg kicks from Blachowicz land and he’s backing up Rockhold. Bit of a right from Blachowicz. More inside leg kicks from Blachowicz, he’s after the calves of Rockhold. Rockhold pushes into a clinch and they hit the fence again. Blachowicz is pummeling easier now and neutralizes the position then lands a couple of punches in close. Knees from Blachowicz to the body then he floors Rockhold with a left hook as they break, a few more punches on the mat put him completely out cold.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jan Blachowicz via KO, punches, at 1:39 of Round 2

Rockhold’s bad hand position exiting the pocket or clinches bites him again. Mic time for Blachowicz, he says the trash talk doesn’t work on him he’s too old for that and he’s from Poland and showed the Polish power. He talks us through the finish, and mentions that he felt the high kick in round 1 played a bit of a role. Asked about where he is now, he says there was talk about Rockhold getting a title shot with a win, so since he won he’d like one. To close he speaks some Polish for those back home.

Rockhold has historically had a problem with his hand position exiting close quarters, or predictably just throwing a check hook and leaning away. Here that same problem is back, he frames away from the clinch but doesn’t get his hands back quick enough to defend (or fire offense of his own) and Blachowicz bombs him with a left hook that ends things.

Jorge Masvidal has been enjoying a bit of a career turnaround since moving up to welterweight permanently, he’s coming off of the biggest win of his career when he violently knocked out Darren Till and is looking to move towards the title picture with another win here. Ben Askren is undefeated and scored his first UFC win earlier this year when he won a somewhat controversial fight against former champion Robbie Lawler, now he’s looking to remain undefeated and begin making a case for a title shot. Despite being ranked lower the odds are with Askren at -230 while a Masvidal win would pay out at +185.

Welterweight Bout: #5 Ben Askren (19-0 1 NC, 171 lbs.) vs. #4 Jorge Masvidal (33-13, 170.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Masvidal has an inch of reach on Askren. HOLY CRAP! Masvidal with an opening seconds flying knee ENDS Askren!

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jorge Masvidal via KO, flying knee, at :05 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Masvidal for his work this evening. That is the fastest KO in UFC history. Askren was down for a long time. Askren barely got to his knees about two minutes after the fight ended. They have to take Askren carefully out of the cage as they’re reading the decision, scary KO. Masvidal has 2 KO of the year contenders now, banner year for Gamebred. Mic time for Masvidal, he thanks God for the journey he’s been on and wishes well to his family then thanks his team and coaches. He says he wanted to beat up Askren for over fourteen minutes but it’s whatever and tells everyone not to ask him about Askren because he has nothing nice to say and that means he shouldn’t say anything. Asked about why the knee he says because Askren is a bum, and tells Askren there are people you don’t want to wake up and he’s one of them. He says he’s coming for the belt and everyone knows he deserves the next shot and tells the fans they’re welcome for ending Askren.

There’s nothing I can really say here, Askren ducks into the knee trying to punish the aggression of Masvidal but Masvidal anticipates that and launches the knee. Just enjoy the fastest KO in UFC history.

And again, because this is a thing of beauty.

Holly Holm is a former bantamweight champion but her career hit a serious skid after she famously knocked out Ronda Rousey. Since then Holm is just 2-4 as a professional with three failed title fights, now she’s getting another crack at the belt she used to hold and needs a win rather badly. Amanda Nunes has more or less cinched up the status as greatest female fighter in MMA’s short history, she’s on an eight fight winning streak, is a simultaneous two weight world champion, and has beaten every former champion at bantamweight and featherweight except for Holm. A win here further cements Nunes’ status in history while a loss would be a pretty significant setback given the overall run she’s been enjoying. Nunes is a hefty -400 favorite against +310 for the former champion Holm.

Women’s Bantamweight Title Bout: Amanda Nunes (17-4, 135 lbs.) vs. #2 Holly Holm (12-4, 133.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two have identical heights and reaches. Holm fighting southpaw and they touch gloves to get us going. Both women showing a bit of the lead hand, Nunes is the one backing up right now. Body kick from Nunes, Holm lands a side kick to the thigh. Nunes lands an inside leg kick but eats a counter punch that off balances her for a moment. Holm with another side kick to the thigh. Nunes lands an inside leg kick. Holm blocks a high kick. Nunes has a right hand blocked and gets kicked in the thigh again. Holm is making Nunes miss a bit now, they clinch up in space then break without incident. Holm ducks under a right and they clinch, this time Nunes with knees to the body and a trip but Holm rolls through and they wind up on the feet and separated again. Leg kick from Nunes. Again Holm lands that side kick to the knee, and another one. Left hook lands flush for Nunes. Nunes lands a body kick and a looping right hand. Nunes with some feints, Holm bites and Nunes KO’s her with a head kick. A few more punches on the ground officially end this one.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER and STILL UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion – Amanda Nunes via TKO, head kick and punches, at 4:10 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Ms. Nunes for her work this evening. Mic time for Nunes, she says this feels amazing and is really happy about the belts coming home with her. She talks us through the finish, noting that she was very keyed in on the lead leg of Holm and wanted to counter with a high kick. She notes that she’s beaten every former champion at 135, and Rogan asks about what’s next she wants to defend 145 (she would be the first double champion to actually defend both titles while holding them) and thanks her coaches then some people in Brazil. She expresses gratitude to the fans as she won a few awards this week to close her interview.

Here’s the finish. Holm bites on a few feints from Nunes, then thinks about a side kick to reset distance but doesn’t throw it and Nunes times her own high kick for when Holm is immobile on one leg. Lovely finish.

Thiago Santos is on a four fight winning streak the last three of which have been at light heavyweight, now he’s getting a shot at the title and one of the best to ever fight in the UFC or the sport more generally. Jon Jones is in the discussion for greatest of all time in terms of MMA fighters, his lone loss was a DQ several years ago in a fight he was dominating. His name is all across several records and now he’s looking for another defense of his title as well as further cementing himself as arguably the best to ever do it. To the shock of no one Jones is a -550 favorite against a +375 comeback on Santos.

Light Heavyweight Title Bout: Jon Jones (24-1 1 NC, 205 lbs.) vs. #2 Thiago Santos (21-6, 204.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Jones is two inches taller and has a whopping eight and a half inches of reach advantage. Both men do a fair bit of stance switching. Jones stalking forward early, Santos circling. Bit of a leg kick from Jones then a front kick to the face and a side kick to the knee. Santos responds with a glancing leg kick. Hard leg kick from Santos. More forward pressure from Jones, he lands a leg kick. Jones evades a couple of high kicks and takes a leg kick. Side kick to the body from Jones, Santos lands a body kick that Jones catches but Santos gets free. Santos lands another leg kick. Jones tries a head kick that’s blocked. Jones evades a rush of punches and Santos then lands a calf kick. A few punches from Santos are a bit glancing. Side kick to the body for Jones, Santos tries to swing some counters that are blocked. Bit of a left hook lands for Santos. Santos lands another leg kick. Jones lands a leg kick of his own. Jones lands a bit of a spinning back kick as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Santos but a close one

ROUND TWO: Jones is back to pressuring Santos. Santos hurts himself on a kick and stumbles, Jones lands a few blows. Santos seems to have his leg back under him and lands a body kick. Very slow pace at the moment, Jones avoids a few hooks and blocks a high kick. Jumping side kick from Jones to the body, Santos is having some minor issues with his left knee still. Body kick from Santos after he ate a jab. Body kick from Jones off balances Santos, that leg gave out on him. Jones is being patient but he knows Santos is compromised. Leg kick from Jones lands then a front kick to the chest. Santos swings a left to the body. Jones lands a right and avoids the counters from Santos. Santos has a high kick blocked then lands a leg kick. Front kick to the body from Jones lands. Another front kick from Jones to the body. Jones avoids a wheel kick without issue. Santos falls short with punches, then Jones misses a couple of wheel kicks of his own as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Jones, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: More forward pressure from Jones, he avoids a bad spinning kick. Side kick to the knee from Jones lands. Bit of a high kick from Santos but Jones rolled away from it. Jones lands a hard leg kick. Santos lands a body kick. Santos eats a leg kick and lands a couple of hooks but Jones just eats them. Another leg kick from Jones sits down Santos for a moment and Jones is all over him along the fence. Jumping knee from Jones lands then a knee to the body off of a clinch. More leg kicks from Jones. Santos lands an inside leg kick but misses punches. Santos slips on a high kick and eats an elbow while getting up and he’s bleeding now. Jones lands a spinning back kick to the body. Head kick from Jones lands then a side kick to the thigh. Body kick from Jones, Santos is fading and eats another high kick. Another kick to the knee from Jones and he avoids some punches from Santos. Side kick to the chest from Jones. Santos lands an inside leg kick. Jones avoids a few punches, lands a bit of a spinning elbow just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Jones, 29-28 Jones overall

ROUND FOUR: Jones is back to pushing forward, Santos lands a bit of an inside leg kick. Santos comes forward and misses punches but he’s still in the fight. Spinning back kick to the body from Jones lands. Jones with a glancing wheel kick then a stomp kick to the knee. Jones with a leg kick, Santos is really more immobile at this point in terms of lateral movement. Santos’ leg buckles on him briefly when he tries to move, that’s a real problem for him at this point. Jones avoids some more punches and checks an inside leg kick. Santos manages to avoid a massive uppercut, then Jones lands a leg kick. More side kicks to the knee from Jones, both of Santos’ legs are hurting now. Santos ducks under a spinning back fist, Jones kicks his knee again. Jones side kicks the body again. Bit of a high kick from Jones then he lands a few punches that make Santos circle away. The lack of takedown attempts from Jones is surprising. Jones checks a leg kick and Santos is visibly limping. They mostly stare away the final few seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Jones, 39-37 Jones overall

ROUND FIVE: Santos seems more lively this round to start, Jones content to let him burn that energy out. Body kick from Santos. Jones blocks some punches in close. Santos avoids a wheel kick then takes a side kick to the knee. They clash on kicks. Jones lands a body kick then avoids some counters. Santos fires from his left side, mostly blocked and Jones just absorbs the impact without issue. Jones lands a leg kick after taking a body kick. Again Jones side kicks the knee. Now a side kick to the body from Jones and he checks an inside leg kick. Another side kick to the knee from Jones. That knee of Santos is done, Jones fires a hard inside leg kick. Santos with a leg kick but his knee visibly buckles. More side kicks from Jones and he avoids a couple of hooks. Santos whiffs on some punches. Jones with a few jabs. Front kick to the face from Jones is mostly blocked. Jones shoves Santos over on a kick attempt. They fake away the final couple of seconds as time runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Jones, 49-46 Jones overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER and STILL UFC Light Heavyweight Champion– via split decision (47-48, 48-47 x2)

I think Santos got a round based on the Leonard Garcia principle. Jones immediately puts over Santos as tough, says he fought smart and brought home the gold for his family and team then gives glory to God. He says Santos showed a new level of technicality, and feels good about standing and beating a guy who’s been kickboxing a lot longer than he has. Asked about the lack of takedowns he says he felt like he was winning. I lost a bit of his interview, he puts over his family in the cage with him then his team for all of the time they’ve put into him and promises them to do better next time.

Thiago Santos gets an interview, Rogan asks about the issues with his left knee says the knee just went out in the first but he’s not whining about it. He thanks the UFC for the chance, thanks Jones for the fight as well as his camp and trainers then God as well. Asked about the way the fight went he says nothing was surprising, thanks a bunch of people again and says a poor boy from the City of God was given a great opportunity here and he’s just grateful for it.

You know, now that I think about it that’s the first time Jones has ever lost on any scorecard. Odd fight, the lack of wrestling from Jones especially when Santos’ legs were clearly damaged is a head scratcher for me personally. Anyway that will wrap up UFC 239.

Thank you all for being here and reading, be that live or after the fact. We’ll be reviewing all of the action from this card Sunday on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast, plus previewing UFC on ESPN+ 13 when the UFC returns to Sacramento, California and brings one of the weakest main events I can remember in the form of Germaine de Randamie vs. Aspen Ladd. We’ll run down that whole card and I’ll be back next Saturday for that card. Until next time thank you for the support, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

article topics :

Jon Jones, UFC 239, Robert Winfree