Jon Jones to Defend His Title at UFC 239
Jon Jones is back and he’s ready to defend his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. He’ll do so in the main event of UFC 239 this Saturday, July 6, at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada.
Thiago Santos is the light heavyweight title challenger at UFC 239. The Brazilian fighter has proven to be exceptional since moving up from the middleweight division and is more than deserving of the opportunity to stand toe-to-toe with an all-time great of the sport.
In the co-main event, Amanda Nunes will defend her UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship from former champion Holly Holm.
The card also features Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren, Luke Rockhold vs. Jan Blachowicz, and Diego Sanchez vs. Michael Chiesa. More on those fights later.
For now, we’ll share how to find the best odds for the UFC 239 main event before breaking it down and sharing our tips and picks for Jones vs. Santos.
It’s not surprising to see Jones listed as such as heavy favorite here in this main event. He’s one of the greatest to have ever entered the UFC’s Octagon and has just the one blemish on his record after 25 fights. Interestingly, the UFC is actively campaigning to have that disqualification loss removed from his record, as well.
Jones enters UFC 239 after big wins over Anthony Smith and Alexander Gustafsson. Although many considered Gustafsson as a major threat, Jones managed to stop him in the third round. However, in his most recent fight, Smith lasted the distance and Jones wasn’t able to put him away in the 25 minutes. In some ways, it was a disappointing performance from the -800 betting favorite.
Santos’ rise through the light heavyweight ranks follows the Anthony Smith pattern of sliding up from middleweight and tearing through the contenders at 205-pounds. Now, Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman are also making the move up to light heavyweight to follow suit.
In three fights at light heavyweight, Santos has defeated Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa, and now most recently, Jan Blachowicz.
Let’s approach this breakdown from the angle of what Thiago Santos needs to do to defeat Jon Jones. From there, we can assess Santos’ chances of doing the unthinkable at UFC 239.
Jones is more than a few levels above most of the light heavyweight contenders today. He has a diverse collection of attacks from every limb. But arguably more important than any one technique is Jones’ ability to understand what’s happening inside the Octagon and adjust his tactics as the fight progresses.
One way to look at Jones’ fighting intelligence is to consider when he has been on the verge of defeat. Alexander Gustafsson challenged Jones in a way that no others had when they first met many years ago. Gustafsson exposed the simple fact that Jones’ boxing is a weak point of his overall mixed martial arts ability. He’s an excellent wrestler and kickboxer, but at punching range, he was incredibly vulnerable.
However, Jones made adjustments on the fly and starting to unload more kicks to control the range. Whether it was his famous oblique kick to the thigh/knee or going up high with these thunderous kicks, he was able to keep Gustafsson away and remove himself from danger. From this point onward, Jones has developed his boxing to a level where it isn’t so much of a vulnerability.
If Santos wants to defeat Jones, he’s going to need to take away the ability for Jones to read the contest and adjust his gameplan. There’s likely no better way than to overload Jones’ mind during the contest than by coming out with the intention of pushing the pace and hunting for an early victory.
Some fighters freeze when they step inside the cage with Jon Jones. Anthony Smith did it in his last fight with the champion, despite repeatedly mentioning that he wouldn’t. By stalling and waiting for the right moment, it allows the champion to settle into the fight and begin his process of picking his opponent apart. There’s no one quite as dangerous as Jones in the middle-to-late rounds of a fight, so Santos needs to get to work early.
When considering who in the light heavyweight division has the techniques and ability to stun Jon Jones, Thiago Santos should be on that list. He’s reasonably reckless, creative, and genuinely powerful, meaning that he does have the capability of catching Jones.
However, we view the probability of Santos actually catching Jones and finishing him as relatively low. For this reason, the value play here is to take Jones to win, despite the short odds.
Jones is a great straight-betting option here or is an excellent addition to any parlay/accumulator. For more betting advice, make sure to review our other UFC betting articles ahead of UFC 239.
UFC 239: Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos
Saturday, July 6 – 11:00 pm (ET) / 3:00am (GMT)
- Jon Jones
- Thiago Santos
- UFC 239