Jon Jones Heavily Favored to Defend Title vs. Thiago Santos at UFC 239

Posted on: July 6, 2019, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: July 6, 2019, 12:32h.

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is widely expected to defend his title against Thiago Santos in the main event of UFC 239 in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Jon Jones UFC 239
Jon Jones is expected to retain his light heavyweight title when he takes on Thiago Santos at UFC 239 on Saturday. (Image: Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

At online bookmaker Bovada, Jones is listed as an overwhelming -700 favorite over Santos (+450) in what should be an exciting fight at the T-Mobile Arena.

UFC Wants to Erase DQ Loss

UFC 239 will highlight International Fight Week, and the show features two title bouts at the top of the card.

Jones (24-1) is one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history. He only has two blemishes on his record: a no contest in a 2017 fight against Daniel Cormier that he won, but which was overturned due to a positive drug test, and a disqualification for an illegal elbow against Matt Hamill back in 2009 in a fight he was dominating.

In fact, the UFC has been hoping to get that loss overturned in recent weeks, a move that would give one of the company’s most dominant fighters a perfect record.

“I get it for marketing purposes,” former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping said on his Believe You Me podcast. “If I’m Dana White, I want probably my best fighter to be labeled as undefeated.”

Jones Not Intimidated by Powerful Santos

In the meantime, all that Jones can do is keep winning. And based on what he’s seen from Santos, that’s exactly what he’s expecting to do on Saturday night.

Every UFC fighter I’ve ever fought has had the power to knock me out,” Jones said during open workouts on Wednesday. “It’s about being skilled enough to land that punch. Thus far, no one’s been skilled enough to land that punch, and I don’t think anything is going to change on Saturday night.”

Santos (21-6) is known as a powerful striker, and all signs point to his game plan being to try and land a punch – or, just as likely for him, a kick – that ends the fight in an instant. Santos has even bulked up noticeably, something that could help the former middleweight do a little more damage if he can manage to land some clean strikes.

“I’m very happy to be here,” Santos told MMA Junkie. “This is my moment, my time. Next Saturday, I will shock the world. I will do it.”

While it’s certainly possible for Santos to do just that thanks to his knockout power, it’s far more likely that he’ll struggle to contend with Jones, who is fully capable of taking a methodical approach and being willing to win by decision. And if Santos presses the action, it’s likely that Jones will be able to take advantage of that aggression, landing most of the significant strikes. The most likely outcome appears to be a win Jones by knockout, likely in the early rounds.

The co-main event for UFC 239 features women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (17-4) facing off against former champion Holly Holm (12-4). While Holm has lost four of her last six fights, she is still considered to be one of the most skilled strikers in women’s MMA and best known for handing Ronda Rousey her first loss back in 2015.

While Holm is definitely capable of scoring a win here, her form against top fighters hasn’t been impressive lately, and Nunes is capable of keeping up with her striking – as well as being able to grind out decision wins. That makes Nunes (-400) a clear favorite to retain her title, though, like Santos, Nunes’ ability to end a fight with a single punch should keep the action interesting throughout the bout.