It's fight week! UFC 239 looks stacked with two title fights: Jon Jones versus Thiago Santos and Amanda Nunes versus Holly Holm. This card also features a Ben Askren fight, the return of Luke Rockhold and much more. Let's get right into predictions.
Diego Sanchez vs Michael Chiesa
I love this fight. Diego has strung together two wins in a row at welterweight including the TKO finish of Mickey Gall at UFC 235. Chiesa is back in the win column with a submission finish of Carlos Condit. Both of these fighters are on the rise, but I can't stop myself from remembering Diego is 37 years old and beating unranked opponents who call him out for an easy win. Chiesa on the other hand seems to have found his footing at welterweight after losing two important fights at lightweight to the likes of top five ranked fighters Kevin Lee and Anthony Pettis. I wish good things for Diego and part of me wants him to win this fight, but I don't see him making a real run at the welterweight title while Chiesa remains at least interesting in the top ten going forward. As far as the fight goes, Chiesa hasn't shown the ability to KO people, but has six submissions in his eight UFC wins. Diego is crafty, always hard to finish, and a veteran so I see this fight going the distance. Chiesa will win by decision.
Jan Blachowicz vs Luke Rockhold
Since losing the Middleweight belt on June 4th, 2016 to Michael Bisbing, Rockhold has only fought twice but who the fuck am I to tell someone how often they should get punched in the face? That being said, I hope the move up a weight class means we get to see him more often. His debut will be against the #6 LHW Jan Blachowicz. You might be asking yourself, "He's ranked sixth in the Jon Jones division so how have I never heard of him?" I'll tell you why faithful reader. It is because seven of his last ten fights have gone to decision. Even while winning four of his last five fights, the only notable opponent is Jimi Manuwa and if I'm not mistaken he retired shortly afterwards anyway. Hopefully Rockhold wins this fight and begins his ascension up the LHW ladder because it is barren and I need all the hyped Jones fights I can get. What would be better than Daniel Cormier's best friend and training partner getting revenge on Jones? The fight ends in the third round by TKO with the winner being Luke Rockhold.
Jorge Masvidal vs Ben Askren
Whoever wins this fight is arguably in the title conversation, which is crazy. This will only be Ben's second UFC fight and the first was a very controversial win over Robbie Lawler. Jorge has only won one of his last 3 fights but here we are. It is very hard for me to predict this fight. I feel like almost any outcome is possible or even likely. I could see a world where Ben just owns Masvidal, Khabib style, for 3 rounds and wins. Jorge wrestling is no joke, so maybe they stand up for too long and Jorge gets a couple nice uppercuts in while Ben shoots for a takedown and finally gives Ben that first loss. Askren proved he had a chin in his fight with Robbie Lawler so I would put my money on the former. Askren by decision and it won't be close but Masvidal is just the type of guy to shock the world.
Amanda Nunes vs Holly Holm
Amanda Nunes by KO. There is no thinking about it or weighing Holly’s recent success with wrestling against Nunes’s skill set or any other fight metric. Nunes by KO or TKO. I like Holm, I would even go as far as to say I wouldn’t miss a Holly Holm fight, but she’s been riding the fame from kicking Ronda Rousey in the face for a little too long. That was in November of 2015 and since then she has gone 2-4, with half of her fights being title fights. One of those title fights was after losing two in a row. She won her last fight against Megan Anderson and looked good doing it. She dominated Anderson on the ground and showed everyone she had a little more than a 1-2 into head kick combo. Assuming she loses this fight, which is realistic, she will be 2-5 with four title fights in her last seven. Let’s see Holly fight some of the up and comers and earn a title shot after this. Nunes is too big and too strong and if she can take shots from Cris Cyborg than Holm should be no problem. Amanda Nunes by KO.
Jon Jones vs Thiago Santos
Here is how this fight happens. Round 1; Jones teep kicks Santos, tries to clinch when Santos rushes him and stays out of danger by circling and avoiding trading. Round 2; More of round 1 strategy. Round 3; Santos will be tired and Jon will start trading and take Santos down. He will pound him into the canvas until it is called. Jon has done the same thing to everyone. Part of the reason Jones is so dominant is his fight IQ. He won’t be running in there trying to KO Thiago, but that’s exactly what Santos will do. It’s his only chance of winning. I’m hyped for this fight because I’ll always root for someone taking out Jones but I just don’t see it in this one. Hopefully I’m wrong though. Either way the first round will be pretty exciting hoping for one of those bombs to land.