Jones vs Santos: UFC loaded up their Fourth of July weekend card. UFC 239 features back-to-back title fights featuring Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes to close out the show.
Jon Jones takes on an interesting challenger in Thiago Santos. Jones will try to add Marreta to his list of victims in his second title defense of 2019 after picking up a unanimous decision win over Anthony Smith in March.
Holly Holm will challenge for Amanda Nunes’ belt. Holm will look to recapture the magic of her shocking upset win over Ronda Rousey in 2015, while Nunes will be trying to add on to what has been the most impressive run in the history of women’s MMA.
Thiago Santos is far from the most recognizable opponent Jon Jones has fought, but he is one of the more unique challenges he’s seen.
Coming up from the middleweight division, Santos is an athletically gifted power puncher who may have the best kicking game that Jones has seen. The way he brutalizes opponents’ legs with kicks to set up his power punching makes him a tough out for anyone.
That’s likely where Santos’ best opportunity lies. Jones loves to control the distance, utilizing his 84″ reach and an array of leg kicks and jabs to pick foes apart. If Santos can land his leg kicks at that range and force Jones to transition to the clinch more often, he just might time him up and land the punches that have turned him into a knockout artist.
But Jones has proved to be durable. He’s taken clean shots from Alexander Gustafsson, Daniel Cormier and Lyoto Machida, yet he’s very rarely showed signs of being fazed.
The intrigue of this fight is built around the concept that Santos has the power advantage in a brawl, but even then it doesn’t guarantee an upset.
Jones’ chin and distance management mean he isn’t going to face a serious threat until he moves up to heavyweight.