At UFC 239 on July 6 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (which you can watch on ESPN+), light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will face off against Thiago Santos and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes will look to cement her legacy in a co-main event tilt with Holly Holm. Elsewhere on the main card, the highly-touted Ben Askren eyes a future title shot if he can get past the heavy-handed welterweight Jorge Masvidal. Before the fighters make their way to the Octagon, we’re here to preview the biggest matches and best stories on the UFC 239 card.
Thiago Santos Wants to Make Jon Jones Suffer
For the last 11 years, Jon Jones has conquered every challenger in his path. Approaching his second title defense since winning back the light heavyweight crown, the champion’s gameplan is relatively simple: react and adapt. Jones has been nimble over his UFC tenure, whether he’s striking with precision, working on the ground for a submission or simply wearing his opposition down to a decision victory. So what makes Thiago Santos different than the rest? Santos hopes it’ll be by making Jones “suffer everywhere.”
“We have never seen him with his back against the ground – better yet, with his back to the ground and a hand landing heavily,” Santos said, per MMA Junkie. “That’s something we haven’t seen, how he reacts to a powerful ground-and-pound from the top.”
Santos is powerful and can land devastating strikes regardless of if he’s on his feet or dropping to the floor for ground-and-pound. For the underdog challenger, the latter appears to be his preferred route. But as challengers before him have shown, getting Jones to the ground can be a challenge in its own right.