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UFC 239 Preview: Battle of the Knockout Kings and Queens

Our MMA expert provides you with the best bitcoin betting value for UFC 239 as she picks out the top fighters from this event's main card.

The legendary Jon Jones returns to the Octagon again to defend his title and face a worthy adversary in Thiago Santos at UFC 239 - see the latest bitcoin betting for the event at Cloudbet. To be held on July 7th 2019, 3 a.m. UK time, at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, the night promises fights between an array of legendary names and known powerhouses, including the striking queens of the UFC, Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes, who will be co-headlining this event.

Jon Jones v Thiago Santos

Light Heavyweight Main Event

The iconic Jon “Bones” Jones is stepping into the cage once again. The fighter holds an impressive record, with 24 victories and only one controversial loss via disqualification due to use of illegal elbows.

The 15-month ban imposed on Jones due to a failed USADA drug test following his fight against Daniel Cormier (which was therefore overturned as a no contest) has finally been lifted and the best “pound for pound” fighter in the world returns to Las Vegas Nevada ranked number 1 in the light heavyweight division.

Despite some critics pinning the extent of Jones’ success on unfair drug enhancement, his fighting pedigree and knowledge simply cannot be denied. A former collegiate American footballer and high school elite wrestler, Jones has always been athletic and strong.

His classical wrestling background laid the foundations for a fighter who was adaptable, powerful and could creatively bridge the gap between strikes and submissions in a way that was both skillful and entertaining. Jones is known for his strikes (with a majority 10 knockout wins), but with 6 submission wins and 8 via decision, his versatility cannot be denied. Jones uses the breadth of his skill within every victory in order to dominate.

Physically Jones holds the clear advantage being 4 years younger, 2 inches taller and with a staggering 8.5-inch reach advantage. He is a tactical fighter and knows how to use his height and reach well, but he doesn’t just rely on his strikes.

Jones’ famous fight against Vitor Belfort (UFC 152) was a good example of his interlocking skill. He used his reach to deflect Belfort’s powerful punches and landed a number of devastating strikes of his own with a body kick sending Belfort down, allowing Jones’ to finish the fight via keylock submission.

It seems possible that history might repeat itself when the American legend comes face to face with Brazilian powerhouse Thiago “Marreta” Santos, who also boasts an impressive record of 21 victories but 6 losses.

Despite Jones’ reputation, Santos no doubt welcomes the challenge, seeing a prime opportunity to make his mark. He is known for his striking, holding a majority 15 victories by knockout - more than Jones himself. But with only one victory via submission, it would appear that Santos does not have the same broad ranging skillset, with a clear specialism in striking.

Both fighters show variety in their knockouts and both favour using kicks and strikes to target the body as well as kicks to the head to weaken their opponents, but it’s Santos who has achieved the most knockouts via head or body kicks. He is the one who achieved 7 out of 8 victories in the past two years via knockout including his last 3 wins whereas Jones has only achieved one knockout in the last 6 years.

Santos is currently on a 4-fight winning streak coming back strong from a devastating knockout defeat at the hands of David Branch (UFC Fight Night 128). His focus is on incredible timing, accuracy and power as opposed to speed or great complexity of combinations with an offensive as opposed to counter style. Santos hits to destroy not to distract.

Both main event contenders are formidable fighters and proclaimed for their skilled knockouts. We believe that Jones has a far broader skill range and that this, combined with his reach advantage, will likely prevent Santos from getting close enough to execute his striker’s game plan and secure the victory for himself.

Jones to win at 1.15

Amanda Nunes v Holly Holm

Women Bantamweight Co-main Event

Here we have another Brazilian versus American tussle co-headlining this event. Not only are Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes and Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm two of the biggest names in women’s MMA right now, but they are also two of the most infamous strikers.

Both defeated the legendary Ronda Rousey, the sole reason why women were even allowed to enter the octagon, by knocking her out. They were the only two losses in Rousey’s entire MMA career and she never returned to the cage.

Holm and Nunes collectively demonstrate just how much women have progressed in the sport, and considering their backgrounds and notoriety, it’s sure to be an exciting match up. Holm is 6 years Nunes’ senior but otherwise, physically, the pair are evenly matched with identical height and reach.

Holm is likely to have the full support of the home crowd in this fight; she is what we might call the “nation’s sweetheart” as far as female fighters are concerned, never displaying a “mean” persona for the sake of intimidation.

Holm of course is a specialised striker. Before getting into MMA, she already had a championship title in the IKF (International Kickboxing Federation) National Amateur tournament and a strong professional boxing career, holding multiple welterweight championship titles. This expertise is clearly reflected in her record with a majority 8 knockouts out of 12 victories with 4 other decision victories and none via submission.

The polarising difference in skillset was part of why she was able to come out on top against the historically unbeatable Ronda Rousey (UFC 193). This performance was a great demonstration of her technique, timing and power, and was arguably one of the most ground-breaking fights in the women's UFC division so far.

With her clean kickboxing and legendary head kick, Holm is an absolute force to be reckoned with. She makes good use of technicality and reach to overwhelm her opponents in a way that is calculated and calm, utilising her speed and unconventional south-paw stance to her advantage.

Unfortunately following her victory, Holm faced 3 crippling losses. Since then she had one victory and a further loss, and is currently making her comeback after a recent win against Megan Anderson.

If Holm was the underdog in her fight against Rousey, Nunes was even more so, with everyone praying for Rousey to make a comeback, seeing her one loss as a fluke and praying for her to comeback.

Instead, the Brazilian proved herself in a mere 48 seconds during UFC 207. It was one of the most devastating knockouts to be recorded in women’s MMA, and made the long reigning women’s champion, who’d at least made it to the second round with Holm, look like a complete amateur.

In her most recent fight, Nunes famously defeated Cyborg (Cristiane Justino), one of the most feared women in the sport at the time and undisputed featherweight champion. The women had a similar striking style but within the opening moments of the first round, Nunes was far more accurate and knocked her opponent out cold.

She is clearly a fighter that continues to surprise, and has a stronger MMA record than Holm with 17 victories overall and a majority 12 of those victories via knockout. She has also had 3 submission wins (all via rear-naked choke).

There’s no doubt about it, Nunes is a powerhouse. Those rear naked chokes have been applied with surgical precision and control. Her strikes are in a style more hybrid and brawling than the clean kickboxing technique of Holm but for that reason they are unpredictable and effective.

It was only a matter of time before these two prolific female strikers would touch gloves. This is a truly exciting fight for the fans. However, with the age gap between them, Holm’s recent record and slightly less powerful striking style, we believe that Nunes will likely win this contest.

Nunes to win at 1.28

Jan Blachowicz v Luke Rockhold

Light Heavyweight

Jan Blackowicz and Luke Rockhold are the other light heavyweight matchup of the night. They’re similar in age with Rockhold slightly taller and Blackowicz holding a slight, 1-inch reach advantage. Rockhold is also making the risky jump up a weight class to face Blachowicz, a difference of about 10kg.

Rockhold also hasn’t competed in a year after his knockout loss to Yoel Romero, whilst Blachowicz was on a four fight winning streak before losing to Santos earlier this year. Both fighters will no doubt be keen to make a comeback.

Rockhold is an impressive mixed martial artist with a balanced skillset. He’s had 6 strong victories by knockout with a majority 8 wins via submission. Though Blackowicz has double the losses of Rockhold, his overall record is stronger, with 23 total victories against Rockhold’s 16. He is also a balanced martial artist with a clear submission specialism, having achieved 9 wins by submission and 5 by knockout and has also perfected certain submissions, achieving continuous victories specifically with the rear-naked choke and armbar.

It’s clear that the two warriors are well matched in terms of their skillset. Rockhold is taking a big risk by fighting in a heavier weight class after his break and no doubt both fighters will find each other a tougher opponent to lure into submissions. However we believe that considering Blachowicz’s recent success and Rockhold’s time out of the cage, Blachowicz will more likely take the victory.

Blachowicz to win at 2.45

Diego Sanchez v Michael Chiesa

Welterweight

In this match the more balanced fighter Diego Sanchez faces the clear submission specialist Michael Chiesa. Chiesa has the stronger recent record whilst Sanchez has the far greater experience, 29 victories to Chiesa’s 15. However, Chiesa clearly also holds the physical advantage being 6 years younger, almost 3 inches taller and with a 3.5 inch reach advantage.

Sanchez currently holds a majority 10 knockout victories, 6 via submission and 13 via decision. He is on a 2 fight winning streak that he’s seeking to continue. Sanchez is known for the fury he brings to the cage and his absolutely relentless, vicious striking style and stamina, earning him the name of “Nightmare”. He will continue to strike even when eating punches himself and has been known to quote his mind’s ability to overcome the physical as his unique skill, spending much time practicing yoga and meditation.

Having made the transition from being a standout wrestler to expert submitter, and enhancing the skillset he already had, Chiesa is conversely a complete submissions specialist, with 11 out of 14 victories via submission and no knockouts to date.

The majority of his victories have been via rear-naked choke and it’s clear that this is the submission he’s refined into his trademark. Even though he hasn’t achieved a knockout, his strikes are still well-placed and consistent, dominating particularly from the mount and clinch.

Both men will be approaching this fight from different angles and both have proven finishing abilities. We believe that in this case, Chiesa’s physical advantage, combined with his specialised skillset, will likely secure the win.

Chiesa to win at 1.28

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