UFC 239 Picks

MMA Fight: UFC 239: Jones vs. Santos
Key Matches: Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos
When: Saturday, July 6, 2019
Time: 11PM EST
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: PPV

by Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Jon Jones, (-650), 24-1 (10 KOs, 6 Submissions) vs. Thiago Santos, (+475), 21-6 (15 KOs, 1 Submission)

Jon Jones defends his UFC Light Heavyweight Title on July 6 against dangerous contender Thiago Santos in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena. Jones is starting to get active again like he was in his heyday. This will be his third title fight in 7 months, once again entrenched as the most-dominant figure in MMA. Santos has also gotten on a little roll in his career and looks for the win of his life, which would register as a massive upset. With 8 wins in his last 9 fights, with some scary KOs in the mix, he’s an interesting X-factor. Who will come out on top?

Jones returned by regaining the vacated title in a stoppage of Alexander Gustafsson. In March, he made a defense of his belt by beating Anthony Smith by a dominant unanimous decision. He is four years younger than Santos at age 31, one of the longest light heavyweights at 6’4″ with an expansive 84-inch reach. The challenger faces long odds. And while Jones has entered the ring in less-than-pristine condition before, he has always managed to come out ahead. His physical gifts are off-the-charts, with a strong mind to boot. He is a resolute ultra-professional with a vision of what he’s doing in a fight. Many say he’s the best MMA fighter of all-time and a look at his track-record makes it hard to argue that. Despite all his outside issues, he has beaten every big name at light heavyweight, even holding two wins (one overturned) over the current UFC Heavyweight Champion.

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If looking for a big upset candidate, you can do a lot worse than Santos. He has the ability to scramble anyone’s brains. He throws wild haymakers and isn’t in there to go the distance or to look respectable. He’s there to knock someone’s block off and with 15 KOs in 21 wins, he often times does. But at least he goes for it. Santos is trying to behead people in the octagon. It won’t be easy for Santos, as Jones is pretty adept at avoiding the big shot. He can be hit, but he uses his range very effectively. When he gets hit, he knows how to make adjustments on the fly. He is actually pretty slick on his feet and if that fails to work, he gets guys to the ground with ease. Santos really needs this fight to stay in stand-up for him to have any chance.

On one hand, you want a sort of reckless bomber with disregard for his personal safety when scouting a potential upset candidate to beat a guy like Jones. But banking on Jones to either not be focused or mistake-prone qualifies as wishful thinking. Jones sees very clearly what the opponent is doing or trying to do. And he isn’t in there to be a hero, trading blows with an opponent with disregard. He sees a path to victory and takes that route. And with Santos’ striking the only way he can win, look for Jones to try to take that out of play. Santos at least excels in one area and that’s a prerequisite when thinking of taking a huge dog like the Brazilian. It’s just that there are different strata when it comes to fighters. You have ultra-champions like Jones—the clear top dogs in their division who take all comers. And about four levels beneath that are guys like Santos—fighters who could rise someday, but are really just rank-and-file contenders.

To get a better idea, let’s look at the bottom-line. And we can talk about PEDs all day, but from a betting perspective, we’re not focused on righteousness as much as we are on results. Fighters who are dominant against everyone else they fight get nowhere with Jones—fighters like Daniel Cormier, for instance. Santos definitely throws heavy shots, but if he managed this upset, wouldn’t you want more than +475 on your money? It seems like it would be a massive upset of near monstrous proportions, just without the monstrous return on your money.

The texture of the light heavyweight class is perhaps a bit misunderstood. Long considered the glamour division in the UFC on the basis of all the stars who have made their bones at 205 pounds. In its current manifestation, however, it’s a weight class with one supreme leader at the top in Jones, a small handful of top contenders, and then a big pack of guys like Santos. It’s a top-heavy division, with a lot separating the number-one guy from say the number-ten guy. That gap is wider than what is seen in most weight classes. A look at the 205-pound rankings doesn’t show a lot of names you’d fancy to beat the champ.

I think Santos is a bit out of his depth here, with one route to victory against a fighter in Jones who knows how to shut down that one aspect of MMA. Jones thrives at this level and Santos hasn’t shown he can. I don’t think we’re at a time in the history of this division where a mid-level contender like Santos is really equipped to excel in this context. Jones knows what to look for in this fight and I expect him to deploy the necessary weaponry to quell that. I see this one going according to plan for Jones, as he notches yet another title defense.

Loot’s Pick to Win the Match: I’m betting on Jon Jones at -650 betting odds. Did you know… that you could be wagering on MMA at discounted odds? There’s a better than good chance that you’re laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to BetAnySports Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

More UFC 239 Bets

Amanda Nunes (-340) vs. Holly Holm (+280)
Pick: The double-champion Nunes, coming off a signature KO of Cyborg, will bring too much to the table against Holm. While Holm does some things that could trouble Nunes and is very talented in her own right, her best fighting might be behind her. I’ll lay the number on the champion.

Ben Askren (-205) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+165)
Pick: Askren had a drama-filled UFC debut, barely thwarting the challenge of Robbie Lawler. He now gets Masvidal, coming off a thrilling win over Darren Till. While hardly a slam-dunk, I see Askren’s skills winning the day here, albeit against a confident and dangerous fighter in Masvidal.

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