UFC 239: Jon Jones defeats Thiago Santos; Nunes stops Holm

UFC 239-Jon-Jones-defeats-Thiago-Santos-Nunes-stops-Holm

Jon Jones (24-1-0) will put his UFC light heavyweight title on the line tonight when he takes on Thiago Santos (21-6-0) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The card also features a UFC women's bantamweight title clash between champion Amanda Nunes (17-4-0) and challenger Holly Holm (13-4-0). Follow here to get updates round by round, fight by fight.

In the preliminary opening, Julia Avila won a unanimous decision victory over Pannie Kianzad (30-27, 30-27, 30-26). Kianzad had some success in closing and opened a section of Ávila's eye. However, Avila's boxing proved to be the difference as he surprised Kianzad with punches several times over the course of the fight on the way to a wide decision victory.

Ismail Naurdiev vs. Chance Rencountre

Ismail Naurdiev already has a professional MMA record of 18-2 at age 22 and the "Austrian Wonderboy" won his UFC debut the last time. Chance Rencountre is a decade older than 32 and is the loser in this fight despite winning his last UFC submission contest.

Round 1. Rencountre catches a kick but can not use it to secure a takedown. Rencountre tries launch moments later, but again Naurdiev can avoid going to the canvas. A third time, Rencountre takes hold and goes for a takedown, but Naurdiev takes the first position. Naurdiev stands up and goes out throwing big punches. Naurdiev hurts Rencountre with knees to the body and continues with body shots and a body kick as well. Rencountre responds by knocking down Naurdiev. Rencountre holds Naurdiev against the cage before placing Naurdiev's back on the canvas. Naurdiev has half guard, while Rencountre gets some shots from the top. 10-9 Naurdiev.

Round 2. Rencountre receives Naurdiev back early and crushes him on the ground. Rencountre seeks to ensure naked back strangulation. Rencountre gets a series of punches from that position, but Naurdiev slips and ends with half guard again at the bottom. Rencontres pace slows down in the second half of the round, but he continues to control Naurdiev, throwing occasional punches and preventing Naurdiev from advancing any offense of his own. 10-8 Rencountre.

Round 3. Rencountre shoots for a takedown. Naurdiev blocks it. Naurdiev gets a flying knee and prevents Rencountre from being knocked down. Rencountre gets a hard right hand and pushes it again for a takedown. Rencountre again takes Naurdiev from the standing position and pulls Naurdiev down. Rencountre gets a series of shots from the back and forces Naurdiev to turn. Rencountre ends up with the full mount, but Naurdiev pushes it very well and gets half guard again. Naurdiev can stand at the last minute and Naurdiev is knocked down at the end. 10-9 Rencountre, 29-27 Rencountre.

Winner: Chance Rencountre, unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 30-27).

That was a high-quality victory for Rencountre, who was a big loser, but he kept fighting with his fight and got a deserved decision victory against a dangerous opponent.

Edmen Shahbazyan against Jack Marshman

Edmen Shahbazyan is another on a long list of successful Armenian-American fighters. He is undefeated at 9-0 with 8 knockouts in the first round in those 9 wins. He faces Jack Marshman, a Welsh veteran with a 3-3 record in the UFC.

Round 1. After exchanging some punches, Shahbazyan ensures a knockdown. Shahbazyan opens immediately with strong blows from the top position. It moves from the guard to the lateral control, takes the back and locks in a rear choke for the presentation.

Winner: Eden Shahbazyan, presentation, round 1.

Shahbazyan has many rumors and will only increase after that performance. Shahbazyan has some great tools and he fights with ferocity. He did a quick job with a much more experienced enemy.

Alejandro Perez vs. Song Yadong

Alejandro Pérez has been very successful in the UFC, winning the Ultimate Fighter Latin America and winning 7-2-1 in the official UFC competition. Song Yadong, 21, has a 3-0 record in the UFC and is fighting for the first time outside of Asia.

Round 1. Yadong connects with a few hooks early. Then he hits Perez with a brutal right hand.

Winner: Song Yadong, KO, round 1.

That was a great way for Yadong to make his US debut. Perez had only lost by TKO once before and Yadong turned off the lights hastily. Yadong seems one of the best creatures of the emerging group of the best prospects for MMA in China.

Claudia Gadelha against Randa Markos

Claudia Gadelha was once considered one of the best 2 or 3 fighters in her weight class, but she has recently fought and comes to a great defeat by Nina Ansaroff. She is looking to bounce against Randa Markos, who has alternated wins and losses over the course of her career. She comes from a victory over Angela Hill.

Round 1. Both fighters are content to stop early, with the action largely tentative. Gadelha connects with the most difficult com. The combination of the first minutes of play began in a couple of minutes. They open with about a minute remaining, exchanging strong blows from close range before returning to a more cautious pace. 10-9 Gadelha.

Round 2. The fight continues at a slow pace. Gadelha connects with a crunchy combination of three hits near the cage in one and a half minutes. Markos gets some good shots with less than two minutes left. Markos is going to give a rotating punch, but he eats a straight right hand for his problems. Gadelha is going to be knocked down at the end of the round, but she is rejected. 10-9 Gadelha.

Round 3. The pace slows down in the third, even in relation to two mediocre first rounds. The fighters tease a little and then open briefly afterward. Gadelha is beating Markos in the exchanges. The crowd boos at the end. 10-9 Gadelha, 30-27 Gadelha.

Winner: Claudia Gadelha, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

That was not a fight that probably increases the stock of any of the competitors. However, Gadelha recovered from a disappointing defeat and achieved a much-needed victory.

Marlon Vera against Nohelin Hernández

Marlon Vera is a promising young fighter from Ecuador who has won his last three fights in the UFC and has some victories against well-known opponents. Nohelin Hernandez is taking this fight at short notice and has a record of 9-2.

Round 1. Vera catches a leg and takes the back of Hernandez. Vera uses a body triangle and looks to establish a naked back choke. Vera makes the transition from attempting to strangle her naked back to an armbar attempt. Vera loses it and Hernandez gets the first position. Hernandez gets some punches when the round comes to an end. 10-9 Vera.

Round 2. Hernandez shoots for a takedown and he assures it. Hernandez gets some shots from the top and positions himself to get more power behind his punches. Hernandez allows Vera to return with two minutes left and an aggressive attack with a flying knee. Hernández low and Vera takes monte. Hernandez turns on his back and Vera crashes into a rear choke for the presentation.

Winner: Marlon Vera, submission, round 2.

Nohelin Hernandez showed some potential with his performance, but Marlon Vera seized his opportunity in the second and scored another good victory in what appears to be a quality career in the UFC.

Gilbert Meléndez against Arnold Allen

Gilbert Meléndez has had a great career, winning titles in WEC and Strikeforce while fighting against many of the best fighters of his generation. Now 37, Meléndez has lost four straight and has not won since 2013. This could be his last UFC fight. Arnold Allen is an English wrestler who has a record of 14-1 and 5-0 in the UFC, so this is a tough challenge for Meléndez.

Round 1. In the first shots, both fighters are using different styles. Allen relies mostly on straight shots in the middle, while Melendez prefers looping punches from angles. Allen connects with a strong blow to the body and then continues with some solid blows to the head. Meléndez is more on the defensive as the round progresses. Meléndez goes for a takedown but is easily filled. 10-9 Allen.

Round 2. A confident Allen returns immediately to work, backing Meléndez and mixing kicks with his boxing attacks. Allen gets a good combination at the midpoint of the round. Meléndez is trying to shoot, but Allen is faster on the trigger. Allen continues attacking the body after having returned to that front in the first. 10-9 Allen.

Around 3. Allen takes hold and knocks Melendez down for a minute. Melendez accepts the position and uses a full guard, but Allen gets up. Melendez tries to press the action on the feet, but Allen is responding well. Allen is also attacking Meléndez's leg repeatedly with kicks and Meléndez is not moving well. 10-9 Allen, 30-27 Allen.

Winner: Arnold Allen, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Arnold Allen was dominant in that fight, as he got the best of Gilbert Meléndez in all aspects of the game. Still, it was sad to see Meléndez so far from his competitive peak.

Diego Sanchez vs. Michael Chiesa

It should be noted that Diego Sánchez has been fighting in the UFC since 2005 and is coming off an excellent performance in a victory over Mickey Gall in March. He looks arent another excellent ground fighter in Michael Chiesa. Chiesa comes from a victory over Carlos Condit and has fought against the contenders for years.

Round 1. Sanchez shoots for a knockdown. Chiesa seeks to establish a presence in the process, but cannot configure anything and gets back on his feet. In the feet, Chiesa attacks with some blows and knees before returning to a rivet. Chiesa takes Sánchez to the ground and backs down in the process. Chiesa looks to establish a nude rear choke. He does not understand it, so he places a series of elbows in his ear. Sanchez escapes and looks for to demolish Chiesa, but Chiesa backs down and takes the first position. Sanchez returns to the end and kneels before the round ends. 10-9 Chiesa.

Round 2. Chiesa knocks down Sanchez again and lands a series of blows with Sanchez tied. Chiesa is really pouring it, but Sanchez gets up. Chiesa opens with some important punches in the feet and Sanchez goes back down. Sanchez takes the full assembly and lands constant hits. Sanchez turns his back and the mistreatment continues. Sanchez goes out and returns to his feet. Chiesa goes down to Sanchez and looks for a kimura. You can not configure it before the round ends. 10-8 Chiesa.

Round 3. Chiesa grabs a leg and takes Sánchez out again. Sanchez has the first position momentarily but then loses it. They return to the feet. Chiesa knocks Sánchez down again. For Sanchez's credit, he has been able to control much more Chiesa's offense in this round. Chiesa blocks himself in a body triangle and tries a naked rear choke, but Sanchez is able to defend himself when the fight comes to an end. 10-8 Chiesa, 30-25 Chiesa.

Winner: Michael Chiesa, unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26).

Michael Chiesa was dominant throughout that fight. He was more skilled than Sanchez and stronger in the fight, which forced Sanchez to play defense almost the entire contest. In retrospect, it was a perfect match for Chiesa stylistically.

Luke Rockhold vs. Jan Blachowicz

With the UFC light heavyweight division not particularly deep, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold is moving forward. If Rockhold can accumulate some wins, it could be quickly found in the title mix. Rockhold was always a big middleweight and could pose some problems for many of the best light heavyweights. Jan Blachowicz has won four of five and is a solid challenge for Rockhold in his new division.

Round 1. Rockhold opens with a series of kicks from different angles. Rockhold then shoots in a takedown. Blachowicz defends well and fights for the position of the cage. Rockhold is fighting to bring down Blachowicz. Rockhold looks briefly for a guillotine choke but does not succeed. Blachowicz lands a nice short elbow. Blachowicz then lands another. Blachowicz connects with another punch at halftime. Rockhold goes back to work with kicks, throwing them at different levels. Blachowicz stuns Rockhold with a punch and throws a kick to the head at the end of the round. Round closure. 10-9 Rockhold.

Round 2. Rockhold moves with some straight punches but then recoils after taking a counter. Blachowicz lands a nice low kick. Rockhold returns to look for a demolition. Blachowicz hits Rockhold with a left hand and then knocks him down on the ground.

Winner: Jan Blachowicz, KO, round 2.

It has been a difficult night for the biggest name fighters and another was there. At 30 years of age and having been eliminated in 3 of his last 4, Luke Rockhold's career as a main contender may be over. The focus is likely to focus more on Rockhold after this fight, but it's a big win for Jan Blachowicz, who has been trying to move into the main mix at 205 for quite some time.

Ben Askren against Jorge Masvidal

Ben Askren is one of the sport's most colorful personalities and the undefeated elite fighter is trying to fight for the UFC welterweight title sooner rather than later. Jorge Masvidal has been a perpetually underestimated fighter, but he is on the rise after knocking out Darren Till. A victory over Ben Askren would be key to his career.

Round 1. Masvidal runs through the cage and hits Askren unconscious with one knee. He landed a couple of extra punches on the ground before the referee intervened and caused Askren a little too just in case.

Winner: Jorge Masvidal, KO, round 1.

Jorge Masvidal just set the record for the fastest knockout in UFC history and was as cruel as you can imagine. This is likely to increase Masvidal's stellar stature since it was the type of exclamation mark he had always sought. Askren was undefeated for years and came to an end suddenly and violently.

Amanda Nunes against Holly HolmAfter knocking out Cris "Cyborg" Justin in quick order, Amanda Nunes is arguing as the best MMA fighter of all time. She returns after that performance to defend her bantamweight title. After defeating Cyborg, Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko, and Miesha Tate, Nunes has the opportunity to beat another of the most recognized female stars of the sport. For Holly Holm, it's an opportunity to recover the title she won from Rousey. Holm has since gone from 2 to 4, so a victory here would help consolidate his legacy.

Round 1. After feeling something, Nunes gets a big kick that is partially blocked. Holm is regularly firing low kicks to keep the distance. They take hold and Nunes goes on a dismantling trip, but Holm reappears. Nunes connects with a combination of two strokes. Nunes knocks Holm down with a kick to the head and adds some punches to the ground before it stops.

Winner: Amanda Nunes, TKO, round 1.

Nunes' career continues. There is no precedent in the MMA history of women for the race that Nunes has had in his last nine fights. Nobody has won so impressively over a mix of EliLos opponents and she did it again tonight.

Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos

Jon Jones is in the conversation with only a handful of other fighters for the title of best fighter of all time. Ostensibly unbeaten, Jones has reigned over the light heavyweight title for nearly a decade. Thiago Santos is the weakest for this fight, but he has an important attribute he can use against Jones: the prodigious power of elimination. If Santos connects, he can eliminate any opponent.

Round 1. Jones lands a leg kick and then a front kick. Santos takes the balance off Jones with a strong kick in the leg. Santos launches a series of kicks of his own. It is interesting how much of the offense of each early man has consisted of kicks. Jones changes position, putting the leg that Santos has been attacking behind him. Santos throws a combination of punches and hits Jones' mouthpiece. Santos connects with a big punch to the chin. Santos lands another leg kick. Jones throws a spinning kick at the end. 10-9 Santos.

Around 2. Santos hurts his leg and kicks Jones, but he recovers and seems fine. Jones is exercising great caution when moving to Santos. Jones knocked down Santos with a kick to the body. Jones continues with a leg kick. Santos gets some big shots and then a strong kick that Jones can block. 10-9 Jones.

Round 3. Santos throws a kick that is partially trapped. Santos opens with a series of short distance shots. Jones takes down Santos and puts pressure. Jones throws a flying knee. Santos is fine Jones attacks with a pair of kicks in the leg. Santos retaliates with a couple of kicks of his own. Jones uses an elbow on his forehead that cuts Santos. Jones throws some kicks. He has Santos backing up and you can see the growing confidence in Jones. Santos attacks the leg with a couple more kicks. Jones throws an elbow spinning late. 10-9 Jones.

Round 4. Santos gets a kick in the leg and then a couple of punches in the head, leading Jones to retreat through the octagon to reach a more secure position. Jones attacks the forward leg with some kicks. Jones is still attacking that leg. Santos responds with a kick of his own leg. Santos gets a kick in the leg and shudders in pain when he recoils. 10-9 Jones.

Round 5. Both fighters continue to point to each other's legs. Santos gets a good combination with a kick in the head and some mixed shots too. Jones lands a hard kick on the leg. Santos lands a leg kick and limps out of balance. Santos is clearly physically committed at this point when it comes to his mobility, but he remains strong. 10-9 Jones, 49-46 Jones.

Winner: Jon Jones, split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47).

That ended up being a very close decision and it was appropriate given the fight that Thiago Santos organized. Clearly, Jon Jones had a lot of respect for the power of Thiago Santos and was cautious about all that. It would be interesting to see how Santos would have done it if it were not for the mobility problems he faced.