UFC 239: Jon Jones overcomes injury and Thiago Santos to retain title in kickboxing match

Gareth A Davies
Jon Jones was unstoppable against Thiago Santos - Getty Images North America
Jon Jones was unstoppable against Thiago Santos - Getty Images North America


Jon Jones retains title in split points decision and Amanda Nunes eviscerates Holly Holm in opening round - two champions retain titles 

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Jon Jones, playing a cat-and-mouse fight with challenger Thiago Santos, retained his light heavyweight title belt here in Sin City, choosing to stay in a stand up battle in the Brazilian's backyard, not once choosing to use his wrestling. It was a gamble, but it paid off as the American eked his way to victory.

Santos, always dangerous, was looking to claim the title against the great fighter, always ready with a cocked counter left hook from the southpaw stance. 

Jones was helped out of the arena by his team, limping, and supported on both shoulders. 

But it was a dramatic night in the T-Mobile Arena here as the other Brazilian - Amanda Nunes - retained her women's bantamweight crown when the 31-year-old, laying claim to be the greatest women's fighter of all time, stopped former champion Holly Holm in the opening stanza. 

What Nunes has learnt is to be patient, and the champ-champ - both 135lbs and 145lbs champion - showed it to perfection in one of the most dramatic nights in UFC history.

Of note, too, was Jorge Masvidal knocking Ben Askren out by flying knee just two seconds into their bout. 

"Jones won it comfortably,  in my view," said Dana White, the UFC President, "which defines him as The Greatest. Look at who he has beaten."          


Amanda Nunes coach Conan Silveira gives me a face slapping for doubting her as the GOAT







Deserved it. But close fight... Jones limps out.... vid to follow


Jon Jones retains his UFC light heavyweight title 48-47over Thiago Santos on my cards  

Here we go...


Jones vs Santos: Rd 5

Body kick and flurry from Santos. Still looking for the left hook. Jones right high - and cautious - in exchanges. Santos owns first half of the round. Now Jones goes to work. Oblique kick. Santos fast handspeed  has kept Jones careful, and kept Brazilian in the contest. This is a good round for the challenger. Done. They are booing. But like the old Coliseum in Rome, the stentorian audience wanted a finish

Santos 10-9  


Jones vs Santos: Round 4

They are booing because the crowd here want a finish, or more drama. Jones dominates the fourth stanza through forward aggression and popping attacks. Santos looks still for the counter left. The entire fight has been on the feet. Kickboxing so far

Jones : 10-9


Jones vs Santos: Round 2 & 3

Santos dangerous Jones dives for cover. These are the dangerous moments for Jones, pressing the fight but playing Santos.  Jones stalking, brilliant, Santos looking to counter, wins second and third. Jones put Santos down momentarily with a right kick in the second stanza.

In the third round, Santos bleeding from right side of his face, loses focus for a moment, seems mentally broken perhaps, and Jones hunting for a finish... spinning stuff       

2:Jones 10-9

3:Jones 10-9   


Jones v Santos: Round 1

Left kick gives Santos ton of confidence. Back to southpaw. Showing his wares, the Brazilian. Jones on the offensive, spinning back elbow. Misses. Jones southpaw. Oblique kicks.  Santos attacks. Jones out of range. Left hook Santos knocked champion's mouthguard out. Watch the left hook... Santos dangerous. Spinning kick to the body - from Jones. Great fight. Real tension in the arena... spinning kick from Jones to end the round. 

Santos 10-9 (that mouthguard KO)   


Here we go... Jon Jones ... vs ... Thiago Santos 

Jon Jones... tenth defence ... second reign (it's complicated/you know what I mean...)


Jon Morgan, who is a stalwart of this, agrees with me that this is one of the most dramatic UFC events ever ... 

But we have yet to see Jon Jones now against Thiago Santos... Jones, as you know from my interviews with him this week, is 'the bad guy trying to be good....' 


Amanda Nunes is truly at the peak of her powers... feel privileged to get a fist bump on media row  




Good stoppage by Marc Goddard. Great shin kick by Nunes. My word, patience and wrecking power ... 4 minutes 10 seconds.  


Title fight time... Holly Holm in first...very keyed up... then the Champ - Champ Amanda Nunes 'The Lioness' 



They bring the unexpected... like Jorge Masvidal 



Champ's here... GOAT for me... but anyone can lose in this sport... anywhere... any time. 



RUNNING KNEE KO !! Jorge Masvidal defeats Ben Askren just (mili) seconds into the fight. FASTEST KO IN UFC HISTORY !! 2 SECONDS 

Unbelievable. This sport, as I said, is so unpredictable. As is Masvidal. Hooter sounds, runs at Askren, knees him. And it has taken a few minutes for him to regain his feet.  


Boom - Rockhold heavily knocked out by Jan The Man ... huge left hook. As the winner predicted.  Great intervention Herb Dean. Brutal. Out of an exchange, down, out and sideways...



Jan Blachowicz vs. Luke Rockhold (light heavyweight)

Good start from Rockhold, the former UFC middleweight champion, alternating kicks and grappling, but Jan The Man from Poland is one tough dude, and will be dangerous for 15 minutes... (Bisping, remember, KO'd Rockhold with those left hand killers, to finally claim the crown ...)

Late in the first round ... after dominating, Rockhold very very hurt in an exchange . Therefore, 9-9.   


Pleasure to witness UK fighter and former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping installed in the Hall of Fame last night here... "I came from nothing...to this..." he explained. Emotional night. Autobiography out soon, too, which will be pretty raw... 



Here's a legend in the sport... and a UK pioneer... Marc Goddard



Dominant, dominant, dominated 30-26 unanimous decision for Chiesa over Sanchez. Scored it  same. 



T-Mobile getting in on the act...



Here's a little vision action from Sanchez vs Chiesa 



Up first... Diego Sanchez, a fan favourite and Michael Chiesa (whose late father went to public school in England by the way)   

As predicted, Chiesa up early using his adept submission skills against Sanchez. But Sanchez is one of the most game fighters we have ever seen in MMA. His fight with Clay Guida ten years ago - 10 years ago ! - was inducted as special into the UFC Hall of Fame last night. Chiesa dominant in the opening round, twice sinking in an attempted rear naked choke finish, but Sanchez - once 'The Nightmare' now 'The Dream' - the consummate wriggler. Round 2, and we are straight back to the ground... 


Here we go... the light fantastic at the T-Mobile Arena and the view from my seat Octagonside



Good evening from Las Vegas... two title defences tonight from Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes 

Good evening and welcome to the live blog from Las Vegas. It has been a fascinating UFC International Fight week culminating with Jon Jones defending his light heavyweight title against Thiago Santos and Amanda Nunes in an anticipated match-up looking to retain her bantamweight title against the former 135lbs women's champion Holly Holm.  The first week in July, each year, has become a capstick for the Sin City based fight organisation. We have seen Hall of Fame inductions - the UK's Michael Bisping, MMA's greatest ever export, bar none was invested last night - and an array of champions and challengers paraded before fans and media yesterday.

I can't remember how many times I've covered fights here cageside and ringside over the last 22 years,  in MMA and boxing, but it is approaching the century mark, and it is my pleasure to guide you through tonight's main card.

Coming up: 

Jon Jones (champion) vs. Thiago Santos (light heavyweight)

Amanda Nunes (champion) vs. Holly Holm (women's bantamweight)

Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren (welterweight)

Jan Blachowicz vs. Luke Rockhold (light heavyweight)

Diego Sanchez vs. Michael Chiesa (welterweight)

Here's my picks: Jones, TKO; Nunes TKO; Askren, decision; Rockhold, decision; Chiesa, submission. Nothing, though, ever really goes to the formbook in MMA, and over the next few hours, we shall see. 

 Send me your comments and thoughts to @GarethADaviesDT on Twitter and I'll do my best to get your views heard on here...


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