UFC 239 was one of the best fight-cards we’ll have the pleasure of witnessing for quite some time and with that in mind, here are fifteen things we learned after all was said and done in the T-Mobile Arena last night.
Jon Jones is still very much human
Jones did just enough to edge out the decision over the powerful Thiago Santos in the night’s main-event but over the course of the five-rounds, he showed himself to have the type of flaws in his approach that may one day leave him vulnerable to the right contender.
Jon himself admitted that he fought an all-stand-up battle to beat Santos in his own area of speciality and to be honest, based off of his comments on the subject in the past, the fact that he prides himself on these displays of prowess could well be the cause for his eventual downfall – should it ever come.
And he may well be susceptible to leg-kicks
Santos was able to test those skinny legs of the champion from the get-go and overall, Jones wasn’t able to mount much in terms of any suitable defense as they came.
The damage that Marreta was able to do to Jones’ foundations ended up having an effect on his movement once things progressed into the later rounds and one would have to imagine that the entire light-heavyweight division were taking notes eagerly as tiny cracks began to show in the champ’s armour.
Amanda Nunes is still getting better
In an incredible turn of events in the night’s co-main, Nunes managed to Holly Holm Holly Holm – adding yet another first-round finish of a massive name to her resumé.
The fact that Nunes is still clearly expanding her game and in many ways, improving as an athlete, is a scary, scary thing.
I’m starting to think that it’s going to take something incredible to dethrone The Lioness and if I’m honest, it’s hard to know where it’s going to come from at this point.
Holly Holm needs to take a long look at her future
Now 2-5 in her last seven – with her only wins coming against mid-tier opposition, at 37, Holm’s best days do seem to be fading into distant memory and with this latest setback, it would take something incredible for her to find herself in another UFC title fight again any time soon.
After an exemplary career in boxing and a UFC championship belt in her possession, Holm has managed to enjoy a fantastic time in the world of combat sports. A loss as brutal as the one she endured last night, though, does raise some questions about where she is headed.
Jorge Masvidal’s stock just went through the roof
If Masvidal’s stunning knockout of Darren Till, his subsequent attack on Leon Edwards, and his memorable appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast weren’t enough to establish him as a star within the sport, this win will no doubt seal the deal.
It’s hard to know how much of a PPV draw Jorge can be without another big name as his dance partner but make no mistake, that highlight reel KO will be unavoidable for the next few months and one would have to assume that Gamebred will be in demand from here on out.
Ben Askren just learned a very tough lesson
Askren’s reputation as a specialist within the sport had seen many describe him as one of the greatest fighters to have never fought in the UFC during his prime.
His two fights under the UFC banner have been quite freakish for varying reasons but overall, it has become pretty clear that his one-dimensional approach is leaving him open for a skilled attacker to do exactly what both Robbie Lawler and Jorge Masvidal were able to do in their own different ways.
It’s hard to know where he will go from here.
Welterweight just became even more interesting
The next challenger to Kamaru Usman’s title could well be contested between two friends and training partners, Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington – if Colby can overcome Robbie Lawler next month.
Only one man can fight Usman next time around and Masvidal has made it clear that he is in this game for himself only – regardless of the goals of those who share his gym. Whether we ever see these two pals square off in the future remains to be seen but no matter who gets the shot, the divisional champion will have his hands full.
170lbs is the perfect weight for Michael Chiesa
Chiesa was slick, technical, and utterly dominant against the legendary Diego Sanchez – moving to 2-0 as a welterweight with a display of beautiful grappling against the formidable black-belt who shared the octagon with him.
It really does seem as though The Maverick’s frame is perfectly suited for 170lbs – with those long limbs allowing him to flow beautifully into submission attempts and transitions on the mat.
Luke Rockhold may be on the way out
Another brutal defeat for the former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold caused UFC president Dana White to recommend that he hang up his gloves for good.
It may seem a bit harsh when you consider Rockhold’s clear talent, but with several vicious losses all coming as a result of the same fatal flaws in his striking defense and ability to take a shot, it may well be time for Luke to take a look at where his career trajectory is taking him and how it may impact his health in the long-run.
Diego Sanchez is as resilient as ever but needs to be realistic
Sanchez well and truly stole the show during fight-week, speaking to Ariel Helwani in one of the most bizarre interviews of all-time, citing a change in focus and coaching as a catalyst for his then-two-fight-win-streak.
Against Chiesa, though, he was unable to mount too much in the way of offense outside of a few interesting scrambles and reversals. As another fighter who has taken his fair share of damage over the course of his career, one would have to assume that his time in the sport is limited.
Song Yadong is headed straight for the top-10.
Yadong managed to completely run through Alejandro Perez on his way to a first-round TKO in the biggest fight of his career.
21-years-old, 4-0 in the UFC with three finishes, and now, with a win over the #13-ranked bantamweight in his back-pocket, one would have to assume that he’s exactly the type of fighter that the UFC will look to push towards the divisional upper-echelons.
Marlon Vera vs. Sean O’Malley needs to be rebooked
Vera managed to put away a dangerous opponent in the form of debutant Nohelin Hernandez with a beautifully worked submission to extend his current win-streak to four.
Of course, Sean O’Malley would have been the man to share the cage with Chito Vera had he not been pulled from the fight by USADA. Given the mostly sympathetic response that the MMA world has had to O’Malley’s predicament, why not sign this fight once again as soon as the prospect is able to return?
Arnold Allen is legit
Facing a tough test in the form of the legendary Gilbert Melendez, Allen re-affirmed his position as one of the top rising talents in the featherweight division with a slick performance that displayed him at his technical best.
And while he wasn’t able to get the finish against the always-durable El Nino, he showed every sign of a fighter who is more than capable of making the step up to the top-15 in his next outing.
Edmen Shahbazyan is ready for a top-15 test
Shahbazyan absolutely ran through the incredibly tough and durable Jack Marshman in 72 seconds to cement his status as one of the most promising fighters on the periphery of the 185lb top-15 right now.
At 21, care should be taken not to rush him into anything too hastily but by the looks of things, he does appear to be ready for a greater test of his talents.
Dana White should never get into judging
The UFC president has always had a flair for the dramatic but in one particularly bizarre statement, he claimed that Jon Jones completely dominated Thiago Santos and anyone who scored the fight for the challenger has completely lost their mind.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena