UFC 239, Las Vegas, Nevada 6th July 2019

International Fight Week is upon us and the UFC have put together a very good card for the occasion. The only blot on the landscape is a fairly uncompetitive looking main event but we can forgive that when the rest of the card is so stacked with excellent fights. Let’s get to it!

Gilbert Melendez v Arnold Allen

An interesting match up on the early prelims between the wiliest of veterans in Melendez and the surging new(ish)comer in Allen.

Melendez has been at, or near, the very top of the game for a decade or more and has fought a who’s who of the division during that time.

Allen, while promising in what we’ve seen of him so far, has nothing like the resume of Melendez and I find it a little surprising that as a young fighter, he has only managed to notch up 5 fights in the UFC in four years. ( I guess you could say the same for Melendez but he’s been suspended for 2 years of his tenure and you just have less fights at his level than as a fighter trying to establish themself)

Taking all that into account, I struggle to see why Melendez has been installed as the 11/4 dog here. Yes, he’s been out for 2 years, yes he’s getting older, yes, he’s gone 1-5 in the UFC ( which, in reality, should be more like 3-3 – and agains the absolute best of the division) but this is GILBERT MELENDEZ fighting a promising but inexperienced young fighter in his very first fight on a big card in the US.

11/4 is toooooo big a price to let slip by – I make Melendez more of a 6/4 shot here and that kind of value has to be grabbed.

Advice – 1pt win Gilbert Melendez at 11/4 Bet365, Sky, Coral

Michael Chiesa v Diego Sanchez

A straight value call here. Sanchez is clearly on the downslope of a storied career. However, even after all the wars he has put himself through with his near suicidal fighting style, he always comes to fight and is a tough out for anybody.

While he has looked decidedly chinny over recent years, he has never been submitted and that’s where this becomes an interesting match up against the submission specialist Chiesa. I don’t see Chiesa having the power to get Sanchez out of there and I struggle to see him being the first to submit him in a 40 fight pro career stretching back 17 years.

Chiesa by decision then is the most likely outcome.

However, I can’t ignore the generosity of Bet365 in offering Sanchez at 3/1. That’s too big a price for a man unlikely to be KO’d or submitted and who just keeps on coming in the later rounds of a fight when most are gassed or sickened by his relentless onslaught.

Advice: 1pt win Diego Sanchez at 3/1 Bet365

Amanda Nunes v Holly Holm

I’m not a massive fan of women’s mma to be honest but I’m interested in this one. Nunes has looked an unstoppable force in her recent fights and has a legitimate claim to being the greatest female fighter of all time after dispatching Cris Cyborg in such brutal fashion in her last outing.

Naturally she is the hot favourite here and by far the most likely winner. However, the value lies in taking Holm to pull the upset at the 3/1 generally available (4.15 with Marathon)

Holm is easily the best pure boxer in womens mma and has the perfect game to avoid Nunes’s straight line charging bull style. If she can keep the fight at distance in the first couple of minutes when Nunes is at her most dangerous, I could see her outpointing Nunes over five rounds, We have seen Nunes struggle at times when taken deep into a fight (many thought that she was beaten by Shevchenko in their last meeting) and she was finished late on by Cat Zigano in her last defeat – mostly due to being gassed out.

At the price, I’m willing to take a chance and go with Holm keeping the fight at distance and scoring with a stiff jab and plenty of head and body kicks. She just needs to survive that initial onslaught!

Advice: 1 pt win Holly Holm at 4.15 Marathon (3/1 generally)

Jon Jones v Thiago Santos

The main event between Jon Jones and Thiago Santos looks an uncompetitive affair with Santos only really having a punchers chance. Of course, it’s possible he lands one clean on Jones and puts him out – it’s just much more unlikely than the 11/2 available would have you believe.

I think Jones comfortably weathers the early attack from Santos, tires him out at distance and then takes him down and finishes him however he wants in the middle rounds. It would be easy to see Jones coasting to a points victory but I think that Santos will be so gassed by round 2 or 3 that it’s worth a wager on Jones putting him out of his misery via KO/TKO/Submission/Disqualification at the 1.44 available with Marathon (1.4 with Bet365).

It’s probably also worth having a tiny saver on a Santos win in Round 1 just to cover stakes if the unthinkable happens and he lands one of those haymakers in the early goings while fit and fresh.

Advice: 2 Points Jones via KO/TKO/Sub/DQ at 1.44 Marathon (1.4 Bet365) + 0.1 point saver on Santos to win in Round 1 at 21/1 with Marathon

I would normally advise a small yankee on the main bets as well but I struggle to see all 3 heavy underdogs pulling off the upset. That being the case it might still be worth putting the Jones win in small doubles with each of the other main bets – I’ll leave that up to you but I won’t make them official bets for the record.

The Rest of the Card

There are some other great fights on the card but I won’t be getting involved financially as they look about right to me price wise. For what it’s worth here are my thoughts:

I’m intrigued to see how the relentless wrestling attack of Ben Askren fares against the cultured striking and well rounded MMA arsenal of Jorge Masvidal. My gut feeling is that Askren smothers Jorge for 3 rounds and takes the UD. However, Jorge is a massively under rated fighter and wins easily if he can stop the takedown. I like both guys so I’m going to be gutted for whoever loses but it should be a fantastic fight.

Luke Rockhold always strikes me as an unpleasant man and I wouldn’t be at alldisappointed to see him starched in his first fight at light heavyweight. However, the UFC have given him a very winnable fight for his first foray agaist the bigger men. Blachowicz is a decent journey man but no better and hasn’t shown he has the power to trouble even the decidedly shaky looking chin of Rockhold. I take Rockhold to finish this in the first or 2nd round.

That’s about it fro me today. Have a great weekend and be lucky!

Kieran

Summary:

Advice – 1pt win Gilbert Melendez at 11/4 Bet365, Sky, Coral

Advice: 1pt win Diego Sanchez at 3/1 Bet365

Advice: 1 pt win Holly Holm at 4.15 Marathon (3/1 generally)

Advice: 2 pts win Jones via KO/TKO/Sub/DQ at 1.44 Marathon (1.4 Bet365) + 0.1 point saver on Santos to win in Round 1 at 21/1 with Marathon

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