UFC 239 Staff Picks

It is International Fight Week and as per usual and to celebrate the UFC has put together their annual star-studded card for UFC 239.

Two titles on the line, rising stars, budding contenders, fan favourites, and all of the elements are in place for what will surely be a fun night in Vegas.

We will also keep you up-to-date with our staff prediction records throughout the year, so here is a quick update:

Ashkon (11-0)

Kassim (9-2)

Kiefer (7-4)

Now let’s get into the action.

Light Heavyweight [Title] – Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos

Arguably the greatest fighter of all time, Jon Jones looks to remain active as he takes on surging challenger Thiago Santos in the main event.

Ashkon: If you’re picking against Jones here you’re simply guessing and hoping you can tell your buddies that you called it. If everything goes according to plan, this will be a very easy outing for Jones. Santos is being billed as a power puncher but I just don’t see how he can catch Jones here. He carries quite a bit of muscle mass and I can see him gassing himself out trying to throw Hail Mary’s. Prediction: Jones via TKO (Rd. 2)

Kassim: Despite all the controversy around Jon Jones, he’s still the best. There are not many fighters in the world that have the abilities he has. He is just so strong mentally and physically. He can beat you up standing up, he can get you in the clinch, and he can finish you on the ground. Prediction: Jones via KO (Rd. 2)

Kiefer: I think Thiago Santos could knock out heavyweights, but if you don’t get the chance to land that punch then what? Jon Jones is a master in using your own game against you and I expect the champion to take this fight to the ground and finish Santos early. Prediction: Jones via TKO (Rd. 2)

Women’s Bantamweight [Title] – Amanda Nunes vs. Holly Holm

This is a legacy fight for both women as Amanda Nunes looks to continue her reign as the greatest female to ever step inside the cage as she looks to add Holly Holm to her highlight real. For Holm, it is a chance to shock to world again and redefine her career in the sport.

Ashkon: I don’t want to call Holm a one-hit wonder because she’s not. She has proved to be an elite fighter and I believe she is much better than the Miesha Tate fight showed us. With that said, her striking has become predictable. Her patented “ish” before every strike doesn’t keep the opponent guessing and that’s the perfect lead for a striker like Nunes. I still question her ground game as well. Nunes has a lot of power in her hands and has a black belt in BJJ, so Holly has her work cut out for her. Prediction: Nunes via TKO (Rd. 1)

Kassim: Holm had so much potential and hype around her after she beat Rousey. She seemed like she was going to be the best, but she hasn’t hit her potential, yet. And on the other side, you have Nunes who looks so strong and good whenever she steps in the octagon and I don’t think Holm will be able to take out Nunes. Prediction: Nunes via TKO (Rd. 3)

Kiefer: I feel the same way I did the night that Holm defeated Ronda Rousey. She thrives when she is written off and a win would redefine her career, but Nunes is the best in the world for a reason. One punch and it’s over, but a masterclass in footwork and cardio could be the right recipe in a Holm victory. Prediction: Holm via TKO (Rd. 4)

Welterweight – Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren

In the people’s main event, fan favourite fighters Jorge Masvidal and Ben Askren will square up in a classic striker versus wrestler showdown with a potential title shot looming.

Ashkon: Masvidal has recently become a fan favourite with his comments and antics, but just as his nickname suggests, “Gamebred” is always ready to throw down. Unfortunately, I think Ben Askren’s wrestling will just be too much. Masvidal hasn’t shown us anything to let us believe he will be able to hold his own on the ground and Askren is relentless. Prediction: Askren via Unanimous Decision

Kassim: Masvidal is coming off an insane knockout victory over Darren Till. He showed he has power to put someone to sleep fairly easily. But, Askren is a smarter fighter than Till and I don’t think he’s going to try and stand up with Masvidal. I don’t think Masvidal has the takedown defence to keep Askren on his feet. So I think Askren takes this fight. Prediction: Askren via Unanimous decision. 

Kiefer: Who doesn’t love a three-piece and a soda with their Saturday night UFC fights? This is gonna be a fun one and it really comes down to wrestling. If Masvidal can keep it standing he should win, but Askren is unrelenting in his pursuit to hit the mat and Maia was able to squeak out a victory the same way I suspect Askren will. Prediction: Askren via Unanimous decision.

Light Heavyweight – Jan Blachowicz vs. Luke Rockhold

Luke Rockhold makes his highly anticipated light heavyweight debut as he takes on a division stalwart in Jan Blachowicz. An impressive win by either man puts them just outside of the title picture.

Ashkon: Rockhold’s biggest problems at 185 were his lazy check-hook that he was obsessed with and his durability. I doubt we’ll see the end of his check-hook, but his durability should be improved. I’m going to assume that the weight-cut affected his ability to take a shot at 185. I don’t think Jan Blachowicz has anything in his toolbox to test Rockhold. He’s an overall good fighter, but Rockhold is just better. Prediction: Rockhold via TKO (Rd. 1)

Kassim: Rockhold is a strong, experienced fighter. He is moving up to a new division and we don’t know how he is going to be inside the cage. It could either go really well for him or really bad. But, his experience should be enough to allow him to settle into the fight as he adjusts and I think he wins this. Prediction: Rockhold via TKO (Rd. 3)

Kiefer: If the recent past is any indication, moving up to light heavyweight should be a good decision for Luke Rockhold after watching Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos find immediate success. However, Blachowicz is no slouch and a slow start could lead to a quick finish. I am leaning towards Rockhold, but this is no walk in the park debut. Prediction: Rockhold via UD

Welterweight – Diego Sanchez vs. Michael Chiesa

The pay-per-view (PPV) portion of UFC 239 begins with fireworks as the legendary, and now UFC Hall of Fame inductee, Diego Sanchez looks to continue his winning ways against an always game Michael Chiesa who looked impressive in his welterweight debut in December.

Ashkon: I don’t see a scenario where Diego Sanchez wins this. His most recent wins were less than impressive, and I think his durability is shot — beating a green Mickey Gall with seven fights to his name does nothing for me. Chiesa on the other hand completely shocked me on how he dealt with Condit in his welterweight debut. I think he’ll just be too big for Diego and a perfectly placed elbow could be all she wrote for this one. Prediction: Chiesa via TKO (Rd. 1)

Kassim: Sanchez is one of my favourite fighters and I am not even going to pretend that my bias isn’t the reason why I am picking him to win this. This guy can stand and throw for three rounds without being phased. And in those exchanges, either he goes to sleep or his opponent goes to sleep. All of Chiesa’s wins by stoppage have come from submissions, so realistically speaking, Chiesa should finish Sanchez after he rocks him, but I’m still sticking with my boy, Sanchez. Prediction: Sanchez via TKO (Rd. 2)

Kiefer: It is always worrying when a fighter switches teams mid-camp, but it is even more concerning with Sanchez who has been with Jackson-Wink since the start. Sanchez has the heart of a lion and if he’s gonna get the win against a dangerous Michael Chiesa he may need to dig up some of that fire that he brought to the cage in his Hall of Fame performance against Clay Guida. Prediction: Sanchez via TKO (Rd. 1)

UFC 239 goes down on July 6, 2019, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The main card is live on PPV and begins at 8 p.m. MT.

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