The UFC recently announced the initial batch of bouts for the upcoming UFC 239 blockbuster card which takes place July 6 in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In last week’s MMA Odds and Ends, I gave my first thoughts on the two title fights on peak of the invoice containing Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos for the UFC light heavyweight title and Amanda Nunes vs. Holly Holm for your UFC women’s bantamweight title. Additionally, I gave my ideas on an intriguing light heavyweight matchup involving Luke Rockhold and Jan Blachowicz.
It appears the UFC wants to truly have a particular card for this season’s International Fight Week occasion, since based on ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, two exciting conflicts are booked for UFC 239. One is a welterweight matchup between Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal, and the other is a heavyweight bout between Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos. Below are my first ideas on the fights
Ben Askren vs. Jorge Masvidal, UFC 239
Welterweight contenders Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal meet at UFC 239 using a potential title shot at stake. UFC president Dana White originally told reporters after UFC 235 the promotion planned a rematch between Askren and Robbie Lawler, but after Lawler was reserved at a rematch against Tyron Woodley in UFC on ESPN 4 it opened the door for Askren to combat a fresh face. Many figured that the UFC would take the bait and publication Masvidal against Leon Edwards following their backstage scuffle in UFC London, but the advertising has instead decided to match Askren and Masvidal up in a potential No. 1 competitor’s bout.
Askren (19-0, 1 NC) had an unusual UFC debut against Lawler, but ultimately did wind up getting his hand raised. After living a hard slam and also an early onslaught of ground punches, Askren was able to put Lawler in a bulldog choke, coaxing a phantom tapout out of referee Herb Dean. Fans didn’t wish to find a rematch, however, and the UFC ultimately recorded, providing”Funky” a new opponent. The prior Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight champion is undefeated in his career and is now riding a five-fight win series that includes four successes via stoppage. With his ability to talk a big game, Askren has rapidly becoming fan favorite amongst UFC lovers, and the promotion has evidently taken notice.
Masvidal (33-13) is 10-6 overall in the UFC and is coming off of arguably the biggest win of his career, a brutal KO victory over Darren Until in the main event of UFC London. Masvidal had turned into a gatekeeper in 170lbs and hadn’t any fought in over a year following back-to-back decision losses to Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia. But all of us know MMA is a”what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” sport and the win over indefinitely increased Masvidal’s inventory to the highest degree it’s his entire career. He was due for a huge fight, and the UFC considers this matchup against Askren is your best fight possible.
I adore this matchup, and I’m glad the UFC chose to reserve it as it is an intriguing fight between two veterans of the sport who are seeking to get a title shot. Given Askren’s undefeated record along with his remarkable wrestling pedigree, I think you need to give him the standing of gambling favorite heading into this particular bout. However, with Masvidal having solid takedown defense and a superior striking attack, he’ll be a live dog once more.
Francis Ngannou vs. Junior dos Santos, UFC 239
As well, a heavyweight bout between Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos is famous for UFC 239, with the winner likely stepping into the role of No. 1 contender to champion Daniel Cormier’s belt.
Ngannou (13-3) is 8-2 in the UFC and is coming from back-to-back knockout wins over Curtis Blaydes and Cain Velasquez. After two awful performances against Derrick Lewis and Stipe Miocic, it appears Ngannou has found his groove in the heavyweight division.
Dos Santos (21-5) is 15-4 in the UFC and is currently riding a three-fight win series over Lewis, Blagoy Ivanov and Tai Tuivasa. The former UFC heavyweight champ is beginning to seem like his old self once more, and at this point might be in contention for a UFC Hall of Fame spot.
Both men are on a roll at the moment, but given the fact Ngannou has taken much less damage in his profession and gets got the hype train behind him , I would venture to guess he will be a small favorite here.
Fantastic battle, and UFC 239 is starting to form up as the best card of the year without Conor McGregor accessible to battle.
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