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 initial thoughts on the two title fights on top of the invoice featuring Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos for the UFC light heavyweight title and Amanda Nunes vs. Holly Holm for the UFC women’s bantamweight title. Additionally, I gave my ideas onto an intriguing light heavyweight matchup involving Luke Rockhold and Jan Blachowicz.
Well, it appears the UFC wants to truly have a special card for this season’s International Fight Week event, because according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, two more exciting fights have been booked for UFC 239. One is a welterweight matchup involving Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal, and the other is a heavyweight bout between Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos. Below are my initial ideas on the fights
Ben Askren vs. Jorge Masvidal, UFC 239
Welterweight contenders Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal fulfill at UFC 239 using a potential title shot at stake. UFC president Dana White originally told reporters after UFC 235 that the advertising proposed a rematch between Askren and Robbie Lawler, but after Lawler was booked at a rematch against Tyron Woodley in UFC on ESPN 4 it opened the door for Askren to combat an original face. Many figured that the UFC could take the bait and publication Masvidal against Leon Edwards after their backstage scuffle in UFC London, however, the advertising has instead decided to match Askren and Masvidal up at a prospective No. 1 contender’s bout.
Askren (19-0, 1 NC) had an odd UFC debut against Lawler, but ultimately did end up getting his hands raised. After surviving a hard slam and also an early onslaught of ground punches, Askren managed to put Lawler in a bulldog choke, coaxing a phantom tapout out of referee Herb Dean. Fans did not wish to find a rematch, however, and the UFC ultimately recorded, providing”Funky” a new competitor. The prior Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight champion is undefeated in his profession and is now riding a five-fight win streak that includes four successes via stoppage. With his ability to speak a big game, Askren has quickly become fan popular amongst UFC fans, and the advertising has evidently taken notice.
Masvidal (33-13) is 10-6 overall in the UFC and is coming from 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 at 170lbs and hadn’t any fought in over a year following back-to-back decision losses to Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia. But we all understand MMA is a”what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” sport and the win over Till raised Masvidal’s stock to the highest degree it’s his entire career. He was due for a big fight, along with the UFC believes this matchup against Askren is the best fight possible.
I love this matchup, and I am glad the UFC decided to book it as it is an intriguing battle involving two veterans of the sport who are looking to get a title shot. Given Askren’s undefeated record along with his impressive wrestling pedigree, I think you need to give him the standing of betting favorite heading into this bout. However, with Masvidal having strong takedown defense and a superior striking attack, he will be a live puppy once again.
Francis Ngannou vs. Junior dos Santos, UFC 239
At the same time, a heavyweight bout between Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos is famous for UFC 239, together with the winner likely stepping into the part of No. 1 rival to champion Daniel Cormier’s belt.
Ngannou (13-3) is 8-2 at the UFC and is coming from back-to-back knockout wins over Curtis Blaydes and Cain Velasquez. After two dreadful performances against Derrick Lewis and Stipe Miocic, it seems Ngannou has found his groove in the heavyweight division.
Dos Santos (21-5) is 15-4 in the UFC and is now riding a three-fight win series over Lewis, Blagoy Ivanov and Tai Tuivasa. The former UFC heavyweight champ is starting 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 right now, however given the reality Ngannou has taken much less harm in his profession and has the hype train behind him , I would venture to guess he will be a tiny favorite here.
Great fight, also UFC 239 is beginning to form up as the best card of the year without Conor McGregor available to battle.
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