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UFC 239: Jon Jones earns narrow split-decision win over injured Thiago Santos

Santos earns first ever judges scorecard win over Jones

Jon Jones (25-1-0, 1NC) defended his light heavyweight crown with his narrowest win yet over Thiago Santos (21-7-0) at UFC 239 in Las Vegas.

Santos used leg kicks to keep Jones on his toes in the early rounds, producing visible welts on the calves of the champion. But then during a kick early in the second round, Santos’ left leg and knee buckled, reducing his mobility. Jones, sensing opportunity, gradually increased his output in the later rounds, but was forced by Santos to be methodical.

And Jones did just that. He increased his volume and scored a knockdown with a timely elbow when Santos moved in. The fight turned into GLORY Muay Thai fight, with no takedowns attempted or converted. For being injured, Santos was surprisingly effective, punishing Jones with leg kicks and threatening with other strikes to the head that Jones barely evaded or blocked.

It all boiled down to the significant strikes of Santos against the volume of Jones.

The judges scored it 47-48, 48-47, and 48-47.

Jones, 31, made sure to credit Santos for bringing the fight, while Santos refused to blame his loss on the injury.

https://twitter.com/ufc/status/1147733484061917185

Jorge Masvidal, Amanda Nunes, Song Yadong, and Jan Blachowicz all won performances of the night. Each fighter earned a $50,000 USD bonus.

UFC FIGHTPASS PRELIMS 

PANNIE KIANZAD VS. JULIA AVILA 

WINNER: JULIA AVILA VIA UD

ANDREWS PREDICTION: JULIA AVILA VIA UD

Andrews: Avila clearly got the win. More time to prepare would have helped Kianzad.

ISMAIL NAURDIEV VS. CHANCE RECOUNTRE 

WINNER: CHANCE RECOUNTRE VIA UD (29-27, 29-28, 30-27)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: ISMAIL NAURDIEV VIA UD

Andrews: Great performance by Chance, he did what he had to do and took advantage of a octagon green Ismail.

JACK MARSHMAN VS. EDMEN SHAHBAZYAN 

WINNER: EDMEN SHAHBAZYAN VIA SUBMISSION R1 1:12

ANDREWS PREDICTION: EDMEN SHAHBAZYAN VIA TKO

Andrews: Edmen took what Marshman gave him, which was his back. Good, quick win.

ALEJANDRO PEREZ VS. YADON SONG  

WINNER: YADEN SONG VIA TKO (PUNCH) R1 2:04

ANDREWS PREDICTION: ALEJANDRO PEREZ VIA UD

Andrews: Wow! What a nice right hand by Song. He got comfortable real quick in there. He made a believer out of me.

#5 CLAUDIA GADELHA VS. #14 RANDA MARKOS 

WINNER: CLAUDIA GADELHA VIA UD (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: CLAUDIA GADELHA VIA UD

Andrews: When the UFC Twitter account doesn’t post highlights of the fight, that’s all you need to know.

MARLON VERA VS. NOEHLIN HERNANDEZ

WINNER: MARLON VERA VIA TKO (REAR-NAKED CHOKE) R2 3:25

ANDREWS PREDICTION: MARLON VERA VIA TKO

Andrews: Hernandez was doing good in the first round but then got caught with that knee that allowed Chito to get the choke. Good win.

GILBERT MELENDEZ VS. ARNOLD ALLEN

WINNER: ARNOLD ALLEN VIA UD (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: ARNOLD ALLEN VIA UD

Andrews: Well, it was predictable. It’s time for Gilbert Melendez to hang them up – now.

MICHAEL CHIESA VS. DIEGO SANCHEZ 

https://twitter.com/ufc/status/1147693960980094977

WINNER: MICHAEL CHIESA VIA UD (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: MICHAEL CHIESA VIA SUBMISSION

Andrews: Great performance by both guys, but give Chiesa some credit for stepping up to Diego’s fire with some of his own.

LUKE ROCKHOLD VS. JAN BLACHOWICZ

WINNER: JAN BLACHOWICZ VIA TKO (STRIKES) R2 1:39

ANDREWS PREDICTION: LUKE ROCKHOLD VIA SUBMISSION

Andrews: Rockhold’s ego and gameplan went out the window almost immediately. Was it the injured leg? Good win for Jan.

BEN ASKREN VS. JORGE MASVIDAL

WINNER: Jorge Masvidal VIA TKO (FLYING KNEE) 0:05 R1 

ANDREWS PREDICTION: BEN ASKREN VIA SUBMISSION

Andrews: Wow! No one expected that flying knee! GameBred made the statement of the night.

AMANDA NUNES VS. HOLLY HOLM 

WINNER: AMANDA NUNES VIA TKO R1 4:10

ANDREWS PREDICTION: AMANDA NUNES VIA TKO

Andrews: Nunes figured out Holm and her kicks and then struck like an army. What a win. Is she the GOAT? Hard to argue now.

MAIN EVENT 

JON JONES VS. THIAGO SANTOS

WINNER: JON JONES VIA SD (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)

ANDREWS PREDICTION: JON JONES VIA TKO

Andrews: That was the closest fight yet and if Santos wasn’t injured early, maybe he takes it. Not a great performance for Jones.

@kenaiandrews

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Kenai is a former Postmedia Network news and sports editor. He is the Editor-in-Chief for MMA Crossfire.
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