There are some things that allow us to perfectly analyze the quality of a fight, especially when the two performances take place on the same evening. The two main events at UFC 239 were a great example of this.
During the two fights for the belt at UFC 239, everyone was talking about the famous GOAT’s fight. On one side was Amanda Nunes, two-time champion in the Women’s Bantamweight and Featherweight divisions, with a series of impressive wins and who was going up against her latest credible opponent. On the other side was Jon Jones, defending his title for the tenth time and so was largely favored to win.
A quick injury
Although the Brazilian delivered an amazing performance when she took Holly Holm down with an amazing KO, Bones disappointed her fans, as she seemed to be finding it difficult to hang on to the belt during the 5 rounds in which the undefeated champion seemed uncomfortable and not on the ball.
During his fight however, Thiago Santos arrived confidently and tried to overthrow the mountain Jones with his aggressive side that often proves effective, as we saw with his victory against Jan Blachowicz. The Brazilian however, started off more calmly than normal, especially because of Bones’ reach. But as the match went on, the champion was put into more and more danger.
The first round was balanced as it normally is, Jones was merely observing, taking his time, striking his opponent only when he needed to and keeping Santos at a distance with his kicks. The first exchanges confirmed that his challenger really was quite powerful which pushed him to plan and compute his attacks even more than unusual. Unfortunately, Santos sustained a knee injury after receiving a super powerful kick in the second round…
Jones Was Running Out Of Steam
With this injury that made it difficult for the Brazilian to move as he normally would, we thought that Jones would speed up and make the most of his physical superiority, but he was still happy to keep Santos at a distance. Bones clearly had the upper hand in the third round and started to deliver some quite damaging attacks.
But the champion lost his form again, unlike in his two previous fights against Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Smith, where he started off slowly before gaining momentum and asphyxiating his opponents. This decline in his performance can be explained by a leg injury that he sustained during the 4th and 5th rounds.
And yet, Thiago Santos clearly had the upper hand in the 5th round and he tried to ignore his injury and prevail nonetheless. The two closed first rounds left him hoping for a decision in his favor. Finally, Jones took him with a split points decision (48-47 x 2, 47-48), and kept his title. After the fight, he acknowledges that this difficult victory set off alarm bells for him. The GOAT will need to analyze his technique, since there are lots of young fighters out there and this ‘comfortable’ fighting technique could end up letting him down. Against a certain Francis Ngannou, this will not be forgiven!