The UFC recently announced the first batch of spells for the upcoming UFC 239 blockbuster card that 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 both title fights on top of the bill 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 thoughts onto a fascinating light heavyweight matchup between Luke Rockhold and Jan Blachowicz.
Well, it seems the UFC would like to truly have a particular card for this year’s International Fight Week event, since according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, two more exciting fights 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 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 initially told reporters after UFC 235 that the promotion proposed a rematch between Askren and Robbie Lawler, but once Lawler was reserved at a rematch against Tyron Woodley in UFC on ESPN 4 it opened up the door for Askren to combat an original face. Many figured that the UFC would take the bait and book Masvidal against Leon Edwards following their backstage scuffle at UFC London, however, the advertising has instead decided to match Askren and Masvidal up in a prospective No. 1 competitor’s bout.
Askren (19-0, 1 NC) had an unusual UFC debut against Lawler, but finally did wind up getting his hands raised. After living a hard slam and also an early onslaught of ground punches, Askren managed to place Lawler at a bulldog choke, coaxing a phantom tapout from referee Herb Dean. Fans did not want to find a rematch, however, and the UFC ultimately listed, giving”Funky” a fresh opponent. The former 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. Together with his ability to talk a big game, Askren has quickly become fan favorite amongst UFC lovers, and the advertising has taken notice.
Masvidal (33-13) is 10-6 overall from the UFC and is coming off of possibly the biggest win of his career, a brutal KO victory over Darren Until in the primary event of UFC London. Masvidal had turned into a gatekeeper at 170lbs and hadn’t any fought over a year following back-to-back conclusion 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 Till raised Masvidal’s inventory to the highest degree it’s his whole career. He had been due for a big struggle, along with the UFC believes this matchup against Askren is your best fight possible.
I love this matchup, and I am thankful the UFC decided to book it as it’s an intriguing fight between two veterans of the sport that are seeking to get a title shot. Given Askren’s undefeated record along with his remarkable wrestling pedigree, I believe you need to give him the standing of gambling favorite going into this particular bout. But with Masvidal having solid takedown defense along with a superior striking assault, he’ll be a live puppy once more.
Francis Ngannou vs. Junior dos Santos, UFC 239
At the same time, a heavyweight bout between Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos is slated for UFC 239, with the winner probably stepping into the role of No. 1 contender to champion Daniel Cormier’s belt.
Ngannou (13-3) is 8-2 at the UFC and is coming off of 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 beginning to seem like his old self once more, and at this point might be in contention for a UFC Hall of Fame place.
Both men are on a roll at the moment, however given the reality Ngannou has taken far less harm in his profession and has got the hype train behind him again, I would venture to guess he will be a small favorite here.
Fantastic battle, and UFC 239 is starting to shape up as the ideal card of this year without Conor McGregor accessible to fight.
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