The UFC recently announced the first batch of spells 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 bill featuring Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos for the UFC light heavyweight title and Amanda Nunes vs. Holly Holm for your UFC women’s bantamweight title. I also gave my ideas on a fascinating light heavyweight matchup involving Luke Rockhold and Jan Blachowicz.
It seems the UFC wants to have a special card for this season’s International Fight Week event, because based on ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, two more exciting conflicts are 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 first thoughts on the fights
Ben Askren vs. Jorge Masvidal, UFC 239
Welterweight contenders Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal fulfill at UFC 239 with a potential title shot on the line. UFC president Dana White originally told reporters after UFC 235 that the promotion proposed a rematch between Askren and Robbie Lawler, but after Lawler was reserved at a rematch against Tyron Woodley at UFC on ESPN 4 it opened the door for Askren to fight a fresh face. Many figured that the UFC would take the bait and book Masvidal against Leon Edwards after their backstage scuffle in UFC London, but the promotion has instead decided to match Askren and Masvidal up at a prospective No. 1 competitor’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 was able to place Lawler at a bulldog choke, coaxing a ghost tapout from referee Herb Dean. Fans did not wish to see a rematch, however, and the UFC ultimately listed, giving”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 victories via stoppage. Together with his ability to speak a big game, Askren has quickly become fan favorite amongst UFC lovers, and the promotion has evidently taken note.
Masvidal (33-13) is 10-6 overall in the UFC and is coming from possibly 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 over a year following back-to-back decision losses to Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia. However, we all know MMA is a”what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” sport along with the triumph over indefinitely increased Masvidal’s stock to the maximum degree it has his entire career. He had been due for a huge struggle, along with the UFC believes this matchup against Askren is your best fight possible.
I love this matchup, and I’m glad the UFC decided to reserve it since it’s an intriguing fight between two veterans of the sport that are looking to get a title shot. Given Askren’s undefeated record along with his remarkable wrestling pedigree, I think you have to give him the status of betting favorite heading into this bout. However, with Masvidal having solid takedown defense along with a superior striking assault, he’ll be a live dog 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, 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 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 now riding a three-fight win series over Lewis, Blagoy Ivanov and Tai Tuivasa. The former UFC heavyweight champ is beginning to seem just like his old self once again, and at this stage could be in contention for a UFC Hall of Fame spot.
Both guys are on a roll at the moment, but given the fact Ngannou has taken much less harm in his career and has got the hype train behind him again, I would venture to guess he’ll be a small favorite here.
Fantastic fight, also UFC 239 is starting to form up as the ideal card of this year even without Conor McGregor available to battle.
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