Jon Jones retained his UFC light heavyweight championship last night (Sat., July 6, 2019) at UFC 239 live on ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV) from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, when he outlasted a very game Thiago Santos via split decision (see official scorecard here).
Hard leg kicks by Santos early briefly wobbled Jones. Santos put even more pressure on the champion with forward combinations that forced Jones to backpedal across the cage. It was a first round that put the Brazilian ahead in the fight. More power punches launched by Santos in the second left Jones on the defense but “Marreta” injured his own left leg when he whiff on an attempted kick. Jones sniffed it out and started to press Santos along the cage, where Santos eventually fell to the ground when he tried to plant on his left leg. Santos regrouped and was able to threaten Jones again with punches in bunches towards the end of the frame.
The third round saw Santos connect on a combination on Jones that put the champion on retreat again. Jones returned favor by launching a flying knee along the cage that nearly took Santos’ head off. Santos managed to stay dangerous when Jones got close, but “Bones” started to pick him apart with body kicks, oblique kicks, and elbows. Jones did more damage in the fourth with kicks to the body while narrowly getting out of the way of Santos’ warhead punches. The champion stayed rangy for the majority of the round but didn’t do much to put the Brazilian in trouble, despite Santos’ damaged left leg.
The fifth and final round saw Santos come out of the gate hot and launch heavy leather at Jones’ chin. Jones remained calm and protected well with a high defense. That was until Santos landed a big combination moments later that put Jones on the back of his feet. Santos couldn’t ride the momentum, though, as he stumbled around the cage on his left leg. Jones noticed but still took his time advancing with offense (much to the dismay of the crowd).
In the end, it was Jones who escaped with the split-decision win. It wasn’t the best title defense Jones has ever had, but the champion still did enough to ward off a surging knockout artist desperate for UFC gold.
Check out the full fight video highlights above courtesy of UFC/ESPN.
For complete UFC 239 results and coverage click here.