UFC 239: Jones vs Santos: Odds, Picks, and Predictions

Jon Jones and Thiago Santos - UFC Logo

Well, last week went alright.

UFC on ESPN had some tough fights to pick, or at least I thought.

Francis Ngannou came through for us and he even managed to finish Junior Dos Santos in the first round which got us the under.

Damien Maia faded and lost the 3rd round but stuck to his gameplan like he always does and won the first two.

That was good for a 2-1 win as well plus we nailed the parlay.

I failed again, however, to identify the underdog of the night when I ignored “From Hell” Pachel and went with maybe one of the worst strikers in the UFC, Vinicius Moreira, to hopefully takedown and control the superior athlete Eryk Anders.

The former National Champion football star from the University of Alabama starched the big ogre in the first.

That’s alright, though.

Joe Benavidez secured a W for the team with his surprising second-round TKO of the formidable Formiga.

This week features even heavier favorites than the last show.

Maybe we can parlay a few of them or I can find that elusive underdog we haven’t been able to locate since Rafael Lovato Jr took 3 rounds out of 5 to defeat Gegard Mousasi.

The big names are there, though.

Jon Jones is in action against, undoubtedly the scariest man he’s ever faced, Thiago “Marrete” Santos.

The Brazilian has been a moneymaker for me for a while now. Without the superior wrestling pedigree to counteract his staggering power, Thiago has been living up to his chest tattoo and nickname and hammering his foes into oblivion.

The champ, Jones, as we know, has that particular set of skills to take the fight down to the ground hence turning the hammer into the nail.

He’s a massive favorite, though, and I want to catch that underdog badly.

In the co-main event, Jon’s teammate Holly Holm challenges the champ Amanda Nunes in a fight that could be the Brazilian’s toughest “matchup” she’s seen other than Cyborg.

While I expect Holm to definitely fight smarter than Cris Cyborg, I don’t believe she’s got the sauce to get it done.

Maybe we will add Amanda to a parlay to squeeze some much-needed juice out of the betting odds.

The ever so cocky and strikingly handsome Luke Rockhold makes his debut in the Light Heavyweight division against Jan Blachowicz who is coming off of a loss to the main eventer Santos.

We definitely can’t forget about the grudge match between the dorky Ben Askren…

Okay, his nickname is “Funky” after his unpredictable flowing style of wrestling but the guy’s a dork and that’s okay.

His opponent, Masvidal, came up hard in South Florida and got his start in the prizefighting game alongside the late Kimbo Slice in the backyards of Dade County and Miami.

More on those two later on.

BetOnline has the goods like normal this week but they don’t have any other options besides straight picks, so I’m looking at other UFC betting sites as well.

Let’s do it!

Claudia Gadelha vs Randa Markos


I love Claudia.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking.

Not because of that.

She is a dog in there!

The woman always comes to fight and after seeing how much heart she displayed in a losing effort opposite current champ and fellow Brazilian Jessica Andrade, my fandom was set in stone.

Yes, there are men who fight just as hard but overall, women are tougher.

Just look at foot races, for example.

Yes, the fastest man will always beat the fastest woman in the 100-meter dash.

The longer the run, though, the closer the women get and sometimes even dominate all the men in the race i.e. Courtney Dauwalter.

That’s because there is nearly zero mental strength needed in the actual competition aspect of sprinting.

Let’s go all the way to the opposite pole and consider an ultra marathon of 100-250 miles and you’ll see women outlasting men all the time.

We are stronger physically, most of the time and they are stronger mentally most of the time.

Claudia is a prime example of such.

As far as this particular matchup is concerned, she is the better fighter than Randa.

Gadelha is short and stocky and that has worked against her when she is in there with longer opponents, but these two are the same height with the same reach.

They each have the same style, really.

I like Claudia in this one and I especially like her to win a decision.

8 out of her last 9 fights have gone the distance.

9 of 11 of Markos’s fights needed 3 blind mice, I mean the judges to decide the victor.

We can’t get even odds but (-120) is pretty safe still.

My Pick
Gadelha by decision

Yadong Song vs Alejandro Perez


Hey, Mr. Song can sing that lullaby as well as anyone.

He has serious serious power.

The “Kung Fu Monkey” Song will be looking to sleep the Mexican, Perez.

I don’t know how many boxing fans we have out there but Mexican fighters are very very hard to put away. Their heart flows up to their brain and blocks it from tapping against their skull when they get hit with a big shot.

Headhunting a Mexican fighter is not usually the best strategy.

The 2-1 payout for Song to get the TKO is pretty tempting but let’s not get too greedy here.

My Pick
Song to win

Ben Askren vs Jorge Masvidal


Okay, I really want to see Askren get smashed in this fight but my heart needs to zip it.

Jorge is the type of guy that can beat him for sure, but I don’t know man…

In a 5 round fight with every round starting on the feet, I would give Jorge a better chance.

Ben is like Damien Maia, though, without the submissions.

He sticks to his strengths at all costs, even if it means walking forward like a flabby curly-headed zombie from Iowa to secure the clinch and almost inevitable takedown.

If he took all those shots from Robbie Lawler and didn’t go to sleep, I think the man in flip flops and his Jay Leno chin can withstand a few clean ones from the Miami native.

The question becomes “Do we want to take him at (-110) to out-perform “Gamebred” over 15 minutes or just put up the extra cash and take him to win at (-200)?”

Askren by decision is the most likely outcome even with 12 out of “Funky’s” wins have come by way of finish.

This is because Masvidal has never been submitted and also because it’s just a three-round fight.

Ben had a rough go of it early on in his fight against Robbie Lawler. There is no doubt about that but I’ll chalk it up to first time in the Octagon jitters.

I’m rambling now, sorry.

Ben to win.

But, I will not be pulling for my pick like normal.

My Pick
Askren to win

Luke Rockhold vs Jan Blachowicz



Michael Bisping is your father….

I’m joking Luke. Don’t kick me.

I don’t think Jan is his father, though.

I listened to an interview with Rockhold and he is still so arrogant, even moving up 20 pounds to a very scary weight class.

He said something to the effect of “Jan is the best we could get…”

This isn’t a modeling shoot, Luke.

You’ve been knocked out before in a lower weight class more than once.

Enough about Marsh Brady over here.

All but one of Jan’s losses in the UFC have come by way of the judges’ scorecards, albeit unanimously.

Why am I mentioning this?

Well, there’s (+333) odds out there for Luke to win a decision.

Rockhold, on the other hand, has yet to make it to a decision in his UFC career.

This is a new weight class, though, and he really really needs the victory.

With his suspect chin and Blachowicz matching his length, I don’t feel comfortable putting up 220 to make a bill.

I will, however, take the (+333) for Luke to win a 15-minute war.

I like the value.

My Pick
Rockhold by decision

Amanda Nunes vs Holly Holm


The only two women ever to beat the great Ronda Rousey are finally fighting.

I mean that sincerely, guys.

Ronda is pretty great.

Look at who was coaching her the whole time and she was still running through everyone they put in front of her…until her last two fights.

If it wasn’t for her, we might not even be picking this fight because there may not even be women in the UFC yet.

There is, though, thankfully.

Amanda is the truth, y’all. She really is. I don’t see anyone beating her in either division (She’s the champ for 135 and 145) for a while.

Holly is, eh, well, I’m just not a big fan.

I don’t know if it’s her yelling when she strikes.

Okay, yea, that’s it.

I can’t stand it.

As a former Nak Muay, I’m all for it…in training.

In a fight, though, she’s giving away when she’s going to hit.

Then again, I trained with this MMA fighter from Georgia for years.

We sparred multiple times per week and he would yell with each shot matching the volume and pitch with the power of the punch…

Until one day, he started hitting hard on the soft sounds on vice versa.

No fair, man!

And then, he would hit without yelling…hard too!

I was completely thrown off and it’s very difficult to get those volume (pun intended) guys off of you when they get going.

I don’t ever see that from Holm, though, nor is she a volume striker.

2-3-2, 1-2-3, 2-3-2-kick.

She’s pretty basic and while Amanda isn’t the most creative striker in there, she lands from range and lands hard.

It took Rousey repeatedly running into Holly’s punches to hurt her and Nunes is just too good and intelligent for that.

Who has Holm beat recently?

She is 2-4 in her last 6 fights.

Her two victories were against the “Pygmy T-Rex” Bethe Correira and Megan Anderson who has absolutely zero takedown or submission defense.

Holly has gone the distance with powerful strikers bigger than her, though, like Cris Cyborg and Germaine De Randemie.

I point to the latter in this situation because Germaine is long tall and lean like Amanda.

Holly fought well but she got Muay Thai’d in that fight just like she did against Cris and Valentina Shevchenko.

Holly Holm came on to the MMA scene with a lot of hype; admittedly well-deserved. I’ll give her that.

She was a successful kickboxer and multiple time world champion boxer.

Has she evolved her striking, though?

Not one bit.

I think Amanda can win this fight wherever she chooses.

She can outbox, kickbox, Thai, and out-grapple the former Women’s Bantamweight Champion.

Which route will she take, though?

(-420) is too expensive. I get it.

We can get her at nearly even money (-110) to simply finish the fight. She has 25 minutes to do so and I believe she will.

My Pick
Nunes by finish

Jon Jones vs Thiago Santos


How do you pick against Jon Jones?

It’s literally like picking against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Why you pick against him and “Money” is pretty obvious, though.

Look at the odds!

Do you really have 700 bucks laying around to even make a wager like this worth it?

Hey, If so, go for it.

I’m not that rich, though.

One line I really like is Jon to win by submission or decision.

A TKO is possible but I think it’s the least likely of the three possible victory outcomes.

We also get plus money here at (+125).

I can’t help but want to bet on a first-round TKO from “Marrete”!

Let’s just make that a bonus.

Hey, it’s (+2000).

5 bucks.

My Pick
Jones by submission or decision
Santos by 1st Rd TKO


Claudia Gadelha (-235) and Ben Askren (-220): +107

We have been on a tear with nearly even money fights (-135) to (+135) winning 8 of 9.

I feel most confident about these two superior grapplers to game plan and execute on Saturday night.

Okay, enough confirmations.

I’m gonna jinx it.

In Conclusion

I cannot wait until these fights!

I especially want to see Ben Askren get smashed even if my picks say otherwise.

There are a boatload of big names and if the full-time male model and part-time prizefighter Luke Rockhold can get the W, then he may very well be next to face Jonny Jones.

“Bones” must first make it past the ever bloodthirsty Brazilian Thiago Santos.

Let’s hope Amanda Nunes does what she does and Holly disappoints like “almost” always.

Sorry, Ronda. You’re the one who needed the help.

Tune in, turn up, and win!

Mike Pruitt / author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.