UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will defend his title against No. 3 contender Thiago Santos in the main event of UFC 239 on July 6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
UFC president Dana White told ESPN that the title fight would headline UFC 239, while also announcing that Amanda Nunes would defend her bantamweight title against Holly Holm in the co-main event.
Jones Looks to Continue Dominance at 205
According to ESPN, verbal agreements are in place for both fights, though no formal announcement has been made for either bout.
Jones (24-1, 1 NC) has reestablished himself as the best fighter in the 205-pound division after coming back from a 15-month doping suspension in December. Jones defeated Alexander Gustafsson to reclaim the light heavyweight championship at UFC 232, then defended that title with a resounding unanimous decision victory over Anthony Smith at UFC 235 earlier this month.
There had been speculation that Jones might take on former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, with even Jones teasing that fight on social media Wednesday. But according to an ESPN report, sources say that fight was never under serious consideration at this time.
Instead, Jones will get a challenge from Santos (21-6), a Brazilian fighter who has rapidly become a title contender after moving up from middleweight. He has won all three of his fights by knockout since moving up a weight class in September, defeating Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa, and Jan Blachowicz in succession.
Legends Battle in Women’s Co-Main Event
The co-main event will see who of the most recognizable names in women’s MMA square off for the bantamweight title. Amanda Nunes (17-4) last fought at UFC 232 in December, when she knocked out Cris Cyborg in less than a minute to claim the UFC women’s featherweight championship. Nunes is now a two-division champion, having successfully defended her bantamweight crown three times after earning it with a submission victory over Miesha Tate in 2016.
The 37-year-old Holly Holm (12-4) rose to prominence when she defeated Ronda Rousey by second-round knockout at UFC 193 to win the women’s bantamweight championship back in 2015. At the time, Holm was undefeated, but she lost the title to Tate in her very next fight, the start of a three fight losing streak for Holm.
Since then, however, Holm has bounced back to win two of her last three bouts, with victories over Bethe Correira and Megan Anderson sandwiched around a unanimous decision loss to Cris Cyborg.
While most sportsbooks haven’t yet posted odds on these fights, as they have yet to be officially announced, a few bookmakers are already taking action in UFC 239. That includes Irish betting firm Paddy Power, which has made both champions heavy favorites to retain their crowns.
According to the bookmaker, Jones is a 1/9 pick to win over Santos (5/1), while Nunes is a less overwhelming 4/11 favorite over Holm (15/8).