Weekend Warrior: Jon Jones Serves as UFC 239 Centerpiece

Cover Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC / Contributor (Getty Images)

Jon Jones has become the standard by which all mixed martial artists are measured. As such, it comes as little surprise that the Ultimate Fighting Championship would choose him as the centerpiece for its annual Independence Day weekend extravaganza.

The incomparable Jones will defend his undisputed light heavyweight championship against Thiago Santos in the UFC 239 headliner on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Amanda Nunes puts her women’s bantamweight crown on the line in the co-main event, where a showdown with former champion Holly Holm awaits.

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Jon Jones

Jon Jones kicks Anthony Smith. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

Jones, 31, operates out of the powerhouse Jackson-Wink MMA outfit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. On a 16-fight unbeaten streak, he retained his 205-pound championship with a lopsided unanimous decision over Anthony Smith at UFC 235 on March 2. Jones wields one of the sport’s great resumes, with wins over Alexander Gustafsson (twice), Daniel Cormier, Glover Teixeira, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Rashad Evans, Mauricio Rua, Quinton Jackson, and Ryan Bader. A December 2009 disqualification defeat to Matt Hamill remains his only blemish.

Spawned by Tata Fight Team in his native Brazil, Santos enters the cage with the wind of a four-fight winning streak in his sails. The 35-year-old has secured 15 of his 21 career victories by knockout or technical knockout, eight of them inside one round. Santos has compiled a 13-5 record since he joined the UFC roster a little less than six years ago.

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Thiago Santos of Brazil punches Jan Blachowicz. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

UFC 239 “Jones vs. Santos”—which streams live to ESPN+ pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT—also features a light heavyweight clash pitting Luke Rockhold against Jan Blachowicz and two welterweight tilts, as Ben Askren meets Jorge Masvidal and Diego Sanchez confronts Michael Chiesa. ESPN (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) and UFC Fight Pass (6:15 p.m. ET/3:15 p.m. PT) are scheduled to share coverage of the undercard.