by Chad Cooper
Jon Jones can reach immortality status when he steps inside the Octagon on Saturday, July 6, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas at UFC 293. The undefeated phenom defends his UFC light heavyweight title against Thiago Santos on PPV, which can now only be purchased through ESPN+. We relished two weeks ago with a +305 Korean Zombie main event KO and got the best price last week of -175 for Francis Ngannou to end his fight by TKO/KO.
Light heavyweight title
Jon “Bones” Jones (24-0, 1NC) v. No. 2 Thiago “Marreta” Santos (21-6)
Odds: Jones (-700), Santos (+450)
The 31-year-old Bones Jones has been invincible in the cage. Give him some powder and that’s a different story. Nonetheless, Jones has nearly a 9-inch reach on Santos and should be able to take him down. I’ll say this – since moving up a weight class, Santos is 3-0 with 3 KOs. If you got the guts, put $ on Santos to finish the fight. No value on Jones. A Jones win here and we definitely need to see him move to heavyweight and finish off Daniel Cormier.
PICK: Jones SUB, 3rd
Women’s bantamweight title
No. 1 Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes (17-4) v. “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holly Holm (12-4)
The Lioness is the first woman in UFC history to hold two titles simultaneously. She won the bantamweight title in 2016 over Miesha Tate and has defended it successfully 3 times. Nunes recently shocked the world when she KO’d Cyborg in the first round to win the featherweight title. Nunes has won 8 in a row and has been an underdog in most of those fights.
Holm has the Rousey KO on her belt, but hasn’t done much since losing 4 of her last 6. Not much value here on Nunes. Maybe the Lioness is due a bad loss and Holm can find some Rousey KO magic. We love big payoffs and let’s go big here. Remember this, a lot of WMMA goes the distance as well, but Nunes has power to end it at any time.
Odds: Nunes (-375), Holm (+275)
PICK: Holm KO, 4th
No. 4 Jorge “Gambred” Masvidal (33-13) v. No. 5 “Funky” Ben Askren (19-0, 1NC)
Ben Askren is considered to be one of the best wrestlers in the world. After cleaning out Bellator’s welterweight division, Askren moved to Asia and did the same at One FC.
With a “funky” style and mop of a hair do, his UFC debut was controversial when he beat Robbie Lawler in the 1st rd via bulldog choke. Early stoppage? Probably so. Askren took damage from the veteran Lawler, but what was impressive was the fact he was able to overcome adversity in his UFC debut. Masvidal is a “crafty veteran.” He has fought the best and is coming off a nice upset KO over Darren Till in Till’s backyard in England. Though many think Askren is a douchebag, I love his antics. I’ll definitely put some $ on Masvidal to finish by KO, but Askren gets my pick.
Odds: Askren (-225), Masvidal (+190)
PICK: Askren SUB, 3rd
No. 3 Luke Rockhold (16-4) v. No. 6 Jan Blachowicz (23-8)
Odds: Rockhold (-180), Blachowicz (+150)
Pretty boy Luke Rockhold is a former UFC middleweight champion and is the “face” of Polo’s Blue fragrance for men. He has lost 2 of his last 3 including being KO’d in 2018 by Yoel Romero. Rockhold does have an excellent top game, but it will be interesting to see how he handles light heavyweight. The Polish Blachowicz has won 5 of 6. The one loss was from Thiago Santos, who is fighting in the main event.
Don’t get pissy, but I will place $ on Blachowicz, who is 5-1 as an underdog. Just don’t think he is as good as Rockhold though let’s continue to watch the betting line.
PICK: Rockhold TKO, 2nd
Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez (31-11) vs. Michael “Maverick” Chiesa (15-4)
Odds: Chiesa (-330), Sanchez (+260)
Can’t stand this Chiesa dude. Just someone that gets on your nerves. If you were friends with him on Social Media, he would probably post silly memes or “deep thoughts” all day so you would have to mute him. This is the dude who sued Conor McGregor for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
He has last 2 of his last 3 but those to were Anthony Smith and Kevin Lee. He comes to Vegas after beating Carlos Condit, who was a shell of himself in December. Cheisa is now at welterweight and I think this fight means more to him than Sanchez. Not that’s it’s not important, but Chiesa has more to lose. Sanchez used to be “one bad hombre.” He has won 2 in a row, but those came against jobbers. Pulling for the Nightmare to wreck havoc in the 3rd, but expecting a loss.
PICK: Chiesa UD.
Prelims • 7 p.m. on ESPN
Gilbert Melendez (22-7) v. Arnold Allen (14-1)
Marlon Vera (13-5-1) v Nohelin Hernandez (9-2)
Claudia Gadelha (16-4) v. Randa Markos (9-6-1)
Alejandro Perez (21-7-1) v. Song Yadong (13-3, 2NC)
Early prelims • 5:15 p.m. on Fight Pass
Edmen Shahbazyan (9-0) v. Jack Marshman (23-8)
Ismail Naurdiev (18-2) v. Chance Rencountre (13-3)
Julia Avila (5-1) v. Pannie Kianzad (11-4)