UFC 239 Undercard Picks – Fight Analysis
UFC 239 Undercard Picks
When: Saturday, July 6, 2019
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
The UFC 239 card is stacked. Other than a sterling main event, the UFC will have another title fight, with a heavy-hitting heavyweight fight, as well. UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes will defend against former champion Holly Holm in a battle between two of the top women in the business. And before that, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos will try to take another step toward regaining his title when he takes on feared assassin Francis Ngannou. It’s all part of a hard-hitting UFC 239 card. Let’s see what right moves are when betting on UFC 239.
Amanda Nunes, 17-4 (12 KOs, 3 Submission), (-340) vs. Holly Holm, 12-4 (8 KOs), (+280)
Amanda Nunes defends her Women’s 135-pound belt against former champ Holly Holm in the UFC 239 co-feature. Nunes is coming off a huge win—a 51-second KO over Cyborg, which also earned her the featherweight title. She drops back down to 135 to take on the accomplished Holm. While both have scored many big wins, they are both known for their near-decapitations of onetime dominant ruler Ronda Rousey. When discussing the pioneers of making women’s MMA as big as it is today, both of these women are on the short list of luminaries. Who can come out ahead in this one?
Holm is 37 and following a demanding boxing career and a punishing MMA career, is she still in her prime? She had enough to beat Megan Anderson in her previous fight, but leading up to that, had dropped four of five fights, albeit against top opposition. Prior to that, she was the first to vanquish Rousey, a feat that will always allow her legacy to ring loud. With Nunes being a merciless striker, will Holm be able to use her boxing acumen and score the upset win?
With an 8-fight winning streak, Nunes is on a big old roll, with wins over Germaine De Randamie, Valentina Shevchenko (twice), Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey, and Cyborg giving her a resume that makes her the most-accomplished women’s MMA career of all-time. Nunes has beaten all four fighters who have defeated Holm. She can mow down opponents with fearsome striking, submit opponents with lethal chokes, or simply outlast opponents over the championship distance if need be.
Nunes is a violent striker. When she starts letting her strikes fly, it’s hard to recall a harder-hitting or more formidable female. It’s a level of speed, power, and overall coordination that hasn’t been seen in an octagon before. Her striking often makes people forget about her BJJ skills, which are extreme. And when she strikes, it’s pretty technical, which could match up well with Holm’s ultra-crisp boxing.
The winning case for Holm is hard to make in some respects in this fight. She is really up against it. But let’s remember what she brings to the octagon. Her accomplishments in the world of fighting are above reproach. She made it to the top of two sports, which should convey her massive ability and ambition. She’s at a critical point in her career where a loss will be costly. This wouldn’t be the first time she upset the odds.
Holm is pretty adept at avoiding submissions, having suffered only one such defeat in her career. And she’s more than a puncher with those big kicks she’s able to deliver. I just see Nunes matching up reasonably well in the striking department, with more overall routes to the winner’s circle. From a simple point-of-view, I see her as being the more robust physical force at this point. It won’t be easy, but I see her getting the “W” in this one.
My Pick to Win: I’m betting on Amanda Nunes at -340 betting odds at MyBookie. Based on the results, she is at the top of her game. Holm is still a top fighter, but one who has found it hard to convert opportunities at this level recently. And Nunes’ level is the highest level. I see a good effort from Holm, but one that falls short at the end of the day.
Francis Ngannou, 13-3 (9 KOs, 4 Submissions), (-210) vs. Junior dos Santos, 21-5 (15 KOs, 1 Submission), (+170)
In what promises to be a heavy-hitting slugfest, heavyweights Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos will go at it on the main card of UFC 238. The Brazilian dos Santos is a former champion in this division, but it has been nearly 7 years since he last reigned. There have been some ups and downs along the way, but a three-fight winning streak over dangerous opposition has a little wind in his sails heading into this fight. And he’s going to need it against a fighter who when on, is among the more-fierce heavyweights ever seen in the octagon. Ngannou, three years younger at 32, has won two in a row after a rough stretch, with a 26-second stoppage over longtime dos Santos-tormentor Cain Velasquez in his last fight. This has the looks of a fight that will be brief, but exciting.
Ngannou really needed these last two wins to get his career back on the right track. Losing to then-champion Stipe Miocic was one thing, as Ngannou was still inexperienced at that level. But the Derrick Lewis loss was just puzzling, as it looked like Ngannou had suddenly lost his edge. So blowing out both Curtis Blaydes and Velasquez in mere seconds has hopefully put him back on the right track. He still has weaknesses, and a wrestler or skilled ground-fighter could bring to light his limitations, but Ngannou is among the scarier fighters ever with his power. No matter what edges dos Santos may bring to the ring, Ngannou has the equalizer no matter what happens.
Ngannou did last the distance in both of his UFC defeats, showing he has a certain level of resilience when things don’t go his way. He has been improving, as some forget that even at his age and ranking, he is still a work-in-progress as it comes to being a complete mixed martial artist. But even with dos Santos being one of the best boxers in heavyweight MMA history, he’s not above getting clipped, and if it happens against Ngannou, it could be curtains.
With dos Santos, we’re still dealing with an awfully-talented fighter. He is exceedingly dangerous, and one has to gauge the overall urgency in his career. After a long and trying road, he has finally gotten some momentum again, and it’s not going to be easy to separate him from this hard-earned inertia. There have been beatings, wear, and injuries, but he can still compete at a very high level. And at the end of the day, he has reached levels that Ngannou has been unable to reach.
This is a fight that should be a shootout between two lethal strikers. When that’s the case, it’s not always easy to cast an opinion with any level of confidence. Ngannou’s youth and the fact that he’s probably a more-bankable physical force at this point makes him a solid choice on some levels. Youth usually wins the day. But I think he’s shown enough flaws to make this fight have at least somewhat of a toss-up feel to it. And in cases like that, I like to take the number if it’s attractive enough and I think it is on dos Santos.
My Pick to Win: I’m betting on Junior dos Santos at +170 betting odds at Bookmaker.eu. While long in the tooth and yesterday’s news as far as making big waves goes, I feel his skills match up well with Ngannou, with enough holes in Ngannou’s game to exploit. It seems like the better value-play, even if his case for victory isn’t appreciably-better than Ngannou’s overall.
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