It’s the most wonderful time of the year for mixed martial arts fan: International Fight Week has descended upon the Las Vegas desert once more! While this week traditionally has multiple UFC cards, plus some smaller promotions piggybacking with their own events, this year there is only one big fight card – UFC 239.
Saturday’s fight lineup is the best one the UFC has booked thus far in 2019, with Jon Jones defending his UFC Light Heavyweight Title against ferocious striker Thiago Santos. Also, women’s GOAT Amanda Nunes is putting her UFC Women’s Bantamweight strap on the line against former champ Holly Holm.
However, punters probably want to steer clear of putting money down on either of these fights, as both defending champions are justifiably currently listed as heavy favorites (Jones in -600, Nunes -340 on MyBookie). While Bones has never even been rocked in a fight, you might want to throw some dough down on Santos at +400 and hope he can catch the champ with one of his terrifying blows (but don’t count on it).
That being said, there are some numbers on the board that you might consider putting some money on for Saturday.
Luke Rockhold (-190) vs Jan Blachowicz
UFC 239 marks former UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold’s long-awaited debut at middleweight. However, his height and reach are pretty much identical to his opponent Jan Blachowicz, so size shouldn’t be an issue here.
Assuming Rockhold’s chin hasn’t been rendered to glass (he’s been KO’d in two of his last three fights), he should have the skills to pay the bills here.
Pannie Kianzad (+195) vs Julia Avila
We start things off with the curtain-jerker, and we’re going with the underdog.
Pannie Kianzad is a last-minute injury replacement in this fight, but this isn’t her first UFC rodeo. She was on the women’s featherweight season of The Ultimate Fighter, ultimately losing in the finals, after which the UFC inexplicably released her. We’re counting on her extensive experience to help her squeak by UFC newcomer Julia Avila
Arnold Allen (-370) vs Gilbert Melendez
Pretty steep odds for Allen, but the youngster is still worth your money. The Brit has only lost one fight in his career, and that was five years ago when he was only 20.
Meanwhile, his opponent is the shopworn 37-year-old Gilbert Melendez, a true MMA pioneer and all-time great, but shopworn nonetheless. He hasn’t stepped in the octagon in almost two years, and hasn’t won a fight since 2013 (he’s 1-5 in the past six years).