LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Latest on UFC 239 (all times local):
Jon Jones retained his UFC light heavyweight title with a split-decision victory over Thiago Santos, who nearly pulled off a spectacular upset at UFC 239, despite apparently fighting on an injured leg.
Jones remained unbeaten since 2009, but he was stretched to the limit Saturday by his Brazilian challenger. Jones won 48-47 on two cards, and Santos won 48-47 on the third.
Santos appeared to hurt his leg during the fight, but he kept striking and counterpunching against Jones. The champ found his rhythm midway through the fight, but still competed cautiously and didn’t even attempt a late takedown of his hobbling opponent.
Amanda Nunes has defended her bantamweight title with a spectacular head kick leading to a stoppage of Holly Holm in the first round at UFC 239.
Nunes remained the pound-for-pound ruler of her sport in her usual devastating style. She floored Holm with a perfectly timed kick to the head, and she mercilessly finished Holm on the ground with 50 seconds left in the first round.
Holm is a veteran boxer and kickboxer who upset Ronda Rousey to win the bantamweight belt, but Nunes is on another level than every 135-pounder before her.
Jorge Masvidal has knocked out Ben Askren with a sensational flying knee just 5 seconds into their bout at UFC 239.
Masvidal delivered the fastest knockout in UFC history in jaw-dropping fashion. After listening to the opening bell while touching his own fence, Masvidal took three running steps out of his corner and sailed directly into the face of Askren (19-1), who had never been beaten in his 10-year pro mixed martial arts career.
Masvidal and Askren had exchanged numerous insults in the promotion for their bout. Masvidal landed two punches to the unconscious Askren’s head before the referee could stop the bout.
Jan Blachowicz has stopped Luke Rockhold with a devastating left hand in the second round of their light heavyweight bout at UFC 239.
The Polish veteran (23-9) staggered Rockhold with a kick at the first-round bell, and he ended it with a hook that left Rockhold glassy-eyed while he fell to the canvas. Blachowicz finished his fifth win in six fights on the ground.
Rockhold (16-5), a former middleweight champion, was coming back from a 17-month cage absence for his 205-pound debut. The Ralph Lauren model had lost two of his final three fights at 185 pounds.
Michael Chiesa has won a one-sided unanimous decision over Diego Sanchez in the first pay-per-view bout of UFC 239.
Chiesa (16-4) dominated on the ground and with strikes to improve to 2-0 as a welterweight. He was too much for Sanchez (29-12), the volatile 37-year-old veteran who has been in the UFC since 2005.
Sanchez was in the final fight of his current UFC contract, but he has expressed no interest in retiring. He had won two straight bouts after a 3-6 skid.
Gilbert Melendez has lost his fifth consecutive bout, dropping a wide decision to England’s Arnold Allen on the undercard of UFC 239.
In his return from a 22-month cage absence, Melendez (22-8) couldn’t strike with Allen (15-1), who won his eighth straight fight.
Melendez was a long-reigning Strikeforce lightweight champion, but he lost a UFC title shot against Benson Henderson in his promotional debut in April 2013, and his fortunes have never improved in the UFC.
The pay-per-view card at T-Mobile Arena begins with Michael Chiesa against Diego Sanchez, the last fighter to lose to Melendez way back in October 2013.
Marlon Vera has earned his fourth consecutive victory at UFC 239, surviving an unexpectedly strong challenge from UFC newcomer Nohelin Hernandez to win by submission in the second round.
Vera improved to 14-5-1, but the Ecuadorian veteran was in trouble a few times. After getting stuck underneath Hernandez repeatedly, Vera finally landed a flying knee to Hernandez’s face and finished on the ground.
Hernandez (9-3) replaced Sean O’Malley on late notice for his UFC debut, but he hung in and even surprised Vera by escaping an armbar attempt and getting into mount late in the first round.
Earlier on the undercard, Brazil’s Cláudia Gadelha earned a one-sided decision over Canada’s Randa Markos. Neither fighter did much in a dull three-round boxing match, but Gadelha won for the fourth time in six fights since losing a strawweight title shot in 2016.
Chinese prospect Song Yadong knocked out Mexico’s Alejandro Pérez with a single right hand in the first round of their bout at UFC 239.
The 21-year-old Song (14-3) was impressive in his North American pro debut. The bantamweight caught Pérez looking to throw a kick and swiftly landed a right to Pérez’s head, putting him out on his feet.
Song is 4-0 in the UFC, and the promotion is eager to make him a star in its efforts to gain a larger promotional foothold in Asia.
Song trains at the Northern California gym of longtime UFC title contender Urijah Faber.
The UFC’s biggest show of the summer is underway at T-Mobile Arena.
Jon Jones will defend his light heavyweight title against Brazil’s Thiago Santos in the main event of UFC 239 immediately after Brazilian two-belt champion Amanda Nunes defends her bantamweight title against ex-champion Holly Holm.
Jones and Nunes are widely considered the top two pound-for-pound fighters in mixed martial arts, and both are favored to retain their belts against lively challengers.
The card also includes a lively welterweight showdown between unbeaten Ben Askren and veteran Jorge Masvidal.
Unbeaten prospect Edmen Shahbazyan got the most impressive victory in the early preliminary bouts. The 21-year-old from Glendale, California, obliterated Welsh veteran Jack Marshman in just 72 seconds, finishing with a rear naked choke.
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