LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 04: (L-R) Jon Jones and Thiago Santos of Brazil pose for the media during the UFC 239 Ultimate Media Day at T-Mobile Arena on July 4, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The UFC light heavyweight title will be up for grabs when the gate shuts on Saturday night at UFC 239 in Las Vegas. The reigning champion and (essentially) unbeaten mixed martial arts great Jon Jones will take on 205 pound newcomer Thiago Santos. The two have taken dissimilar paths to headlining International Fight Week, but both will have 25 minutes to secure glory on Saturday night.

And New or And Still?

After completing his first title defense of the year against Anthony Smith in March, Jones looks for the tenth successful title defense of his career. The rapid activity of Jones has seemed to go unnoticed.

For being 32 years old and enduring the multiple null periods that he has, the pace that he is fighting at is remarkable. The ongoing, never ending chatter of Jones moving to heavyweight is alive and well. Before he leaves light heavyweight (if it all), there are a few fighters at 205 pounds that Jones needs to face. Enter Thiago Santos.

Even as a +500 betting underdog, Thiago Santos isn’t to be overlooked. Since moving up to light heavyweight, he is 3-0 and has earned $150,000 in performance bonuses. After a brutal third round finish against Jan Blachowicz earlier this year, Santos became a clear cut title challenger. Santos possesses glaring similarities to the latest title challenger in Anthony Smith. Both moved up in weight and found themselves a home by doing so. Similar to Smith, Santos has never been in the cage longer than 15 minutes. Jones seemed well aware of that against Smith and we should expect more of the same against Santos. There is one beaming difference, though: Santos beat Smith… in the second round. He looks to be the first man to have his hand raised against Jon Jones (sorry, Matt Hamill).

Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos
Fighter Statistics

Something that many are overlooking is Thiago Santos’ losses. Although there are only six of them, there seems to be a repeating occurrence; five of his six losses are in the first round. Some stats are pointless and lazy, but this one seems to hold substance. That’s about 83% of his losses that have come in the first round. Jones has only three first round finishes in the UFC, though.

Another statistic that gets the brain churning is Thiago Santos has never won more than four consecutive fights in the UFC. Prior to the four fight streak he is currently riding, Santos has been on a four fight win streak twice. Both times he failed to push that to five. This will be his third attempt at a five fight win streak in the UFC with his most daunting task ahead.

This will be Jon Jones’ fourth title fight in Las Vegas. His previous three all ended in unanimous decision.

UFC 239 is on Saturday night and with two championship bouts, the expectations are at a towering height. Will Jon Jones retain his perennial GOAT status or will Santos be able to do what no man has ever done?

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