Saturday’s UFC 239 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Las Vegas, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at T-Mobile Arena.
Amanda Nunes was brilliant again on Saturday night, cementing her place as the best ever among the ladies. But who was everyone talking about on Sunday morning? Yeah, that guy from Miami, Jorge Masvidal. And it just took five seconds for “Gamebred” to make history, end his rivalry with Ben Askren and put himself in the conversation for a shot at Kamaru Usman’s welterweight title. That’s a lot of work to get done in one night, and while you feel for Askren having to suffer a brutal defeat like that, you also have to be happy for an old school vet like Masvidal getting even more of the spotlight as he closes in on the fight that will make his career.
I really hate the all-time great talk before a fighter is retired, but how can you argue with Amanda Nunes’ body of work? You can’t. She’s finished every woman who held the bantamweight title before her, a longtime featherweight champion in several promotions and the current flyweight champion (twice). And let’s not forget that she also stopped the first woman to hold the UFC featherweight belt – Germaine de Randamie. Nunes is a special fighter, and while the title of best woman to put the gloves on is secure, I think she has to be included in the top 10 conversation of best fighter regardless of gender. Again, how can you argue with her resume?
This week’s rankings aren’t out yet, but you have to assume that Poland’s Jan Blachowicz is going to get a significant upgrade after his Saturday knockout of Luke Rockhold. Will that translate into a title shot against Jon Jones? That remains to be seen, but of the top ten, only Blachowicz, Corey Anderson and Dominick Reyes really have a case as the next in line for “Bones.” Yet while that situation shakes out, Blachowicz deserves this attention he’s getting now. He’s a witty interview, a heck of a fighter, and yeah, he brings the “Polish Power.”
Well, the long streak is over for Arnold Allen. From 2015 to 2018, the Brit was like the Loch Ness monster, a seemingly mythical character who only showed up once a year. But in 2019, he’s made the walk twice so far, and with wins over Jordan Rinaldi and Gilbert Melendez, the healthy Allen has the momentum he’s been craving. That’s good news for Allen and bad news for the rest of the featherweight division, because “Almighty” is coming for them.
They’re not always going to make the highlight reel. And when we look back at Jon Jones’ career, his split decision win over Thiago Santos will not be looked at as one of his shining moments. But…a win’s a win, and maybe it was a wakeup call for the dominant 205-pound champion, who could have needed that fight to show him that he’s not invincible, and that if a hungry challenger catches him on the right night, he could be leaving the Octagon without his belt. On a night with great performances by Edmen Shahbazyan and Song Yadong that could have earned a spot here, that’s not really an endorsement for Jones, but what I liked about last weekend’s main event is that the great ones find a way to win on a bad night, and that’s just what Jones did.