Play-by-play updates and live results for the UFC 239 main event bout between Jon Jones and Thiago Santos.
Jones will be defending the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship for the second time in 2019. After reclaiming the title by defeating Alexander Gustafsson in December, Jones has since defended the title against Anthony Smith.
Santos is a former middleweight who has now found a home at light heavyweight. He’s 3-0 since moving up to 205-pounds and enters this fight after a big win over Jan Blachowicz.
Read on for our UFC 239 play-by-play and results for Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos
Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos play-by-play
Jones looking extremely relaxed. Starts working kicks to the lead leg and body of Santos. Santos now answering back but nothing really landing. A heavy left leg kick lands for Santos and nearly sweeps Jones off his feet. Jones stalking Santos now. Works an outside leg kick to Santos’ lead right leg. Santos now swaps stances. Lead leg kick for Santos lands. Patient start by both fighters. Santos goes high with a kick and Jones evades. He lands another leg kick to Jones’ lead leg. Jones catches a body kick and then storms forward but Santos keeps his balance and resets. A high kick by Jones is blocked. Santos fighting surprisingly patient and intelligent. He’s working Jones’s lead leg again now. Santos walks forward and throws some bombs, Jones moves straight backward but stays just outside of range. Santos’ forward rush is a big opportunity it seems. Jones should be moving laterally to stop Santos from sprinting forward, but he is moving straight backward.
Santos looks very dangerous. Throwing everything with lots of power. He again goes to the lead leg of Jones. Jones responds with one of his own. Jones misses with a spinning back kick to the head at the end of round one.
It sure looks like Santos won that round. Lots of solid connections to the lead leg of Jones. Huge impact. We score that round 10-9 for Santos.
Santos attempts a kick but he is clearly hurt by the impact. He lifts his output immediately as if he is running out of time. Throws a combination of hard punches but nothing breaks through. Jones stalking Santos now but not throwing much. Jones is respecting Santos’ power. Santos again moves forward and threatens Jones, he just can’t connect cleanly with his strikes. Jones right jab lands. He’s slowly settling into the fight. Santos got trapped against the cage and Jones hit him with a body kick. It looks like Santos’ lead leg is hurting and it is affecting his movement. He’s starting to move slower. Santos is getting crazy now and it’s getting exciting. He goes high with a left kick and Jones blocks. He’s throwing extremely powerful punches but Jones is evading the vast majority of them. Jones oblique kick is starting to feature. A surprisingly tight round, again, but Jones has the edge due to greater impact, although neither fighter landed many significant strikes.
We score that round 10-9 for Jones (19-19), but wouldn’t argue with any scorecard that favored Santos right now.
Despite the tight scorecards, Santos is definitely impacted by the leg injury that occurred in round two and looks to be slowing down. Santos grazes the back of Jones’ head with a left high kick. He’s doing a great job of working over the champion right now. Santos walks into the pocket and lands three or four hard punches to Jones’ head. Jones has stunned Santos now with a strike and he goes after a finish. Santos recovers after Jones attempts a flying knee and then ends up jumping over Santos. Now they’ve reset in the center of the cage. Santos is still compromised by his injured leg. Amazingly, however, he’s been fighting very well and could be winning this fight. Jones blocks a Santos high kick. A cut opens on Santos’ forehead now, but it’s hard to tell how it occurred. A heavy kick lands for Jones. He works the thigh now and the body. Jones is turning it on. He needed to, as well, because Santos could have run away with this round. Oblique kicks are adding up. The leg kicks were working very well for Santos in the first round but he has given up on them in rounds two and three.
That’s another round for Jones (10-9), but it was very competitive throughout. Our score now sits at 29-28 for Jones after three rounds.
— UFC (@ufc) July 7, 2019
Not many had predicted that Thiago Santos could be in the running for a decision win against Jon Jones, but it’s sure looking that way. He rushes toward Jones at the start of round four but misses with his punches. Jones sitting back and waiting. He’s happy making Santos miss although he isn’t attempting many strikes of his own. A spinning back kick to the body lands for Jones. Jones feints low and then comes up high with a wheel kick that goes past Santos. Santos is more stationary now and we haven’t seen that dangerous forward rush in quite some time. Jones walking Santos back now. Leg kick lands for Santos. Every time Santos comes forward and attempts some strikes, Jones moves slightly back out of range and then skips back in. Jones again with a heavy leg kick. The crowd starts to boo because Jones is relatively inactive. He’s controlling the flow of the fight but isn’t attempting many strikes. When he does, it has typically been some sort of spinning attack that has missed. Not much happening in this round and it’s up for grabs with just over a minute left. Jones presses forward after a superman punch and Santos backs away. It feels unfortunate for Santos, really, considering he was doing so well before injuring his leg.
Not much happened in that round but it goes to Jones (10-9). Santos didn’t really do much at all. (39-37 for Jones)
Santos looks furious at the start of round five. He has five minutes remaining to beat Jon Jones. He opens up with some hard strikes but again Jones defends well. The problem for Santos has been entering Jones’ range. He finally steps into the pocket and he lands well with some hard punches. Jones showcases his chin by taking those punches and looking unharmed. Santos knee buckles again. He remains persistent. Jones working him over with single strikes now. Oblique kicks and punches are featuring here but Jones isn’t really going for the finish and is continuing to throw single strikes. Santos sprints forward at Jones again and lands some big punches. He’s landing with more impact. Jones is landing more often but Santos is landing with the heavier punches and kicks.
This is a round for Santos (10-9) when considering the impact, but it was tight.
That takes our scorecard to 48-47 for Jones with round two being the other close round that we scored in favor of Jones and not Santos. A Santos scorecard is very possible.
Jon Jones def. Thiago Santos via split decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-48)
Formerly the lead MMA Editor at RealSport.