Amanda Nunes wins big, Jon Jones squeaks decision at UFC 239

Amanda Nunes of Brazil knocks out Holly Holm of the United States during their UFC Womens Bantamweight Title bout at T-Mobile Arena on July 06, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)
Updated 07 July 2019

Amanda Nunes wins big, Jon Jones squeaks decision at UFC 239

  • Nunes stopped Holly Holm late in the first round to defend her bantamweight title
  • Jon Jones was a significant favorite against Thiago Santos, a longtime middleweight who moved up in weight last year

LAS VEGAS: Amanda Nunes won in spectacular fashion. Jon Jones barely hung on.
Both champions still emerged from UFC 239 with their belts around their waists.
Nunes stopped Holly Holm late in the first round to defend her bantamweight title, and Jones squeaked out a split-decision victory over Thiago Santos to defend his light heavyweight title on Saturday night.
A two-division champion on a nine-fight winning streak, Nunes (18-4) remained the pound-for-pound ruler of her sport with her usual devastating flair. After she floored Holm (12-5) with a perfectly timed kick to the head, she mercilessly finished Holm with punches on the ground with 50 seconds left in the first round.
“I told my coaches I wanted to knock her out the same way she knocks people out,” Nunes said of her opponent, an accomplished kickboxer. “I did it tonight. She was the only former champion I didn’t beat yet. Now I beat her, and I’m very happy.”
Jones (25-1) had much more trouble with Santos (21-7), who nearly scrapped his way to victory despite injuring his leg early in the fight. Jones fought cautiously and earned a 48-47 decision on two of the three judges’ scorecards.
“He implemented a game plan I think a lot of people have wanted to for a very long time,” Jones said. “He did a good job. He exploited a hole in my game that won’t be there next time.”
Jorge Masvidal knocked out previously unbeaten Ben Askren with a sensational flying knee just 5 seconds into their bout on a card peppered with jaw-dropping finishes until Jones’ decision.
Jan Blachowicz also knocked out Luke Rockhold with a devastating left hand in the second round of ex-champ Rockhold’s light heavyweight debut.
Nunes took a few minutes to find her groove against Holm, who famously knocked out Ronda Rousey with a head kick nearly four years ago. When Nunes felt comfortable, she unleashed a sophisticated array of strikes and eventually caught Holm with a kick that sent her straight to the canvas.
Nunes completed the knockout with punches, sending Holm to her fifth loss in seven fights. After her fourth successful bantamweight defense, Nunes said she wants to defend the 145-pound belt next.
Jones was a significant favorite against Santos, a longtime middleweight who moved up in weight last year. But Santos’ power and energy caused problems for Jones from the opening minutes, forcing the champion to be cautious and to use his superior length.
“We all knew Thiago’s best chance was to knock me out,” Jones said. “I played it smart and brought home this gold for my family and team. He was technically a lot more sound than I thought. Thiago Santos is a black belt in Muay Thai. I’m proud of myself, because I stood with a guy who’s been kickboxing way longer than me.”
Santos landed several significant strikes in the first round, but Jones briefly floored the challenger with a big kick in the second.
Jones found his rhythm midway through the fight, using his size to keep Santos away. Santos also developed a right leg injury of some sort, although he kept striking even while he struggled for balance.
“I felt like I was winning, so there was no need to take him down,” Jones said. “We were playing a very high level game of chess in there.”


World number four Medvedev topbills first international tennis tournament in the Kingdom

Updated 19 November 2019

World number four Medvedev topbills first international tennis tournament in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Some of the greatest men’s players on the planet can use the upcoming $3 million Diriyah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia as ideal preparation for the Australia Open, says one of its big-name competitors.

World number four Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, is one of six confirmed names heading to the Diriyah Arena in the UNESCO world heritage site for the first international tennis tournament to be staged in the Kingdom, presented by Saudi Aramco on December 12 to and 14.

It has been a breakthrough year for the fan favorite, reaching six consecutive tournament finals, including one at the 2019 US Open and two at Masters 1000 events with a career high ranking of number 4.

Now Medvedev believes the competitive nature of the Diriyah Tennis Cup can provide an ideal platform to build on that success, especially with the first Grand Slam event of 2020, the Australian Open taking place a little more than a month after the Saudi tournament.

Medvedev said: “Saudi will be a big part of my preparation for the new season. Coming to Saudi the heat and conditions will be similar to Australia. It will be a great test for us.

“It’s in our pre-season so we’ll want to get that match time in to prepare for the new season – but the fans should expect us to fight hard like in any tournament. It will be competitive and hopefully they’ll be lots of fans coming to support us there.

“Hopefully I can play some great tennis, help the country raise awareness of the sport and inspire people to play. Looking at the players confirmed it’s a really great field.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about Saudi Arabia. I’m excited to promote tennis there especially as it’s the first tournament.

The tournament is part of the Diriyah Season, an epic month of showcase sports events being hosted by the GSA. 

The Diriyah Tennis Cup showdown has confirmed six leading players to date for the inaugural tournament. As well as Medvedev this includes three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland.

World number 12, Fabio Fogini, who was the first Italian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title this year in Monte Carlo and highly-rated David Goffin (Belgium), the former world number 7 will also present in Diriyah.

The big-serving American John Isner, with over 10,000 aces on tour, and five-time ATP champion Lucas Pouille of France, an Australian Open semi-finalist this year complete the current line-up. Officials will name the final two players in the coming weeks.

Medvedev will go into tournament with confidence after a great year, in the past week missed out on closing rounds of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals which also included another epic showdown with World Number One, Rafael Nadal in London.

He said: “It’s been a great year for me, especially the second half. The highlights were in Washington and then finishing in Shanghai and winning that title. With six titles and two of them Masters titles, it wasn’t something I expected if I’m honest with you.

The 23-year-old Russian also gave some insight into what it has taken to reach the top echelon of the men’s game, as he closes in on ‘The Big Three’; namely Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. 

“To be successful in tennis you need to fight hard and play with passion. You need to fight hard on every single point. Look back on the times it doesn’t go well and always try to improve and always get better. Self-reflection is important. That might sound a bit tough for the kids, but that’s what it takes to break through."

Tickets are now available at www.diriyahseason.sa with nine different ticket categories available to suit all budgets – the perfect event for groups of friends and families.

The Diriyah Tennis Cup is taking place at the 15,000-seater Diriyah Arena being purpose built at the ancient site of the Kingdom’s first capital, known as the home of kings and heroes. The tournament will happen just a week after the same venue plays host to the Clash On The Dunes, the world heavyweight title fight between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua OBE.