On the heels of a spectacular UFC 239 card, we discuss the biggest news stories from the event with POST Wrestling’s Phil Chertok.
In the main event of the card, Jon Jones retained his UFC light heavyweight title in a close affair with Thiago Santos as Jones earned a split decision win. The question becomes which light heavyweight will separate themselves from the pack and earn the next shot – or will Daniel Cormier disrupt those plans with a trilogy fight?
UFC 239 also produced the fastest knockout in promotional history with Jorge Masvidal’s flying knee to Ben Askren that halted the action in five seconds and sets up Masvidal as a star on the cusp of competing for his first UFC championship.
Plus, we look ahead to this Saturday’s card from Sacramento and the return of Urijah Faber, who meets Ricky Simon.
POST: What was the biggest story coming out of UFC 239 on Saturday night?
Phil Chertok: It has to be the record-setting flying knee knockout by Jorge Masvidal over Ben Askren. Not only did it place Gamebred in the history books with the fastest knockout in UFC history, but it also ended Funky Ben’s undefeated streak in MMA and created a highlight we will be watching for years to come.
How did you score the main event between Jon Jones and Thiago Santos?
I had Jon Jones winning a very a competitive 4 rounds to 1, with the first round being the only one I gave to Santos. We expect so much from Jones that when he doesn’t do something spectacular it’s a bit of a letdown. Santos was a game opponent who landed big leg kicks and a few solid shots on Jones but the champ was able to dodge most and roll with the punches that did connect. Meanwhile, Jones relentlessly pressured Santos and began picking him apart by the third round as was evident by the challenger’s body language in the corner between rounds. Credit to Santos who, on one leg hung in there and tried to win the fight right until the end. Despite his valiant effort, he never really had Jones hurt or in trouble and that’s why it was easy for me to see it for Bones.
If you remove a potential third fight with Daniel Cormier from the list of options, which light heavyweight is next in line to fight Jones?
Dominick Reyes has got to be the only pick here. He’s undefeated and has wins over Volkan Oezdemir, Ovince Saint Preux and Jared Cannonier which is a highly respectable resume. Unfortunately, once you look past him there doesn’t appear to be anyone near a title shot. The division has a few bright prospects in Johnny Walker and Jimmy Crute, but both are quite a ways off from a crack at the belt. The only other person close would have the be Corey Anderson who’s won three in a row against strong competition. Unfortunately, his style is not terribly fan-friendly which means there’s not much clamoring for him to get a shot at Jon Jones.
What should Luke Rockhold’s next move be regarding his career?
It’s hard to argue with UFC president Dana White’s recommendation that Luke Rockhold calls it quits and retire. He’s been brutally KO’d in three of his last four fights and he keeps falling victim to the same bad habits of keeping his hands low. Rockhold is extremely skilled but at the highest level of competition, the smallest mistakes can be the difference between winning and losing and if the former UFC and Strikeforce champ can’t learn from his mistakes, he’d probably be better off not making them at all.
How do you feel about Urijah Faber coming out of retirement for his fight with Ricky Simon this weekend in Sacramento?
When Urijah Faber first ended his MMA career, he wasn’t getting brutally KO’d or outclassed and was still fighting top competition but that doesn’t mean I’m excited to see him come back. Ricky Simon is an extremely tough opponent who’s flown under the radar since joining the UFC. In his last fight, he dominated veteran Rani Yahya and established himself as someone to watch in the Bantamweight division. Faber coming back to fight such a tough opponent is no surprise as the California Kid has never shied away from a challenge but it’s hard to see the upside for Urijah who turned 40 earlier this year. Faber is already a member of the UFC hall of fame and the chance of him making a run at the title seems slim to none so it feels like his motivations might be financial, which is perfectly fine. Fighters have a limited window to make money so if the former WEC featherweight champ wants to maximize his earning capabilities who am I to deny him? Just don’t expect me to get too thrilled about his matches.