UFC 239: Jon Jones looks to extend his legacy on the sport's biggest stage
This time around it's Brazilian slugger Thiago 'Marreta' Santos who has been cast in the supporting role opposite Jones, a fighter whom the consensus generally agree is the greatest to ever do it mixed martial arts.
Of course, Santos has earned his position at the summit of the year's biggest card. He has tasted defeat just once in his last nine fights, and is a perfect 3-0 since moving up to the UFC's 205lb division. But the names he has vanquished recently will hardly command fear in the Jones household: Jan Blachowicz, Jimi Manuwa and Eryk Anders.
No, the reason that 'Marreta' ('The Sledgehammer') has been drafted in to challenge the sport's best fighter is precisely because of how he engineers his wins - with the type of concussive force which could give Joe Rogan an embolism in the commentary booth.
Santos will justifiably be an underdog and if he were to win it would arguably be the biggest championship upset since Matt Serra dethroned Georges St-Pierre in April 2007. And, while an upset of that magnitude is unlikely, they said the same of Serra twelve years ago.
WHO ELSE IS ON THE CARD?
The co-main event is another title tilt between bantamweight (and featherweight) champion Amanda Nunes and former champ Holly Holm. 'Lioness' Nunes has emerged as arguably the finest female fighter of all time and the only fighter to hold wins over both Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg - two fighters once considered unstoppable in their pomp.
Holm secured her own position in history by becoming the first woman to defeat Rousey with "the head-kick heard around the world" almost four years ago, but to become the person to slam the brakes on Nunes' recent form? That would be an achievement on par with anything she has done before.Also on rt.com 'Talk s**t, get hit': Jorge Masvidal's rise from backyard brawler to UFC main eventer
If there was ever a 'People's Main Event' (credit to ESPN's Ariel Helwani for that phrase) then it would be the highly-anticipated clash between "Mr. Three-Piece-And-A-Soda" himself, Jorge Masvidal, and a man with a vendetta against the humble watermelon, Ben Askren.
Masvidal's incredible one-shot KO of Darren Till in London earlier this year has left his stock as high as ever, while Askren has been a media darling since debuting with the UFC to the extent that it is fair to say that he is now among the division's most popular fighters - the combination of Masvidal and Askren makes this matchup one of the must-see fights on the card.
Elsewhere on the card, former 185lb kingpin Luke Rockhold takes on his first 205lb assignment against the aforementioned Jan Blachowicz; Diego Sanchez fights Michael Chiesa and an intriguing featherweight prelim between former Strikeforce 155lb champion Gilbert Melendez and Arnold Allen shouldn't be overlooked, either.
WHAT IS INTERNATIONAL FIGHT WEEK?
International Fight Week is a two-day long schedule of events which will culminate in the UFC 239 card from the T-Mobile Arena in the heart of Las Vegas. It includes the Hall of Fame induction of Michael Bisping (and others).
There will also be fan events, meet & greets, autograph sessions, martial arts demonstrations and much more.
WHEN IS UFC 239?
The card will take place in Las Vegas on July 6, with International Fight Week to take place in the days prior.
The event will be available on pay-per-view via ESPN+ in the United States and on BT Sport (for the first time, also via pay-per-view) in the U.K. and Ireland. Further markets are advised to check their local schedules. The main card is scheduled to begin at 9pm ET (3am UK).Also on rt.com From 'GOAT' to 'idiot': Jon Jones' UFC 235 victory over Anthony Smith met with mixed reaction