Two of the UFC’s most dominant champions will put their titles on the line on the same night this summer.
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, considered among the best pound-for-pound fighters ever, will face Thiago Santos in the second title defense of his current reign atop the 205-pound division, the UFC announced Thursday. The pair will headline UFC 239 on July 6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the centerpiece of this year’s edition of the UFC’s annual International Fight Week.
In the co-main event, two-weight title holder Amanda Nunes will put her bantamweight belt on the line against Holly Holm, a former champion at 135 pounds.
Jones most recently defeated Anthony Smith in a five-round unanimous decision on March 2.
Jones has been the UFC's 205-pound champ for long stretches of the past eight years, but also has been stripped of his belt twice. After doping suspensions and other woes limited Jones to just two fights in a nearly four-year stretch of his prime, he returned to the cage at UFC 235 to face Smith just nine weeks after beating Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 last December to reclaim his belt.
Santos, a veteran of the UFC since 2013, will make his first appearance in a championship bout in his professional career. He’s fought 18 times with the promotion, but only switched to the light heavyweight division in September 2018. His most recent win came in February when he stopped Jan Blachowicz with punches in the second round.
Nunes picked up her second belt in December when she stopped longtime featherweight queen Cris Cyborg with punches less than a minute into the first round, becoming the UFC’s first two-weight women’s champion. She’s held the bantamweight belt since UFC 200 in July 2016, where she defeated Meisha Tate, and holds victories over UFC Hall of Famer Ronda Rousey and current flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, who Nunes has beaten twice.
Holm will fight at bantamweight for the first time since June 2017 when she enters the cage against Nunes. The former boxing champion-turned-MMA star owned the bantamweight belt after handing Rousey the first loss of her career, only to lose it to Tate a few months later. She’s fought twice for the featherweight title, but came up short in decision losses to Germaine de Randamie and Cyborg.