Rockhold-Blachowicz, Ngannou-Dos Santos, Chiesa-Sanchez official for UFC 239
The lineup for UFC 239 in Las Vegas in July officially got some significant star power added to it today.
Former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold (16-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC) will return for what will be the first time in about a year and a half when he takes on Jan Blachowicz (23-8 MMA, 6-5 UFC) in a light heavyweight bout, the promotion today made official.
In addition, UFC officials confirmed a previously reported bout between former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos (21-5 MMA, 15-4 UFC) and former title challenger Francis Ngannou (13-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC), as well as a pair of “Ultimate Fighter” winners at welterweight when Diego Sanchez (29-11 MMA, 18-11 UFC) takes on Michael Chiesa (15-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC). In addition, Edmen Shahbazyan (9-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) meets Jack Marshman (23-8 MMA, 3-3 UFC) at middleweight.
UFC 239 takes place July 6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as the anchor for the promotion’s annual “International Fight Week.” The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass.
Rockhold won the middleweight title at UFC 194 in December 2015, but lost it to Michael Bisping in his first defense the following year. After 15 months away, he returned at knocked out former two-division WSOF champion David Branch in September 2017. But with a chance to win an interim middleweight belt at UFC 221 in February 2018, he was knocked out by Yoel Romero in the third round. Now Rockhold will test the waters at 205 pounds for the first time.
Blachowicz will try to rebound from a TKO loss to Thiago “Marreta” Santos in Prague in February. That win got Santos a title shot against Jon Jones in the UFC 239 main event. Prior to that setback, Blachowicz had four straight wins, three of which came with fight-night bonus awards against Devin Clark, Jimi Manuwa and Nikita Krylov.
Dos Santos has seen his career surge back upward with three straight wins after an eight-fight up-and-down stretch. In July 2018, he beat Blagoy Ivanov to get back on track after a title-fight loss to former champ Stipe Miocic at UFC 211. Then he knocked out Tai Tuivasa this past December in a main event in Australia. And a month ago, he picked up a “Fight of the Night” bonus for a second-round knockout of Derrick Lewis in Kansas.
Ngannou has bounced back nicely, as well, after back-to-back losses. After starting his UFC tenure with six straight wins and six finishes, he lost a decision to Miocic in a title fight at UFC 220. Then he dropped a lackluster decision to Lewis at UFC 226. But a 45-second knockout of Curtis Blaydes this past November got him back in the win column, and he followed that up with a 26-second KO of ex-champ Cain Velasquez in Phoenix in February.
Sanchez has won back-to-back fights after a stretch that saw him go just 4-7. This past September, he outworked Craig White for a decision at UFC 228. And in March at UFC 235, a second-round TKO of Mickey Gall earned him a $50,000 bonus – and his first win by stoppage since June 2008.
Chiesa had consecutive losses at lightweight to Kevin Lee and Anthony Pettis, both by submission. He missed weight for the Pettis fight, and after that loss decided to move up to welterweight. In his debut in the weight class this past December, he stopped former interim champion Carlos Condit with a second-round kimura at UFC 232 to get back on track.
Shahbazyan got his UFC shot in July 2018 with a 40-second win on Dana White’s Contender Series. Then he took a split decision from Darren Stewart in his official promotional debut at the TUF 28 Finale this past November. In March, he stopped Charles Byrd with a first-round TKO to stay perfect at 9-0.
Marshman snapped a two-fight skid in March with a split-decision win over John Phillips in London. That win came in spite of the fact Marshman missed weight by two pounds for the bout. Prior to that, the Welshman had dropped three of four fights after winning his promotional debut in February 2017.
With the official additions to the lineup, UFC 239 now includes:
- Champ Jon Jones vs. Thiago “Marreta” Santos – for light heavyweight title
- Champ Amanda Nunes vs. Holly Holm – for women’s bantamweight title
- Ben Askren vs. Jorge Masvidal
- Jan Blachowicz vs. Luke Rockhold
- Junior Dos Santos vs. Francis Ngannou
- Michael Chiesa vs. Diego Sanchez
- Jack Marshman vs. Edmen Shahbazyan