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With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best fights from July 2019: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s “Fight of the Month” award for July.
At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.
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Jon Jones def. Thiago Santos at UFC 239
A wonky knee may have prevented one of the biggest upsets in the history of mixed martial arts, because Thiago Santos (21-7 MMA, 13-6 UFC) came one round away on one judge’s card from handing UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (25-1 MMA, 19-1 UFC) the first legitimate loss of his career.
Santos peppered Jones with leg kicks, but completely blew out his left knee in doing so. Still, a game Santos hung with the competitor many consider the greatest male MMA fighter of all-time over the course of three captivating rounds before dropping a split decision.
Raquel Pennington def. Irene Aldana at UFC on ESPN 4
Raquel Pennington (10-7 MMA, 7-4 UFC) had a strong start and finish to her matchup with Irene Aldana (10-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC), and the former UFC title challenger snapped a two-fight skid in a hard-fought manner.
Pennington’s movement and hand speed were her biggest weapons in the octagon, but Aldana’s output and diversity of offense was effective, as well. It went down to the wire, and ultimately Pennington’s work was deemed more worthy of the split decision nod.
— UFC (@ufc) July 21, 2019
Deiveson Figueiredo def. Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 240
Another flyweight fight delivered when Brazilian countrymen and top contenders Deiveson Figueiredo (16-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) and Alexandre Pantoja (21-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC) produced the “Fight of the Night” with a bloody and entertaining back-and-forth bout.
Ultimate it was Figueiredo who emerged the winner by unanimous decision. He managed to stay a step ahead of Pantoja for the majority of the fight and was rewarded by the judges for his 16th win out of 17 career bouts.
Cris Cyborg def. Felicia Spencer at UFC 240
Former UFC champ Cris Cyborg (21-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) rebounded from a brutal knockout to close her contract on a win. But Felicia Spencer (7-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) accomplished her goal of making the ex-champ look human.
Cyborg went the distance and secured a unanimous decision victory against a tough Spencer, who absorbed the Brazilian’s early fury and survived in deep waters. The end result was similar to so many of Cyborg’s others, though, and that’s with her arm raised.
— UFC (@ufc) July 28, 2019
Aalon Cruz def. Steven Nguyen at Dana White’s Contender Series 22
In a featherweight contest, Aalon Cruz (8-2) finished his fight with Steven Nguyen (6-1) in such spectacular fashion that UFC president Dana White promised him a UFC deal before he even left the cage.
During the final minute, Cruz unleashed a flying knee that landed clean, sending Nguyen crashing to the floor and ending the fight in highlight-reel fashion, with UFC boss White openly expressing his amazement at the finish, which came with less than 30 seconds remaining in the final frame, and earning an invitation to the UFC.
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The Winner: Figueiredo vs. Pantoja
Even though the flyweight division now has a future, Figueiredo and Pantoja fought like it was closing down.
A bloodied Pantoja never stopped pushing over three rounds, but his heart wasn’t enough to overcome the power and composure of Figueiredo, who took home unanimous 30-27 scores.
Pantoja’s early strategy of getting in, getting out, and avoiding hammers proved to a difficult task. Just a few hooks made their mark of his face, so it was no wonder that Pantoja pushed for a ground fight, while Figueiredo played interception as his opponent got in range, stinging his opponent coming in.
Figueiredo kept the fight standing as the fight went into the second round, and Pantoja was forced to slug it out. The shots he landed, Figueiredo took without issue. But as the round progressed, the heavy-handed slugger’s output slowed. He threw fewer hammers and relied on lead elbows until he was forced into a firefight. There, his power again revealed itself with a right hand that sent Pantoja crashing to the canvas.
Figueiredo welcomed a phone-booth fight in the final frame, battering Pantoja early with elbows as he fought the clinch. Those elbows were equally effective at distance as he cracked Pantoja repeatedly with the technique, opening cuts that bled generously. As Pantoja chased down revenge, Figueiredo alternately threatened the takedown and greeted his opponent with step in elbows. Pantoja never quit, and he landed several hard punches in the final seconds as Figueiredo tired.
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