Sonnen: Inside the KOs of UFC 239

LAS VEGAS — The UFC 239 main card featured three finishes: a head-kick-sparked TKO by Amanda Nunes to defend her bantamweight belt, a record-setting flying knee knockout by Jorge Masvidal, and a devastating two-punch combination by Jan Blachowicz. Chael Sonnen, who fought three times for UFC gold, was on hand to witness it all.

“The American Gangster” spoke with ESPN about the defining moments in each of those fights. Here’s Sonnen, in his own words.

Amanda Nunes’ in-fight read helps finish Holly Holm

Amanda was staying patient throughout this fight. Holly kept throwing this low oblique kick, which is something Jon Jones does. And it’s something she’s even said: She learned the technique from Jon.

The difference is Jon Jones is so tall and so long that his chin can stay out of range. Any time you throw that oblique kick, you’re always open to an outside head kick. It took four or five of them for Amanda to test it, to time it. Finally, Holly throws the oblique kick, she’s susceptible, Amanda throws a head kick and puts her down.

Jorge Masvidal sets UFC record with immediate knockout of Ben Askren

It’s really interesting how Masvidal set this up. It’s clearly planned — he came out and said this was planned.

To set this up was a very brief rope-a-dope. He starts the fight with his hands behind his back. Next, he kind of looks away from Askren, still with his hands behind his back. Then, he turns into a full sprint.

The sprint is relevant. You’ll see guys get knocked out by flying knees, but it’s totally another deal if someone is running at you. It’s another whole level of power. That’s what we’re seeing here. It was quite frankly a very scary moment for Ben Askren.

Jan Blachowicz capitalizes on Luke Rockhold’s defensive mishap

Blachowicz was throwing wild punches with one hand to create a distraction, making Rockhold’s hands — what we call his “guard” — come out just a little bit. Then Blachowicz would throw a straight down the middle. It’s a very common and basic technique.

It’s very confusing with Luke Rockhold, because he makes two huge mistakes — all of his fights, not just this one — and they’re his choice to make: He keeps his hands down, and he keeps his chin up. There’s nothing this opponent is doing that forces Luke to keep his hands down; there’s nothing this opponent that forces him to keep his chin up. But he does it all the time.

One hand hooks to give a distraction; the other comes down the middle for the kill. It’s a very basic technique. It’s also very easy to defend if you just have your hands up and your chin down. Why Luke opts not to do that, I simply do not know.

I thought Luke learned his lesson against Michael Bisping. Against Yoel Romero I’ll give him a pass. Walking out with your hands down and your chin up and getting clipped not three times, not four times, but a total of five times, eventually you’re going to fall down. .

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