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The fate of UFC 249 has hung in the balance for some time, but now Dana White has announced it will indeed go ahead. The event is due to take place in the early hours of Sunday morning (UK time). Despite Khabib Nurmagomedov pulling out (travel restricted), the full fight card still looks an exciting one.
Below you will find a roundup and my early preferred bet choices for each of the main fights scheduled. Bet365 has a good range of markets for the events. All bets and markets mentioned were readily available when this post was written. If you haven’t got an account you can register for one from the link below.
UFC 249 Main Fight previews
Tony Ferguson v Justin Gaethje (Lightweight title fight)
Although not held in the same esteem as Khabib, Justin Gaethje is a worthy opponent for “El Cucuy”, Tony Ferguson. Both fighters like to fight on their feet and work on the theory of attacking is the best form of defense. It should make for an exciting fight that Ferguson goes into as favourite in the betting markets.
This is partly due to the fact that Gaethje is the replacement fighter, but also due to Ferguson’s more credible ground game. Ferguson likes fighting with his fists, but he has won just as many fights with a chokehold. He is a wriggly character who is not afraid to attempt to wrap his opponent up on the floor. Gaethje has shown a reluctance in his career to fighting this way. This may well be his downfall. However, Gaethje does come from a wrestling background. If he were to find it in himself to drop the brawler style and revert back to his roots, he could well catch Ferguson unawares.
Personally, I fancy Ferguson. He is on a 12 fight winning streak and has claimed to be in some of the best shape of his life. If this does end up being a slugfest, I’m expecting the longer reach of Ferguson to connect more frequently.
Henry Cejudo v Dominick Cruz (Bantamweight title fight)
Speaking of wrestling backgrounds. None come as more accomplished than Gold Medal Olympian, Henry Cejudo. He has a low centre of gravity and is quick to pounce on any mistakes his opponents make. He’s up against “The Dominator” Dominick Cruz. A stand-up fighter who has proven to be hard to hit. He moves quickly and attacks frequently. His main weapon is his fists by way of a long-reaching straight-come hook that causes his opponents no end of trouble. He seems to lack that knockout punch though, resulting in a lot of his victories coming by points decision.
Cejudo has won his last two fights by knockout and with him being bantamweight and Flyweight titleholder, it’s no surprise he heads the betting market markets. However, he hasn’t fought in the Octagon since that Bantamweight wins against Moraes back in June last year. I wouldn’t like to call this fight and see much more sense in betting on the “fight to go the distance” market. Don’t expect fantastic value here though. It just seems like a more sensible bet to me.
Francis Ngannou v Jairzinho Rozenstruik (Heavyweight bout)
Here come the heavyweights! Ngannou is nothing short of a well-oiled knockout machine. However, that is exactly what Rozenstruik is proving to be. This scenario makes for one very likely outcome, in my opinion – A quick fight!
Ngannou is a clear favourite here and the choice that I fancy. The only people who have seen success from Ngannou did so by being able to nullify Ngannou’s power. I don’t see Rozenstruik is the type of fighter to be able to achieve that. Also, despite that horrific lip injury Rozenstruik caused to Overeem, it happened in the last seconds of the fight.
If he was unable to despatch an over-the-hill Overeem earlier, I fear for him in this matchup. Rozenstruik has only been in the UFC a year and this fight is a big step up for him, regardless of the potential he has shown.
Ngannou to win by KO, TKO, DQ or submission is my betting market of choice for this fight. I also fancy the more outside bet of Ngannou to win in the second round as a smaller staked side-bet.
Calvin Kattar v Jeremy Stephens (Featherweight bout)
A fight here that is very hard to call. Both fighters have recently failed to fathom the unorthodox style of Zabit Magomedsharipov, losing on a unanimous points decision. Both fighters are coming back from a loss in their last fight so will be keen to add another W to their record here.
Kattar is the clear favourite, in terms of odds. However, I feel Stephens has a good chance of causing an upset. With three losses and a no-contest in his last four fights, this may be a foolish decision. One I am willing to take a risk on. Stephens has a more varied style and has the ability to land big punches with tremendous accuracy, in my opinion. He is also, by far, the more experienced UFC fighter.
I’m happy to take a bet on the outright market on Stephens. Odds on this selection at the time of publishing were around 2/1.
Greg Hardy vs Yorgan De Castro (Heavyweight bout)
Probably the least most anticipated fight on the main card, but there’s usually knockout entertainment around when heavyweights start to dance with each other. Greg Hardy has more fight inexperience, although it is not that impressive. His 5 UFC fights so far have seen two wins, two losses, and a no contest.
Yorgan De Castro is somewhat an unknown quantity, with only one official UFC fight to his name. However, he does hold an overall fight record of 6 fights and 6 wins. The majority of which came by stoppage or knockout. He does appear to be a little bit of a one-trick pony. That one trick is the good old right hook bomb. Neither fighter look like they are in their peak of fitness and I fear that if a bomb doesn’t land from someone in the early rounds this may turn out to be a bit of a hugging match. De Castro has done enough from the two to see me have a belief he can stop Hardy early. That is where my money is going, be it a small staked bet.
On top of these main fights are 4 Early preliminary fights as well as a preliminary card. Here is a list of the other earlier fights taking place.
Full Fight Schedule
Sat 9th May 22:30
Vicente Luque v Niko Price
Bryce Mitchell v Charles Rosa
Ryan Spann v Sam Alvey
Sun 10th May 01:00
Uriah Hall v Ronald Souza
Carla Esparza v Michelle Waterson
Aleksei Oleinik v Fabricio Werdum
Donald Cerrone v Anthony Pettis
Sun 10th May 03:00
Calvin Kattar v Jeremy Stephens
Francis Ngannou v Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Greg Hardy v Yorgan De Castro
Henry Cejudo v Dominick Cruz
Tony Ferguson v Justin Gaethje
To have “The Cowboy” Donald Cerrone in the preliminary card shows just how packed this overall fight card is. It should be a very entertaining event and is one I am very much looking forward to.
Do you agree with my picks? Spotted any value yourself in the betting markets? Let us know on Twitter. We’d love to hear your opinions and share your thoughts.