Fight fans can finally exhale as the UFC returns with its first card in 8 weeks, this Saturday, as UFC 249, Ferguson vs Gaethje goes down from Jacksonville, Florida, with the main card commencing at 9:00 PM CST. After 6 cancelled/postponed events, it appears the UFC has found its way back, whether it be on Fight Island (or Fight Peninsula), as Florida became the first state to allow live sports! As one might imagine, this card is stacked! The prelims kick off with Ryan Spann vs. “Smilin” Sam Alvey, and Anthony Pettis vs. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is headlining the opening act. The betting odds for the prelims as of May 6th look like this:
Anthony Pettis (-145) vs. Donald Cerrone (+125)
Fabricio Werdum (-330) vs. Aleksei Oleinik (+270)
Carla Esparza (-150) vs. Michelle Waterson (+130)
Ronaldo Souza (-130) vs. Uriah Hall (+110)
Vicente Luque (-290) vs. Niko Price (+245)
Bryce Mitchell (-155) vs. Charles Rosa (+135)
Ryan Spann (-400) vs. Sam Alvey (+325)
Our picks for the prelims are Spann, Mitchell, Luque, Hall, Waterson, Werdum and Cerrone. Now, we’ll take a closer look at each of the five match ups on the main card, and we’ll tell you how we see each of those fights going down.
Greg Hardy (-190) vs. Yorgan de Castro (+165)
First up on the main card is ex-NFL star Greg Hardy taking on Dana White’s Contender Series’ Yorgan de Castro. After a promising 3-0 start to Hardy’s professional MMA career, he’s only added 2 wins in his last 5 fights, with a DQ loss to Allen Crowder and most recently a loss to Alexander Volkov in Moscow. The underdog de Castro is 6-0, and he’s coming off a spectacular first-round KO of Justin Tafa at UFC 243. De Castro is the real deal, and we think he exposes Greg Hardy.
Our Pick: De Castro, 2nd-round KO/TKO
Calvin Kattar (-250) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+210)
Next up we’ve got Calvin Kattar and Jeremy Stephens. This might end up being the fight of the night when it’s all said and done! Kattar is one of the most exciting up-and-coming Featherweights in the UFC. He’s 20-4, and he’s won 12 out of his last 14 (4-2 in the UFC). His last fight was a disappointing decision loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov back in November of 2019, in a fight which many say Kattar might had won had the main event match up been five rounds (Magomedsharipov was only willing to fight 3 rounds). Jeremy Stephens is a staple in the UFC, and as thrilling as any of his fights tend to be, his career has certainly seen better days. It’s been over 2 years since he last had his hand raised, and he’s won only 5 of his last 14 in the UFC. Kattar shouldn’t have any problem continuing his upward momentum through the Featherweight ranks.
Our Pick: Kattar, Decision
Francis Ngannou (-275) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstuik (+235)
The third act of the night features a match up that fight fans are salivating over; Francis Ngannou vs Jairzinho Rozenstuik. The two hardest-hitting Heavyweights in the UFC are colliding in what will most certainly be (to quote Pantera’s Phil Anselmo) a Vulgar Display of Power. Ngannou (14-3) won his first 6 in the UFC, before back-to-back losses to Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis. Ngannou, however, is back on track after 3 consecutive first-round knockouts over Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. As hard as it might be to imagine, Rozenstuik is just as scary as Ngannou. The undefeated Surinamese kickboxer is 10-0 with 9 KO/TKOs (7 in the first round). He’s 4-0 in the UFC, with impressive KO wins over Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem. Rozenstuik matches Ngannou’s power, and has a serious edge in technique.
Our Pick: Rozenstuik, Decision
Henry Cejudo (-225) vs. Dominick Cruz (+185)
The co-main event of UFC 249 features Flyweight/Bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo sizing up the man who many consider the greatest Bantamweight of all-time, Dominick Cruz. Henry Cejudo (15-2) is on one of the greatest win-streaks in UFC history, going 5-0 since September 2017, with victories over Demetrious Johnson, T.J. Dillashaw and Marlon Moraes in his last 3 fights. The Olympic gold medalist Cejudo is a serious problem from 125-145 pounds, and at 33 years old, he’s just reaching his peak. Cruz is a legend in his own right. He’s 22-2, and he’s faced (and beaten) almost every Bantamweight on the UFC’s and WEC’s rosters. Many consider him to be the greatest of all 135ers, but injuries have plagued Cruz’s career. It’s been 41 months since Cruz stepped foot in the Octagon, and he’s fought only 5 times since 2011. As promising an opportunity as this is for Cruz, he’s crossing Cejudo’s path at the wrong time.
Our Pick: Cejudo, 3rd-round KO/TKO
Tony Ferguson (-185) vs. Justin Gaethje (+160)
Well, it’s no Khabib vs. Tony, but fight fans are happy to settle for Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje to headline UFC 249. The winner of this fight not only secures the UFC Lightweight interim title, but also the almost sure-shot at Khabib Nurmagomedov, which should happen sometime this summer. What can we say about Tony Ferguson that hasn’t already been said. He’s terrifying, he’s El Cucuy – the freaking boogeyman! Ferguson is 25-3 (15-1 in the UFC), and he hasn’t lost since 2012. He has destroyed everybody in the UFC’s Lightweight division, aside from Nurmagomedov and, oddly enough, Michael Johnson. Gaethje is, of course, no slouch. After dominating the World Series of Fighting for 3 years, Gaethje crossed over to the UFC in 2017 at 17-0. After defeating Michael Johnson in his UFC debut, Gaethje lost his next two to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier. Currently riding a 3-fight win-streak, Gaethje is the #4 ranked UFC Lightweight, and he will certainly try to make the most of the opportunity he has in front of him Saturday night. However, Tony Ferguson has a date with destiny – a date that global pandemics, devastating injuries and tasty Italian desserts can merely postpone, but not deny. Ferguson will get past Gaethje and fulfill that destiny this summer with the biggest fight in combat sports history as he tries to unite the Lightweight title against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Our Pick: Ferguson, 4th round KO/TKO
Tell us what you think! Where do we have it right, and where do you think we got it wrong? Comment with your picks, and don’t forget to bookmark our page and check back often for more predictions and fight coverage. If you like what you see, go ahead and give our Facebook page a like and follow us on Instagram @fightsportfocus