Predictions for Every Fight at UFC 249 – Ferguson to Beat Gaethje and More

By Adam Haynes in MMA & UFC
| May 3, 2020 1:45 am PDT
UFC 249 Predictions and Picks For Every Fight on the Card

It’s time for my UFC 249 predictions ahead of a massive night of action on May 9.

It’s been a while since we have been able to wager on any fights, and I’m confident that if you’re looking for the best UFC 249 bets, odds, and predictions, you will like what I’ve got in store for you today.

Our top UFC betting sites have some hot odds on the fights set to go down in Jacksonville, Florida. There are some interesting markets available, and I will be going through them all in a separate piece. Today, it’s all about the predictions.

Tony Ferguson’s potentially classic lightweight interim scrap with Justin Gaethje tops the card, with a co-main bantamweight title scrap between Henry Cejudo and Dominick Cruz in support.

But as you’ll see below, this card is crammed with great bouts. So keep reading, and I’ll tell you how I see them going. 

Ferguson to Beat Gaethje by KO/TKO

Ferguson vs. Gaethje is a potential fight of the year candidate. But I wouldn’t be the slightest surprised if it goes down as the fight of the decade. 

These two are among the most lethal strikers on the UFC roster but have more to their game than raw brutality. Although Ferguson was expected to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title on April 18 — a fight that has been canceled so many times it has to be cursed — Gaethje stepped in on short notice when the champ was ruled out.

Ferguson and Gaethje will be fighting for the UFC’s interim lightweight title and a ticket to a showdown with Nurmagomedov at some point in the future. 

What makes this an intriguing matchup is that these two are all-action fighters. Fans expect the pair to head into this fight with bad intentions, but quite often, these expectations can lead to disappointment. I don’t think that will happen here.

I have previously broken this fight down, and most of the main takeaways are still pertinent to the clash on May 9. Ferguson stands at half an inch under six feet, while Gaethje is 5’11. Ferguson has a huge six-inch reach advantage over the former standout wrestler, however, and this could be crucial to his chances of winning the fight.

Ferguson is looking to register his thirteenth straight win against Gaethje and has not lost a fight in almost eight years. He absolutely pieced up Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis in his last two and is showing no signs of slowing down, despite turning 36 in February.

Gaethje is on a three-fight streak, having starched Cerrone, Edson Barboza, and James Vick all within the first round. The former WSOF lightweight champion is dangerous as hell and finally has his chance to fight for a UFC title.

There is no question that Gaethje’s chances of winning the fight will be better with the additional three-week camp, but I still think Ferguson is all wrong for him. Gaethje’s chances will diminish the longer he is in the cage with “El Cucuy,” but I don’t see him lasting three rounds.

Ferguson will land all kinds of shots from various angles before getting to his man somewhere in Round 3. You can read more on my thoughts for this fight in my Ferguson vs. Gaethje betting preview.

Cejudo to Beat Cruz by Decision

In the second title fight of the night, UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo defends his strap against the promotion’s inaugural bantamweight champion and two-time division king, Dominick Cruz.

Although a legend of the sport, Cruz’s unfortunate susceptibility to injuries has limited his fight time to just six appearances in the UFC. Despite that, he could become the first three-time champion in the history of the promotion if he wins. That’s an insane statistic and one you will probably never see again. 

Cejudo’s accomplishments in the sport are nothing to scoff at, either. He snapped Demetrious Johnson’s incredible run of 11 successful flyweight title defenses, snatching the 125-pound title in the process. Then, in June last year, he knocked out Marlon Moraes to win the 135-pound strap.

While I’m stoked to see this fight, I am concerned that Cruz’s four-year absence will prove too much on the night. Despite being an incredibly gifted fighter — one with a style effective enough to beat Cejudo — I don’t know what to expect from the 35-year-old. 

I have to go with Cejudo in this one, as he has looked excellent over the past few years or so. He is on a five-fight winning streak that includes wins over Moraes, Johnson, and T.J. Dillashaw.

If you need more convincing, check out my Cejudo vs. Cruz betting preview.

Ngannou to Beat Rozenstruik by KO/TKO

I can’t even begin to tell you how brutal I expect Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rosenstruik to be. This fight has also been pulled forward from April 18 but was initially scheduled for the top of the bill at UFC on ESPN 8 in March.

Surely that’s just going to make these two even hungrier. As if the prospect of two of the heavyweight division’s most powerful men colliding needed any more advertising.

Rozenstruik is 10-0 in the UFC, with his biggest wins coming against Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski. He will be taking a step up in class against Ngannou, who many believe to be the division’s champion in waiting. 

A win for Ngannou will edge him closer to his second UFC heavyweight title shot, so motivation will not be a problem. Ngannou has three consecutive one-round KOs over Curtis Blaydes, Junior dos Santos, and Cain Velasquez, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he adds another on May 9. 

Stephens to Beat Kattar by KO/TKO

Hard-hitting featherweight Jeremy Stephens hasn’t exactly been on fire over the course of his last five bouts.

Losses to Yair Rodriguez, Zabit Magomedsharipov, and Jose Aldo — as well as a no-contest against Rodriguez in their first encounter — make Stephen’s record in recent times look a little poor. Stephens has not tasted victory since beating Josh Emmett in February 2018.

But even though things look bad, those losses came to three of the top guys in the division. Stephens will also have a nice bit of motivation for going at it with Kattar in this bout. If he manages to drop his opponent even once on the night, he will set the record for the most knockdowns in UFC history at 19.

Look, Kattar has looked very good since joining the promotion in 2017. He has a record of 4-2, with losses to Renato Moicano in April 2018 and Zabit Magomedsharipov in November 2019. 

Kattar’s biggest win to date was against Shane Burgos in January 2018. He is a solid fighter, no doubt, and the favorite to win this fight. But I think Stephens might surprise him.

Hardy to Beat De Castro by KO/TKO

Greg Hardy is a fighter that has shown definite signs of improvement and is certainly not going away anytime soon.

Hardy’s next assignment comes in the form of Yorgan de Castro, who made a big impression on his UFC debut in October by starching Justin Tafa in the first round. 

Hardy, the former defensive end for the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys, lost his last fight against high-ranking heavyweight Alexander Volkov. Although he picked up a defeat, Hardy made a good impression against the Russian on short notice.

De Castro might prove a little tricky for Hardy, but I am backing the latter to get the job done by stoppage. As long as he can stick to his gameplan and remain composed, Hardy should have too much for de Castro. 

Cerrone vs. Pettis by Decision

All right, all right! What a fight this should be.

Cerrone vs. Pettis 2 will go down more than seven years after the first fight. That night, Pettis landed a monstrous kick to the body to end the contest inside one round. This was the first time Cowboy had lost a pro-MMA fight by way of strikes.

So, what’s changed since Pettis’ KO? Well, a lot, to be honest. Pettis would go on to win the UFC lightweight title in his following bout before losing it to Rafael dos Anjos two fights later.

Cerrone would lose in a title shot against dos Anjos but has been mega active since then. You can check all this out on their records.

For now, what I will say is this — I think Cerrone wins the rematch. Sure, he looked severely off the boil against Conor McGregor in January. He is also on a three-fight skid. But given the other two losses came against Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, with McGregor, you have the three best lightweights in the world not named Khabib.

Pettis has losses to Nate Diaz and Carlos Diego Ferreira in his last two but earned a spectacular superman punch KO over Stephen Thompson before then. However, his record over the past few years has been up and down, so it really depends on what version of Showtime shows up to the arena.

I see Cerrone getting the decision in this one. He may be down, but he’s not yet done with MMA.

Werdum to Beat Oleinik by Decision

The return of former UFC heavyweight kingpin Fabricio Werdum is almost upon us.

Werdum, who was suspended for two years by USADA for a doping violation, faces off with another veteran, Alexey Oleinik. 

Oleinik will be looking to take advantage of Werdum’s cage rust but will need to be at his best to beat the Brazilian. Having submitted Maurice Greene in January, the Ukrainian-born Russian will be hoping to make it 2-0 in 2020 with a win.

Unfortunately for Oleinik, I don’t think he has enough to stop Werdum from making his comeback fight one to remember. Oleinik’s submission game is his strength, but Werdum is a monster on the floor.

Werdum certainly has the advantage on the feet, and this should make the difference on the night.

Waterson to Beat Esparza by Decision

This is a very tough fight to call, but I’m giving the edge to Michelle Waterson.

The Karate Hottie is coming off a five-round decision loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in October 2019. That loss snapped a streak of three consecutive wins over Courtney Casey, Felice Herrig, and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. 

Esparza, the former Invicta FC and UFC strawweight champion, is looking to put her own string of three wins together having put both Alexa Grasso and Virna Jandiroba to the sword in 2019.

Esparza is the slight favorite for this one, but I’m going for Waterson. I think she is tough enough to grind out a win over her opponent on the night.

Jacare to Beat Hall by Decision

Jacare Souza had a poor run in 2019, losing to both Jack Hermansson and Jan Blachowicz.

But 2020 will have a host of new opportunities for the BJJ legend, providing he can dispatch of Uriah Hall at UFC 249. 

Hall comes into this contest with a record of 2-3 in his last five and will be licking his lips and making it 3-0 in his last three fights. Jacare will certainly need to be at his best but might feel more comfortable back at middleweight. 

I have to give the nod to Jacare in this fight. 

Luque to Beat Price by Submission

No one really asked for Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price 2, but here we are.

Despite the fact that Luque outclassed Price in their first encounter almost three years ago, they will dance again at UFC 249. And strangely enough, I think this fight could end up going down as one of the fights of the night.

For as long as it lasts, anyway. And if you need any convincing that this one will end in a stoppage, the fact that both guys have just three decision wins between them should say it all. Especially if you point out that they both have 13 stoppages under their respective belts.

Luque wins this fight, in my opinion. Price, although spectacular in offense, hasn’t shown great improvements in the defensive department. I see Luque lighting him up on the feet before landing a fight-ending submission.

Bryce Mitchell vs. Charles Rosa

What a fight this should be, especially for grappling fans.

The undefeated Brian Mitchell is aiming to make it 13 wins on the trot against Charles Rosa on May 9. Mitchell has an incredible nine submissions on his record and is 3-0 in the UFC.

Rosa is 12-3 in MMA with an equally impressive eight submissions to his name. He is 3-3 in the UFC and looking to put together his first string of victories since joining the promotion in 2014.

Both guys are coming off highlight-reel submissions in their last fights and will be looking to put on a fine show for fans.

Mitchell is the betting favorite here, and I agree with that. I expect him to make it 14-0 on the judges’ scorecards.

Spann to Beat Alvey by KO/TKO

Ryan Spann is riding a seven-fight winning streak into his bout with Sam Alvey at UFC 249 on May 9.

Alvey is on a three-fight skid, which makes this contest one he must win to keep his chances of remaining in the promotion alive. 

Unfortunately, Spann will be too much for Smilin’ Sam. I expect this fight to end by way of stoppage, with Spann getting his arm raised at the end of it.

That’s All for Now

With my UFC 249 predictions now in the books, I’m looking forward to watching the fights on May 9. This card is absolutely stacked with huge fights. So much so that you should be careful not to blink, as you might miss something. 

If you are looking for more UFC 249 odds, bets, predictions, and news, keep your eyes on our MMA blog. I will be providing more in-depth betting material for Ferguson vs. Gaethje, the best bets and specials for all the fights, as well as a few little extras I think you’ll like.

With that, I’m out for now. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your bets! 

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