UFC 249 – Odds and Predictions 

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There’s a UFC card this Saturday. Yes, a live sporting event in North America. For two months, the only sports on ESPN has been classic NBA and NFL games. We’re tired of watching games where we know the outcome – it kinda defeats the purpose of watching sports in the first place. 

Which is why we’re super hyped on UFC 249. It’s been too long since we’ve seen fighters throw down inside the octagon – and this card is stacked from top to bottom. Even the prelims to the prelims have fights that could headline a Fight Night card (we’re talking about Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price). No matter what you think of Dana White, you’ve got to admire his determination to put on a card during this pandemic. 

Plus the main event is basically a guaranteed Fight of the Year contender waiting to happen. Tony Ferguson or Justin Gaethje is going to walk away with the interim belt, and the winner gets the impossible task of unifying the titles against the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov. 

In the co-main event, Henry Cejudo defends the bantamweight belt against Dominick Cruz – who is regarded as the division’s most successful titleholder. A few things to note: Cruz is coming off yet another major injury and hasn’t fought in over three years. Cejudo is making his first title defense – and you can bet that most of the MMA community will be rooting against the cringy Triple C. 

A heavyweight scrap between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik pits the division’s most prolific knockout artists against each other. Rozenstruik is trying to become the new Ngannou, but to do that he’s got to beat the original Ngannou. And if he pulls off that massive upset, all of a sudden there’s a new title contender in town. 

There’s a lot to go over here, so let’s take a look at the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu and break down your best betting options. 

Main Event, Lightweight Championship

Tony Ferguson -190 vs. Justin Gaethje +150

Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +335 / -505

Over/under 2.5 rounds: Over +102 / Under -190

Gaethje by TKO: +190

Ferguson by TKO: +220

Ferguson by submission: +225

Three Weeks Makes All the Difference

Had Gaethje fought on the original April 18 date, he would’ve had less than two weeks to get ready for Ferguson. That’s not enough time to get ready for a cardio freak that fights like a honey badger. But delaying the event to May 9 gave him three extra weeks to prepare. 

Assuming he was in solid shape to begin with, that gives him close to a month of training. It’s not ideal, but it’s enough time to get the gas tank where it needs to be and sharpen the fight instincts. El Cucuy is one of the few fighters with weaponized cardio, so Gaethje has to train for five of the highest-paced rounds he’s ever fought. 

Betting Strategy: Go with the victory bets

Gaethje by TKO at +190

Ferguson by TKO at +220

We love the price on Gaethje by TKO – this is not a man who wins by decision. Gaethje’s killshot power is operating at level 100 right now, and Tony tends to take a huge shot or two before he really gets going. The only problem here is that there is no margin for error against The Highlight – he’s got three first-round knockouts coming into the matchup. 

Conversely, Ferguson by TKO at +225 is a very good value. Gaethje’s stellar defensive wrestling should take El Cucuy’s lethal submission game out of the picture, and both fighters are too aggressive to expect this to go to the cards. 


Co-Main Event, Bantamweight Championship

Dominick Cruz +183 vs. Henry Cejudo -235

Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: -185 / +155

Over/under 4.5 rounds: over -200 / under +170

What to Expect from Cruz

We’ve seen Cruz come back from a 3-year hiatus and absolutely beast. But that was back when the guy was still in his athletic prime – and he got a few warm up fights. Coming back from a major injury at 34 is much riskier. 

But if Cruz comes back at 90% of what he used to be, that’s champ level skills – fully capable of beating Cejudo. As a legitimate bantamweight, he’s noticeably bigger than Triple C, a former flyweight. There’s also the fact that nobody save Cody Garbrandt was able to solve his frenetic style. Cejudo might be as fast as Garbrandt, but he doesn’t have the hand speed or the pop – not even close. 

Our pick: Cruz to win at +183

Cruz paying out at nearly 2-1 odds is too good to pass up. The ring rust and the age is really scary, but Cruz is one of the smartest guys in the game. We believe that he wouldn’t come back unless he was fully healthy and ready to rock. 


Heavyweight 

Francis Ngannou -269 vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik +241

Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: +250 / -325

Over/under 1.5 rounds: Over -115 / under -115

Two Knockout Artists Walk Into a Cage

In the heavyweight division, when one-hitter quitters meet, it’s usually a 50-50 proposition. We normally like to bet the underdog in those cases, but Ngannou is bigger, faster, more explosive and has faced a higher level of competition throughout his career. 

Rozenstruik might have split Overeem’s face open, but he was handily losing that scrap until a hail mary at the last second. There’s levels to this, and Bigi Boi still needs to get through them before he enters the top 5. Perhaps he can make a leap, but if he couldn’t outstrike Overeem it’s doubtful he can beat The Predator in a stand up battle. 

Our pick: Over 1.5 rounds at -105

We lean on Ngannou to win, but just can’t endorse him at the current price. Instead, we’ll take the rounds over as we expect both guys to be somewhat conservative out of respect for each other’s power. Let’s just hope that this doesn’t turn into another Ngannou-Lewis. 


Quick Picks

Anthony Pettis -125 to beat Donald Cerrone -105

Carla Esparza -153 to beat Michelle Waterson +122 

Ronaldo Souza -131 to beat Uriah Hall +101

Cerrone looks awfully close to being cooked. It’s been a long, distinguished career but he’s nowhere near a top tier fighter. While Pettis doesn’t really beat elite fighters anymore, he can still hang tough with them – something that Cowboy physically can’t do. Pettis’ chances of winning are much, much better than his current odds. 

In the same vein, we highly recommend a bet on Carla Esparza. She’s a wrestler facing Michelle Waterson – a natural strawweight. We’ve seen Cookie Monster drag bigger fighters to the ground and control them for three rounds. Waterson is feisty, but she’s going to spend a lot of time on her back. 

Jacare Souza is another guy that is past his prime, which makes him a dangerous bet – there’s a chance he declines really quickly. Uriah Hall is a problem because of his speed and athleticism, but he also tends to crumble in trench wars. If Jacare can get this to the ground, Hall is sunk. 

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Abe first encountered MMA in 2000, watching a VHS tape of Kazushi Sakuraba kicking the legs of a downed Royce Gracie in Pride Fighting Championships. He's been hooked ever since. Abe has penned NBA and NFL articles for Sports Illustrated and RotoExperts. In 2010, Abe signed on as the lead MMA writer for BigOnSports.com, and is now dedicated to helping fellow fans beat the odds.

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