Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:54 AM

UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje Odds, Predictions, Preview

UFC 249 - Ferguson vs. Gaethje
Vegas Betting Preview & Predictions

Date: Saturday, May 9 2020
Venue: VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
TV/Time: ESPN, ESPN+, 6:30 p.m. ET

UFC 249 Betting Odds

  • Tony Ferguson -175 Justin Gaethje +155
  • Henry Cejudo -250 Dominick Cruz +210
  • Francis Ngannou -265 Jairzinho Rozenstruik +225
  • Calvin Kattar -260 Jeremy Stephens +220
  • Greg Hardy -190 Yorgan De Castro +160
  • Anthony Pettis -145 Donald Cerrone +125
  • Fabricio Werdum -330 Aleksei Oleinik +270
  • Carla Esparza -145 Michelle Waterson +125
  • Ronaldo Jacare Souza (OFF) Uriah Hall (OFF)
  • Vicente Luque -280 Niko Price +240
  • Bryce Mitchell -160 Charles Rosa +140
  • Ryan Spann -450 Sam Alvey +375

**OFF - Ronaldo Souza out of UFC 249 after testing positive for the coronavirus

Subject to Change - Updates

UFC Interim Lightweight Championship
Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje

The long-awaited showdown for lightweight supremacy between undefeated and undisputed champ Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov and Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson at UFC 249 was cancelled for the fifth time. This time around, it took a global pandemic to get the cursed bout scrapped.

Nevertheless, we’ve still got a great main event set to headline Saturday’s stacked 12-fight card at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville. In fact, I’m more stoked for this matchup of Ferguson vs. Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje for the interim UFC lightweight title.

Ferguson (25-3 MMA, 15-1 UFC) will put his 12-fight winning streak on the line. It is the longest such streak in UFC lightweight history.

As of Friday afternoon, FanDuel had Ferguson installed as a -190 ‘chalk,’ with Gaethje as the +160 underdog. The total was 2.5 rounds (‘under’ -138, ‘over’ +114).

Ferguson has not lost since May 5 of 2012 when he dropped a unanimous decision to Michael ‘The Menace’ Johnson. Since then, his victim list has included the likes of Danny Castillo, Abel Trujillo, Gleison Tibau, Josh Thomson, Edson Barboza, Lando Vannata, Rafael dos Anjos, Kevin Lee, Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis and Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.

Dos Anjos and Pettis are former UFC champions, Thomson is the former Strikeforce lightweight champ and Cerrone and Lee have both fought for the UFC’s 155-pound strap.

Both fighters made weight Friday morning. In fact, 23 of the 24 competitors hit their marks.

Both men stand 5-foot-11, but Ferguson has a 6.5-inch reach advantage (76.5-70). Gaethje, 31, is the younger man by five years.

Gaethje (21-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) has been must-see television since the former World Series of Fighting lightweight champ signed with the promotion in 2017. His first two appearances in the Octagon resulted in Fights of the Year.

In the first, he took out Johnson by KO with 12 seconds left in Round 2 of a non-stop battle for the ages. Next, Gaethje lost for the first time in his career by third-round KO against former UFC lightweight kingpin Eddie Alvarez.

When Gaethje fought Dustin Poirier in another epic contest, he went into the fourth round for the only time in his career. Poirier finished Gaethje by KO only 33 seconds into the fourth frame.

Ferguson has been into the fourth round twice, going the five-round distance in his won over Dos Anjos.

Since the loss to Poirier, Gaethje has ripped off three consecutive wins. He’s starched James Vick, Barboza and Cerrone with first-round KOs.

UFC 249 Prediction

You aren’t going to make a good living by fading Ferguson. Nevertheless, I like Gaethje’s chances here because of his superior power, and the underdog odds don’t hurt, either. Let’s go with one unit on Gaethje for a +160 return.

UFC Bantamweight Championship
Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz

After struggling with no luck at all in terms of injuries galore for nearly a decade, perhaps the luck of 35-year-old former two-time UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz has taken a turn in his favor. After being sidelined for more than three years with multiple injuries, Cruz was in no position to get a title shot upon his return.

However, with Jose Aldo stuck in Brazil due to the travel ban, bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) was left without an opponent. Therefore, Cruz lucked into a title shot and has a chance to become the 135-pound king for the third time.

As of Friday, FanDuel had Cejudo listed as a -215 favorite for the co-main event vs. Cruz, a +180 underdog. The total was 3.5 rounds (‘over’ -270, ‘under’ +205).

Cejudo brings a five-fight winning streak into his first bantamweight title defense. Cejudo’s run started at UFC 215 where he scored a knockout win over Wilson Reis in a flyweight contest. Next, he topped Sergio Pettis by unanimous decision, setting up a second shot at Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson for the UFC’s flyweight championship.

Cejudo lost to Johnson by first-round KO in their first meeting at UFC 197, but he won a split decision in the rematch at UFC 227 to unseat the only champion the flyweight division had ever had. The win also ended Johnson’s winning streak that had lasted nearly seven years.

For his first flyweight title defense, Cejudo had to face T.J. Dillashaw, who was attempting to earn double-champ status by dropping down to 125 pounds. However, Dillashaw’s grand plans were smashed in more ways than one.

First, he got smashed by Cejudo in merely 32 seconds for his first loss in almost three years. Second, Dillashaw tested positive for a banned substance that earned him a two-year USADA suspension and resulted in him being stripped of his 135-pound strap.

With the bantamweight belt up for grabs, Cejudo went up in weight to take on Marlon Moraes for the title. Even with a badly sprained ankle that was still purple on the night of the fight, Cejudo rallied from a rough start to finish Moraes with ground-and-pound punishment late in the third frame.

Cruz (22-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) hasn’t been in the Octagon since Dec. 30 of 2016, the same night that Ronda Rousey was sent into retirement by Amanda Nunes in the UFC 207 main event. In the co-main event, Cruz lost his 135-pound title to Cody Garbrandt by UD.

The setback ended a 13-fight winning streak for Cruz, who has spent most of his time off recovering from injuries by serving as an analyst for UFC broadcasts. But Cruz claims he’s healthy now and, at the age of 35, thinks he has plenty of gas left in his tank. We shall see Saturday night.

UFC 249 Prediction

Cruz was out nearly three years when he went right through Takeya Mizugaki with a first-round KO in only 51 seconds. Then injuries struck again but after another layoff of more than one year, ‘The Dominator’ came back to win the bantamweight championship with a split-decision win over Dillashaw. He defended the belt once with a second win over Urijah Faber, but then he lost to Garbrandt. Cruz’s two losses have come to Faber and Garbrandt when both were champions and in their prime. There’s no shame in that. Cruz has proven in multiple instances that Octagon rust doesn’t apply to him. I like Cruz for one unit at +180 odds.

UFC Heavyweight Bout
Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

One of three heavyweight contests on the card is Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou vs. undefeated Jairzinho Rozenstruik. As of Friday, FanDuel had Ngannou as a -310 favorite against Rozenstruik, the +250 underdog. The total was 1.5 rounds (-110 either way). There’s no telling when Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier III is going to take place, but the Ngannou-Rozenstruik winner will be first in line for a title shot once that situation plays out. Ngannou (14-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) has three straight wins by first-round KOs, with two former champions among his victims. First, Ngannou dusted Curtis Blaydes (for the second time) in only 45 seconds. Next, it was two-time former heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez who was finished in merely 26 seconds. Then in Ngannou last Octagon appearance, he needed only 61 seconds to sleep Junior dos Santos.

Rozenstruik (10-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) remained unbeaten this past December when he mounted a furious rally to beat Alistair Overeem by KO with only four seconds left in the fifth and final round. Overeem had dominated his opponent for the most part in that main event in Washington D.C., and ‘The Reem’ was undoubtedly going to win a decision comfortably. But ‘Bigi Boy’ wouldn’t be denied in the closing moments, flooring Overeem and leaving his lip disfigured and destined for plastic surgery. It was the latest KO in the history of the UFC’s heavyweight division.

Rozenstruik has nine career wins by KO with seven of those coming in the opening round. He also has the second-fastest KO in UFC heavyweight history, a nine-second win over Allen Crowder, in addition to a first-round KO win over Andrei Arlovski in merely 29 seconds.

UFC 249 Prediction

My favorite play on the card is Ngannou-Rozenstruik ‘under’ 1.5 rounds at a -110 price. Let’s go with three units on that ‘under.’ Furthermore, I’ll risk one-half unit on Rozenstruik to pull the upset for a generous +250 return.

UFC Catchweight Bout (150.5)
Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar

Seventh-ranked featherweight Jeremy ‘Lil’ Heathen’ Stephens was the only fighter to miss weight Friday, as he came in at 150.5 pounds, 4.5 pounds above the 146 mark allowed for featherweight non-title scraps. The fight will go on, but Stephens must forfeit 30 percent of his purse to his opponent, ninth-ranked Calvin ‘The Boston Finisher’ Kattar.

Stephens’ missing weight hasn’t impacted the odds. FanDuel hasn’t moved from its position on Thursday, with Kattar (20-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) still installed as -250 ‘chalk.’ Stephens is +205 on the comeback, while the total is 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -166, ‘under’ +136).

The 32-year-old Kattar is in bounce-back mode after losing a UD to Zabit Magomedsharipov (29-28 across) as a road underdog this past November in Moscow. His other loss during his UFC run came by UD against Renato Moicano at UFC 223 in Brooklyn.

Kattar’s last three wins have come by knockouts against Shane Burgos, Chris Fishgold and perennial featherweight contender, Ricardo ‘The Bully’ Lamas.

Speaking of KOs, Stephens (28-17-1 MMA, 15-16-1 UFC) owns 19 of them during his up-and-down career. The product of Des Moines, Iowa, will move into third place in UFC history when he make his 33rd career walk Saturday in Jacksonville. He’ll be looking to taste victory for the first time in more than two years.

Like Kattar, Stephens lost a close decision to Magomedsharipov, who is currently ranked third in the 145-pound loop. He also lost a tight decision (29-28 across again) to fifth-ranked Yair Rodriguez. The other loss for Stephens during his three-fight losing streak came vs. Jose Aldo, who ruled the division as champ for nearly a decade.

UFC 249 Prediction

The last time Stephens missed weight he scored a third-round KO victory over Dennis Burmudez with a vicious flying knee. At the age of 33, Stephens still has a lot left and he’s in dire need of a win her in this spot. Give me Stephens for one-half unit for the +205 payout.

UFC Heavyweight Bout
Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan de Castro

The opener of the main card is another heavyweight contest between Greg Hardy and Yorgan De Castro. As of Friday afternoon, FanDuel had Hardy (5-2-1 MMA, 4-2-1 UFC) installed as a -205 favorite, with De Castro sporting +172 underdog odds. The total was 1.5 rounds (‘over’ -156, ‘under’ +138).

Hardy is off a UD loss to Alexander Volkov, who was ranked seventh at the time and was the first ranked opponent that Hardy had faced. The former NFL player for the Carolina Panthers saw his first six MMA fights go ‘under’ 1.5 rounds, but his last two have gone ‘over.’

De Castro (6-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has scored a pair of first-round KOs over Justin Tafa and Sanford Alton Meeks since joining the promotion. Five of his six career wins have come by KO and four of those ended in the opening round.

UFC 249 Prediction

Prediction: For my play on this heavyweight scrap, check out my UFC 249 pick pack!

UFC 249 Bonus Predictions

The depth of this card is on full display when you see that Cerrone vs. Pettis isn’t even on the main card. Instead, it’s the Prelims headliner that should start shortly after 9:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

Cerrone and Pettis are set to tangle in a rematch of Pettis’s first-round KO win (liver kick) in Chicago more than seven years ago. Both men are in desperate need of a victory here.

As of Friday afternoon, FanDuel had Pettis (22-10 MMA, 9-9 UFC) listed as a -152 favorite while Cerrone was at +130. The total was 2.5 rounds (‘under’ -122, ‘over’ +100).

Pettis has dropped back-to-back fights and is mired in a 4-8 slump. After beating Cerrone in 2013, Pettis won the UFC lightweight title with a first-round submission win over Benson Henderson. However, after successfully defending his strap with a second-round submission win over Gilbert Melendez, the 4-8 slide started.

Cerrone (36-14-1 MMA, 23-11 UFC) has lost three consecutive fights by KOs to Conor McGregor, Gaethje and Ferguson. Now to be clear, those are three of the best fighters in the world, but even the 36-year-old Cerrone has recently conceded that he can “see the light at the end of the tunnel” to his storied career.

We should also mention that Cerrone had won three in a row before this recent three-fight skid. He also bagged four fight-night bonuses in those three victories over Mike Perry, Alexander Hernandez and Al Iaquinta.

Cerrone owns the most wins in UFC history (23), the most finishes (16), the most fight-night bonuses (18), the most knockdowns (20) and will surpass Jim Miller on Saturday when he makes his 35th career walk. He also has the second-most wins in lightweight history (17) and the third-most finishes (10) in the 155-pound division.

Prediction: For my play on this lightweight clash, you can check out my UFC 249 pick pack!

In another heavyweight tilt, former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (23-8-1 MMA, 11-5 UFC) is a -330 favorite vs. Alexey Oleynik (+250). Werdum is returning from a two-year USADA suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.

Werdum has finishes in 17 of his 23 career wins. He has 11 submissions and six KOs.

Oleynik (58-13-1 MMA, 7-4 UFC) has six wins by submission and one by KO during his UFC tenure. He’s bested the likes of Anthony Hamilton, Jared Rosholt, Viktor Pesta, Travis Browne, Junior Albini, Mark Hunt and Maurice Green.

Oleynik owns 46 career wins by submission, eight by KO and four via decision. He also has the only two submissions by Ezekiel Choke in UFC history, executing one of them from the bottom while mounted against Albini.

Prediction:‘Under’ 1.5 rounds has an 8-3 record in Oleynik’s 11-fight UFC tenure. Seven of those 11 fights have ended in Round 1. We know Werdum has finishing ability with his striking on the feet and his submissions on the ground. Let’s go with two units on ‘under’ 1.5 rounds for a +110 payout.

For the rest of Brian’s picks with analysis, including plays on the side and total for Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price, check out his UFC 249 pick pack!

Odds Subject to Change - Provided by Fan Duel (IN, NJ, PA, WV & CO only)
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