Check out UFC 249 tips and previews for all five main card fights, including the headline bout between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje for the interim UFC Lightweight Championship.
- Ferguson 25-3-0 (12 by KO/TKO)
- Gaethje 21-2-0 (18 by KO/TKO)
- Ferguson def Donald Cerrone – Rd 2 TKO
- Gaethje def Donald Cerrone – Rd 1 TKO
Analysis: Tony Ferguson’s long overdue showdown with UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was scuppered for the FIFTH time prior to UFC 249’s initial COVID-19 postponement, with the Russian stranded at home due to coronavirus travel restrictions. But the raw punching power of fellow American Justin Gaethje provides a fascinating replacement.
Ferguson is on a 12-fight winning streak – a record for the division – that dates back to 2012. Gaethje has won his last three fights via first-round knockout. Both had their most recent bout against Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and took care of business early.
Underdog Gaethje may only be six fights deep into his UFC tenure but the 31-year-old is a brute, with 18 of his 21 MMA wins coming by knockout. But a question mark hovers over whether Gaethje has the variety to overcome the resilience and versatility of ‘El Cucuy’. Despite both coming from a wrestling background, it’s a contrast of styles here – and Ferguson deserves to be strongly favoured to account for the brawling Gaethje.
• Tony Ferguson's the type of guy to flush his toilet with a spinning elbow 💪
• Tony Ferguson's the type of guy to submit himself to sleep at night 😴
• Tony Ferguson's the type of guy to go to war to find peace 🙏
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) May 3, 2020
- Cejudo 15-2-0 (15 by KO/TKO)
- Cruz 22-2-0 (8 by KO/TKO)
- Cejudo def Marlon Moraes – Rd 3 TKO
- Cruz def by Cody Garbrandt – Decision
Analysis: Henry Cejudo was scheduled to headline UFC 250 in Brazil against Jose Aldo. That event’s postponement and Aldo’s visa problems has pitched the UFC Bantamweight Champion up against Dominick Cruz, who returns to the octagon for the first time since December 2016.
The agile Cruz built a formidable record – including a 10-match winning streak at one stage – but has been besieged by injuries since his second reign as UFC Bantamweight Champion was halted by Cody Garbrandt.
If Dominick Cruz defeats Henry Cejudo at #UFC249 after four years off.
Does that cement him as the greatest bantamweight the UFC has ever seen? pic.twitter.com/BboiCeh7jJ
— Lewis Simpson MMA (@LGS_MMA) May 2, 2020
Loathed by most UFC fans, multi-division champ Cejudo is the real deal. He has won his last five fights and getting to No.3 in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings is not a fluke. Cejudo looks the goods to retain his title – though it may be a big ask inflicting the first knockout loss of Cruz’s career.
- Ngannou 14-3-0 (10 by KO/TKO)
- Rozenstruik 10-0-0 (9 by KO/TKO)
- Ngannou def Junior dos Santos – Rd 1 TKO
- Rozenstruik def Alistair Overeem – Rd 5 KO
Analysis: Two fearsome heavyweights with a penchant for knocking their opponents out and avoiding the same fate.
Francis Ngannou – the UFC’s No.2-ranked heavyweight – boasts 10 knockouts among 14 victories, with all three of his losses coming by decision. In the past 18 months he has chalked up first-round knockouts against Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.
Despite an unbeaten record after 10 fights with nine knockout victories, Jairzinho Rozenstruik is the biggest outsider on UFC 249’s main card. He looked well beaten in his most recent bout against Alistair Overeem but found a knockout punch in the dying seconds of the last round.
— UFC (@ufc) May 3, 2020
- Stephens 28-17-0 (1 NC) (19 by KO/TKO)
- Kattar 20-4-0 (9 by KO)
- Stephens def by Yair Rodriguez – Decision
- Kattar def by Zabit Magomedsharipov – Decision
Analysis: Since joining the UFC way back in 2007, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu exponent Jeremy Stephens has split his last 33 fights – 16 wins, 16 losses and one No Contest. In his last four fights, Stephens lost via TKO to Jose Aldo, went down by decision to Zabit Magomedsharipov, had a No Contest against Yair Rodriguez and lost the rematch by decision.
Though only one year Stephens’ junior, Calvin Kattar only joined the UFC in 2017. The 32-year-old has lost two of his last four fights – including his most recent to Magomedsharipov by decision in November.
Stephens is No.7 in the UFC’s featherweight rankings while Kattar – the hot favourite here – is ninth. An intriguing match-up, with a KO/TKO standing out as top value in the Method of Victory stakes.
The huge card on Saturday means a lot of exciting fights are been under looked.
Jeremy Stephens v Calvin Kattar being one of them.
This has the potential to be a back and forth war 🔥 pic.twitter.com/G1L0onpHAS
— Lewis Simpson MMA (@LGS_MMA) May 3, 2020
- Hardy 5-2-0 (1 NC) (5 by KO/TKO)
- de Castro 6-0-0 (5 by KO/TKO)
- Hardy def by Alexander Volkov – Decision
- de Castro def Justin Tafa – Rd 1 KO
Analysis: Greg Hardy – an NFL defensive end with the Panthers and Cowboys before turning to MMA – is looking to bounce back from a torrid decision loss to Alexander Volkov in November. He gets the UFC 249 main card underway with a heavyweight battle against undefeated Yorgan de Castro. While de Castro’s record of five knockouts and no defeats from six fights is impressive, Hardy has arguably walked the more difficult path of the relatively inexperienced big men and has shown plenty of potential. But expect someone to finish this one early.
RIP Greg Hardy pic.twitter.com/tYAlEbIizH
— MMA Gone Wild 🅙 (@MMAgonewild) May 4, 2020