Sunday, September 20, 2020

UFC 249 Predictions: Ferguson vs. Gaethje

UFC 249 is upon us.

The event will be held inside the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida tomorrow night (May 9). No fans will be in attendance. Headlining the card will be an interim lightweight title clash between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. The co-main event will see bantamweight title holder Henry Cejudo put his gold on the line against Dominick Cruz. Also featured on the main card will be a heavyweight battle between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

MMA News continues to keep you posted on the latest UFC 249 updates. Earlier today, we covered the weigh-ins, which you can see the results for here. Myself, Ed Carbajal, and Andrew Ravens have once again linked up to provide main card predictions for UFC 249.

Take a look at the bouts set for the main card:

  • Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje – for interim UFC lightweight title
  • Henry Cejudo (c) vs. Dominick Cruz – for UFC bantamweight title
  • Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
  • Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar
  • Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan de Castro

Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje

Fernando Quiles Jr.: The argument for both Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje in this bout is justified. Those leaning towards Gaethje will point to Ferguson not exactly being difficult to land on. We’ve seen Ferguson get knocked down or wobbled in the past only to come back stronger and finish his opposition. I think Ferguson weathers the storm here and breaks down Gaethje for a TKO in the championship rounds. For me, it’s Ferguson’s durability and cardio that will win out. (Prediction: Tony Ferguson)

Ed Carbajal: The circumstances leading up to this match-up are certainly one for the MMA history books but make no mistake, it could be anyone’s fight. While odds have Ferguson as the favorite here, Gaethje’s style of fighting is not good for anyone that stands across from him as Gaethje absolutely risks everything for reward. Even with the rebooking it’s still short notice for Gaethje, Ferguson is rightly the favorite, but my pick is Gaethje. (Prediction: Justin Gaethje)

Andrew Ravens: Clearly, it’s not the fight that everyone wanted to originally see but this a great fight with so much uncertainty. I see this being a back-and-forth striking war with both guys leaving bloodied. I think Ferguson will be able to pick apart the brawling style of Gaethje with his more technical striking and as the fight goes on, he starts to take over the fight. Ferguson gets it done by unanimous decision. (Prediction: Tony Ferguson)

CONSENSUS: 2-1, Tony Ferguson

Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz

Fernando Quiles Jr.: I have no doubt that Dominick Cruz has the perfect strategy for Henry Cejudo. The problem is, I don’t believe his body will go where his mind wants him to. Cruz hasn’t fought since Dec. 2016 and Cody Garbrandt made him look slow in comparison. Garbrandt has gone 0-3 since that fight. I just don’t think Cruz can hang with elite bantamweights anymore and he doesn’t have the power to make up for his decline. I see Cejudo being faster and being able to earn a unanimous decision here. (Prediction: Henry Cejudo)

Ed Carbajal: Cejudo’s time since his last fight may have had fans forget about the type of athlete he is. His win over Moraes, while troubled in the beginning of that fight, showed he can push through the damage and win. Cruz has had a long layoff due to his own injuries and this is his first one back. Both are coming off injuries and while Cruz has the striking advantage, Cejudo might be more ready for a return. (Prediction: Henry Cejudo)

Andrew Ravens: Many fans have criticized the UFC for giving Cruz a title shot over the likes of Petr Yan, Aljamain Sterling, and others but it all comes down to Cruz bringing more star power to the card. Plus, despite him being out of action for over three years, he’ll bring the fight to Cejudo that fans want to see. I don’t see ring rust being an issue for Cruz but rather the wrestling that I see Cejudo using that will dominate the pace of the fight and ultimately giving him a unanimous decision win. (Prediction: Henry Cejudo)

CONSENSUS: 3-0, Henry Cejudo

Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Fernando Quiles Jr.: The heavy hitters will be in full force at UFC 249. Jairzinho Rozenstruik’s bout with Alistair Overeem was certainly a learning experience. Rozenstruik would’ve lost the fight had it not been for his Hail Mary punch that split Overeem’s lip. I don’t think Rozenstruik will find that success against Francis Ngannou. In fact, I think Ngannou will pepper his opponent with strikes early to earn the first-round TKO win. (Prediction: Francis Ngannou)

Ed Carbajal: Two heavyweights with a very high rate of knockouts means this will end in one of two ways. The obvious one is a knockout, however the fight game is a game of chess and not checkers so do not be surprised if one of these heavyweights shoots for a takedown to see who has the advantage on the ground. That being said, Ngannou does have four submission wins, so the pick is Ngannou. (Prediction: Francis Ngannou)

Andrew Ravens: Who goes down first? With any heavyweight fight especially in this case with the destruction that both fighters have in their hands, this one should end early. I don’t see it ending in the first but rather second round as Rozenstruik will likely try to avoid Francis and get him tired. Just like many, I have to take Francis here and him winning with a scary KO win. (Prediction: Francis Ngannou)

CONSENSUS: 3-0, Francis Ngannou

Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar

Fernando Quiles Jr.: Calvin Kattar put up quite the fight against Zabit Magomedsharipov but he fell short. Jeremy Stephens also fought Zabit but many would argue that Kattar’s stock is rising while “Lil’ Heathen” is sliding down. Still, Stephens can never be overlooked as he has the punching power to end anyone’s night early. I’ll go with Kattar here to pull off a decision win. (Prediction: Calvin Kattar)

Ed Carbajal: Stephens and Kattar are likely Fight of the Night contenders on the main card because they are evenly matched, or at least compliment each other on paper. While Stephens carries a lot of knockouts to his win column, his losses are mostly by decision. The opposite is true for Kattar, and both are coming off of losses so someone will be back in the win column at UFC 249. This makes me lean towards Kattar. (Prediction: Calvin Kattar)

Andrew Ravens: Stephens has gone 0-3, 1 NC in his last four fights and that is a big concern for anyone thinking of taking him in this fight with Kattar, who is a contender in the making. Sure, Kattar dropped his previous fight against Zabit Magomedsharipov, but I see that being more of a positive for the prospect. Obviously, you can’t rule out Stephens in any fight but it makes it hard to pick him. I have Kattar getting it done by split decision. (Prediction: Calvin Kattar)

CONSENSUS: 3-0, Calvin Kattar

Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan de Castro

Fernando Quiles Jr.: Yorgan de Castro has some serious punching power. I believe if he catches any heavyweight flush, it’ll be game over. The problem here is that Greg Hardy has already seen stiffer competition. Many expected Hardy to be squashed by Alexander Volkov in a short-notice bout but that didn’t happen. While Volkov did win, Hardy certainly wasn’t incompetent out there against a top heavyweight. I’ve got Hardy based on his experience inside the Octagon. (Prediction: Greg Hardy)

Ed Carbajal: Somehow, this got bumped up to the pay-per-view over Cerrone and Pettis but it’s another pair of heavyweights with high knockout rates. The difference is, both are also coming up in their MMA careers and building their records so the experience to exercise the chess game may go out the window to prove who the true knockout finisher is. Hardy may have a reach advantage on de Castro but de Castro’s last fight showed he can land powerfully moving backwards so we could be in for a surprise. (Prediction: Yorgan de Castro)

Andrew Ravens: Oh yes, Hardy is back in action and probably against a guy that many see as a can that is about to be smashed. Personally, I don’t have much faith in Castro not because of his limited experience but because of how quickly Hardy has gotten better. Sure, Hardy lost to Alexander Volkov in his previous fight but it wasn’t a one-sided beatdown. Hardy looked competitive and that’s what should be looked at. I have Hardy running through Castro to get another first-round KO win. (Prediction: Greg Hardy)

CONSENSUS: 2-1, Greg Hardy

That’ll do it for the UFC 249 predictions. Do you agree with the MMA News staffers? Who do you think will emerge victorious on the main card? Give us your predictions in the comments below and be sure to stick with us for live coverage of UFC 249.

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