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UFC 249 the Card That COVID Could Not Kill

Through sheer will, the UFC has done everything they can to deliver a gift to its loyal fans. They have fought against a virus, medical concerns, and our government during a national pandemic! Thankfully Jacksonville, Florida, has opened their arms, giving safe harbor for this card to take place Saturday finally, May 9 2020, the main card Pay Per View starts at 10PM ET on ESPN+ with the preliminary bouts starting on ESPN+ 8PM ET.
Admittedly altered from the original plan in April and leaving headliner Khabib Nurmagomedov out in the cold plains of Russia. Where travel in and out of the country is currently locked down tighter than East Berlin before the wall came down. Despite those challenges, Dana White still cobbled together a card worthy of any time pre or post COVID19.

Headlining the night for the Interim Lightweight Title will be Tony Ferguson (26-3-0) versus Justin Gaethje (21-2-0). Both fighters are coming off wins against Donald Cerrone. Ferguson is looking to hold the belt a second time. Gaethje, though is hungry and looking for his first title in the UFC. His history and World Series of Fighting championship let everyone know he is a force to be reckoned with. This fight is going to be gripping as Ferguson is a -178 favorite against Gaethje, who is +150. Their fighting approaches couldn’t be more different. Ferguson is the stalker who has an unrelenting constant mix of attacks that he can throw at opponents to include a better ground game in this match. Gaethje has lights-out power and can destroy a jaw with just one punch. Securing him first-round knockouts in his last three fights.

PREDICTION: Ferguson barely survives the first round, but works over Gaethje with determination and wins by submission in the third round.

Co-Headlining the night for the Bantamweight Title Bout are Henry Cejudo (15-2-0) and Dominick Cruz (22-2-0). Cejudo is coming in with five straight wins, with three of those being KO/TKOs. This is Cejudo’s first title defense, increasing the tension. Adding even more drama is Cruz, whose record is excellent, but his last fight was three years ago. The determining factor here will be, does “Ring Rust” exist? Cruz argues that it doesn’t, and this isn’t the first time he has had such a large gap between fights. The odds are Cejudo -225 with Cruz at +186.

PREDICTION: I’m going with Cruz! I think it’s going to be a great fight that goes the distance. Ending up being a stand-up fight, but both of these guys can take a beating. Cruz will get the decision, leading to a rematch.

Fight of the Night is going to be the Heavyweights Francis Ngannou (14-3-0) and Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-0-0). This fight will decide who the Number one contender is, and both of these men are out for blood. Ngannou is possibly the hardest hitter in the division with speed to match. His last three fights bear witness, being back to back first-round KO/TKOs. Rozenstruik doesn’t care about that! He has busted into the UFC Kool-Aid Man style with four straight wins to include an astonishing comeback against Overeem in December. The listed odds have Rozenstruik as a +250 underdog with Ngannou as a heavy -325 favorite. However, I’m focusing in on the odds for a win via KO/TKO where Ngannou is at -135 and Rozenstruik +380.

PREDICTION: I disagree with the odds if Rozenstruik can absorb the wrecking balls that Ngannou calls fists; he can pull this off. Rozenstruik is a devastating counter puncher with marathon-like stamina, which Ngannou lacks. There will be a bloodbath, and even at home, the audience will be on their feet.

Career Ender? Anthony Pettis (22-10-0) versus Donald Cerrone (36-14-0-1NC). Both fighters are coming off multiple losses. I dare say though that Cerrone’s have been especially harsh both mentally and physically. For those that don’t know this is a rematch, Pettis edged out the win back in 2013. So is revenge on the table? Cerrone is a more well-rounded fighter, but his age in and out of the ring is wearing him down. The odds currently have Cerrone as a +118 underdog to Pettis at -138 as the slight favorite.

PREDICTION: This is a good bet for the underdog. I believe the old gunslinger bears down and gets it done by TKO. Cerrone wants this win and wants to go out on a high note. I expect this to be his last from current interviews.

Climbing the ladder are Carla Esparza (15-6) versus Michelle Waterson (17-7-0). Both fighters are trying to claw their way back out of the basement of their division. Waterson is also coming off a loss to Esparza’s two back to back wins. Waterson has dangerous high kicks but lacks hands that have stopping power. Esparza has high-level jujitsu experience giving her an edge in the ground game and clinches. The current odds currently have Esparza -152 and Waterson at +130.
PREDICTION: Esparza will close the distance and get a submission in the second round, helping her move back up the ladder for the title shot she is craving.
Final Thoughts as a fan, I’m grateful for the herculean effort that the UFC has shown to ensure this happens. I think considering the situation, this is a dynamite card packed with great fighters. I hope this propels the UFC into more homes and creates more fans who appreciate the talent and dedication these fighters have.



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