UFC 249: IT’S BACK! FIGHT CARD PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

Dana White gets ready for UFC 249

It’s not a private island, but the UFC is back this Saturday at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. There will be no fans in attendance, but you can be sure that there will not be an empty couch or chair in front of a TV for this card.

The circumstances are unique. The event will follow strict social distancing procedures, as expected. The fighters, however, have also been in a quarantine from training, unable to hit the gyms with their teams in the weeks leading up to this. This adds a further level of intrigue, outside of being the only live sporting event on. Let’s take a deeper dive into the the fights and predictions of this strong lineup in these unprecedented times.

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD

RYAN SPANN (17-5) -420 VS. SAM ALVEY (33-13) +330: LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

Spann has won his last 7 fights (3 in UFC) and Alvey has lost his last 3. Hard to go against Spann in this tilt, but perhaps the unusual training circumstances may favour the more veteran fighter. Might be worth a punt. SPANN BY 2ND ROUND TKO

BRYCE MITCHELL (12-0) -165 VS CHARLES ROSA (12-3) +155: FEATHERWEIGHT

This is a tough bout to call. Mitchell is technically undefeated (he did lose on Season 27 of Ultimate Fighter, but those are “exhibitions”) but has not faced much in the way of quality on his way up. Rosa’s career has been loaded with injuries, but has faced the far superior opponents. I’m going to give the nod to the underdog here. ROSA BY 3RD ROUND SUBMISSION

VINCENTE LUQUE (17-7-1) -280 VS. NIKO PRICE (14-3) +230: WELTERWEIGHT

This should prove to be an exciting fight as both fighters tend to bring it hard. Luque has a victory over Price already (nearly 3 years ago via 3rd round submission) but Price is a dangerous opponent capable of finishing should you slip up. Expect an all-out war, but Luque has improved from their last fight and should come out on top here. LUQUE BY 2ND ROUND TKO

PRELIMINARY CARD

RONALDO SOUZA -125 (26-8) VS. URIAH HALL (15-9) +105: MIDDLEWEIGHT

This tilt could prove to be huge for the winner in the UFC middleweight division. Both fighters have had their share of difficulties being consistent in the octagon. Hall has the power to finish any fight (11 of his 15 wins are via knockout) and Souza will need to fight a good technical fight to get the win here. SOUZA BY DECISION

CARLA ESPARZA(15-6) -160 VS. MICHELLE WATERSON (17-7) +140: STRAWWEIGHT

This fight pits the 7th and 8th ranked women in the Strawweight division. The winner will move up the contention ladder. Waterson “The Karate Hottie” lost via decision her last time out after posting 3 straight wins. Souza has won her last 2 after going winless in 2018. Should be a close one. WATERSON BY DECISION

FABRICO WERDUM (23-8-1) -330 VS. ALEKSEI OLEINIK (58-13-1) +260: HEAVYWEIGHTS

A couple of veteran big boys go at it here, as Werdum looks to get another shot to reclaim the heavyweight crown. Olienik has an impressive 58 wins (7-4 in UFC) with 46 wins by submission. I think Werdum is too much in this spot, but again, the unusual training circumstances might prove a chance for a long shot. WERDUM BY 1st ROUND TKO

ANTHONY PETTIS (22-10) -140 VS. DONALD CERRONE (36-14) +110: WELTERWEIGHTS

The final prelim fight of the night should prove to be a great one. Two UFC household names square off for the 1st time since 2013 (Pettis won, 1st round stoppage, lightweight). A lot has happened in 7 years. Both fighters are known for their aggressive styles and either way this one should be exciting and not go the to the judges. I don’t see it going past 2. PETTIS VIA 2nd ROUND TKO

MAIN CARD

GREG HARDY (5-2) -195 VS. YORGAN DE CASTRO (6-0) +165: HEAVYWEIGHTS

The 1st card of the main event is an intriguing one. Former NFL bad boy Greg Hardy will try and stop undefeated Yorgan De Castro. Hardy has impressed since arriving on the scene. He has proven to be a tough opponent who is strong and athletic and hard to put down. De Castro has knocked out 5 of his 6 opponents. The UFC loves Hardy and this smells like a hand picked fight. HARDY BY 1ST ROUND KO

CALVIN KATTAR (20-4) -230 VS JEREMY STEPHENS (28-17) +190: FEATHERWEIGHTS

Ever the gamer, Stephens has spent over a dozen of his 33 years with the UFC. He is dangerous and fears nobody. He also loses a lot. Kattar has proven to be a tough fighter who just keeps winning. He has been as comfortable going the distance as he has been at finishing. This should be a pretty active fight between 2 tough fighters. KATTAR BY DECISION

FRANCIS NGANNOU (14-3) -270 VS JAIRZINHO ROZENSTRUIK (10-0) +220: HEAVYWEIGHTS

Two of the divisions top giants will go toe to toe for what should be a bomb throwing festival. 10 of Ngannou’s 14 wins have come via KO and all but one of the undefeated Rozenstruik’s wins come via KO including a last second stunner against Alistair Overeem his last time out. Do not leave your seat for a beer here. You might miss it. NGANNOU 1st ROUND KO

HENRY CEJUDO (15-2) -220 VS. DOMINICK CRUZ (22-2) +180: BANTAMWEIGHTS

This was originally slated to be Jose Aldo vs, Cejudo, but this pandemic thing put an end to that fabulous tilt. Nevertheless, Dominick Cruz was happy to step into the octagon for the 1st time since losing his bantamweight belt…December 2016. both fighters have fought injuries but Cejudo has been impressive winning his last 5 bouts. Cruz is as tough as they come though and this could come down to who is in the better shape. In the end, just too much ring (octagon) rust for Cruz, especially training under COVID-19. CEJUDO BY DECISION

TONY FERGUSON (25-3) -190 VS. JUSTIN GAETHJE (21-2) +160: LIGHTWEIGHTS

Another fight interrupted by Corona virus, this one was suppose to be Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov. Instead this one will be for the interim Lightweight title, but lightweights these men are not. You will routinely find their names on fight of the night awards and bonus checks. Gaethje aka “The Highlight” has won 7 post night bonuses and 4 fight of the night checks and has easily won his last 3 fights…in the 1st round and has won 18 of his fights by KO. Wow! Nothing easy about Ferguson. He has won 12 in a row (9 stoppages) and has 10 post fight bonus checks himself. He hasn’t lost in over 7 years and his fights are nothing short of highlight reel material. This should be a beauty. FERGUSON BY 3rd ROUND KO

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