Here are my predictions for UFC 249, taking place this Sunday. Not all fights are mentioned below.
Tony Ferguson defeats Justin Gaethje via submission
What a fight we have in store for us.
Gaethje’s power is not to be ignored, with the potential to finish the best of opponents on his day. Gaethje is coming off three straight first-round KO victories over Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza and James Vick.
If Ferguson can survive Gaethje’s early onslaught he’ll have one hand on the interim lightweight title, with his unmatched cardio proving too much for Gaethje over five rounds.
Gaethje’s wrestling background is not to be ignored, but Ferguson’s unorthodox style will put Gaethje in compromising positions on the ground.
Verdict: Ultimately Ferguson will find an opening and secure his second interim title on the ground. If not I can see him finishing the fight in the later rounds via TKO.
Henry Cejudo defeats Dominick Cruz via decision
This fight could just as well headline any other pay-per-view: the current champion against the man many believe is the greatest bantamweight of all time.
Dominick Cruz makes his return to the octagon for the first time since 2016, when he lost his title to Cody Garbrandt via unanimous decision.
I expect this fight to go the distance with Cejudo proving the only threat for a finish, with Cruz known for going the distance more often than not.
Verdict: Cejudo will get it done fairly comfortably. Cruz’s time off can’t be ignored and he doesn’t offer anything Cejudo hasn’t seen before.
Francis Ngannou defeats Jairzinho Rozenstruik via KO
Ngannou will prove a class above the undefeated Rozenstruik, setting himself up for a second shot at the heavyweight title.
Rozenstruik is coming off four straight victories in the UFC, finishing Alistair Overeem with a clutch late third-round KO in his last fight, saving himself from the first defeat of his career after being down on the judges’ scorecards.
Verdict: Ultimately Ngannou is a class above and should have the better of him from the offset, finishing him with a first-round or second-round KO.
Yorgan De Castro defeats Greg Hardy via KO
The 6-0 De Castro is coming off a brutal first-round KO of Justin Tafa in his UFC debut, while managing to claim three of his other four victories via a finish.
Greg Hardy’s time in the UFC has been interesting to say the least. Hardy has claimed two wins, one disqualification loss, one loss via unanimous decision to highly ranked contender Alexander Volkov and one no contest.
Verdict: We haven’t seen too much of De Castro, which makes this fight hard to predict. Purely because of his power and price point I’ll be taking him this weekend.
Anthony Pettis defeats Donald Cerrone via TKO
Headlining the prelims, we have a battle of UFC veterans. Former lightweight champion Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis will take on the all-time leader in wins Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at welterweight.
Pettis claimed victory in their first match-up in 2013 via a first-round body kick KO to put himself into title contention.
Both men are coming of their most disappointing losses, with Pettis losing to Diego Ferreira in January while Cerrone suffered defeat to Conor McGregor in just 40 seconds.
Verdict: Cerrone has looked a shadow of his former self in his past three fights and I expect this to continue as Pettis reboots his career with a TKO victory over the Cowboy.
Aleksei Oleinik defeats Fabricio Werdum via submission
Former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum returns to the octagon for the first time since 2018, aiming to make another charge at the title after suffering a loss to Alexander Volkov in his last fight.
Aleksei Oleinik returns from his UFC 246 trademark submission victory over Maurice Greene.
If the fight goes to the ground Oleinik should come out on top, good enough to find an opening from any position.
Verdict: This is a very tough fight to predict with both men in their early 40s. I can see it going either way, siding with the Russian purely because of his value and activeness.
Jacare Souza defeats Uriah Hall via decision
This is one of the more even fights on the card.
Souza is returning from two straight defeats for the first time in his career, while Hall comes in with two consecutive victories against Antonio Carlos Jr and Bevon Lewis.
Verdict: If the fight goes to the ground, Souza will prove too strong for Hall, holding onto a decision victory.
Vicente Luque defeats Niko Price via TKO
This fight has fight of the night written all over it. It is a wonder this fight is not on the main card. This fight could be one of the all-time greats.
Luque aims to avenge his loss to Stephen Thompson with a victory over Niko Price, who he has already defeated back in 2017.
Price has proved a problem for some of the division’s best with victories over Tim Means and James Vick on his record. Price is known for his exciting style, claiming numerous performance bonuses in recent times.
Verdict: Luque will make it two straight wins against Price. Having never been finished it’s hard to see Price claiming victory here.