UFC 249 Main Card Predictions
The sporting world gets a jolt of energy as UFC 249 takes place tonight in the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. No fans will be in attendance, but that doesn’t change the level of anticipation surrounding this card. While there are people who aren’t happy about the event taking place, the old phrase “The show must go on.” seems appropriate if you’re Dana White and WME.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Uriah Hall has been pulled from the card due to Souza testing posting for COVID-19.
UFC 249 Prelim Gems:
Bryce Mitchell (12-1) vs. Charles Rosa (12-3)
Vicente Luque (17-7-1) vs. Niko Price (14-3)
Anthony Pettis (22-10) vs. Donald Cerrone (36-14) II
UFC 249 Main Card:
Greg “The Prince of War” Hardy (5-2, 1 NC) vs. Yorgan De Castro (6-0)
Papa Dana strategically places a heavyweight showdown with two young prospects that are sure to provide fireworks for the first PPV contest in over two months. On one side, you have Greg Hardy, the former NFL star who has had one of the most bizarre starts to an MMA career in recent memory. On the other side, you have Yorgan De Castro, a man who has two impressive knockouts under the eye of Dana White.
This bout will be the least technical of all the fights on the card. With both fighters being vicious knockout artists, it will come down to the intangibles and fight camp of the two. Hardy has a clear advantage in both of those categories. With Hardy’s only legitimate loss coming to highly ranked Alexander Volkov, all the fans at home will see that “The Prince of War” is a few steps ahead of De Castro.
Everyone will be anticipating who’s chin will go first, Hardy’s size and speed are in a position to give him his sixth professional victory.
Hardy def. De Castro via KO (1st round)
Calvin “The Boston Finisher” Kattar (20-4) vs. Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens (28-17)
With the “Lil Heathen” coming off of his fourth straight fight without a win, some would tend to think that it’s now or never for Jeremy Stephens. At the age of 33, with seven losses to former world champions, he still has the opportunity to have a resurgence in his career. Calvin Kattar is coming off of a close decision loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov, the next phenom in the featherweight division. Even with the age difference only being a year, it’s safe to say these two fighters are at different spots in their careers.
“The Boston Finisher” received all of what Zabit could throw at him back in November, and he’ll likely face a similar scenario tonight in Jacksonville. The fight will come down to how much Kattar can take and dish back towards a very aggressive Stephens. While the “Lil Heathen” will be headhunting, Kattar will have to rely on his ability to defend himself in the pocket and counter strike since he isn’t the type of fighter to stick and move for 15 minutes.
The question with Stephens will always be about his ability to transition from a gritty brawler to slick mixed martial artist, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of opportunity to show that ability against Kattar.
Kattar def. Stephens via TKO (3rd Round)
Jeremy Stephens weighed in overweight at 150.5 lbs.
He will give up 30% of his purse.
Francis “The Predator” Ngannou (14-3) vs. Jairzinho “Bigi Boy” Rozenstruik (10-0)
Don’t blink during this one ladies and gentlemen…
While this fight serves to find an opponent for the winner of the rubber match of Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic (Cormier retires whether he wins or loses), it will also test how sound Francis Ngannou has made his game since his last fight. Also, MMA fans everywhere will get to see how serious Jairzinho Rozenstruik is.
During Ngannou’s three-fight win streak, he has been in the cage for a total of two minutes and twenty-two seconds. That means that no one has been able to see how much his game has grown. That isn’t a knock against “The Predator” because he has been executing his plan every time. Some slight relevance falls onto his ability to be diverse with Rozenstruik’s ability to wrestle. The camp of Ngannou isn’t likely to be worried about that aspect of the fight knowing that “Bigi Boy” hasn’t gone to the ground at all in his first four fights in the UFC.
Ngannou has been nothing but terrifying since he got over the hump of losing two straight fights to Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis. It’s hard to believe that Rozenstruik can outstrike “The Predator” knowing the level of competition the two have faced isn’t nearly on the same level. Some would argue that Rozenstruik was losing his first real test against Alistair Overeem until he decided to split Overeem’s face in half with 4 seconds remaining in the bout.
Rozenstruik’s “O” has to go.
Ngannou def. Rozenstruik via KO (2nd Round)
Bantamweight Champion Henry “Triple C” Cejudo (15-2) vs. Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz (22-2)
In what will be the first fight in three and a half years for Dominick Cruz, “The Dominator” prepares for arguably the toughest fight of his career. During that span, Henry Cejudo has gone from a Bantamweight contender with back-to-back losses to Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, to a two-weight world champion who calls himself the greatest combat sports athlete of all time.
If this were anybody but Dominick Cruz, the odds would be more in favor of Cejudo walking away with the belt than they already are. Cruz has come off long layoffs before to take out the likes of Takeya Mizugaki and then Bantamweight Champion, TJ Dillashaw. It is safe to say that this situation is not the same. Cejudo’s strength and speed have gotten him to this point in his career, and he’ll use those advantages to chase Cruz around the ring. This is where we’ll see if Cruz can frustrate the natural flyweight with his elite footwork and agility. The Dominator may have more awareness inside the cage than anybody “Triple C” has ever fought, which will work to his advantage.
If Cruz can stay on his feet and use his superior length from the outside, he’ll have a legitimate chance to pull off the upset and become a two-time UFC Bantamweight Champion.
Cruz def. Cejudo via Split Decision
Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson (26-3) vs Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje (21-2)
Interim Lightweight Championship
After the cursed fight of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson was canceled for the fifth time, Justin Gaethje stepped up for an opportunity at the Interim Lightweight Championship. While the dream fight of Khabib and Ferguson would certainly be a sight to see, this matchup will surely deliver. Dana White tends to promise wars to the fans when he gets excited; this is the time where he doesn’t have to worry about the fight being disappointing.
Gaethje’s motto of “one of us is going to sleep” might not be the correct approach heading into a standoff with a man who is known to out grit his opponents. Especially with Gaethje’s KO losses not looming far in the past. While Gaethje is sure to come out aggressive, Ferguson knows how to handle an early onslaught and slowly chop down his competition. “The Highlight” has some of the most remarkable knockout power in the division, and “El Cucuy” has shown to be an easy target in the early rounds, but Ferguson overcomes the pressure and uses his superior skill set to become the Interim Lightweight Champion for a second time.
Why not schedule Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson for the sixth time?
Ferguson def. Gaethje via TKO (4th Round)