UFC 249 Betting Breakdown: Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje


MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC 249, a five-round UFC interim lightweight title bout between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. The event takes place on Saturday, May 9 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

Tony Ferguson (-180)

Ferguson (25-3) is the former UFC interim lightweight champion. The undisputed No. 1 contender at 155lbs, “El Cucuy” is one of the most accomplished lightweights in UFC history. The 36-year-old American won The Ultimate Fighter 13 in 2011and has since gone on to achieve an incredible 15-1 record in the Octagon, including his current 12-fight win streak. Ferguson has fought and defeated many of the sport’s top lightweights, including Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Kevin Lee, Rafael dos Anjos and Edson Barboza, with his lone UFC loss coming to Michael Johnson back in 2013. Ferguson is one of the most well-rounded and creative fighters in the sport. He has the ability to pick his opponents apart on the feet and bloody them up, and also the ability to land a slick submission on the mat. Ferguson has incredible cardio, an iron chin, and is one of the most experienced fighters in the division. He may very well be the best lightweight in the world but we won’t know for sure until he fights Khabib Nurmagomedov. For now, Gaethje will have to do, and a win over “The Highlight” at UFC 249 will give Ferguson the interim title once again, plus another booking with Nurmagomedov.

Justin Gaethje (+158)

Gaethje (21-2) is one of the top-five lightweights in the UFC. The 31-year-old American is the former WSOF lightweight champion and he holds a record of 4-2 inside the Octagon with wins over Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza, James Vick and Michael Johnson, plus losses to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier. They call Gaethje “The Highlight” for a reason and that’s because of his exciting, go-for-broke fighting style. He constantly moves forward with reckless abandon looking to knock his opponents out the entire time. More than often in his career this tactic has worked for Gaethje as he’s won 18 fights by TKO, but the way he fights also comes with a price. Gaethje often says that he is willing to die in the cage and if you’ve seen him fight, you know why. He is willing to go toe-to-toe with his opponents, and while that has generally worked out for him during his career, we’ve also seen what happened when he fought Poirier and Alvarez, two superior technical strikers. Since those losses, Gaethje has shown more patience and has looked amazing in his last few fights, but we will see how he performs when he steps up in competition to take on the elite Ferguson.

Fight Breakdown: This is a dream fight for MMA fans. Both Ferguson and Gaethje are among the most exciting fighters the sport has ever seen and both men are in the primes. Given the style clash here, I am expecting a firefight between two men who aren’t going to waste time inside the Octagon. Ultimately I see this fight primarily taking place on the feet, and I have to favor Ferguson in the striking department. As wild and powerful as Gaethje is — and he very well could hurt Ferguson early on — he also has too many holes defensively that a tactician like Ferguson can exploit. I see Ferguson doing exactly what he did in the Cerrone and Pettis fights, and that is systematically breaking his opponents down until their bodies give in. Gaethje is fairly durable and may be able to last for a round or two, but I see Ferguson really taking over this fight in the mid-to-late rounds and pouring on the pressure en route to a TKO victory over Gaethje.

Prediction: Tony Ferguson wins via TKO

Written by Adam Martin.

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