20 September 2020

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UFC 249 Preview

Despite everything that’s going on in the world today, UFC president, Dana White is adamant about keeping the UFC up and running, and with how desperate sports fans are for entertainment, there could be some new eyes on the UFC come May 9th.

This card has the potential to be one of the best of the year, as it’s one of the most talented cards we’ve seen in quite a while. On any other card, all of the preliminary bouts would easily have been on the main card, but with how stacked UFC 249 is, they’ve all been demoted to the prelims.

While it’s sad to be missing out on Khabib vs Tony once again, this card is still a very exciting one, and is something that UFC fans have been looking forward to for quite a while.

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Early prelims

Typically, the early prelims are unfamiliar territory for most fight fans, but with how deep this card is, there are definitely some names you’ll recognize. Ryan Spann has been building up his resume in the Light Heavyweight division, and Sam Alvey is a veteran of it. Bryce Mitchell could be the next big thing in the Featherweight division, and Charles Rosa is a fighter trying to get his career back on track. Niko Price and Vicente Luque are both incredibly talented, making this potentially one of the best fights on the card. While these fights may not have the same anticipation as the rest of the card, it’s hard to match the amount of star power and draw that is on the main card. Try not to miss out on these fights, as they could be great.

Ryan Spann vs Sam Alvey

This fight could change the course of both of these men’s careers. Sam Alvey is on a 3 fight losing streak, and another loss could mean his departure from the UFC. Ryan Spann on the other hand, is on a 7 fight win streak, meaning he could be a couple wins away from a shot at the Light Heavyweight strap.

Sam Alvey is definitely the more experienced fighter, but with how his recent form has been, it’s going to be a difficult task for him to defeat Ryan Spann. Alvey will look to keep the fight standing to avoid Spann’s ground game, and will look for a finish, as it’s unlikely that he can compete with Spann for all 3 rounds.

As mentioned earlier, Ryan Spann has a great ground game. 11 of his 17 wins have come by way of submission, all of which being either guillotine chokes, or rear-naked chokes. He’s a threat to finish the fight on the ground, regardless of whether or not he’s in control. While trying to submit Alvey seems like the most obvious move here, he could also choose to stand and strike with him. Alvey has lost 2 out of his last 3 fights by knockout, so Spann could look to finish the fight on the feet.

All signs point to Ryan Spann coming out on top, so it’s not a surprise that he’s the favorite going into the fight. Spann is the -400 favorite, which makes him the biggest betting favorite on the entire card. He should look to make easy work of Sam Alvey come Saturday night.

Bryce Mitchell vs Charles Rosa

For fans of submissions, this is going to be a good one. Both men have excellent ground games, with a combined 17 submission wins between them. Both Rosa and Mitchell typically look to finish the fight on the ground, so it’ll be interesting to see if they keep the fight standing, or if they trust their submission defense enough to take the fight to the ground.

While Charles Rosa doesn’t have a large fight history, he definitely has a lot more experience than Mitchell. He’s been in the UFC since 2014, but due to a mix of cancellations and injuries, he hasn’t been able to make an impact quite yet. He pulled out of his UFC 220 bout with Dan Ige due to a neck injury, which ended up sidelining him for 30 months. He returned in 2019 with a spectacular submission victory over Manny Bermudez, showing that he didn’t miss a step in his time off. Rosa should look to utilize his BJJ skills against the less experienced Mitchell.

Bryce Mitchell is a newcomer to the UFC, only having 3 fights in the organization. Like Rosa, he’s very talented on the ground, having a brown belt in BJJ. While he’s not as experienced as Rosa, he’s definitely incredibly talented nonetheless. This is definitely the most difficult fight of his career so far, so he’ll need to rise to the occasion.

Bryce Mitchell is the favorite going into the fight, mostly due to his youth, and his undefeated record. Charles Rosa is 3-3 in his last 6 fights, while Mitchell is undefeated in his 13 career fights. Rosa will look to put an end to Mitchell’s win streak and get his career back on the right track, while Mitchell will look to keep adding wins to his resume. Don’t count out Charles Rosa in this one.

Vicente Luque vs Niko price

This fight could very easily be the fight of the night. This will be the second time these two fighters meet, with Vicente Luque winning the first bout by submission. Vicente Luque is looking to rebound from his decision loss to Stephen Thompson, while Niko Price is looking to keep building momentum after his stunning knockout victory against James Vick.

Up until that Stephen Thompson fight, Vicente Luque had been on a very good run of form. He’d won 6 fights in a row, until Stephen Thompson put an end to that winning streak. Luque can finish the fight on both the feet and the ground, with 9 of his 10 UFC wins coming by way of stoppage. He has a very versatile repertoire, and will look to utilize that, to get his career back on track.

Niko Price has been up and down recently, not really being able to get much going. He’s 2-2 in his last 4, but with a very impressive win against James Vick his last time out, a win here could get the ball rolling for him. His last 3 UFC wins have all came by way of knockout, so he’ll look to keep the fight standing, as Luque is the more versatile fighter.

Vicente Luque is the clear betting favorite as he is the more experienced and versatile fighter. Both men are fairly equal on the feet, but on the ground, Luque holds a clear advantage. Luque will look to utilize his striking, and his superior BJJ to get a finish, while Price will look to keep the fight standing, and survive the striking onslaught, and catch Luque with a big strike. On paper, Vicente Luque is the obvious favorite, but with how creative Niko Price is, don’t be surprised if you see him utilizing some unorthodox moves in order to get a finish.

Prelims

This is one of the most talented prelim cards that we’ve seen in quite a while. A fight between Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone could easily main event a card, and the return of Fabricio Werdum would make a great co-main event. But instead, they’ll be fighting on the prelims, which is a testament to how talented this card is. Even casual viewers likely know a majority of these fighters, which is something you usually can’t say about the prelims.

Carla Esparza vs Michelle Waterson

This is one of the most unpredictable fights on the card. Both fighters are incredibly versatile, and experienced, so this could silently end up being one of the most back and fourth fights on the night.

Carla Esparza is trying to continue building on her two fight win streak, while Michelle Waterson is trying to bounce back from her recent loss Joanna Jedrzejczyk. With how versatile and experienced both women are, it’s hard to predict their game plans going in. Carla is the better striker, and Michelle is better on the ground, but neither are limited to just that one aspect.

Carla Esparza is the favorite going in, but that doesn’t mean you should sleep on Michelle Waterson. They’re both veterans of the Strawweight division, so it’s exciting to see these talented women finally square up.

Aleksei Oleinik vs Fabricio Werdum

Fabricio Werdum is finally making his return to the octagon. It’s been over 2 years since we’ve seen the “Vai Cavalo” compete in the UFC, due to a failed USADA drug test. He’s a former UFC Heavyweight champion, so on paper, he’s the clear favorite, but after being on the sidelines for 2 years, it’ll be interesting to see if he still has it.

Aleksei Oleinik has a nasty submission game, with 46 career submission victories. He has more submission victories, than Werdum has total fights, which shows how experienced Oleinik is. He doesn’t have a lot of momentum behind him, but a win over Werdum, could easily be the spark that ignites the fire.

Both fighters have elite Jiu-Jitsu, so it’ll be interesting to see whether or not they take the fight to the ground. Fabricio Werdum is the better striker, which is an area that Oleinik has struggled in, so we’ll have to see if he can capitalize on that, or if the ring rust gives Oleinik the advantage. It’ll be exciting to see Werdum back in the octagon, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can get the win, like the oddsmakers predict.

Anthony Pettis vs Donald Cerrone

Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone are both incredibly popular UFC veterans, but both are going through a rough patch in their careers. Donald Cerrone is on a 3 fight losing streak, and Anthony Pettis hasn’t been able to win back to back fights since 2014. Both men are legends of the sport, but neither has been able to live up to what they once were.

Neither fighter has a clear advantage in any area, so it’s hard to predict how this one will go. Both men have the potential to win on both the ground and feet, as well as go the distance, so there really is no clear favorite. Both men have the ability to come out on top, so it’ll just be whoever can execute better come Saturday night.

Main Card

This is easily the most stacked card of 2020 so far, and with how long it’s been since we’ve had a UFC event, UFC 249 almost seems surreal. There are two great Heavyweight clashes, between Greg Hardy and Yorgan De Castro, and then Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, as well as an absolute brawl of a fight between Calvin Kattar and Jeremy Stephens. We also get to witness the return of Dominick Cruz, as he tries to yet again, to win back the UFC Bantamweight championship. The final fight is a potential fight of the decade bout between two of the toughest Lightweights of all time, Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson.

Greg Hardy vs Yorgan De Castro

This fight has the potential to be an all-out war. Both men have incredible knockout power, and all the motivation in the world to rise through the ranks. Greg Hardy is receiving a huge push by the UFC, so every win he gets, is possibly one win closer to a Heavyweight title shot. De Castro on the other hand, is a newcomer to the UFC, and looks to keep building his momentum, and continue to rise up the rankings.

Stylistically this fight is pretty straightforward. Both men have incredible power, and will look to finish the fight as soon as the bell rings. They have 9 first-round knockouts between the two, which is a lot considering they’ve fought a combined 13 times. This fight is going to be an all-out war, and it’s unlikely they make it out of the first round. Definitely a fight to watch out for.

Jeremy Stephens vs Calvin Kattar

This is one of the most anticipated fights of the night, and for good reason. Jeremy Stephens is a 6-time fight of the night winner, and Calvin Kattar has 2 for himself. Both men are fan favorites due to their high aggression striking, as well as their toughness. Both men show no fear in the octagon, so in a matchup against one another, it could end up being one of the best fights of the night.

Jeremy Stephens came in weighing 150.5 pounds, which means two things. First of all, he’ll have the weight advantage, which could end up helping him, but secondly, his training camp may have not gone well. Missing weight is a common thing in MMA, but missing weight by 5 pounds is not. The quarantine must’ve made his training camp more difficult, resulting in him missing weight, and potentially not being at the top of his game on May 9th.

Despite coming off of a loss, Calvin Kattar has had a better recent history. Jeremy Stephens is on a 3 fight losing streak, while Kattar hasn’t even lost 3 fights in his entire UFC career. Kattar is the -260 favorite, so while Jeremy Stephens may be “the hardest hitting 145er,” he’s not the favorite to get the win on Saturday.

francis Ngannou vs Jairzinho rozenstruik

Just like the Yorgan De Castro vs Greg Hardy fight, it’s hard to imagine that this fight will go the distance. Both men have extreme knockout power. Ngannou is the favorite to win, but Rozenstruik is one of the most underrated fighters in the entire UFC and poses more of a threat than fans give him credit for.

Francis Ngannou is on a 3 fight winning streak, with all 3 of those fights being stopped in the first round. He’s beaten fighters like JDS, Cain Velasquez, Curtis Blaydes (twice,) Andrei Arlovski, and Alistair Overeem, showing how impressive of a resume he holds.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik is somewhat inexperienced, with only 2 real wins under his belt. He’s a very talented striker, but will have to overcome a size disadvantage against Ngannou. This is a huge step up in competition for him, so we’ll have to see if he can rise to the occasion, or if he cracks under pressure.

Let’s hope that these two Heavyweight juggernauts give us the slugfest that we’re anticipating, and that we don’t end up with another Derrick Lewis vs Francis Ngannou.

Henry Cejudo (c) vs Dominick Cruz

This fight is easily, the most unpredictable fight on the card. Dominick Cruz is a huge wildcard, considering the fact that he hasn’t fought since 2016, and has only fought 4 times since 2011. Just because he’s been inconsistent, doesn’t mean he’s not great. He’s easily one of the best Bantamweights of all time, and nobody is questioning that, but what people are questioning, is whether or not he is the same Dominick Cruz that won the title many years ago.

Everybody knows the story of Henry Cejudo. He’s an Olympic gold medal wrestler, who’s developed a very impressive striking game in his transition to MMA. He’s on a 5 fight win streak, with wins against TJ Dillashaw and Demetrius Johnson, so a win over Dominick Cruz would likely cement him as the greatest Bantamweight of all time.

With how talented both fighters are, it wouldn’t be a shock to see this fight go all 5 rounds. Both men have gone the distance many times throughout their careers, but with how long it’s been since Dominick Cruz has fought, beating arguably the greatest Bantamweight of all time for 5 rounds would be very difficult. This isn’t the first time that Dominick Cruz has made a return to the octagon though, so if anyone can do it, Cruz can.

Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje

As disappointing as it is to be missing out on Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov once again, this is as great of a consolation fight as we could’ve asked for. Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje are two of the toughest fighters in UFC history, meaning that blood will be shed on Saturday. Both of these fighters can take an insane amount of punishment, so it’ll be very interesting to see who cracks first.

Justin Gaethje is truly, one of the most violent fighters in UFC history. He throws caution to the wind time and time again, when almost any fighter would play it safe. Every time he steps in the octagon, you know you’re about to witness something special, which will likely be what happens on Saturday.

Tony Ferguson is one of the most talented fighters in the UFC today, as well as being one of the most unorthodox. He has a style that’s hard to adapt to, which is why this matchup is so intriguing. Justin Gaethje isn’t going to try and come out with a super technical, and precise game plan. He’s gonna come out swinging, and do what he does best. Knock people out.

This fight could be one for the ages. Neither Tony nor Justin will back down, and it’s hard to imagine they go 5 rounds. As good as Tony is on the feet, Justin’s reckless style is something Tony might look to avoid. He may try and test Justin Gaethje’s wrestling, which is something that has never really happened throughout his 6 fight UFC career.

Conclusion

UFC 249 is going to be a fun one. There’s a ton of fun matchups, and fights, so regardless of what happens Saturday, it’s a much-needed breath of fresh air for sports fans. Let’s hope that UFC 249 can live up to it’s potential, because if so, this could be a card that we talk about for years.

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