After almost two months, the UFC is looking at a comeback next month.

According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the UFC will stage its next event on May 9, 2020, and it will be called UFC 249. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck also reported that “multiple people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans” revealed that the event is headed to Florida although an exact location has not been finalized.

It can be recalled that UFC 249 was scheduled for April 18, 2020, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The venue was later changed to the Tachi Palace Casino on tribal land to get around the government’s restrictions on combat events during the coronavirus pandemic. However, White was instructed by the UFC’s business partners in ESPN and Disney to stand down.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an order earlier this month approving a list of essential businesses, which included professional wrestling. The order allows:

“Employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience — including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team, and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production — only if the location is closed to the general public.”

That decision could open the door for other sports to resume in the state because the memo did not specify which sports would be allowed as long as the event is closed to the general public. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation also confirmed that they are ready to sanction a show in the state for as long as the promotion adheres to the guidelines set by the governor’s office.

There have been no official announcements to confirm the event and the fight card but the event is expected to be headlined by the interim UFC lightweight title bout between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje and the UFC bantamweight championship between Henry Cejudo and Dominick Cruz. A third title fight between UFC women’s featherweight champion Amanda Nunes and Felicia Spencer was called off after Nunes refused to fight given the conditions.

Let’s take a look at the fights that are unofficially booked for UFC 249:

“Fighting" Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje

Tony Ferguson was supposed to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight title bout with the champion stuck in Dagestan, the UFC was able to get Justin Gaethje to agree to fight El Cucuy on short notice.

Ferguson has not lost since 2012 and he has won 12 straight bouts. He is coming off a June 2019 stoppage win over Donald Cerrone and has been training to face Nurmagomedov. He even made weight for April 18th even if the event was canceled.

El Cucuy is a very unorthodox striker. He throws strikes in bunches and from awkward angles. Ferguson throws a lot of high-risk moves and does not worry about getting tired or getting hurt. What sets him apart is his cardio which is unmatched in the UFC. He has been taken down a total of 11 times in his last 10 bouts but he is also a beast on the mat with elite submission skills so he doesn’t mind fighting off his back.

What are the Moneyline Odds?





Odds were taken from BetOnline as of 04/22/20

Gaethje knowns only one way to fight and that is to brawl moving forward. He has won three straight fights, all via first-round knockout and his latest victim was also Cerrone. He is a bully inside the octagon and he doesn’t mind if he eats some shots for him to land some of his own. The Highlights has a very risky fighting style as 20 out of his total 23 bouts have ended in a stoppage with 18 going in his favor. He is a decorated wrestler but he rarely shows that part of his game.

I don’t see this fight going the distance and I am expecting a war from these two warriors. Both men can knock the other out but when it comes to this match-up, I will go with Tony Ferguson because he has more ways to win.

Prediction: Tony Ferguson

“Fighting" Henry Cejudo vs Dominick Cruz

Henry Cejudo was supposed to fight Jose Aldo next but Aldo chose to stay at home amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Cejudo immediately called out Dominick Cruz and the former champion happily obliged. Now we have a title fight.

Cruz has not fought in three years. The Dominator had a 13-fight winning streak snapped when he lost to Cody Garbrandt in December 2016. Injuries have plagued Cruz throughout his career and it remains to be seen what condition he will be when he meets the Messenger.

The Dominator has is a superb striker as he has outstruck 12 out of his last 13 octagon opponents. He also has an exceptional striking defense as he makes his opponents miss 74% of their strikes, absorbing just 2.15 significant strikes per minute. Cruz also averages 3.17 takedowns per 15 minutes and he’s completed multiple takedowns in 10 out of his last 11 fights.

What are the Moneyline Odds?





Odds were taken from BetOnline as of 04/22/20

Cejudo has dramatically improved since he first came to the UFC. The former Olympic Gold medalist in wrestling used to be a one-way fighter with his elite wrestling skills. But his striking has come a long way as he has knocked three out of his last five opponents, including consecutive stoppages of bantamweights T.J. Dillashaw and Marlon Moraes.

Cruz has the edge in striking skills here but Cejudo packs power. I’m not sure if Cruz will go for the takedown against an Olympic gold medalist. My main issue here is Cruz’s condition as he’s not fought in three years. Sure, he also came from a long layoff when he beat Dillashaw but he’s much older now and he’s facing a hungry lion looking to establish his legacy.

Prediction: Henry Cejudo

“Fighting" Francis Ngannou vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik

This is a colossal battle between two hard-hitting heavyweights with a title shot possibly on the horizon. Ngannou has bounced back since his losses to Miocic and Lewis while Rozenstruik continues to climb the ranks with his vicious knockouts.

Ngannou has won three straight bouts, all by first-round knockout. His last two victims were former UFC heavyweight champions in Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. Eight out of the Predator’s nine UFC wins have come via knockout with seven coming inside two minutes.

What are the Moneyline Odds?





Odds were taken from BetOnline as of 04/22/19

Rozenstruik arrived in the UFC in 2019. He quickly recorded four knockout wins, including one over former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem in a fight that tore Reem’s lip to two pieces. He is undefeated in 10 bouts, with nine wins by knockout including seven in the very first round.

This should be a barn burner and I think this will be the shortest fight of the event. We have two knockout artists here who could knock the other out with one punch. I will be surprised if this fight goes beyond one round. However, we’ve seen Ngannou fight in a dud against Derrick Lewis so who knows. Still, I’m going with the more proven fighter here.

Prediction: Francis Ngannou

“Fighting" Jeremy Stephens vs Calvin Kattar

We have a pair of fighters who are coming off losses and who are aching to get back in the win column. Stephens has lost four in a row and is coming off a loss to Yair Rodriguez last October. Kattar traveled to Russia to face Zabit Magomedsharipov last November and lost a close decision.

Stephens is a come-forward fighter who likes to bully his opponents inside the octagon. 19 out of his 28 wins have come via knockout and that’s because he has one of the most powerful right hands in the division. However, he’s shown little outside that big punch allowing his opponents to figure him out easily.

What are the Moneyline Odds?





Odds were taken from BetOnline as of 04/22/20

Kattar also fights the same way however, he has better defensive instincts and doesn’t depend so much on one hand. He varies his attacks by going with high and low kicks to back up his combinations. In his loss against Magomedsharipov, he gave a very good account of himself with resilience and conditioning.

I think that both fighters will be wary about the other’s punching power and that will result in a long fight. I think this will go the distance and Kattar has shown better conditioning as of late. He also has a more diverse attack so I have to give this to the “Boston Finisher”.

Prediction: Calvin Kattar

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