Tony Ferguson takes on Justin Gaethje for the interim UFC lightweight title at the main event of UFC 249 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Jacksonville, Florida on May 9, 2020.
Ferguson was supposed to fight Khabib Nurmagomedvov for the UFC lightweight title last April 19th but after the coronavirus pandemic postponed their highly anticipated meeting yet another time, El Cucuy will have to be content with winning the interim belt against Gaethje.
Gaethje has picked up three straight wins after suffering the first and second losses of his MMA career All three victories came via first-round knockout and he will be fighting for a UFC title for the first time.
Let’s take a close look at this match-up and the best prob bets related to the fight:
Tony Ferguson is the #1 ranked contender in the UFC lightweight division. El Cucuy is a former interim UFC lightweight champion who broke into the scene after winning the 13th season of The Ultimate Fighter. He heads to UFC 249 with a 12-fight winning streak, the longest streak in the UFC lightweight division history.
The 36-year old from Oxnard, California stands 5-11 tall and has a reach of 76 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. El Cucuy has a record of 25-3 with 12 knockouts and 8 wins via submission. Seven out of his last eight bouts have earned a post-fight performance bonus and six of those victories have come via stoppage.
Ferguson lands an average of 5.81 significant strikes per minute at a 45% accuracy rate and he has a striking defense of 63%. Ferguson has a 42% accuracy on his takedowns and he has a takedown defense of 75%. El Cucuy averages 1.4 submissions per 15 minutes.
El Cucuy is a savage inside the octagon who pressures his opponents with a high work rate. His ridiculous cardio enables him to push the same pace in each round. Ferguson’s striking is elite and he has excellent submission skills as well. He was a champion wrestler in high school and also wrestled in college so he is very comfortable fighting off his back.
Odds were taken from MyBookie as of 05/07/20
Justin Gaethje is the #4 ranked lightweight contender in the UFC. Known as “The Highlight”, Gaethje is a former WSOF lightweight champion who made five successful title defenses before coming over to the UFC. While he is known for his punching power, Gaethje is a former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler.
Gaethje is 31-years old and he hails from Safford, Arizona. He stands 5-11 tall and has a reach of 70 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance. He has a professional MMA record of 21-2 with 18 knockouts and 1 win by submission. After suffering back to back losses to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, he has won three straight bouts, all via the first-round knockout.
He averages a ridiculous 8.57 significant strikes per minute at a 55% striking accuracy. However, he is also an easy target as he gets hit by an average of 9.67 significant strikes per minute and has a 54% striking defense. Gaethje has never attempted a takedown in the UFC but he has an 80% takedown defense.
Gaethje has elite wrestling background but because he also has excellent punching power, he has never turned to his wrestling in MMA. He is comfortable on his feet and is most of his fights, his striking power, and durable chin have been enough to give him the victory.
Ferguson was training to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov last April 19 but that bout was scrapped due to the pandemic. El Cucuy even made weight on April 18 so it will be interesting to see how he’s managed his weight since that day. The danger of over-training could also be a factor here. But between that and Gaethje not having enough time to prepare, I’ll pick Ferguson’s issues here.
Gaethje took this fight on short notice and he’s barely had a month to prepare for a five-round war. But given his style, all he needs here is to make weight and hope that he lands something big that hurts Ferguson and ends El Cucuy’s night.
All things considered, I think this is going to be an easy fight for Ferguson. He no longer has to worry about getting taken down because that’s not what Gaethje does. Also, Gaethje doesn’t mind getting hit for as long as he lands his punches but given that El Cucuy has a six-inch reach advantage, I think Gaethje will not be hard to find.
Ferguson has proven that he can take damage and recover fast. I think he will be able to take Gaethje’s power and after a couple of rounds, I expect Ferguson to stop Gaethje. I’d like to believe that it’s going to be a submission move, but I can’t say no to a knockout because Gaethje is just too reckless on his feet.
Prediction: Tony Ferguson (-170)
Total Rounds Betting Odds
When you take a look at their fight statistics, you have to believe that this fight won’t last long. Ferguson’s average fight time is 10:04 or just over two rounds while Gaethje’s bouts last at an average of 7:56 minutes. However, when you look at Tony Ferguson, he’s a notoriously slow starter who picks up the pace as the fight progresses. El Cucuy went five rounds with Rafael Dos Anjos and needed over 2.5 rounds to submit Kevin Lee.
Odds were taken from MyBookie as of 05/07/20
Gaethje, however, is an interesting opponent because he constantly moves forward and doesn’t fight on the ground. He is also easy to hit and Ferguson’s six-inch reach advantage should play a big part in this fight. When we say Over 2.5, that’s over the 2:30 mark of round 3. Given Gaethje’s style, I think Ferguson knocks him out cold or submits him on the ground after a knockdown. Either way, the first round should be a war and then Tony takes over in round 2. I say this goes under 12:30.
Prediction: Under 2.5 -135
Ferguson’s last seven bouts have reached at least round two. Gaethje has knocked out his last three opponents in the first round. But Ferguson is a tough and very durable fighter. He should be able to take Gaethje’s power or weather the early storm. I think Gaethje goes for the kill right away and he will tire after one round.
|Tony Ferguson Round 1||+350|
|Tony Ferguson Round 2||+500|
|Tony Ferguson Round 3||+600|
|Tony Ferguson Round 4||+800|
|Tony Ferguson Round 5||+1200|
|Tony Ferguson to Win on Points||+450|
|Justin Gaethje to Win on Points||+900|
|Justin Gaethje Round 1||+350|
|Justin Gaethje Round 2||+600|
|Justin Gaethje Round 3||+1400|
|Justin Gaethje Round 4||+2000|
|Justin Gaethje Round 5||+2500|
I like Ferguson to win in Round 2 as four out of his last six bouts have ended in the second round. But if you insist on picking Gaethje in this fight, I think it’s Round 1 or 2 for him.
Prediction: Tony Ferguson Round 2 +500, If you like Gaethje Pick either Round 1 or Round 2. If you ask me, I’ll take Round 2, I’m betting for Gaethje.
Final Result Betting Odds
12 out of Ferguson’s 25 wins have been by knockout but five out of his last nine wins have come via submission. El Cucuy hasn’t been unhittable in his recent fights. He’s been hurt many times during his current 12 fight winning streak. However, not only does he have an incredible fighting spirit, but he also has an excellent ground game that he can depend on if he gets hurt on his feet.
|Tony Ferguson by KO, TKO, DQ or Submission||-120|
|Tony Ferguson by Decision or TD||+450|
|Draw or Technical Draw||+5000|
|Justin Gaethje by KO, TKO, DQ or Submission||+160|
|Justin Gaethje by Decision or TD||+900|
Gaethje should be able to land his punches here and I think he’s going to hurt Ferguson at some point. But not only will Ferguson survive, but he will also take this fight to the ground where he should have a significant advantage over Gaethje.
Prediction: Tony Ferguson by submission -120. If you’re picking for Gaethje, there’s no question you have to go with the KO at +160.
When Will the Fight End
Again, when you look at these fighters statistics, the average fight time is within round two. Four out of Ferguson’s last six bouts have ended in Round 2. Gaethje loves the quick finishes but if he is to finish Ferguson here, he will need more than one round to stop a mad man like Tony.
- Round 1 (+175)
- Round 2 (+400)
- Round 3 (+500)
- Round 4 (+700)
- Round 5 (+1000)
- To Win on Points (+300)
I like rounds two and three here. Prediction: Round 2 (+400) or if the extra $50 matters to you, then go for Round 3 at (+500)
Will the Fight Go the Distance?
These two have gone the distance in a combined seven times in a total of 51 total fights. There is no way this one is going the distance given the kind of fighters we have. Both love to pressure opponents with volume striking. Both have excellent punching power.
- Yes (+300)
- No (-450)
*Betting Odds Courtesy of Betway
I think this is the easiest prop bet here but it’s too pricey. Prediction: No (-450)
To Win by Finish Betting Odds
As I said earlier, it’s hard to see this one going the distance given these fighters’ style of fighting. Either way, this one should end in a stoppage.
- Tony Ferguson to Win by KO, TKO, DQ or Submission (-125)
- Tony Ferguson Not to Win by KO, TKO, DQ or Submission (-105)
- Justin Gaethje to Win by KO, TKO, DQ or Submission (+162)
- Justin Gaethje Not to Win by KO, TKO, DQ or Submission (-225)
*Betting Odds Courtesy of Betway
I think this is a safe bet, regardless of which side you’re picking. Prediction: Tony Ferguson by KO, TKO, DQ or Submission at (-105) and the same with Gaethje at (+162)
- If you’re going with Tony Ferguson here, the best value bet is Tony Ferguson to win in Round 2 at +600. If you’re not confident about round betting the best bet you’ll get with Tony is at -120 for him to win by KO, TKO, DQ, or Submission.
- If you’re rolling with the underdog, Gaethje is a +350 to win in Round 1 or +600 to win inside two rounds. If you don’t like to bet on rounds, then go with Gaethje to win by KO, TKO, DQ, or submission.
- Betting on the fight not to go the distance is expensive at -450. So if you don’t want to pick a winner here, go with the fight ending in Round 2 at +400 or Round 3 at +500.