UFC 249 Preview

Finally, some sport is back on our screens. Finally, the news cycle will be flooded with something being spoken about in the present tense. Finally, the UFC will take its rightful seat in the minds of many where it belongs as one of the elite sporting organisations in the world right now. True to form the fight fan’s president, Dana White has managed to pull off an amazing fight card to go with the miracle of hosting the event.

The main event is not the fight that we wanted; it will not feature the story we needed concluded. However, it does feature the characters we needed, the men who are at the top of their game, at the top of the strongest division in the promotion. In one corner we have El Cucuy the Mexican boogieman and in the other corner The Highlight also known the Human Highlight Reel. The main card starts at 04:00 CAT on 10th of May.

UFC 249 is headlined by the one of most liked and supremely talented UFC athletes on the roster and a dangerous title contender who is known for his finishing and never say die attitude which garners so much respect from fans and fellow athletes alike.

Tony Ferguson v Justin Gaethje
This is not the fight Tony Ferguson was preparing for, but it sure is the one of the fights Justin Gaethje had an eye on. From the moment the fight that cannot happen was booked one man put his name in the ring and said if anything were to happen to either fighter, he would want to take the title fight. Both men are known for having some electric performances in the octagon.

Ferguson v Gaethje Breakdown
Ferguson is on a twelve-fight win streak and depending on who you as this will be a tough one that could see that record tainted. Gaethje has managed to get himself a fight of the night bonus in the last four fights and he has been lauded by numerous publications for his efforts in those bouts. This will be the biggest fight of Gaethje’s life not only because of the stakes of the bout but the opposition he faces is head and shoulders above any other fighter he has been locked in a cage with.

The thirty-six-year-old Ferguson has a 26-3-0 record and stands at 5’ 11” and a 76” reach, while the man across from him Gaethje is thirty-one-years old with a 21-2-0 record, standing at 5’ 11” with a 71” reach and has the highest striking accuracy percentage in the lightweight history.

Gaethje is a strategic but forceful fighter who loves to fight in the phone booth, whether he is taking the beating or dishing it out. Gaethje would like to get inside fighters with a reach advantage to nullify them and it always seems to pay off every single time. His powerful leg kicks always find the way to his opponent’s lead leg without much of a protest from his opposition, this always sets up the over hand right hand that stops many of his fights. With such a weapon it would not be hard to see him target Ferguson’s lead leg and limit his movement, something Anthony Pettis tried to do early on in his fight with Ferguson. Front foot fighters always find it difficult to walk down Gaethje due to his effective and brutal leg kicks, just how much can Ferguson’s leg take?

Ferguson is one of the most mentally sound fighters in the UFC a man who took his own rehabilitation and recovery into his own hands and came back six months ahead of time. Ferguson’s last two fights were stopped in the second round due to the damage he had caused to his opponent. Tony Ferguson has heavy hands and a look at his last seven opponents is the only proof anyone needs to get it. Gaethje’s scar tissue could influence the fight early on if Tony gets to get shots off at his opponent. Ferguson’s most crucial weapon outside his hands is his creativity, his creativity, and the way he lets that allow him to dominate his fights is second only to Jon Jones. The elbows, the creative shots in and out of grappling, the perfect striking out of the clinch its so like Jon Jones and look where all that has taken him to.

Gaethje is great at short range fighting and has a bully like aspect to how he goes into mauling his opponents against the fence. This allows him to get his range for the right hand of his to land and do damage.

He will use his wrestling to keep his opponents standing up so that he can continue to land punches and keep the stand up going something he clearly enjoys more than working on the ground.
Ferguson will look to start the fight off by using his reach to keep Gaethje away and when he is not giving the right kind of punishment with that he steps in and begins to work with his elbows. Submissions are key to Ferguson’s game but that could potentially an avenue he may struggle to make use of because it is not easy to score take downs against Gaethje. That said even though both fighters are the same height Gaethje has a slouch and will look like the shorter of the two, Ferguson could use this to his advantage and reach in for his neck if he has Gaethje dazed by a flurry of shots.

The beauty of this matchup for the fans is the durability of both fighters, couple that with their ability to take punishment before yielding, they also recover well to come back from tough positions. Also, the fact that Ferguson has never been stopped by strikes will be an extra incentive for Gaethje to put in some stellar work.

My pick
As is the case with my previews I lean on my go-to pointers in getting my pick, I either go with my eye test, gut, head or who I like.
Each has served me well to different degrees-:

• Eye test – Tony Ferguson.
• Gut – Tony Ferguson.
• Head – Tony Ferguson.
• Who I like – Tony Ferguson.

My money is not hard to part with in this one and I will gladly put it on Ferguson, I respect the threat Gaethje poses for him but I just think he will have enough to have the fight stopped by the doctors once again.

My picks for the other UFC 249’s main event

Hate him or love him, Henry Cejudo is one of the most interesting and vocal champions on the roster. If there is one constant about his game it is his ability to garner so much respect from fighters outside of his weight class of course, everyone admires the work ethic and the attitude of the man. And its not a knock on him that he is the co-main event come Sunday morning. The Bantamweight champion like Tony Ferguson is going to be taking the fight that he was not preparing for, but his task is not an easy one at all. Squaring up with the former champion and owner of the division in Dominic Cruz is an occurrence some would try and avoid. My pick in this fight will have to be Cejudo for the victory, I understand how dangerous Cruz is, but I think the fight goes the distance and Cejudo will out work the challenger.

Does knockout power come more explosive than a bout between Francis Ngannou versus Jairzinho Rozenstruik? The Cameroonian has a record of 13-3-0 with a 71% KO/TKO win ration, across from him is a man from Suriname who is yet to taste defeat with his 10-0-0 with a 90% KO/TKO win ration.

I am a huge Greg Hardy fan and I will be looking for him to get a decision win over De Castro in what will be a make or break fight for both fighter who are outside of the top fifteen in the heavyweight division.

It is a sad day for any Cowboy Cerrone and Showtime Pettis fans, its sad to see the fighters fighting in the bridge fight leading into the pay-per-view. These two were once marquee names, they still are but the losses have been coming in at an alarming rate. Cerrone has lost three of his last four fights and Pettis has lost three of his last fights and this fight has had some frustrated fans call for the loser to retire. Yes, I have seen a few fans say that on social media. That said the loser of this match will have a tough time getting decent fights after this.

Sources: ufc.com

Philani Mukwakwami


Sports are a hobby horse of mine, what happens in-between the lines is just as thrilling as what happens outside of them.