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It has been a long 8 weeks, but the UFC is finally ready to return with the highly anticipated UFC 249. Our MMA betting expert is 7-3-1 over the last four events, and he’s back to offer up his best bets for this weekend’s PPV card.

Bet of the Card: (2u) Carla Esparza @ -143 (to Return 3.4 Units)

Carla Esparza vs. Michelle Waterson

Preliminary Card Women’s Strawweight (115lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 8:30 p.m. EST.

  • Carla Esparza is the UFC women’s strawweight all-time leader for top position time (38 minutes and 13 seconds) and she also ranks 4th for the highest percentage of time in top position (17.3%) (per UFCStats.com).

My bet of the card is a two unit play on the former champion and perennial strawweight contender, Carla Esparza. She’s an effective wrestler with decent output and a good gas tank. She has a great track record of winning fights through landing takedowns and controlling rounds from the top position, something she’s been able to do against highly skilled grapplers (see below: Esparza vs. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace, Virna Jandiroba). Her desire to pressure fighters and shoot for takedowns is a time-tested strategy and it looks to be a very favorable one against Michelle Waterson.

Waterson likes to counter-strike at range and play on the outside of her opponents, which isn’t a bad approach for facing fighters who actively like to be the aggressor. However, the issues for her in this fight comes from her less than stellar takedown defense and her willingness to play in her guard. She may fair well on the feet but with Esparza’s relentless grappling style, it’s going to be highly likely that this fight hits the mat with regularity. Once there, Esparza’s will be able to ride out rounds in top control, whilst Waterson is content to hold bottom position and throw up the odd Hail Mary submission attempt. Take Esparza to get the win here, she’ll likely do so via decision.

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(1.5u) Justin Gaethje @ +170 (to Return 4.05 Units)

(0.5u) Justin Gaethje Round 1 @ +600 (to Return 3.5 Units)

Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje

Main Event Interim UFC Lightweight (155lbs) Championship Bout – Approx. Start Time: 12:15 a.m. EST.

  • Justin Gaethje is 3-0 as a plus-money underdog in the UFC and he’s won each of his last three fights via first round knockout (per Tapology.com).

My next bets are on the always dangerous, Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje. He’s amassed an impressive 17 knockouts from his 21 wins, and I’ve got him adding to both those tallies this weekend. He’s got immense power in his hands and he’s got timing that so few possess in the sport. In his last three fights he’s punctuated this to a tee, particularly when he knocked out elite striker Edison Barboza within half a round.

Tony Ferguson is more of an all-rounder compared to Gaethje. He utilizes his legendary cardio and unorthodox style to overwhelm fighters standing and often attempt unconventional takedowns (i.e. Imanari rolls) to put his opponents in precarious spots. It’s a style that only the enigmatic Ferguson has been able to produce with great success, yet I feel like it is also one that will not carry well against Justin Gaethje. Despite Justin Gaethje having a strong wrestling background, he has a complete lack of interest in engaging in any kind of grappling antics. Should Ferguson seek to pursue any grappling exchanges, I could see Gaethje being able to disengage well and return to striking.

In many of Ferguson’s last fights he’s posted good striking statistics, out landing his opposition handily. That being said, we’ve seen Tony get caught and dropped on multiple occasions in those fights too. The most recent of which was by Anthony Pettis in 2018 (see image below), and he doesn’t wield anywhere near the punching power of Justin Gaethje.

I respect Tony Ferguson’s styles and tools a lot, but I think his durability is a little too questionable given his history of getting hurt in fights. I’ve taken Gaethje to get the win and put a half unit on him to do so in the first round.

(1u) Under 1.5 Rounds @ +110

(0.5u) Alexey Oleinik via Round 1 KO @ +1900

Fabricio Werdum vs. Alexey Oleinik

Preliminary Card Heavyweight (265lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 9 p.m. EST.

  • Six of Alexey Oleinik’s last eight bouts have ended within the first round and a half, and none have made it to a third round.

To finish up my bets for the card, I’ve looked towards the first of three heavyweight bouts.

Werdum and Oleinik are approaching the end of their careers and both are now 42 years of age, likely making this one of the “oldest” matchups in UFC history. Both have predominantly been submission fighters over the history of their careers, but often when this happens, the fight typically turns into a striking affair.

Oleinik was once known for his legendary toughness, but now that’s in question following two first round KO/TKO losses in his last three fights. Werdum on the other hand is returning from a two-year layoff due to a USADA suspension, prior to which he himself lost via TKO (pictured below).

We can’t be sure where these guys will be at physically and mentally at this point. I think it’s highly likely we will see an early stoppage due to someone’s failed durability or a slick submission on a rocked opponent. I really like taking the under 1.5 rounds at plus-money and also taking a punt on Oleinik to get a first round KO at a mammoth +1900.

Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.

Event: UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje

Location & Venue: VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2020

Start time: Main Card: 10 p.m. EST, Prelims 6 p.m. EST.

Where to watch: Main Card on Pay-Per-View, Prelims on ESPN/ESPN+

UFC Odds: Click here to view the full list of odds for UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje

UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje Full Fight Card Predictions

UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje Main Event Prediction

Lightweight (155lbs): Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje – Gaethje via KO/TKO

UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje Main Card Predictions

Bantamweight (135lbs): Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz – Cruz via Decision

Heavyweight (265lbs): Francis N’Gannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik – N’Gannou via KO/TKO

Featherweight (145lbs): Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar – Kattar via Decision

Heavyweight (265lbs): Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan De Castro – Hardy via KO/TKO

UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje Prelim Card Predictions

Welterweight (170lbs): Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis – Cerrone via Decision

Heavyweight (265lbs): Fabrício Werdum vs. Alexey Oleynik – Oleynik via KO/TKO

(W) Strawweight (115lbs): Carla Esparza vs. Michelle Waterson – Esparza via Decision

Middleweight (185lbs): Jacare Souza vs. Uriah Hall – Hall via Decision

Welterweight (170lbs): Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price – Luque via Submission

Featherweight (145lbs): Charles Rosa vs. Bryce Mitchell – Mitchell via Decision

Light heavyweight (205lbs): Ryan Spann vs. Sam Alvey – Spann via KO/TKO

*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.

Click here to check out the all the Best Odds for the Fights!

Article Author


A former sportsbook trader with a passion for mixed martial arts. If there is value to be found then Christian is the man to find it.


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