UFC 249 Preview & Predicitions

UFC 249

Early Prelims
ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass @ 6:30PM EST

Ryan Spann vs. Sam Alvey

Light Heavyweight Bout (205 lbs)

RECORD IN LAST TEN FIGHTS:
Ryan Spann (8-2-0) Wins: 3 Knockouts, 4 Submissions, 1 Decision
Ryan Spann (8-2-0) Losses: 1 Knockout, 0 Submissions, 1 Decision

Sam Alvey (5-5-0) Wins: 1 Knockout, 0 Submissions, 4 Decisions
Sam Alvey (5-5-0) Losses: 2 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 3 Decisions

STREAK:
Ryan Spann is currently riding a 7 fight win streak with 6 of those being finishes.

Sam Alvey is currently on a 3 fight losing streak which is the longest losing streak of his career. 2 of those 3 came via knockout.

NOTABLE WINS:
Ryan Spann: Antônio Rogério Nogueira (Knockout)

Sam Alvey: Nate Marquardt (Decision), Rashad Evans (Decision) Gian Villante (Decision)

PREDICTION: While Alvey is the veteran with both more fights in general and inside the UFC it appears that those miles are starting to catch up to him. While MMA math is rarely a thing to go by since styles make fights; it should also be noted that both individuals faced Antônio Rogério Nogueira within 8 months of each other with very different results. Spann earned a first round knockout in his match up while Alvey suffered one of his 3 career knockout losses in his bout. I do expect Alvey to fight conservatively in this bout since it’s likely he’ll be released with a loss, but I just think he has hit his ceiling in MMA.

WINNER: Ryan Spann

Bryce Mitchell vs. Charles Rosa

Featherweight Bout (145 lbs)

RECORD IN LAST TEN FIGHTS:
Bryce Mitchell (10-0-0) Wins: 0 Knockouts, 7 Submissions, 3 Decisions
Bryce Mitchell (10-0-0) Losses: 0 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 0 Decisions

Charles Rosa (7-3-0) Wins: 1 Knockout, 5 Submissions, 1 Decision
Charles Rosa (7-3-0) Losses: 1 Knockout, 0 Submissions, 2 Decisions

STREAK:
Bryce Mitchell is currently unbeaten in his MMA career riding a 12 fight winning streak with 9 submissions.

Charles Rosa has alternated wins and losses in his last 6 fights and is currently on a 1 fight win streak

NOTABLE WINS:
Bryce Mitchell: Last fight against Matt Sayles secured one of only a handful of Twister submissions in UFC history.

Charles Rosa: Kyle Bochniak (Decision), Manny Bermudez (Submission)

PREDICTION: This is an interesting fight on paper. Mitchell is on a different level if the fight goes to the ground but he faces a man who has never lost a fight by submission and with 8 of his 12 wins coming via submission it could be a very grapple heavy affair. While Rosa is the biggest step up in competition that Mitchell has faced Rosa has been very inconsistent. Since he’s been alternating wins and losses lately and is coming off a win and facing a prospect in Mitchell who seems poised for big things in the division I got to think Mitchell gets the nod here.

WINNER: Bryce Mitchell

Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price

Welterweight Bout (170 lbs)

RECORD IN LAST TEN FIGHTS:
Vicente Luque (8-2-0) Wins: 6 Knockouts, 3 Submissions, 1 Decision
Vicente Luque (8-2-0) Losses: 0 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 2 Decisions

Niko Price (6-3-1 NC) Wins: 4 Knockouts, 2 Submissions, 0 Decisions
Niko Price (6-3-1 NC) Losses: 2 Knockouts, 1 Submission, 0 Decisions

STREAK:
Vicente Luque is currently on a one fight losing streak after having his six fight win streak snapped by Stephen Thompson

Niko Price is riding a one fight win streak after viciously knocking out James Vick with an up kick.

NOTABLE WINS:
Vicente Luque: Mike Perry (Decision), Bryan Barberena (TKO), Niko Price (Submission), Belal Muhammad (Knockout), Thiago Santos (TKO)

Niko Price: James Vick (Knockout), Tim Means (Knockout), Randy Brown (Knockout), Alan Jouban (TKO)

PREDICTION: This is a rematch of a 2017 bout in which Luque scored a submission victory. Following their bout Luque is 5-1 while Price is 4-2. I do think on paper Luque has fought tougher opponents overall and has more of an upside than Price. Not that Price doesn’t have the potential and some big name scalps under his belt, he just tends to live and die by the brawl at times. Though that could be the X factor in this match. Luque needs to stay composed and not get caught up in a wild brawl with Price. Both men have power but Niko manages to catch people from strange angles having multiple knockouts off his back. Still I believe Vicente has more tools to victory as well as already holding a victory over his opponent and having shown more growth than Price since their 2017 bout.

WINNER: Vicente Luque

Preliminary Card
ESPN @ 8:00PM EST

Uriah Hall vs. Ronaldo Souza

Middleweight Bout (185 lbs)

RECORD IN LAST TEN FIGHTS:
Uriah Hall (5-5-0) Wins: 4 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 1 Decision
Uriah Hall (5-5-0) Losses: 3 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 2 Decisions

Ronaldo Souza (5-5-0) Wins: 3 Knockouts, 2 Submissions, 0 Decisions
Ronaldo Souza (5-5-0) Losses: 1 Knockout, 0 Submissions, 4 Decisions

STREAK:
Uriah Hall is currently on a two fight win streak

Ronaldo Souza is on a two fight losing streak, including a failed attempt in the Light Heavyweight division.

NOTABLE WINS:
Uriah Hall: Chris Leben (TKO), Thiago Santos (Decision), Gegard Mousasi (TKO), Krzysztof Jotko (TKO)

Ronald Souza: Jason Miller (Decision), Tim Kennedy (Decision), Robbie Lawler (Submission), Derek Brunson (Knockout) x2, Yushin Okami (TKO), Gegard Mousasi (Submission) Vitor Belfort (TKO), Chris Weidman (Knockout)

PREDICTION: Another very intriguing match up on paper. While they have yielded very similar results in their last 10 fights, I don’t feel that is an accurate story of this fight. Souza is a legend who has beaten a true who’s who of the Middleweight division. At 40 years old though a run now would likely be his true chance to win gold in the UFC. Hall is 5 years younger and at one point was thought to be a future champion of the division following a brutal run on The Ultimate Fighter before losing to Kelvin Gastelum in the finals. His career since then has been extremely uneven and the general consensus has been Hall suffers mental blocks when in the cage and doesn’t live up to his potential. It’s hard because at times he shows signs of brilliance dare I say comparable to prime Anderson Silva, while others he fits the role of a journeyman. I do believe the path to victory for Hall lies in his striking and whether or not he can keep the fight standing. If he utilizes his kick boxing and pressures Souza I do think Hall can win this fight, it’s just hard to look past his performances in previous high profile bouts. That said said I think the safe bet is a Souza victory as even at 40 and a deceptive record in his last outings he has show he can still compete at a high level.

WINNER: Ronaldo Souza

Carla Esparza vs. Michelle Waterson

Women’s Strawweight (115 lbs)

RECORD IN LAST TEN FIGHTS:
Carla Esparza (6-4-0) Wins: 0 Knockouts, 1 Submission, 5 Decisions
Carla Esparza (6-4-0) Losses: 2 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 2 Decisions

Michelle Waterson (6-4-0) Wins: 1 Knockout, 2 Submissions, 3 Decisions
Michelle Waterson (6-4-0) Losses: 0 Knockouts, 2 Submissions, 2 Decisions

STREAK:
Carla Esparza is currently on a two fight win streak with both wins coming via Decision

Michelle Waterson is coming off a loss to Joanna Jędrzejczyk which ended a 3 fight win streak

NOTABLE WINS:
Carla Esparza: Nina Ansaroff (Decision), Felice Herrig (Decision), Rose Namajunas (Submission), Maryna Moroz (Decision), Cynthia Calvillo (Decision)

Michelle Waterson: Jessica Penne (Submission), Angela Magaña (Submission), Paige VanZant (Submission), Cortney Casey (Decision), Felice Herrig (Decision), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (Decision)

PREDICTION: Carla Esparza has show vast striking improvements since dropping the Women’s Strawweight title to Joanna Jędrzejczyk, and brings great wrestling to round out her skill set. While I’d still give Waterson the edge in striking I don’t think there is as large of a gap as there would have been had this fight taken place years prior. Where it gets interesting is going to be in scrambles on the ground. I’m fairly confident that Carla will get this fight to the ground but it’s a question of whether she can keep Michelle on her back. While Waterson has 9 of her 12 finishes via submission, Carla has been notoriously hard to sub with her only submission loss coming back in 2010. While I expect Esparza to attempt to close the distance to neutralize Michelle’s karate based striking I think Waterson will ultimately win the exchanges on the feet and win enough of the scrambles on the ground to grind out a Decision.

WINNER: MICHELLE WATERSON

Aleksei Oleinik vs. Fabrício Werdum

Heavyweight Bout (265 lbs limit)

RECORD IN LAST TEN FIGHTS:
Aleksei Oleinik (6-4-0) Wins: 1 Knockout 5 Submissions, 0 Decisions
Aleksei Oleinik (6-4-0) Losses: 3 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 1 Decision

Fabricio Werdum (7-3-0) Wins: 1 Knockout, 3 Submissions, 3 Decisions
Fabricio Werdum (7-3-0) Losses: 2 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 1 Decision

STREAK:
Aleksei Oleinik is coming off a submission victory back in January.

Fabricio Werdum is looking to come back following a loss in his last fight back in March of 2018

NOTABLE WINS:
Aleksei Oleinik: Jeff Monson (Submission), Mirko Cro Cop (Submission), Travis Browne (Submission), Mark Hunt (Submission)

Fabricio Werdum: Gabriel Gonzaga (TKO), Alistair Overeem (Submission), Antônio Silva (Decision), Fedor Emelianenko (Submission), Roy Nelson (Decision), Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira (Submission), Travis Browne (Decision) x2, Mark Hunt (TKO), Cain Velasquez (Submission)

PREDICTION: There is a combined 57 submission victories between these two which lets you know what type of fight this will be. Interestingly enough while Werdum has never been subbed Oleinik has two submission losses on his record but has managed to avoid being subbed since 2004. Oleinik’s plan isn’t a secret, he’s going to want to take Werdum down and attempt to get him wrapped up in that patented Ezekiel Choke which he has the record in the UFC with two victories via that method. The question though is can he be the first man to submit Werdum; more importantly though how will he deal with Werdum’s offensive submissions off this back. While these are heavyweights and “anything can happen” when punches are thrown I fully expect Werdum to wear Oleinik down in the grappling exchanges before picking apart the fighter as the fight wears on.

WINNER: FABRICIO WERDUM

Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis

Welterweight Bout (170 lbs)

RECORD IN LAST TEN FIGHTS:
Donald Cerrone (4-6-0) Wins: 2 Knockouts, 1 Submission, 1 Decision
Donald Cerrone (4-6-0) Losses: 5 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 1 Decision

Anthony Pettis (4-6-0) Wins: 1 Knockout, 2 Submissions, 1 Decision
Anthony Pettis (4-6-0) Losses: 2 Knockouts, 2 Submissions, 2 Decisions

STREAK:
Donald Cerrone is on a three fight losing streak for the 2nd time in his career.

Anthony Pettis is on a two fight losing streak and is only the second time in his career he’s lost consecutive bouts

NOTABLE WINS:
Donald Cerrone: Charles Oliveira (TKO), Jeremy Stephens (Decision), Edson Barboza (Submission), Jim Miller (Knockout), Eddie Alvarez (Decision), Benson Henderson (Decision), Matt Brown (Knockout), Al Iaquinta (Decision)

Anthony Pettis: Benson Henderson (Decision x1, Submission x1), Jeremy Stephens (Decision), Joe Lauzon (Knockout), Gilbert Melendez (Submission), Charles Oliveira (Submission), Jim Miller (Decision), Michael Chiesa (Submission), Stephen Thompson (Knockout)

PREDICTION: At the above preview video indicates, this is a rematch of a 2013 fight in which Pettis won. While the tale of their last ten fights indicates they are on a similar career trajectory at this stage, I can’t say if I agree with that assessment. Since their last fight Pettis is 6-8-0 which is very telling for a fighter who including the Cerrone win was 16-2-0 before. As for Cerrone he is 17-9-0 since their previous bout. While some will be quick to point out that 9 losses is a lot when you see that every single loss was either to a prior champion or someone who is a current top contender you see that Cerrone is always fighting the best. That’s not to say Pettis has had an easy path by any means but something seemingly changed with Pettis following his title loss to Rafael Dos Anjos. If you use the Dos Anjos fight as your starting point you see that Pettis is 4-8-0 starting with that fight losing bouts in three divisions. So what does that say about this fight? Well Cerrone’s mental lapses in big fights have been well documented but the last time people wrote off Cerrone due to a 3 fight losing streak he won 4 of his next 5 and almost earned a title shot prior to running into Tony Ferguson. Pettis on the other hand I simply don’t see the same fighter as the guy who won the Lightweight title back in 2013. You see shades of it such as the win over Stephen Thompson but even in that win Pettis was losing that fight pretty decisively prior to the knockout. Cerrone may be past the point of being a title contender and his prime may be past him. Yet someone how the older fighter with almost 20 more fights than his opponent is seemingly the better fighter at this stage. Pettis will need to come out aggressive and get Cerrone out of their quick because the longer the fight goes and the longer he allows Cerrone to get in a rhyme, the more likely Pettis is to lose. I fully expect “Cowboy” to show up to this fight and not Donald and I will take 15 minutes of “Cowboy” over a minute or two of “Showtime” at this point in their career.

WINNER: DONALD CERRONE

Main Card
ESPN+ @ 10:00PM EST

Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan de Castro

Heavyweight Bout (265 lbs limit)

RECORD IN LAST TEN FIGHTS:
Greg Hardy (5-2-1 NC) Wins: 5 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 0 Decisions
Greg Hardy (5-2-1 NC) Losses: 0 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 1 Decision, 1 Disqualification

Yorgan de Castro (6-0-0) Wins: 5 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 1 Decision
Yorgan de Castro (6-0-0) Losses: 0 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 0 Decisions

STREAK:
Greg Hardy is coming off a Decision loss to Alexander Volkov and a No Contest to Ben Sosoli making him winless in his last two bouts

Yorgan de Castro is currently unbeaten riding a 6 fight win streak

NOTABLE WINS:
Greg Hardy: N/A

Yorgan de Castro: N/A

PREDICTION: This one is likely to be ugly. I don’t mean that in the sense of “man this fight is going to be gritty and violent” I mean that in the sense of outside a first round knockout this fight will likely be very dull. For a former professional athlete Greg Hardy has shown very suspect cardio in his short UFC career and has walked away without a win in every fight that went beyond one round. Allen Crowder was starting to walk away with the fight against Hardy and then Hardy landed a blatant illegal knee. Hardy “won” a decision against Ben Sosoli but had it overturned due to his use of an inhaler in between rounds. While I will certainly give credit to Hardy for stepping up and taking the fight against Volkov the gap in skill was apparent immediately. While Volkov took a safe approach as he had more to lose in that bout than he had to win he still showed that Hardy isn’t even close to his level at this stage in his career. Yorgan de Castro like Hardy is a power puncher which considering their experience likely means both will look to end the night early. Yet it’s more reasonable to expect the two men will wing shots before the fight deteriorates into a dull fight with little action as both men empty their gas tanks early. Sadly this has a high chance to be the dud of the card and unless we get a finish early will likely not be the best start to the PPV portion of the night. In terms of winner I will go against the grain and say de Castro will win. Hardy may be more athletic and is certainly capable of knocking anybody out I just think his ceiling is going to be pretty low and as fighters start to employ technique over wild brawling I expect the Hardy experiment to fail.

WINNER: Yorgan de Castro

Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar

Featherweight Bout (145 lbs)

RECORD IN LAST TEN FIGHTS:
Jeremy Stephens (4-5-1 NC) Wins: 2 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 2 Decisions
Jeremy Stephens (4-5-1 NC) Losses: 1 Knockout, 0 Submissions, 4 Decisions

Calvin Kattar (8-2-0) Wins: 3 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 5 Decisions
Calvin Kattar (8-2-0) Losses: 0 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 2 Decisions

STREAK:
Jeremy Stephens is currently winless in his last four fights with 3 losses and a no contest

Calvin Kattar is coming off a loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov that snapped a two fight win streak

NOTABLE WINS:
Jeremy Stephens: Rafael dos Anjos (Knockout), Darren Elkins (Decision), Dennis Bermudez (TKO), Renan Barão (Decision), Gilbert Melendez (Decision), Doo Ho Choi (TKO), Josh Emmett (Knockout)

Calvin Kattar: Andre Fili (Decision), Shane Burgos (TKO), Ricardo Lamas (Knockout)

PREDICTION: This fight is going to be a fun one. Don’t let Stephens’ record fool you as he isn’t an easy out for anybody and his losses at 145 lbs have all come to top contenders. While Kattar is coming off a loss himself I do see him being a potential future contender. As for the fight it will likely come down to technique. Stephens hits like a truck and is never a guy you want to engage in a back and forth slugfest with as even if you win you are taking years off your career. So the winner will likely come down to who decides what type of fight is going to happen. If Kattar can use his boxing and movement to fluster Stephens into winging wild shots and missing then this could turn into a fight that Kattar cruises in. However if Kattar makes a mistake or even gets overconfident standing in the pocket and lets Jeremy land big shots then it could be a bad night for Calvin. Stephens is not the guy you want hurting you as he really turns it on when he can sense a finish being in site. An x factor could also turn out to be Stephens’ wrestling. While Jeremy is usually a striker first he has shown in the past that if he sees a hole in his opponent’s takedown defense that he is not afraid to attempt to exploit it. This to me is a bit of a pick em fight but I am going to give Kattar the slight nod. I see it playing out similar to how I mentioned above with Calvin getting Jeremy emotional by picking his spots and moving leading to him swinging wild.

WINNER: CALVIN KATTAR

Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Heavyweight Bout (265 lbs limit)

RECORD IN LAST TEN FIGHTS:
Francis Ngannou (8-2-0) Wins: 7 Knockouts, 1 Submission, 0 Decisions
Francis Ngannou (8-2-0) Losses: 0 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 2 Decisions

Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-0-0) Wins: 9 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 1 Decision
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-0-0) Losses: 0 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 0 Decisions

STREAK:
Francis Ngannou is currently on a three fight win streak in which the longest fight in this stretch went 71 seconds.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik is unbeaten in his MMA career and is coming off his biggest career win over Alistair Overeem.

NOTABLE WINS:
Francis Ngannou: Curtis Blaydes (TKO x2), Andrei Arlovski (TKO), Alistair Overeem (Knockout), Cain Velasquez (TKO), Junior dos Santos (TKO)

Jairzinho Rozenstruik: Andrei Arlovski (Knockout), Alistair Overeem (Knockout)

PREDICTION: Following the mental setback Ngannou faced in the Derrick Lewis bout in which neither men seemed like they wanted to fight, Ngannou has seemed even better than before. He is coming off back to back first round finishes of Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos in which the fights combined weren’t even two minutes long. That in itself is a damn scary feat and I don’t think there is any arguing that in terms of sheer power punches Ngannou is in a league of his own. Rozenstruik is coming off a win over Overeem in which Alistair suffered one of the most gruesome facial injuries I’ve ever seen. Still it shouldn’t be forgotten though that this occurred at the last possible seconds of the fight and was a hail mary for Rozenstruik in a fight he was about to lose. This isn’t meant to discredit the win at all but rather point out that Jairzinho is going to need a better performance overall in this fight than the Overeem fight if he wants to get the win here. It will be interesting to see how Francis approaches this fight though as it’s a rare instance of him going against another guy with one shot knockout power with the last time being the aforementioned Lewis fight which was a dud. It’s also important to note that unless this fight fails to deliver it is very likely that the winner of this fight will fight for the title following Miocic/Cormier III, so hopefully the higher stakes will ensure the fighters engage. That said I’m willing to give Ngannou the benefit of the doubt and say that was a one time mental lapse and his experience against higher level competition and sheer power will be enough to lead him to a victory.

WINNER: FRANCIS NGANNOU

Henry Cejudo (c) vs. Dominick Cruz

Bantamweight Championship (135 lbs)

RECORD IN LAST TEN FIGHTS:
Henry Cejudo (8-2-0) Wins: 3 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 5 Decisions
Henry Cejudo (8-2-0) Losses: 1 Knockout, 0 Submissions, 1 Decision

Dominick Cruz (9-1-0) Wins: 2 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 7 Decisions
Dominick Cruz (9-1-0) Losses: 0 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 1 Decision

STREAK:
Henry Cejudo is currently on a five fight win streak that saw him capture both the Flyweight and Bantamweight titles

Dominick Cruz is coming off a decision loss to Cody Garbrandt in which he lost the Bantamweight title.

NOTABLE WINS:
Henry Cejudo: Jussier Formiga (Decision), Wilson Reis (TKO), Sergio Pettis (Decision), Demetrious Johnson (Decision), T.J. Dillashaw (TKO), Marlon Moraes (TKO)

Dominick Cruz: Ian McCall (Decision), Joseph Benavidez (Decision x2), Urijah Faber (Decision x2), Demetrious Johnson (Decision), Takeya Mizugaki (Knockout), T.J. Dillashaw (Decision)

PREDICTION: Dominick Cruz is one of the best bantamweights of all-time but unfortunate injuries took quite a bit of his UFC career away from him and he’s only managed to fight five times in the last eight and a half years. Henry Cejudo cringey outside of the cage promos aside has shown himself to be a top Flyweight and wants to cement himself as the best Bantamweight. Cruz has famously said ring rust isn’t real and has backed up that claim multiple times. He came back from an almost three year layoff to destroy Takeya Mizugaki. He came back from a year and a half absence to reclaim a title he never properly lost. While his last fight didn’t go his way it was also in part to a career performance by Cody Garbrandt. Cejudo called for this fight and if he can beat Dominick Cruz then having a win over both the greatest Flyweight and possibly the greatest Bantamweight would be quite the feather in his cap. At 35 though this isn’t the tale of some washed up fighter trying to cling onto past glory. This is an all time great who has come back multiple times against countless adversity. The two things that make this fight so interesting to me is Cejudo is pretty undersized for 135 lbs, and Cruz’s footwork is unparalleled. What helped Cejudo in the Moraes fight was his speed and improved striking. However Cruz has a tendency to make his opponents miss their shots more than anyone in the division. Cejudo has Olympic caliber wrestling but he made his name doing so at 55 Kg so it’ll be interesting to see if he can take Cruz down and keep him down. Also should be noted that not only will Cejudo be trying to land shots against a guy notoriously hard to hit but he’ll also be giving up 5 inches in reach to his opponent who will also have a 4 inch height advantage. Considering this fight is highly likely to be going to a decision I think these factors will simply be too much for Cejudo to overcome. The saying is “styles make fights” and stylistically this is not a good match up for Cejudo.

WINNER: AND NEW BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPION DOMINICK CRUZ

Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje

Interim Lightweight Championship (155 lbs)

RECORD IN LAST TEN FIGHTS:
Tony Ferguson (10-0-0) Wins: 2 Knockouts, 5 Submissions, 3 Decisions
Tony Ferguson (10-0-0) Losses: 0 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 0 Decisions

Justin Gaethje (8-2-0) Wins: 8 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 0 Decisions
Justin Gaethje (8-2-0) Losses: 2 Knockouts, 0 Submissions, 0 Decisions

STREAK:
Tony Ferguson is currently on a 12 fight win streak.
Justin Gaethje is currently on a 3 fight win streak consisting of all first round finishes.

NOTABLE WINS:
Tony Ferguson: Joe Schilling (Submission), Josh Thomson (Decision), Edson Barboza (Submission), Rafael dos Anjos (Decision), Kevin Lee (Submission), Anthony Pettis (TKO), Donald Cerrone (TKO)

Justin Gaethje: Michael Johnson (Decision), James Vick (Knockout), Edson Barboza (Knockout), Donald Cerrone (TKO)

PREDICTION: This fight will almost definitely be “Fight of the Night” but could also be a contender for “Fight of the Year.” It is also a rare case of two guys who started their athletic careers as wrestlers yet don’t really use that often in their MMA careers. It’s especially interesting in the case of Gaethje as he’s a former NCAA All-American. Yet both are content to stand and destroy their opponents with varying means. Ferguson is probably the most unorthodox fighter in the 155 lbs division with some of the best scramblers in MMA. Gaethje is primarily a forward moving fighter always willing to take a shot to land a shot but is one of the best power punchers in the division who also possesses some of the best leg kicks in MMA. Where this fight gets interesting is Ferguson has a tendency to start slower in the first round almost as if he needs to take a few shots to truly flip the switch. Gaethje on the other hand is in your face immediately and will typically force his opponent to either knock him out or he’ll knock them out. While Ferguson like any trained high level fighter is capable of a knockout most of the knockouts on his record are related to TKOs or doctor stoppages due to cuts. Which leads into another interesting part of this fight, will Justin get cut by those lethal elbows of Ferguson. We have seen a bit more of a defensive minded Gaethje in his last few fights, not to say his offensive style isn’t there but he has adapted to moving his head and taking less damage. So what will be the deciding factor? This is another one of those fights that you almost have to flip a coin. However I think Ferguson’s tendency to start slow and be hit is not going to do him any favors against a guy like Gaethje.

WINNER: AND NEW INTERIM LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPION JUSTIN GAETHJE

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