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The UFC is Back!

Ladies and gentlemen it is official, the UFC is back in action tomorrow night. UFC 249 will take place tomorrow at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. Even if you are not a big UFC fan, you will want to tune into this one because this card is stacked beyond belief.

Two title fights and several top 10 match-ups; the UFC is undoubtedly returning in a major way. Tomorrow’s event will be the first of three events scheduled to take place over the next week! 

Below is a breakdown of all the fights scheduled to take place on the main card live on ESPN+ tomorrow night at UFC 249.

Main Card:

  • Main Event: Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje (Lightweight Interim Title Bout)

I’m not going to say that there’s no way this fight doesn’t live up to expectations, but I certainly wouldn’t bet on it. Neither Tony Ferguson, nor Justin Gaethje know how to take a step backwards while in the octagon. Ferguson has received 10 post-fight bonuses, while Gaethje is the first fighter in UFC history to earn post-fight bonuses in each of their first six contests.

So these two fighters clearly match-up well stylistically, but how will this wild fight actually play out? 

Make no mistake, Tony Ferguson gets hit a lot despite his impressive (26-3) record. Getting hit by Justin Gaethje often leaves fighters on the canvas, but Ferguson brings power in volume.

Ferguson leaves his opponents bloodied and bruised every time he fights. His incredible pace and unorthodox strikes are too much to handle for most opponents. 

I see Ferguson wearing Gaethje down as the fight progresses into the later rounds and eventually earning a knockout finish. The longer the fight lasts, the more advantageous it is for Ferguson. 

  • Co-Main Event: Henry Cejudo [c] vs. Dominick Cruz (Bantamweight Title Bout)

Finally, the return of one of the most technical and smartest fighters to ever grace the octagon, Dominick Cruz. The former bantamweight champ is three and a half years removed from his last fight, as he takes on two division champ Henry Cejudo.

Both Cruz and Cejudo have taken on and defeated just about all of the best bantamweights. I believe if Cejudo wins this fight it will be by stoppage (KO/TKO); yet if Cruz wins it will go the distance to the judges’ scorecards.

I don’t see “ring rust” being a huge factor in this fight for Cruz and I think he will use his phenomenal footwork to evade many of Cejudo’s significant strikes en route to a decision victory. Cruz will be back on top of the bantamweight division come late Saturday night.

  • Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (Heavyweight Bout)

I wouldn’t recommend even blinking once these two touch gloves because there will be a lucrative amount of power inside the octagon when these two square off. This is such a big fight for ranking placement within the heavyweight division, which is muddied towards the top.

If Ngannou wins can anyone really deny that he deserves a title shot his next time out? Meanwhile, a win for Rozenstruik would continue his perfect record and add to the list of legends he’s already defeated.

In my opinion, the time has come for Francis Ngannou to be heavyweight champion. Since losing back-to-back fights, he has reeled off three consecutive first round finishes. Dedication to the craft has refined Ngannou’s game, making him much more than just a power-striker. 

We’ll say Ngannou by knockout late in the opening round, but the name Rozenstruik will pop up again in the heavyweight contender conversation very soon.

  • Jeremy Stephens vs. Calivin Kattar (Featherweight Bout)

Unfortunately Jeremy Stephens missed weight by four and a half pounds, but the fight will go on. Calvin Kattar is coming off a loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov, where his stock wasn’t hurt much due to his good performance. 

Stephens is a veteran in this sport and has faced many great opponents, but he often comes up short against the top fighters. This fight will show us whether or not Kattar is a top fighter in the 135lb division.

After watching Kattar finish so strong against Zabit, who is widely regarded as a phenom, I think he will come out confident and finish Stephens in impressive fashion. 

  • Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan de Castro (Heavyweight Bout)

The ever so controversial Greg Hardy makes his return to the octagon to take on fellow heavyweight up and comer Yorgan de Castro. In his career to this point, Hardy has displayed raw athleticism and power while also clearly improving on his skills.

Yorgan de Castro is even more inexperienced than Hardy, having only fought one time in the UFC. Despite possessing obvious power, I expect de Castro to get slightly out-classed by an improving Greg Hardy.

It can never be certain whether or not Hardy will get through a fight without some sort of controversy, but if he can I expect him to come out of this one victorious.

Rest of the Card:

  • Anthony Pettis vs. Donald Cerrone (welterweight) 

Prediction: Cerrone via split decision 

  • Aleksei Oleinik vs. Fabricio Werdum (heavyweight) 

Prediction: Werdum via 2nd rd KO 

  • Carla Esparza vs. Michelle Waterson (women’s strawweight)

Prediction: Waterson via unanimous decision 

  • Uriah Hall vs. Jacare Souza (middleweight)

Prediction: Souza via 3rd rd KO

  • Vincente Luque vs. Niko Price (welterweight)

Prediction: Price via 1st rd TKO

  • Bryce Mitchell vs. Charles Rosa (featherweight)

Prediction: Mitchell via 2nd rd submission 

  • Ryan Spann vs. Sam Alvey (light heavyweight)  

Prediction: Alvey via unanimous decision 

There isn’t a single fight on this card that you wouldn’t regret missing. The UFC is back in triumphant fashion with UFC 249. COVID-19 has stripped sports away from the world, which makes this event even more special.

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