Amidst all the insanity in the world right now, UFC President Dana White has been working around the clock to let the show go on at UFC 249. Next Saturday, April 18th, was supposed to finally give us the cursed Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson matchup. Due to travel bans across the globe, Khabib is stuck in Dagestan and will not be able to fight. The fight fans have been waiting for years to see has been canceled for a fifth time! Whether it be the quarantine, weight cut issues, or injuries this fight just can’t seem to hold itself together. Incredibly, “The Highlight” Justin Gaethje has stepped up to replace the quarantined champion to fight Ferguson.
UFC 249 will be one of the only major sports for fans to bet on this month, you can dig through this list to find sports to put action on. Currently, Tony Ferguson is the betting favorite (-188) against Justin Gaethje (+150)
But where is the fight going to happen? I mean with no crowds and minimal staff available how can Dana White keep this show from stopping? What state is going to allow an event like this to happen when everybody is supposed to be put up in their homes? These were all valid questions until news broke that White secured a private island for two months to host UFC events on. Yes, you read that correctly. UFC 249 is going to be Mortal Kombat style on a private island somewhere that only Dana White knows at this point. Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t come up with anything else. Kobe’s helicopter crash (RIP Mamba), the COVID-19 outbreak, the Joe Exotic saga, and now we have Dana White renting an island for the UFC to fly fighters to fight on.
Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens (28-17, 1 NC) Vs “The Boston Finisher” Calvin Kattar (20-4)
What a fight to kick off the main card! Stephens is a former title contender and Kattar is one fight away from being in the conversation. Kattar, who made his UFC debut in 2017, hasn’t been stopped since a submission loss in 2008 but has yet to lose via knockout or TKO in his professional career. In his last fight, he lost via unanimous decision to the current top contender, Zabit Magomedsharipov. Jeremy Stephens, on the other hand, needs to win this fight to stay relevant in the featherweight picture. Riding a three-fight losing streak, a loss here against Kattar could keep Stephens from ever being in the title picture again. After a 12-year career in the UFC, it would be a shame to see such a great talent never have gold around his waist. I’ll take Calvin Kattar by second-round TKO.
“The Silent Assassin” Vicente Luque (17-7-1) Vs “The Hybrid” Niko Price (14-3, 1 NC)
In a rematch from their fight in 2017, Niko Price looks to even the score. Price has won four of his last six fights since his submission loss to Luque just over two years ago. Neither of these men likes to leave anything up to the judges. Luque is coming off of a decision loss to title challenger Stephen Thompson. A win here should rebuild his momentum looking to fight only the best. This should be a high action fight right from the opening bell. Give me Vicente Luque by first-round knockout.
Greg Hardy (5-2, 1 NC) Vs Yorgan De Castro (6-0)
Time to bring out the big guns. Both of these men are likely to weigh in very close to the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds. Are we in for a slobber-knocker of a war? I really hope so. Greg Hardy may be the most polarizing heavyweight on the roster. After the domestic violence case and his fall from the NFL, fans tune in just to see him get his ass kicked. Dana White, on the other hand, seemed like he was just pulling guys off of the street to fight him. Until Hardy lost his last fight via unanimous decision to top contender Alexander Volkov and fought a lot better than I expected him to. Is Yorgan De Castro at the same level as Volkov? No. But is he undefeated as a pro fighter? Yes! 6-0 with five knockouts says this one’s going to end early. But I’ll go with Greg Hardy by first-round knockout.
Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade (20-7) Vs “Thug” Rose Namajunas (8-4)
Women’s Strawweight (115lbs)
“Thug” Rose is back ladies and gentlemen! After the brutal knockout loss to Andrade last year Namajunas is looking to right the ship. It’s been almost a year exactly since the first fight between these women so Rose should be fully recovered from her concussion. If anybody reading saw the first fight they saw one of the most brutal knockouts in UFC history. Jessica Andrade dropped Namajunas on the back of her neck. Give Rose some credit, she wants revenge for almost being put through the UFC mat last May. A win here should positon Namajunas to be next in line to face current champion Weili Zhang later this year. But does “Thug” Rose pull it off? I think she does. I’ll take Rose Namajunas by split decision.
“El Cucuy” Tony Ferguson (25-3) Vs “The Highlight” Justin Gaethje (21-2)
Lightweight Interim Championship (155lbs)
Here we go! The main event of the COVID-19 card. No Khabib? No problem! We get the human highlight reel vs the boogeyman himself. Can Gaethje come into this fight after a very short training camp and knock off Ferguson? “El Cucuy” hasn’t lost in 12 years. Gaethje just loves to punch people. Styles make matchups, but who’s style will prove to be more effective? Fergusson is so awkward and goofy with his movement and striking. He’ll throw everything including the kitchen sink at his opponents. Gaethje puts constant pressure on his opponents. He knows one direction and that’s forward. Justin Gaethje has won a post-fight bonus after all four of his UFC victories.
Every card has a fight of the night candidate. This fight could end up being the fight of the year, maybe even the decade. These dudes love to get violent in the cage. There will be blood, there will be action from start to finish, there will be a new Interim Lightweight Champion. His name? Justin Gaethje. How? Fourth round knockout. You do not want to miss this one.
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