LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE HAVE A LIVE SPORTING EVENT! THIS IS NOT A DRILL! Saturday, May 9th, in Jacksonville, Florida, UFC 249 will start to hopefully put an end to this world without sports that all of us have been living in for the past few months.
Dana White and the UFC have fought tooth and nail to organize an event, mentioning numerous venues and possibilities in order to get some sort of fight card together.
After multiple postponements and confusion amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it was announced that May 9th was the “official” date for UFC 249. Everyone, however, was filled with skepticism.
But time has passed, and there were no changes made to the card, and low and behold we have made it to fight week with little to no issues (at least any that the public knows of).
Not only has the UFC pulled together a card filled with fights, but they’ve also compiled a stacked lineup. It’s jam-packed with some killer bouts that have serious implications, headlined by two title fights.
From top to bottom, UFC 249 is bound to deliver is some facet, while trying to scratch the itch of millions worldwide reeling from having no live sports to turn to.
UFC 249: Ryan Spann vs. Sam Alvey
We kick the night off with a pair of light heavyweights, one looking to insert his name into the rankings, while the other looks to stave off the term gatekeeper, as Ryan “Superman” Spann takes on “Smile’N” Sam Alvey.
Ryan Spann is undefeated since entering the UFC, going 3-0, including a knockout over the legendary Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. He is looking to keep trucking through some of the veteran mid-carders the UFC has to offer at 205. Eventually, he’d like to get a number next to his name in the rankings.
Saturday Sam Alvey will look to claim his first win in almost two years. The veteran is amidst a three-fight skid but a win against Spann could push Alvey back in the right direction and turn the tide for the Wisconsin native.
Bryce Mitchell vs. Charles Rosa
Next up is a featherweight scrap with fight of the night potential, featuring a new fan-favorite looking to keep up his exciting performances.
Bryce “Thug Nasty” Mitchell has gathered the attention of many fans in the MMA community. He has gone 3-0 since arriving inside the octagon. In his last bout he pulled off only the second twister submission in UFC history. Mitchell has been vocal in his octagon interviews and has been clamoring for camo trunks to wear inside the cage, gaining some traction from MMA fans.
Charles Rosa has had a slippery career since entering the UFC back in 2014. The Massachusetts native has never won or lost multiple fights in a row. This will only be Rosa’s second fight since 2017 and he will look to get that coveted second straight win on Saturday. He bested Manny Bermudez back in October of 2019.
Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price
Speaking of fight of the night candidates, look no further than a rematch in the final fight of the early prelims. Both of these men leave it all in the cage and love to stand and throw. Vicente “The Silent Assassin” Luque tangoes with Niko “The Hybrid” Price.
Until his loss to Stephen Thompson back in November of last year, Vicente Luque had won six fights in a row. That win streak just so happened to start with his victory against Niko Price in 2017, where he submitted Price via Brabo Choke. 15 of Luque’s 17 victories in his MMA career have come via knockout or submission. One of those decision victories was nothing short of gory, against Mike Perry in Luque’s last win.
Luque’s last bout against Thompson showed that he was maybe not ready for the higher-ranked welterweights, but The Silent Assassin will look to once again start a winning streak against Price and push up the rankings at 170.
First of all, if you haven’t seen Niko Price fight before, stop everything you’re doing and go watch the man’s highlights. His last fight was nothing short of spectacular when he up-kicked James Vick to sleep. He goes to war with just about everyone he steps into the octagon with. Don’t expect anything different on Saturday night. The Hybrid has a chance to avenge a previous loss, and maybe kick off a run of his own. The skillset is there, but if he can piece victories together and get some momentum, he could become a problem for welterweights , and be someone you don’t want to face.
UFC 249 Update: Uriah Hall vs. Jacare Souza
(On the day of weigh-ins, after this article was originally written, Jacare Souza and two of his cornermen tested positive for COVID-19 and have been pulled from his bout against Uriah Hall, and the fight has been scrapped.)
Getting us started on the prelims, we’ve got a battle between two veterans, both looking to show they’ve still got gas in the tank when Uriah “Primetime” Hall takes on Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
Since making his debut in The Ultimate Fighter back in 2013, Uriah Hall has been a staple in the UFC. Although he’s never been able to become a mainstay in the rankings, Hall has been a name that all MMA fans know. He’s on a two-fight winning streak and at the age of 35. Now is the time if Hall wants to make any sort of push up the middleweight ladder.
Also making his debut in 2013, Jacare has been an even bigger staple in the UFC. Souza has gotten closer to nabbing UFC gold than Hall but has always fallen shy at those number one contender bouts that are essentially title eliminators. Jacare has bounced around his weight classes as of late, but it’s clear that 185 is his home. Souza is on a two-fight losing streak, and a win on Saturday will be crucial to propelling the Brazilian back up the rankings where he’s used to being..
Carla Esparza vs. Michelle Waterson
In the only women’s bout of the night, we’ve got two of the UFC’s best, going toe to toe at strawweight, when Carla Esparza and Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson meet.
Flashback to December 2014, Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas to become the first-ever UFC strawweight champion. After Joanna Jedrzejczyk came along, Carla slowly fell back in the rankings but has stuck around until now. Esparza is on a two-fight winning streak and wins over the higher-ranked Waterson could lead to a push towards Esparza’s second stint with UFC gold.
Michelle Waterson has been at the top of rankings in the UFC for years. Her karate skills have propelled her to winning some big fights. She is coming off of a loss to Joanna, but Waterson always seems to look better and sharper every time she steps in the octagon. Waterson is always one or two wins away from a potential title shot.
Aleksei Oleinik vs Fabricio Werdum
Moving on to the first of three heavyweight bouts of the night, we once again have a clash of two vets, both capable of finishing fights on the ground, as “The Boa Constrictor” Aleksei Oleinik tangles with “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum.
First off, this will be Oleinik’s 72nd professional fight, which in itself is insane. 46 of those wins are via submissions, which is even more insane. The Russian has never been able to string together more than a couple wins, but he can submit anyone in the world.
Saturday will be the first time former champion Fabricio Werdum has fought since early 2018. After dealing with some suspension issues and possibly being released, Vai Cavalo is back and is ready to make another run at the heavyweight belt. Werdum is no slouch on the ground and can knock out anyone as well.
If this fight goes to the mat, it’s anyone’s game. If it stays on the feet, it should be Werdum’s fight to win.
UFC 249: Anthony Pettis vs. Donald Cerrone
Finishing off the prelims, we’ve got a good one. Showtime versus the cowboy, a former champ versus the man with the most wins inside the octagon. Anthony Pettis versus Donald Cerrone.
Former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis makes a return to welterweight. In his first fight at 170, he shockingly knocked out Stephen Thompson. Pettis hasn’t stayed at a weight class for the last few years and has fought to keep relevancy among the UFC rankings. He’s on a two-fight losing streak and a move back to welterweight could be what Showtime needs to get back to what made him a UFC champ.
What can you really say about Donald Cerrone that hasn’t been talked about a million times already? Yes, he’s on a three-fight losing streak and is coming off of the McGregor “fight”, but he’s Cowboy. He’s gonna be there to put on a show for the fans and try to win and get a step closer to that coveted UFC belt that has eluded him throughout his illustrious career.
There isn’t much left to say about these two. They’re both legends in their own respect and both are in desperate need of a win.
Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan De Castro
Former NFL player Greg Hardy and young up and comer Yorgan De Castro kick off the main card of UFC 249.
Greg Hardy is coming off of his first non-disqualification loss, where he was outdone by Alexander Volkov. It’s hard to deny Hardy’s talent, but De Castro is no joke and this will be a true test for Hardy.
Yorgan De Castro is undefeated at 6-0 and is 2-0 in UFC bouts. Hardy will also be the toughest opponent he’s ever faced. This is going to be a challenge for both men. A war of attrition and cardio, and whoever can outlast the other and withstand each other’s shots will reign supreme on Saturday night.
UFC 249: Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar
Featherweight action is up next with two of the top-ranked fighters in the division going head to head. Both men are coming off of defeats and a win propels them right back in the top of 145.
Jeremy Stephens hasn’t won a fight in his last four tries. After succumbing to a Jose Aldo body shot, it’s been a steep hill downward for Stephens. Stephens is a killer and can put out anyone. He really needs a win to get him back to what he was in 2018.
Calvin Kattar is next in the game at featherweight. Before his loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov in November of 2019, Kattar had won 12 of his last 13 bouts. He is a big featherweight, hits like a truck, and has a chin to match. He’s got cardio for days and can go toe to toe with Stephens in any facet of the fight.
Francis Ngannou vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik
We now get into the main course of the night of fights, starting with two of the scariest men to ever walk the planet.
Francis “The Predator” Ngannou is a win away from fighting for a title once again. He’s just ran through Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, and Junior Dos Santos like butter. He’s the heaviest of hitters and you just have to watch the man go to work. If he has his cardio down and has worked on his craft, it’s only a matter of time before he has a belt wrapped around his waist.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik is undefeated, and just KO’ed Alistair Overeem with seconds left in their bout. You can compare Jairzinho and Ngannou in many ways, they are very similar in the way that they fight.
These men are going to be locked in a cage with each other, and it’s likely that someone is going to sleep. Think of the unstoppable force and the immovable object, but double it. Then double that and you may come close to what these men fighting is like.
UFC 249: Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz
For the first of two title fights on the evening, we have the bantamweight title up for grabs, as the champion, Triple C, Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo meets former champion, Dominick Cruz.
Henry Cejudo shocked the world when he defeated Demetrious Johnson in their rematch for the UFC flyweight championship. He then went on to become one of the few people to become a double champion in the UFC, when he starched TJ Dillashaw. He then defended his belt against Marlon Moraes in stunning fashion. What a run it’s been over the past couple of years for Cejudo.
He hasn’t exactly been the best champion, and he’s allegedly been ducking people, but we’ve got a fight finally. It was originally supposed to be Jose Aldo, but the Dominator stepped in.
Dominick Cruz hasn’t fought since he lost his title to Cody Garbrandt in embarrassing fashion, which was way back in 2016. Dom is one of the best bantamweights ever, and he has the chance to prove it on Saturday. Cruz has been against ring rust and doesn’t think it exists. We shall see if he’s right or not when he faces Cejudo. In case the people have forgotten, Cruz was on a 13 fight win streak before his loss. He has movement unlike any other and will be a true, one of a kind test for Cejudo.
A win over Cruz for Cejudo will only cement his legacy as one of the greatest bantamweight and flyweight fighters ever. If he gets the fight to the mat, it could be a long night for Dom. Cejudo has shown that his striking has improved and can hang with anyone on the feet. It’s going to be a very interesting matchup.
Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje
Well, Tony versus Khabib fell through for the fifth time, but who’s surprised at this point.
Let’s appreciate Justin Gaethje stepping in to fight Tony. Only a maniac would do something like that.
The interim lightweight title is on the line in the main event of the evening, as Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson fights Justin “The Highlight Reel” Gaethje.
Tony Ferguson is amidst a 12 fight killing spree. He mangles peoples faces and is so unique in the way he fights.
Justin Gaethje is the human version of a slobber knocker. The guy just stands in front of you, gets hit, hits you harder, and probably wins the fight.
Gaethje is also a collegiate wrestler, so he could theoretically hang with Ferguson on the ground. Tony is a killer anywhere and everywhere, but if he gets hit hard by Gaethje he could fall, he has been susceptible to getting hit a lot.
We hope that this fight finds a clear winner, with the victor taking on Khabib for the undisputed belt, and the loser walks into a money fight with Conor McGregor.
Let us all be grateful for the return of live sports with UFC 249. Here’s to the first event of many soon to come.