With UFC 249 just around the corner, we’re certainly excited. We haven’t seen the MMA leader since March 14th for UFC Fight Night Brasilia. Even then, the event occurred behind closed doors. Although UFC 249 will also commence behind closed doors, we still have to appreciate the fact we have something to watch. We will provide some pre-fight predictions and after the fights, we will re-visit these predictions and see how they played out.
Firstly we address the UFC 249 co-main event. This match-up sees the bantamweight title put on the line when Henry Cejudo meets the returning Dominick Cruz. On paper, the more active fighter, Cejudo should have the advantage, and the bookies certainly think so. Cejudo has competed five times since Cruz last competed, including capturing two titles.
My prediction for this fight has certainly gone back and forth. I do believe that we will know if we have the ‘old’, dominant, Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 within the first few minutes. His game is based around movement and we know that he has had multiple injuries. If he slips straight back into his usual fluid, jerky movement there is a good chance that he could cause Cejudo a lot of problems.
Cejudo obviously has the advantage in the wrestling realm. The Olympic gold medalist can rely on his wrestling whenever he wants to. Against Sergio Pettis, Cejudo dominated, not allowing Pettis to get his game going at all and it lead to a 30-27 victory on all cards. Cruz does have a decent wrestling game, utilising it againt Demetrious Johnson when they faced each other. Despite this, he was taken down multiple times by Cody Garbrandt, who isn’t the elite wrestler than Cejudo is. Cejudo can definitely lean on his wrestling skills should the fight be getting away from him in the early rounds.
Cejudo probably takes this one by unanimous decision, close but Cruz’s inactivity may be the deciding factor. Cruz won’t have the power to cause Cejudo problems (as he didn’t against Garbrandt), leading to Cejudo walking him down late on and taking over.
Prime Time Meets Jacare
The 185lbs division provides us with a classic striker vs grappler match-up. Uriah Hall is riding a two-fight winning streak, although he has looked far from impressive in either. Against Bevon Lewis, Hall struggled to get going despite eventually getting the KO. In his most recent bout, he won a close split decision victory over Antonio Carlos Junior. Prior to this, he went 1-4, suffering 3 knockouts.
Jacare Souza has also been on a poor run of form. Dropping 4 of his last six fights, Souza hasn’t found his former ‘Strikeforce‘ form. Saying this, he has faced a number of top contenders. His most recent victory came against Chris Weidman, where he brutally knocked him out…although this was back in November 2018.
My prediction for this fight is that Jacare dominates wherever the fight goes. Although Hall is the stand-up specialist, I think Jacare holds more power. His most recent fight was up at 205lbs and will likely still carry this power down once more at middleweight. If the fight hits the floor, it’s simply over. Jacare is too strong and too good a Jiu-Jitsu player for Hall to hang with. If he is to win, how does Hall do it? With a (Gegard) Mousassi esc finish. Spinning heel kick to the head…because why not.
Jacare by round 2 TKO after a dominant first round. Threatens the submission and eventually finishes it with ground and pound.
Excitement at 145lbs
In an exciting fight at featherweight, we see Calvin Kattar face off against Jeremy Stephens. Kattar 4-2 in his UFC career but this doesn’t do it justice. Three of these victories have come via KO/TKO and the two losses have come against high-level opponents. Most recently he lost in a three-round main event in Russia against Zabit Magomedsharipov. Many argue that if that fight was a normal five-round main event, Kattar would have taken over.
Jeremy Stephens has lately become a gatekeeper to the top 5 of the division. After three statement wins, Stephens faced Jose Aldo. Following a punishing liver punch, Aldo TKO’d ‘Lil Heathen’ and it was the catalyst for his losing streak. He’d go on to lose to Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez most recently. Without a win in four fights, this is the second time Stephens has been on a three-fight losing streak. Another L here could highlight the end of his UFC tenure.
My main prediction for these fights is violence. These two always bring it and are constantly in exciting fights. Stephens holds the power advantage but Kattar is arguably the more slick boxer. Cardio won’t be an issue for either man, so we can expect this one to go 3 rounds. Both men have good chins and are capable on the ground, although I doubt it will go there as both men favour the stand-up realm.
With his superior boxing, I can see Kattar winning this one by unanimous decision. The only way the fight gets finished is by Stephens chasing Kattar and getting clipped. Kattar’s footwork and movement are too slick to be caught by one of Stephen’s big bombs, especially over just 15 minutes.
Embed from Getty Images