UFC 249 goes down in Jacksonville, Florida, and will look to fill an entertainment void for sports fans all over the world. The card is star-studded and will be the first of three quickfire events that the UFC has confirmed for the month of May. Sports gamblers have been starved of suitable events for the last few weeks, so there has been no better time to check out these UFC 249 betting tips.
UFC 248 Betting Tips
1. Anthony Pettis (-145) vs. Donald Cerrone (+125)
The featured prelim bout from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena is the rematch between Anthony Pettis (22-10) and Donald Cerrone (36-14-1NC). In their first contest all the way back in 2013, Pettis handed Cerrone the first knockout loss of his career – finishing “Cowboy” in the very first round. However, with this fight taking place at welterweight, will the story be different this time around?
Since holding the belt, ex-UFC lightweight champion Pettis has eight losses in his last twelve fights. After his spectacular knock out over Stephen Thompson with a superman punch, Pettis has lost via dominant decision to Nate Diaz and been submitted by Diego Ferreira. Pettis is a very well rounded fighter but will be best served to keep this one on the feet. “Showtime” will almost have a speed advantage over Cerrone, and if he is able to pressure his opponent early he could look to score an early KO. Pettis is incredibly tough and has only been finished by strikes once inside the octagon. Cerrone’s chin has shown to be fairly weak in recent contests, and if Pettis is able to connect in a ‘showtime’ moment, he could easily stop his two-fight skid.
A Point to Prove
Cerrone has a lot to prove this weekend. After being granted the biggest fight of his career against Conor McGregor, Cerrone wilted and was knocked out in a measly 40 seconds of the very first round. Cerrone himself has admitted that his “heart is still hurt” following the fight, and there are no doubts that this would be motivation enough for any man to come back with a bang. Despite this loss, Pettis would be a fool to dismiss Cerrone in this contest. Cowboy has a variety of dangerous tools in his arsenal, perhaps none more spectacular than his high-kicks. At welterweight, it would seem that Cerrone has physical advantages. Because of this, he could be best served to take Pettis to the ground and try to grind his opponent out in clinches, as opposed to an exciting kicking match.
Both men seem to have a problem with motivation. Cerrone has to find his inner “Cowboy”, while Pettis seems to need to be cut open and hurt to really turn on the heat in his bouts. Although it is incredibly tight, the wind could certainly blow in Cerrone’s favor in Florida. Pettis is not known as a pressure striker, which is what Cerrone generally struggles with. If Cerrone is able to impose his physicality on Pettis early in the bout, and then find his rhythm with strikes towards the third round, he should be able to come out with a win this weekend, making him one of our three UFC 249 betting tips.
Tip – Donald Cerrone to win
2. Calvin Kattar (-250) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+210)
Calvin Kattar (20-4) takes on Jeremy Stephens (28-17-1NC) in what promises to be a featherweight barnburner. Both men are at different stages of their careers, but with the division lacking a clear title challenger, it is a must-win bout for both fighters.
The Rising Star
Calvin Kattar is one of the top prospects in the featherweight division. Coming fresh off a loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov, just like Stephens, he has been offered another high profile name to add to his resume. In the Magomedsharipov bout, Kattar started to dominate in round three and many pundits believe that over five rounds he could well have claimed victory against the Russian. Kattar will likely have a speed advantage over Stephens, and his crisp boxing could very well allow him to pick apart his opponent on the way to a decision victory. But, if Kattar is able to frustrate Stephens and utilize his counter-punching as he did against Shane Burgos, he could very well also claim victory via knockout.
Stephens has had a tough time of it as of late. Coming into this bout on a three-fight losing streak, many may have bleak predictions for him against Kattar. However, all three of these losses were against incredibly high-level competition, and in each contest, Stephens has been very competitive. Stephens carries unbelievable power and has shown that his striking is unpredictable. Possessing thunderous elbows, knees, and punches, he is capable of ending a fight at any time. Stephens also has a fantastic calf kick, as Gilbert Melendez knows all too well, something which Kattar has shown great vulnerability too due to his boxing-heavy striking offense. If Stephens commits to this technique and slows down the footwork of Kattar, it could be an x-factor in him winning this bout.
Kattar’s game approach and forward pressure may be what costs him victory in this bout. “The Boston Finisher” has every right to be confident in his striking, but staying in the pocket against Stephens is dangerous for any fighter. Kattar absorbs 6.36 strikes per minute, as opposed to 2.98 for Stephens, and it is this vulnerability to strikes that Stephens should gain confidence from. Although Kattar has an excellent chance of winning this bout, due to the sizeable underdog status of Stephens, he is a great pick for any UFC 249 betting tips.
Tip – Jeremy Stephens to win
3. Henry Cejudo (-225) vs. Dominick Cruz (+185)
The co-main event for UFC 249 is for the bantamweight championship. Current champion Henry Cejudo (15-2) takes on the greatest UFC bantamweight of all time Dominick Cruz (22-2) in his comeback fight. In what is undoubtedly a battle for greatness, Cejudo, and Cruz is a fascinating fight to wrap up with for these UFC 249 betting tips.
Cejudo is the far more active fighter, and he has looked brilliant in his last few contests. The bookies have touted him as the heavy favorite for this contest, and his recent form and consistency is a large reason for this. Cejudo is riding a five-fight win streak, including victories over all-time greats T.J Dillashaw and Demetrious Johnson. “The Messenger” is an Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling and will have an advantage in the grappling. What is most surprising about Cejudo, however, is his striking in recent bouts. His spectacular comeback over Marlon Moraes demonstrated that Cejudo has not only a great chin but the power to knock out anybody in the bantamweight division. Cejudo is a very underrated fighter and has been overlooked in all of his previous title bouts, so it is refreshing to see him get the credit he deserves in the build-up to this contest.
Dominick Cruz has not fought since December 2016 in a lopsided decision loss to Cody Garbrandt. Despite this, he has every chance of causing an upset at UFC 249. If Cruz had not been inactive for so many years, it is likely that he would be favorite in this contest. He has some of the most impressive movement ever seen in MMA, his fluidity in his unorthodox striking has made him incredibly hard to hit throughout his career. Unfortunately, he does not possess the knockout power to shut Cejudo’s lights out, so he will have to remain sharp for all five rounds in order to claim victory.
It is hard to know how Cruz will look upon his return. His entire career has been plagued with injury, and there are no guarantees that he will have the cardio to go five hard rounds. If his movement has, however, not been affected, he could take charge of striking exchanges against Cejudo. Cruz has historically had a lot of success against shorter fighters, and having a four-inch height advantage over Cejudo could be a key factor in this bout. Cruz also has great wrestling, although not on the level of Cejudo’s, and if he can defend Cejudo’s takedowns for long enough he could certainly press the action on the feet. The unknowns over Cruz makes this fight hard to call, but as he is a sizeable underdog it is worth gambling on “The Dominator” being back to his best.
Tip – Dominick Cruz to win
Embed from Getty Images