Armchair Matchmaker

UFC 249 : Revisiting Predictions

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With UFC 249 now one for the history books, we review our predictions made before the fight. In our original piece, we looked at the co-main event between Henry Cejudo and Dominick Cruz, the middleweight clash between Jacare Souza and Uriah Hall and the featherweight match-up between Jeremy Stephens and Calvin Kattar. As we know, the middleweight clash was cancelled due to Jacare testing positive for COVID-19. You can read the original article here.

Revisiting UFC 249 Predictions

The Co-Main Event

The co-main event teased a tantalising clash between the champion Henry Cejudo and the consensus bantamweight GOAT, Dominick Cruz. We predicted:

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.
How the fight played out

Well, we got a few things right… Cejudo did get the W on the night and Cruz didn’t have the power to cause him problems. Did Cruz look like his ‘old’ self? In my opinion, no. His movement looked slick yes but early on in the second round he looked flat-footed and wasn’t able to catch Cejudo on the angle like he has so many previous opponents. The only problems that Cruz caused Cejudo was a cut on the head but even this was as a result of a clash of heads.

The fight ended with a massive knee from Cejudo, knocking Cruz down. Further ground and pound lead to the finish (a controversial one). Cruz argued that he couldn’t be knocked out whilst still being able to work to his feet, a valid point.

Cejudo lands a massive knee on Cruz

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – MAY 09: Henry Cejudo (L) of the United States knees Dominick Cruz (R) of the United States in their bantamweight title fight during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 09, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Where do these men go from here? Well if we’re to believe the champion, he goes into retirement. And for Cruz, well, another top contender fight and maybe a last, last run at a title? Assuming he can stay fit that is. Any further long term injuries will likely spell the end of Cruz’s fighting career. At 35 years old and fighting in a stacked division, Cruz must stay active. Not all is lost if he does retire though, a career behind the desk, commentating on fights is certainly ahead for the talented Cruz.

Exciting Featherweight Clash

The featherweight fight on the main card saw Jeremy Stephens face off against Calvin Kattar. The day previously at the weigh-ins, Stephens badly missed weight, coming in at 150.5lbs, 4.5 lbs over the featherweight limit. For this fight, we predicted:

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.

How the fight played out

This fight provided the fireworks that we all expected. The first round saw Stephens constantly attack Kattar’s lower leg, punishing him regularly. This is certainly a hole in Kattar’s game as we saw him punished against Renato Moicano. Kattar may have just notched the round on the judge’s scorecards with a slick, savage one-two straight down the pipe that rocked Stephens. The judge’s cards weren’t needed, however…

We saw that Kattar had the superior boxing but it was his savage elbows that ended the fight. One huge elbow straight into Stephens’ front teeth knocked him down. The ground and pound from Kattar, including a slicing elbow, ended the fight.

I thought that both men’s chins were too solid to get a finish but when Kattar landed that elbow I knew I’d made a mistake. I did get one thing right, Kattar’s superior movement and footwork were too slick (for as long as it lasted) and he was able to avoid Stephens’ bombs.

UFC 249

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – MAY 09: Jeremy Stephens (R) of the United States fights Calvin Kattar (L) of the United States in their Featherweight fight during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 09, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

What’s next for these two? Well, Stephens is now coming off his fourth consecutive loss and is without a win since February 2018. He’s still a contender at 145lbs and has only fought killers. Maybe the UFC should give him a fight where he fights someone on the brink of the top 10, such as Ryan Hall or Shane Burgos.

Kattar needs a top-five opponent now. Coming off a loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov prior to this bout, Kattar bounced back in a big way. A Kattar vs Yair Rodriguez fight would work, but arguably a Kattar vs Brian Ortega fight is a better fight to make.

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Frazer is a 26 year old MMA and boxing enthusiast from Coventry, England. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast which comes out every Monday.

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