SPORTS: UFC 249 Preview, Predictions, and Precautions

by Aharon Colon, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Although there is almost nothing to watch in the sports world right now, the UFC lives on with an exciting card on Saturday including two world title fights with a mixture of veteran and young fighters. 

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You might think that since this card is taking place at such a time that it would be boring with fighters no one really knows about, but you would be totally wrong. It is actually the exact opposite. The UFC packed this card with fighters crazy enough to take this chance at giving the people what they want. 

Starting at the bottom, the early prelims are filled with young exciting talent looking to make a name for themselves. There is no better time to get your name out there because every MMA fan will be watching this from start to finish. The fight to look out for here is 13th ranked welterweight in the world Vicente Luque taking on Niko Price. Here Vicente is looking to move up the rankings, so he can eventually earn a title shot. 

The prelims are a whole different story. Resembling a main card quality lineup, its main bout is between 15th ranked welterweight in the world Anthony “Showtime” Pettis and 6th ranked Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Both fighters have great resumes, a great recond, huge fanbases, and are exciting to watch so expect sparks to fly when they meet in the cage. Other notable fighters on this card are veteran Fabricio Werdum, former world champion Carla Esparza, and Uriah Hall, all looking for upcoming title bouts. 

Now for the moneymaker, the main card. Headlining the entire event is Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson vs Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje and Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo vs Dominick Cruz. Personally, these four fighters are my favorite right now, so you could only imagine the excitement I felt when this card came out. Ferguson and Gaethje are vying for the interim lightweight title, while Cejudo and Cruz are vying for the undisputed bantamweight championship.

In the Ferguson vs Gaethje fight, look out for the conditioning of Ferguson. Although I expect him to get caught once or twice by Gathje’s right hand for which he is known for, it is his signature thing to always get back up. “El Cucuy” never gets tired and keeps the same pace the entire fight, which I believe will be too much for Gaethje. The only way I see Gaethje winning this fight is by his one-punch knockout power, but Ferguson has a strong chin and has been hit before. My prediction is that “El Cucuy” takes the interim title and extends his twelve fight win streak to 13, via submission in the 4th round. If I had to choose which submission, I’d say either rear-naked or triangle choke. 

In the other title bout, Cejudo is taking the world by storm. He is almost unstoppable right now holding two titles in two divisions simultaneously. Not only that but he is also a gold medalist in wrestling, taking the medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

Even after this impressive resume and with all the momentum in the world, it is going to be probably his toughest challenge yet facing Dominick Cruz. After multiple injury layoffs, Cruz is looking to pick up where he left off, which is taking his Bantamweight title back. He is the veteran here and has almost always been the champion in this division. With his fancy footwork and cage IQ off the charts, he is already on the lookout for being in the Hall of Fame. I say Cruz gets the upset in a razor-thin split decision, using his striking and footwork to his advantage. 

You might be wondering at this point, how are they even putting this whole event together? Well for Dana White, the president of the UFC, it wasn’t hard finding a place to hold it. Of course, it is going to be in Florida, and they are taking the utmost precautions heading into fight night. 

Testing everyone who is working that night, including fighters, coaches, and everyone in between, they are not letting anybody through the cracks. The UFC also has a whole hotel to themselves, checking everyone who comes in and out. At every checkpoint, fighters and associates alike are being kept in their respective camps, not being allowed to see anyone outside. They even have  24 different rooms for fighters to warm up in pre-fight, not letting any of them share a room like they usually would. 

All in all, I highly recommend you watch all these fights. Not only is it one of the only sporting events on right now, but it is actually action-packed with the best fighters of today. You can watch the prelims on ESPN, but the main card is only found on ESPN+. 

Here are my predictions for every single fight: 

Early Prelims:

Vicente Luque defeats Niko Price (decision) 

Charles Rosa defeats Bryce Mitchell (decision)

Ryan Spann defeats Sam Alvey (KO) 

Prelims: 

Uriah Hall defeats Ronaldo Souza (stoppage) 

Michelle Waterson defeats Carla Esparza (decision) 

Fabricio Werdum defeats Aleksei Oleinik (Submission) 

Donald Cerrone defeats Anthony Pettis (Stoppage) 

Main Card: 

Yorgan De Castro defeats Greg Hardy (KO)

Jeremy Stephens defeats Calvin Kattar (KO) 

Francis Ngannou defeats Jairzinho Rozenstruik (stoppage) 

Dominick Cruz defeats Henry Cejudo (decision) 

Tony Ferguson defeats Justin Gaethje (submission)

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