The UFC was one of the last major sports organizations to host an event as the coronavirus epidemic took hold and looks like it will be the first one to return. UFC 249 will take place on May 9 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville without fans. The UFC 249 card originally was scheduled to feature three title fights, but women’s featherweight champion Amanda Nunes has withdrawn from her bout against Felicia Spencer, citing lack of preparation time.

Even so, the UFC 249 fight card will be topped by two title fights, headlined by a clash between top-ranked lightweight Tony Ferguson and fourth-ranked Justin Gaethje for the interim title. Ferguson was a -200 favorite (risk $200 to win $100), while Gaethje was priced at +170 in the most recent UFC 249 odds when the two were originally scheduled to face off earlier this month. Before you lock in any picks for the UFC 249 card, make sure you check out the latest UFC predictions from SportsLine MMA analyst Kyle Marley.

Marley won the first-ever “ToutMaster” UFC betting contest sponsored by MMAOddsBreaker and also appears regularly on multiple MMA betting and DFS shows. Over the past year, $100 bettors who have followed Marley’s picks are up nearly $19,000.

At UFC 248, Marley told SportsLine members to expect middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (-275) to retain his title against Yoel Romero (+235) by unanimous decision. He argued that Adesanya would pick Romero apart on the feet and was proven correct, as the champ dominated the action with leg kicks while dodging Romero’s explosive power. Also, Marley went a stunning 9-2-1 at UFC Fight Night 170, the last UFC event. Anyone who has consistently followed Marley is way up.

Now, with UFC 249 fast approaching, Marley has carefully studied every matchup on the card, identified the best value in the UFC odds and released his MMA picks for every fight. Those selections are only available at SportsLine.

Gaethje vs. Ferguson preview 

Marley knows the 36-year-old Ferguson (25-3) comes in on a 12-fight winning streak and hasn’t lost since May 2012. He is revered for his fearlessness and ability to win through a variety of MMA disciplines. Six of his last eight victories have come by stoppage, including a TKO of Donald Cerrone last year and a submission of Anthony Pettis in October 2018. The top-ranked Ferguson briefly held the interim belt after beating Kevin Lee by submission in October 2017.

Ferguson faces a challenge from the No. 4-ranked Gaethje (21-2), the former World Series of Fighting champion who has been waiting for a title opportunity amid a crowded division. It is believed the winner of the May 9 main event will get to challenge the Russian champ for the unified title.

Gaethje, 31, is known for his knockout power and relentless aggression. He started his UFC campaign with a 1-2 mark, but has since won three straight bouts by first-round knockout. He stopped Cerrone in September 2019. Gaethje has 18 knockouts among his 21 career MMA victories and only gone to a decision twice in his career. See Marley’s picks for Ferguson vs. Gaethje and every fight on the upcoming UFC 249 card here.

Top UFC 249 predictions

We’ll share one of Marley’s UFC 249 predictions here: He is backing Yorgan De Castro (+165) against Grey Hardy (-190) in a matchup of heavyweight contenders.

De Castro (6-0) made a strong impression in his UFC debut at UFC 243 in October. He stopped fellow rising prospect Justin Tafa with a first-round knockout.

The polarizing Hardy (5-2-1), a former defensive lineman in the NFL, is 2-2-1 in five UFC appearances since his debut with the promotion in January of last year. But he gained a measure of respect among MMA observers for giving a solid performance in a short-notice fight against No. 7 ranked Alexander Volkov in November. He lost the three-round bout by unanimous decision.

“This fight comes down to who lands the big punch. At these odds, I would rather take the underdog,” Marley told SportsLine. 

How to make UFC 249 picks

Marley also has strong picks for Ferguson vs. Gaethje and every other bout on the UFC 249 card. He’s also backing one man who’s “the scariest fighter alive.” You can only see every pick for every UFC fight here.

Who wins Ferguson vs. Gaethje? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every UFC 249 fight, all from the accomplished expert who’s up almost $19,000, and find out.

May 9 UFC odds

Tony Ferguson (-200) vs. Justin Gaethje (+170)
Henry Cejudo (-220) vs. Dominick Cruz (+180)
Francis Ngannou (-310) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+250)
Calvin Kattar (-260) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+220)
Anthony Pettis (n/a) vs. Donald Cerrone (n/a)
Greg Hardy (-185) vs. Yorgan De Castro (+165)
Fabricio Werdum (-265) vs. Aleksei Oleinik (+225)
Jacare Souza (-150) vs. Uriah Hall (+130)
Vicente Luque (-230) vs. Niko Price (+190)
Bryce Mitchell (n/a) vs. Charles Rosa (n/a)
Ryan Spann (n/a) vs. Sam Alvey (n/a)
Carla Esparza (n/a) vs. Michelle Waterson (n/a)

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