The UFC plans to satisfy hungry sports fans when it presents one of the most stacked cards in the promotion’s history at UFC 249. The 12-bout UFC 249 fight card will take place on Saturday, May 9 at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., and is headlined by two world title bouts. No spectators will be allowed at the venue due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but Florida has been accommodating to hosting live sporting events.

Lightweight contenders Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje will fight for the interim title in the main event. Ferguson is a -170 favorite (risk $170 to win $100), while Gaethje is a +150 underdog in the latest UFC 249 odds at William Hill. In the co-main event, champion Henry Cejudo (-240) defends the bantamweight crown against Dominick Cruz (+200). 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 Michelle Waterson (+125) to upset Carla Esparza (-145) in a clash of ranked women’s strawweights. The MMA analyst said he believes this could be one of the most entertaining matches on the entire UFC Jacksonville card. 

Nicknamed “The Karate Hottie,” Watterson (17-7) has seen her stock rise over the past two years based on a series of strong performances. However, she saw a three-fight win streak come to an end with a decision loss against Joanna Jędrzejczyk in October. 

Esparza (15-6) won both of her bouts in 2019 to spring back into title contention. She is coming off a majority decision victory against Alexa Grasso in September. 

“Waterson can keep this fight on the feet longer than Esparza would like, so I am going to lean with her as my pick,” 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.

UFC 249 odds

Tony Ferguson (-170) vs. Justin Gaethje (+150)
Henry Cejudo (-240) vs. Dominick Cruz (+200)
Francis Ngannou (-270) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+230)
Calvin Kattar (-245) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+205)
Anthony Pettis (-130) vs. Donald Cerrone (+110)
Greg Hardy (-180) vs. Yorgan De Castro (+160)
Fabricio Werdum (-310) vs. Aleksei Oleinik (+255)
Carla Esparza (-145) vs. Michelle Waterson (+125)
Jacare Souza (-125) vs. Uriah Hall (+105)
Vicente Luque (-265) vs. Niko Price (+225)
Bryce Mitchell (-175) vs. Charles Rosa (+155)
Ryan Spann (-380) vs. Sam Alvey (+300) 

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