By all of the trials and tribulations introduced upon by the coronavirus pandemic, the UFC returns this weekend with UFC 249 from VyStar Veterans Memorial Enviornment in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday night time. On the high of the loaded card we’re prepared for, the primary occasion guarantees an action-packed battle as Tony Ferguson meets Justin Gaethje in an interim light-weight championship struggle.

Ferguson was initially scheduled to fulfill light-weight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov when the occasion was scheduled for April 18 in Brooklyn. However the altering instances and journey restrictions brought on by the pandemic led the occasion to be delayed and relocated, leaving Nurmagomedov out and touchdown Gaethje his golden alternative.

One other sudden title struggle got here out of the upheaval in latest weeks, with Henry Cejudo — who was initially slated to defend his bantamweight title towards Jose Aldo in Brazil — now assembly former longtime division king Dominick Cruz in a co-main occasion title conflict. The struggle is Cruz’s first in additional than three years.

UFC 249 will go on as deliberate regardless of information breaking Friday night time that Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza has examined constructive for COVID-19, alongside along with his two cornermen. Souza was seen sporting a masks and gloves all through the weigh-ins on Friday and saved a distance from his opponent, Uriah Corridor, in the course of the faceoffs. The struggle has been faraway from the cardboard and Souza has already left the town to return residence.

Get your professional picks for UFC 249 from our podcast — State of Fight with Brian Campbell — the place we take a look at every thing on the primary card and get some in-depth evaluation from UFC Corridor of Famer “Suga” Rashad Evans beneath.

Buckle up, it may be a wild experience. Let’s take a more in-depth take a look at the remainder of the cardboard with the newest odds from William Hill Sportsbook.

UFC 249 struggle card

  • Tony Ferguson -190 vs. Justin Gaethje +160 — Interim light-weight title
  • Henry Cejudo (c) -220 vs. Dominick Cruz +180 — bantamweight title
  • Francis Ngannou -280 vs. Jair Rozenstruik +230 — Heavyweights
  • Calvin Kattar -240 vs. Jeremy Stephens +200 — Featherweights
  • Greg Hardy -195 vs. Yorgan De Castro +165 — Heavyweights
  • Anthony Pettis -150 vs. Donald Cerrone +125 — Welterweights
  • Vicente Luque -280 vs. Niko Worth +230 — Welterweights
  • Fabricio Werdum -330 vs. Aleksei Oleinik +260 — Heavyweights
  • Carla Esparza -160 vs. Michelle Waterson +140 — Ladies’s strawweights
  • Bryce Mitchell -165 vs. Charles Rosa +155 — Featherweights
  • Ryan Spann -420 vs. Sam Alvey +330 — Mild heavyweights

With such a large primary occasion on faucet, the crew at CBS Sports activities went forward with predictions and picks for the primary card. Listed below are your choose makers: Brent Brookhouse (Fight sports activities author), Brian Campbell (Fight sports activities author), Matthew Coca (producer), Jack Crosby (editor), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Sensible (editor).

UFC 249 picks

Ferguson vs. Gaethje


Ferguson Ferguson Ferguson Ferguson Gaethje
Cejudo (c) vs. Cruz Cejudo Cruz Cruz Cruz Cejudo Cejudo
Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik Ngannou Ngannou Ngannou Ngannou Ngannou Ngannou
Kattar vs. Stephens Stephens Kattar Kattar Stephens Kattar Kattar
Hardy vs. de Castro De Castro De Castro Hardy De Castro Hardy De Castro

Campbell on why Ferguson will win: Whereas there is definitely a component of unknown due to the distinctive circumstances surrounding the cardboard’s construct, Ferguson continues to be the higher fighter with extra methods to win. He additionally wants the prize of what is at stake extra contemplating his age (36), win streak (12) and shutting window of title competition amid an astounding run of unhealthy luck and timing. None of that can matter, after all, ought to Ferguson’s playing nature get too near the flame of Gaethje’s energy, which has produced three straight first-round finishes. But nobody appears to benefit from the teasing hazard as a lot as Ferguson, whose submission abilities ought to give him an edge when the struggle hits the bottom. 

Sensible on why Gaethje will win: When this struggle was introduced, it felt like a foul matchup for Gaethje. Nevertheless, the caveman-like brawling type figures to seek out himself with an opportunity to complete “El Cucuy” given Ferguson’s insane tempo and stress. Together with his latest resilience and steerage from coach Trevor Wittman, it is robust to choose towards Gaethje given his unreal energy within the weight class. On high of the truth that Ferguson determined to chop weight three weeks in the past only for enjoyable? There’s one thing bizarre to this matchup that simply leans in Gaethje’s favor. Search for “The Spotlight” to thrill followers on this instantaneous basic of a primary occasion with a end.

Brookhouse on why Ferguson will win: In a world the place each males got a full coaching camp, this can be a close to coin flip of a struggle. It is nonetheless not far off with Gaethje taking the struggle on brief discover. The fact is each males are there to be hit and each are excellent at doing the hitting. The type of Ferguson is awkward sufficient and he was already in full camp for the struggle of his life when issues modified to a better type match-up. It will be violent and harmful from begin to end, however I like Ferguson to outlast the early offensive outbursts of Gaethje earlier than taking the struggle over and scoring a late stoppage.

Campbell on why Cejudo will win: Does Cruz deserve the title shot contemporary off a loss and a four-year layoff? Hardly. Wouldn’t it be among the many most celebrated wins given his lengthy historical past of hardship and perseverance? Little question. That does not imply it’s going to occur. Cruz is 35 and consistently banged up. He’ll have a dimension benefit on Cejudo and his troublesome cadence may trigger early bother. However the longer the struggle goes on, Cejudo appears to solely get higher. If Cruz proves unable to harm him, a late end from the more energizing fighter is not out of the query. 

Brookhouse on why Cruz will win: It is wild to suppose that Cruz is receiving this chance, however like with Gaethje, the coronavirus opened a door. It is easy to lose sight of the truth that Cruz is just 35 years previous, simply two years older than Cejudo. Assuming Cruz has saved in form and hasn’t misplaced his awkward type, there are many causes to suppose he can win this struggle. There are only a few individuals who struggle like Cruz, consistently working motion and angles to create offensive openings. Cejudo was not making ready to face something like his type when he thought he could be preventing Jose Aldo. As an alternative of a profession featherweight who’s draining right down to 135 for a really easy placing assault, Cejudo will face a tall, awkward fighter who’s the perfect within the historical past of the bantamweight division. The type will make all of the distinction on this struggle as Cruz makes use of motion and size to scrape by in sufficient rounds to edge out the struggle on the scorecards.

Crosby on why Ngannou will win: It is insane to suppose {that a} de-facto heavyweight No. 1 contender’s struggle is flying beneath the radar a bit, however that is a testomony to simply how loaded this card actually is. It actually is not a stretch to consider — as many do — that this would possibly not go previous Spherical 1 as a result of these two males shall be out to make an emphatic assertion with the stakes so excessive. In the long run, it is exhausting to disregard the self-discipline that Ngannou has proven in his rise again to the highest of the contender standings. He’ll get the job performed rapidly as he earns a future title shot, however this additionally will not be the final we see of Rozenstruik. 

Who will win Ferguson vs. Gaethje, and the way precisely will every struggle finish? Go to SportsLine now to get detailed picks on each UFC 249 struggle, all from the achieved professional who’s up nearly $19,000.