UFC 249 Betting Pick: Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje

Iiiiiiiitttt’sss Tiiiimmmmeeee!!! Yes, we have had to wait far far too long to hear Bruce Buffer say those words!

I have missed about 2 UFC’s in the past 5 years and then to be deprived for nearly 2 months is cruel and unusual, to say the least.

We are still far from seeing the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, in my opinion, but thank goodness for guys like Dana White.

I know we like to talk trash about the guy. He can be a bit of a dictator at times but UFC fans already knew he was going to fight harder than the commissioners of any other major sports leagues in the country. He was confident he could make it happen but never seemed to let up on his effort to do so.

After we thought we were all systems go for April 18th, MMA fans’ hearts were disappointed but I think we all knew that fights would be back sooner than later.

Here we are at Mother’s Day weekend and I can’t imagine a better gift for mom than the UFC returning. I guess not everyone’s mother is like mine. She has already started betting online and told me she is using my picks to make her bets.

No pressure, Mike… Hey, I am doing my best with these fight picks.

We have to take something into consideration, though. There are so many variables involved now.

  • Were fighters able to train at their gym?
  • If so, were all of their coaches in attendance?
  • How about fighters’ favorite training partners?
  • Were they there for the whole camp?

Mixed martial arts is a worldwide sport. The UFC currently has 10 World Champions from 9 different countries. With the world shut down, many foreign fighters are left hanging.

Ehem, Khabib Nurmagomedov… Whew, that’s a nasty cough. I should get that checked out… Hey, I wanted to see Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson as much as anyone in the world.

How many times has this fight has been cancelled? I don’t want to talk about it.

I am very happy that Justin Gaethje stepped up and even though we have had to wait 3 more weeks, I love the fact that it gave Justin Gaethje more time to train.

You can’t, key word-can’t, fully prepare for a 5 round fight against the #1 cardio machine in the world without a MINIMUM of 10-12 weeks.

Justin reportedly received word that he would likely be fighting in mid-March. That gave him 8 weeks at best.

The championship rounds are going to be extra hard on the hard-charging Gaethje but he is predicting an early TKO. Justin is definitely capable.

BetOnline.AG has our wager options. Let’s break down this fight a little further and make our predictions for the main event of UFC 249.

Tony Ferguson (-200) vs Justin Gaethje (+170)

OVER 2.5 ROUNDS
+110
UNDER 2.5 ROUNDS
-140

I will tell you right now. That over bet has value!

I know Justin is going to want to get this thing over with as quickly as possible but Tony, on the other hand, wants to drag JG into the deep waters of the championship rounds. Plus money on this one going 12:30 is pretty good.

If we want to take Gaethje, though, I think we can find even more valuable odds with more specificity. Gaethje wins inside distance is (+190). I suppose that isn’t more valuable even though it pays slightly more.

JG could be playing opossum about what kind of shape he is in.

Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov was scheduled and cancelled 5 times!

Gaethje was clearly the alternate and he’s a worker, man. I think he has been in that gym for hours a day since January. I love his coach. Trevor Wittman doesn’t have any other active fighters right now. He has the time and focus his guy needs.

Some fighters like to call themselves artists and the canvas is their fighting style and competitions. Justin looks at this a little differently. He says Trevor is the artist and he himself is the canvas.

It reminds me of how Mighty Mouse Demetrious Johnson described the relationship with his legendary corner and head coach, Matt Hume.

He would say that I am the video game character who has his stats built up between fights and Hume is the guy with the controller in his hand playing the game. I love this mentality.

It takes so much pressure off of the fighter. They obviously have enough to deal with during a fight much less competing at a championship level.

Gaethje and Johnson obviously have a great deal of freedom when they’re in there but they aren’t alone in the strategic department. And we all know that one can see things so much clearer when looking from outside the box/Octagon.

Tony is mostly self-trained. His Jiu-Jitsu coach is the great Eddie Bravo and while Eddie has been around the UFC nearly since its inception, he is not particularly an MMA coach.

He is very modest and would be the first one to tell you that.

He will also tell you that we have never been to the moon and that the earth is flat but all I’m saying is look into it… Kidding! He does think that, though.

While I do think Gaethje will try to knock out Ferguson early in the fight, something tells me that he is going to have more gas than expected if this thing goes 4 or 5 rounds.

He does live a mile high in Denver and if my calculations are correct, that is around 5,000 feet higher in elevation than Jacksonville, Florida. You don’t need to live at elevation to have good cardio but it sure as heck doesn’t hurt.

I see this fight mainly playing out on the feet. Both men have excellent wrestling especially scrambling and Tony should have the edge in submissions. We simply have never seen that part of Gaethje’s game.

We Have a Striking Battle

Unlike the co-main event where a bull is matched up with a matador, we have two bulls here. Two alphas.

Who is going to be able to fight on their front foot?

That’s a big question. It will likely come down to conditioning but who leads the dance in the first couple of rounds is anybody’s guess.

Ferguson will have a decisive 6.5-inch reach advantage in the arms. That’s a lot… The leg reach, though, is the same.

Justin is one of the most powerful and more importantly, one of the most effective leg kickers in the game today.

Tony has skinny legs and has torn ligaments off the bone in his knee. He also just turned 36 years old while Gaethje is still 31. That counts. If Tony was 38, I would be all in on Justin. 36, though, eh…he should still be just as effective.

Ferguson is a slow starter and Justin is a fast one. The first and second rounds will likely be the most dangerous for Tony. That’s why I don’t think he is going to play this bull in a china shop game with the MUCH more powerful puncher.

  • Justin has the edge in boxing.
  • Tony has the better helbows.
  • Justin has way better leg kicks.
  • Tony’s stabbing front kick to the body takes a little wind from his opponents each time it lands and with Gaethje standing square, it’s right there.
  • Justin has the advantage in power.
  • Tony is the cardio king.
  • Justin has the better cornerman.

This is a closer fight than the betting odds are telling us. (-600)…those are the odds that this fight ends before the end of the fifth round.

A lot of times high-level matchups will go longer than either fighter is accustomed to simply because their skills even out.

Both guys are forward fighters, though. Something has to give. I am staying away from picking a winner. Okay, I can’t do that. It’s the main event and you have stuck with me this long.

I think Tony wins by finish. You can find that one at SportBet.com for close to even money. You can get Gaethje by finish also but the payout barely changes from his moneyline odds.

My pick, though, is the fight to go past the 2:30 mark of the third round for a (+110) payout.

My Pick
OVER 2.5 ROUNDS

Bonus Prop Bet

Who Will Bleed First?

FERGUSON
-110
GAETHJE
-130

Here’s a fun one!

I am two for two on these thanks to Nate Diaz bleeding first against Masvidal and Cowboy Cerrone bleeding first opposite Conor McGregor. Those were easy, really.

This one is a bit tougher so make sure to only bet a few bucks here. Ferg has those hellbows and Justin will be aiming for the chin so I’ll take Tony to draw first blood.

My Pick
GAETHJE

In Conclusion

This is going to be a fun one, guys! I almost don’t want to bet on it at all.

I know that’s now what you guys want to hear after putting up with my rambling for 10 minutes but it’s going to be a little sweaty getting to the halfway point of the second round but keep in mind how durable each man is.

When is the last time either man was finished before the 12:30 mark in an MMA fight? It has happened once to Ferguson and that was on a small show back in 2009 when he fell victim to a triangle choke.

It has never happened to Gaethje in his career. He lost two respective wars to Poirier and Alvarez but those finishes came later than halfway through the third.

Durability plus Tony’s strategy will hopefully keep these two scrapping for 13 minutes or more.

Get your bets in now and enjoy the fights on Saturday!

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.