If you thought Korean baseball at 3 a.m. was exciting, hold onto your hats.
There is an honest to goodness, real life, major televised sporting event taking place on American soil this weekend.
This Saturday, on May 9, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will host UFC 249 from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
Florida agrees to host UFC 249
There has been a great deal of controversy and speculation surrounding UFC 249 as it was previously scheduled for April 18 in an undisclosed location that turned out to be California tribal land.
The event was quickly canceled after news of the location became public, and many have said UFC president Dana White was likely influenced by partners Disney and ESPN to postpone.
White settled on Florida and the empty VyStar arena to host the event no doubt because the state had previously declared a WWE event to be an essential service, and the folks at the gaming commission were willing to take his call.
UFC main fight card is stacked
The excitement surrounding UFC 249 cannot be understated and there are some huge names slated to fight this weekend. Let’s break down the main card with betting odds from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Tony Ferguson (-177) vs Justin Gaethje (+150)
Ferguson and Gaethje will headline this event with the interim lightweight title on the line.
Ferguson was initially supposed to battle Khabib Nurmagomedov who defeated the notorious Conor McGregor back in 2018, but the full champ returned to Russia amid the Covid-19 pandemic and has been unable to return to the US to fight again.
Henry Cejudo (-210) vs Dominick Cruz (+175)
The co-main event will feature a second title fight as bantamweight champion Cejudo takes on a former champion in Cruz. This will be Cruz’s first fight in four years as he makes his return to the octagon after losing his title to Cody Garbrandt in 2016.
Cejudo is defending his belt for the first time. He was originally slated to take on Jose Aldo at UFC 250 in Brazil, but Aldo is currently unable to leave his home country.
Francis Ngannou (-278) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+225)
These two heavyweight contenders come into the bout coming off an impressive run of recent knockouts. They are both looking to make a place for themselves in the title conversation.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (+118) vs Anthony Pettis (-143)
Coming off a bad loss to Conor McGregor’s shoulder, journeyman bruiser Cowboy Cerrone finds himself the underdog in this bout despite being the higher-ranked fighter.
Cerrone will be hunting for revenge seven years after the fact as Pettis defeated him by TKO in round 1 of their only previous fight back in 2013.
Greg Hardy (-200) vs Yorgan De Castro (+165)
The name Greg Hardy should be recognizable to the average fan as the former NFL star defensive lineman returns to the octagon to try and advance his fledgling UFC career.
Domestic violence allegations were the reason for his departure from the NFL but Hardy appears to have found a new method of utilizing his freakish athleticism.
Finally, the time has come where we can all scratch the betting itch. To celebrate, here are my picks for UFC 249:
Ferguson (-177) – Tony enters the bout as the number 1 contender with an unpredictable fighting style and a 6.5 in reach advantage. I’ll take the favorite.
Henry Cejudo (-210) – Although Cejudo is giving up four inches in the height and reach categories, it’s been four years since we’ve seen Cruz. I expect Cejudo’s first title defense to go very well.
Anthony Pettis (-143) – Cerrone is a fighter notorious for taking every single fight that comes his way, it seems like he fights every month. After losing to McGregor, Cerrone admitted to “not showing up” and “not wanting to be there.” That does not sound good for the cowboy, especially since Pettis put him away quickly the first time they fought.
Yorgan De Castro (+165) – De Castro is the underdog I want my money on. He is 6-0 in the UFC so far with five knockouts, and Hardy is still rough around the edges.