As promised in a tweet late Sunday night, Dana White delivered on providing MMA fans with the entire UFC 249 card Monday.
As we discussed yesterday, the headliner will be Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title. Also, like we mentioned, a must-see heavyweight slugfest between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik was added to the card.
In fact, Ngannou-Rozenstruik already has a total and I’m extremely bullish on it. Sign me up for ‘under’ 1.5 rounds for a +140 return via BetOnline.
Ngannou-Rozenstruik was going to be a main event. Now it’s going to be the Prelims headliner that can viewed for free on ESPN.
I spoke to sharp MMA bettor GambLou earlier today about the Gaethje-Ferguson bout, so let’s go back to that fight again.
GambLou told MajorWager, “I agree with the oddsmakers making Ferguson a slight favorite. He has a huge reach advantage and is rangier. It’s hard to read his mentality going into this fight, though. Is it a letdown not facing Nurmagomedov? What does he really have to win here?
“Gaethje is the younger man by 4.5 years. I worry a little about his cardio for a five-round fight because he wasn’t thinking he was going to be back in the Octagon until this summer. It’ll be a helluva fight.”
Another intriguing bout added to the main card is Niko Price vs. Vicente Luque in the welterweight loop. Luque saw his six-fight winning streak snapped in a unanimous-decision loss to Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson at UFC 244.
Price will be looking to avenge a second-round submission loss to Luque (D’Arce choke) at UFC Sao Paulo on Oct. 28 of 2017. Since that loss, Price is 4-2 with four finishes and three Performance of the Night bonuses.
Another added scrap is in the lightweight division, as Michael ‘The Menace’ Johnson (-240) will take on Khama Worthy (+205 at BetOnline). Johnson has a number of high-quality wins on his resume, including a win as a road underdog over Edson Barboza in Brazil. He also has a first-round KO win over Dustin Poirier, handed Ferguson his only career UFC defeat and has additional scalps over Gleison Tibau, Joe Lauzon, Melvin Guillard, Shane Roller, Danny Castillo, Andre Fili and Artem Lobov.
Johnson has dropped heartbreakers. He dominated Josh Emmett for 14-plus minutes before Emmett landed a Hail-Mary uppercut that left Johnson out cold. The 33-year-old ‘Menace’ was robbed by the judges in an unfathomable split decision that somehow went to Beneil Dariush. He also was on the wrong side of a pair of Fight of the Night thrillers vs. Nate Diaz and Gaethje.
Worthy got the call for his UFC debut on less than a week of notice and three weeks after winning his previous bout. Worthy accepted the UFC 241 showdown with Devonte Smith and won by first-round KO as an enormous +650 underdog. (!!!)
An underdog on the card that interests me (and GambLou agreed during our conversation) is Jeremy Stephens at +210 vs. Calvin Kattar.
Although White still hasn’t revealed the exact location of UFC 249, he did say Monday that he’s secured a private island for two months. He plans on cranking out weekly shows at the island, using it in part so that international fighters can fly there without violating the United States travel ban.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto caught up with White and discussed many matters for about 20 minutes.
Some of the highlights include:
–Dana clearly states that Nurmagomedov is not at fault in any way whatsoever.
–White says pulling this off was the toughest task of his entire career.
–The card for April 25 and the cards on the following weekends are “still under construction.”