UFC News: Analyzing Odds for Ferguson vs. Gaethje, UFC 249's Biggest Fights

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2020

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 06: Tony Ferguson poses for photos during the UFC 249 press conference at T-Mobile Arena on March 06, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Chris Unger/Getty Images

Tony Ferguson opened as a clear favorite over Justin Gaethje for their interim lightweight championship bout at UFC 249.

After already having to abandon plans for the event in April, the company announced last Friday that UFC 249 is back on. VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, will play host to the stacked show May 9.

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WHAT A CARD! 👏 #UFC249 https://t.co/JRNGc2hjm3

The Athletic's Ben Fowlkes pushed back on the notion this is the most star-studded card ever but considers it "very good."

On Monday, Caesars Palace unveiled the odds for all 12 fights on the preliminary and main cards:

  • Justin Gaethje (+150) vs. Tony Ferguson (-180)
  • Dominick Cruz (+200) vs. Henry Cejudo (-250) 
  • Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+230) vs. Francis Ngannou (-280)
  • Jeremy Stephens (+200) vs. Calvin Kattar (-250)
  • Yorgan De Castro (+150) vs. Greg Hardy (-180)
  • Donald Cerrone (+105) vs. Anthony Pettis (-135)
  • Aleksei Oleinik (+250) vs. Fabricio Werdum (-320) 
  • Michelle Waterson (+120) vs. Carla Esparza (-150)
  • Uriah Hall (+100) vs. Ronaldo Souza (-130)
  • Niko Price (+220) vs. Vicente Luque (-270)
  • Charles Rosa (+150) vs. Bryce Mitchell (-180)
  • Sam Alvey (+325) vs. Ryan Spann (-450)

Few were surprised to see Ferguson get the nod over Gaethje. He's riding a 12-fight winning streak and is the No. 1 challenger in the lightweight division. 

Gaethje has won his last three fights, but fans still remember those defeats to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier.

Ferguson has a decided advantage in preparation time. Even with UFC 249's postponement, just over one month will have passed since Gaethje was confirmed as his opponent.

Maybe Gaethje catches Ferguson early. He's going to be the more aggressive of the two from the outset, and his relative lack of training time gives him an incentive to end this no later than the third round.

Still, the odds on Gaethje aren't long enough to make him a worthwhile bet.

Dominick Cruz, on the other hand, might be a smart play at +200.

He hasn't stepped inside the Octagon since his unanimous-decision defeat to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207 in December 2016.

UFC President Dana White might have gone a bit over the top when arguing why the 35-year-old deserved to contend for Henry Cejudo's bantamweight championship after replacing Jose Aldo.

"He's still one of the best in the world," White told ESPN (h/t MMAJunkie's Mike Bohn). "He's one of the best in the world. He's a guy who has been incredibly plagued with injuries throughout his career. But, he's still looked at as one of the best in the world."

Cruz's talent has never been in question, with White referencing what has been his biggest obstacle. He's understandably an underdog against Cejudo, but that moneyline is almost too good to pass up.

The same can't be said for Donald Cerrone as he is preparing to oppose Anthony Pettis.

Pettis dropped three of his previous four fights, while Cerrone is coming off losses to Ferguson, Gaethje and Conor McGregor, none of which went past the second round. Falling to McGregor, who hadn't fought in more than a year, in 40 seconds was particularly bad.

It's somewhat surprising the odds between Pettis and Cerrone are as close as they are, though that's largely an indication of how uninspiring this fight is.