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411’s UFC 249 Report: Gaethje Stops Ferguson

May 10, 2020 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC 249

MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
#1 Tony Ferguson (155 lbs.) vs. #4 Justin Gaethje (155 lbs.) – for interim lightweight title
(c) Henry Cejudo (135 lbs.) vs. Dominick Cruz (135 lbs.) – for bantamweight title
#2 Francis Ngannou (261.5 lbs.) vs. #6 Jairzinho Rozenstruik (260 lbs.)
#9 Calvin Kattar (146 lbs.) vs. #7 Jeremy Stephens (150.5 lbs.)*
Yorgan De Castro (262 lbs.) vs. Greg Hardy (265.5 lbs.)

Donald Cerrone (171 lbs.) vs. #15 Anthony Pettis (170.5 lbs.)
#12 Aleksei Oleinik (227.5 lbs.) vs. Fabricio Werdum (243 lbs.)
#7 Carla Esparza (115.5 lbs.) vs. #8 Michelle Waterson (115 lbs.)
#13 Vicente Luque (170 lbs.) vs. Niko Price (170.5 lbs.)

Bryce Mitchell (145.5 lbs.) vs. Charles Rosa (146 lbs.)
Sam Alvey (205 lbs.) vs. Ryan Spann (206 lbs.)

*Stephens missed the featherweight limit and will be fined 30 percent of his fight purse.

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC 249. I’m Robert Winfree and it’s been entirely too long since I’ve been able to spend a fight night with you good people. Of course there’s still a legitimate debate to be had about how responsible it is for the UFC to run an event in the midst of the pandemic, but for the moment we’ll be setting that aside and focusing on the action in the cage.

UFC 249 has had a very strange journey into existence, originally scheduled for April 9th that card was canceled after the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to run an event. In fact the UFC hasn’t run an event since March 14th when the ran an event in Brazil without an audience, missing a total of six scheduled shows. The location and venue has bounced around from New York, to California, to tribal lands, but now we’ve arrived in the great state of Florida. We’ve already had one setback for this card, yesterday a fight between Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Uriah Hall was called off when Souza tested positive for covid. As of this writing the event is still a go, but that has to be a major point of concern for fighters, fans, and promoters as well. The remaining card is still stacked to the brim with mostly quality fights.

In the main event two of the most violent fighters in the world, two fighters who bring guaranteed action, square off for the interim lightweight title when Tony Ferguson meets Justin Gaethje. This fight is a big hurdle for Ferguson to clear and a big risk to the fight I think we’ve all wanted for years at this point, that being Feguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov. But it’s also a big opportunity for Gaethje to get the biggest win of his career. Either way it’s a can’t miss action fight on paper. The co-main sees former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz return to action after nearly three and a half years on the shelf, stepping up on relatively short notice to battle current champion Henry Cejudo. If you’ll recall Cejudo was supposed to defend his title on this date but in Brazil against Jose Aldo, now he instead battles Cruz to begin establishing his championship legacy. If Cruz pulls off the win it will be one of the most remarkable accomplishments in the short history of the sport, a massive layoff against a surging champion who has never lost at 135.

Elsewhere on the card we have the return of Fabricio Werdum, a rematch between Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis, and a rematch between Vicente Luque and Niko Price. It’s not all good, Greg Hardy is on PPV for some reason and there’s a Sam Alvey fight kicking off the entire affair, but the UFC is dealing with a limited roster due to travel restrictions and such.

UFC 249 comes to the world from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. On commentary we have Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and Daniel Cormier while Megan Olivi handles on site reporting. We’re under the newer rules tonight including instant replay for a fight ending sequence if desired. They’re killing a lot of early time due to the fight falling out yesterday, and I imagine they’re going to take their sweet time in general to draw out the ad revenue they can generate.

Ryan Spann is riding a six fight winning streak including three wins in the UFC, he’s hoping to extend that streak and earn a bigger opportunity for his next fight. Sam Alvey is just 2-4 in his last six fights and is on a three fight losing streak, he’s likely fighting for his job as most of his recent fights have been boring in addition to losses. Spann is a hefty -450 favorite to +325 on Alvey.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Sam Alvey (33-13 1 NC, 205 lbs.) vs. Ryan Spann (17-5, 206 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Spann is three inches taller with a three and a half inches of reach advantage. They clinch up quickly and Spann has Alvey on the cage. Southpaw for Alvey. Some hand fighting while Spann looks for head position and to switch to a single leg. Alvey down to his seat against the fence and Spann is looking to strip his posting limbs with minimal success. Alvey back up but Spann has a standing arm triangle choke. Spann is working to get things to the mat again with his legs, he’s increasing the squeeze slowly but surely even thought they’re standing. Another body adjustment for Spann and Alvey’s face is starting to change color, Alvey finally fights out of the choke and they break. Spann working the jab and front kick while keeping Alvey on the fence. Bit of a left from Alvey. Alvey misses a lunging left and right. Side kick from Alvey hits Sapnn in the groin but he doesn’t want a break. Spann with a counter right, Alvey lands a right of his own. Alvey is timing a modified check right hook over the jab of Spann, Spann hasn’t adjusted to it yet. Spann lands a right and Alvey misses the counter. Alvey lands a couple of calf kicks. Hard right from Spann then a knee and they’re clinched again. Spann is after a takedown, moves to a high crotch but can’t finish it and they wind up chest to chest for the final few seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Spann

ROUND TWO: Circling as the round starts, Alvey quickly back into the fence. High kick from Spann is partially blocked, Alvey tries another right hook. Spann forces a clinch and is after another takedown. Alvey is able to fight free and they separate. Spann lands a right to counter the lead hand of Alvey. Alvey has a kick caught but nothing comes of it. Alvey back to some calf kicks, Spann lands a right. Spann lands a front kick to the body. They trade, Alvey lands a couple of rights and Spann is backing up. Spann with another front kick to the body, Alvey does not like those. Alvey lands a left then a right behind it. Again that front kick from Spann. Glancing right from Spann but Alvey is rolling with most of his punches so far. Alvey lands a calf kick. Spann lands a left behind his front kick to the body. Both men land punches in the pocket but neither falls or is even staggered. The round ends with them at distance.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Alvey but a close one, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Quick clinch from Spann and they hit the fence again. Spann lands a right as they break. Front kick again from Spann. The activity level continues to drop in this fight, typical Alvey performance. Alvey is still spending most of the time with his back near the fence. High kick from Spann is mostly successful then he looks to unload in the clinch as Alvey covers up. Alvey fires back enough to get him to disengage but he got tagged during that exchange. Spann lands another front kick to the body then a right to counter a calf kick. Alvey lands a left but can’t really follow up. Another lunging left from Alvey lands but Spann is still backing him up. A couple of lefts from Spann land in combination. Alvey avoids a lunging knee. One two from Spann then Alvey lands a right as he avoids another knee. Alvey lands a left. High kick from Alvey is mostly unblocked but Spann essentially no sells it. Right from Alvey stuns Spann, Spann tries a takedown but Alvey is defending with a front headlock and sprawling away from him. Alvey is working on a front choke, Spann defends and Alvey lands some punches while they fight back up to their feet. Spann gets Alvey on the fence, Alvey lands a knee as they break. Alvey lands a lunging left. Bit of a right from Spann wobbles Alvey and we wind up clinched. alvey lands a flurry in close looking to finish but the clock will run down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Alvey, 29-28 Alvey overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Ryan Spann via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)

No issues with Spann taking the second, my feed has been a bit glitchy so I’m going to switch players and see if that helps. Mic time for Spann, he opens by giving glory to God then says he’s fought in front of no one plenty of times before so the lack of crowd didn’t bother him. He says he thought he had Alvey with that arm triangle in the first but was worried about gassing his arms out before thanking his coaches for keeping him in shape. He’s not happy with his performance because he didn’t dominate and notes that the pandemic has effected his training.

Bryce Mitchell is undefeated including three wins in the UFC, his most recent one being a rare twister submission win. Mitchell is hoping to stay undefeated and start making a move towards ranked opposition. Charles Rosa has gone 3-3 in the UFC trading wins and losses along the way, he’s coming off of an impressive first round submission win over Manny Bermudez and is looking to stifle the momentum of Mitchell and make his own move up the ranks of the division. The odds are slightly with Mitchell at -165 to a +135 comeback on Rosa.

Featherweight Bout: Bryce Mitchell (12-0, 145.5 lbs.) vs. Charles Rosa (12-3, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Sorry guys, I missed the opening but come in with Mitchell working an arm triangle choke very early in the fight. Rosa is struggling to breathe while trying to escape but Mitchell has a heck of a squeeze going while trying to finish the choke. Rosa does manage to escape but Mitchell is all over him on the mat. Mitchell has the ride position and lands some punches, Rosa is trying to granby roll but Mitchell is after another twister. The arm is around the neck and Mitchell is trying to finish, he lands an elbow while trying to open up the submission. Mitchell gets the arm around the neck and is cranking on the twister but he loses the leg control and winds up having to settle for full mount. Some rights from Mitchell, he’s after another arm triangle, he’s got it locked up and passes to side control looking to finish. Rosa escapes again and gets full guard but Mitchell passes to half guard quickly. Mitchell stands, and punches down looking to pass as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Mitchell based on what I saw, hopefully my feed has settled down

ROUND TWO: Quick takedown from Mitchell, he passes as well. Mitchell’s ground game is something special right now. 3/4 mount for Mitchell, Rosa gets half guard but is still being threatened with an arm triangle choke. Full mount for Mitchell. Elbow from Mitchell and now left punches as well. Mitchell moves towards S mount, Rosa slips out the back door into 50/50 guard but Mitchell gets on top and tries to pressure through the leg entanglement. Mitchell is basically in leg drag position, now he passes to side control. Knee on belly for Mitchell, and into full mount like it was nothing. Another arm triangle attempt from Mitchell, Rosa is trying to defend but he’s starting to fade. Mitchell doesn’t like the position and bails on the choke to get full mount again. Rosa moves to his knees, Mitchell gets one hook in and lands some punches then goes for another twister. Elbows to the body from Mitchell, he gets his arms locked for the twister just as the bell ends the round.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Mitchell, 20-16 Mitchell overall, this is a wipeout ion terms of offense

ROUND THREE: Mitchell punches into a takedown but he lands basically in a back mount with one of the legs locked down to start the twister. Another twister attack from Mitchell, Rosa gets his leg free and flips to his back then scrambles to his hip but Mitchell scrambles with him and gets top position side control. Mitchell to full mount, if I didn’t know how good Rosa is I’d say this was too easy for Mitchell but Rosa is pretty legitimate. Rosa rolls to his knees, Mitchell on his back but has no hooks in. Now two hooks in for Mitchell, Rosa flips to his back and Mitchell has full mount. Mitchell attacks an arm triangle position but Rosa is still defending as much as he can. Back mount for Mitchell, and back to full mount as Rosa tries to move. Rosa kicks off the fence and Mitchell dives back onto him in half guard. Side control from Mitchell, then the mounted crucifix for a moment or two. Mitchell slides around to the ride position, then stands free and clinches again as Rosa stands when the clock runs out.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Mitchell, 30-24 Mithcell overall, I don’t think Rosa had a single bit of offense that round

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Bryce Mitchell via unanimous decision (30-24, 30-25 x2)

I missed the interview due to another minor stream glitch, though I assume Mitchell still wants camo trunks he can fight in which Reebok will fail to deliver yet again.

That’s it for early preliminary action, on to ESPN for the rest of the prelims.

Vicente Luque just had a six fight winning streak broken by Stephen Thompson which brought his UFC record to 10-3, now he’s hoping to rebuild and resume taking on ranked opposition soon. Niko Price is out for revenge as Luque was the first man to defeat him professionally, he’s coming off of an impressive up kick knockout win last year and could score the biggest win of his career in this fight. Luque is your favorite at a notable -280 while a Price win would pay out at +230.

Welterweight Bout: #13 Vicente Luque (17-7-1, 170 lbs.) vs. Niko Price (14-3, 170.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Price is an inch taller and has half an inch of reach over Luque. They touch gloves to get us going. Price trying to work kicks to keep distance. Luque ducks a right and lands a right of his own. Calf kicks from Luque now. Price lands a right to counter a leg kick. Both men land in close, this could turn into a brawl real quick. More leg kicks from Luque, those are adding up quickly. Luque lands a right. Right from Luque then another calf kick. Price lands a chopping right of his own. Calf kick from Luque then they trade lefts to the body. They trade rights then Luque lands a calf kick. Luque lands a right. Price with a front kick to the jaw and a right, he’s swarming Luque along the fence but Luque survives and grabs a guillotine as he’s taken down. Price gets his head free in half guard and lands some elbows, now Price is after a d’arce choke but Luque is defending as he’s on his knees against the fence. Luque back up, Price lands an uppercut as they break. Luque lands a right. They trade lefts a few times. A right from Luque wobbles Price as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Price

ROUND TWO: Right and a left from Luque to get the round going, both landed flush. Luque with a couple of leg kicks as well. These two are going at it. A left from Luque has Price bleeding around the right cheekbone. Right and a left from Luque, Price is leaning on him for a clinch now. Price is landing some short lefts, mostly he’s looking to recover from getting battered for a bit there. Luque spins free and lands a jab. Left from Luque then a calf kick, he’s really breaking Price down physically at this point. They trade rights in close, Price is fading a bit. Price lands a right then eats a leg kick. The round will end on another nearly even exchange.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Luque, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Luque back to leg kicking early, Price looking to push the pace though. We’re getting into a brawl here. Jabs from Luque. Price digs a left to the body, both men then land in close. Price lands a few rights, his leg kicks have been getting to Luque. Price is after a double leg, Luque defends and shucks him off. They start trading in the pocket again, Price’s face is a mess. Luque with a right then a left. Price lands a left uppercut then a right. A left from Luque finally drops Price, he tries to follow up but wants Price back up. Price’s right eye is a mess, the ref wants the doctor to check on it and yeah, we’re done that thing is wrecked.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Vicente Luque via TKO, doctor stoppage, at 3:37 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Luque for his work this evening. Fun little brawl. Mic time for Luque, he says he was ready for the best version of Price ever. He mentions learning a lot about his game after the loss to Thompson but he got sucked into the brawl with Price to entertain the audience. He talks us through the finish, and mentions he wanted to show his improvement in this fight before putting over Price as a tough guy.

Here’s a look a the blows that ended things.

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the eye and you can see a bit of the cuts around it as well.

Carla Esparza is 2-2 in her last four fights but is on a two fight winning streak. She’s hoping to get another crack at the title she used to hold, and a win tonight is critical if she’s ever going to get that shot. Michelle Waterson just had a three fight winning streak broken by former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, she’s trying to regain her momentum towards the top of the division as well. The odds are with Esparza at -145 go +115 for Waterson.

Strawweight Bout: #7 Carla Esparza (15-6, 115.5 lbs.) vs. #8 Michelle Waterson (17-7, 115 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Waterson is two inches taller but Esparza has an inch of reach advantage. Circling to start, Waterson looking to establish some distance. Both women showing the lead hand but not doing much with it yet. Bit of a right from Waterson as she backs up. Waterson misses a front kick. Another counter right from Waterson as she steps back from an Esparza rush. Waterson is starting to kick the legs, Esparza is struggling with the distance and mobility of Waterson. Right from Esparza in close. Waterson lands a body kick. Leg kick from Waterson then a high kick that misses. Knee tap from Esparza and she’s got Waterson down, looking to steal the round with that one. Waterson has closed guard working but nothing is really going to come of the takedown before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Waterson, that takedown wasn’t enough IMO

ROUND TWO: Bit of a right from Waterson to get the round going. Waterson still doing a number on the invisible woman 4 inches in from of Esparza but not much reaching Esparza yet. Southpaw for Waterson at the moment but she switches a fair bit. Waterson lands an inside leg kick. Esparza misses a blitz attack. Both women still falling short with most of their offense. Waterson lands a front kick to the body then a leg kick. Left from Waterson lands. Leg kick from Waterson. Another Waterson leg kick. Esparza still doesn’t have a reliable method of closing distance and initiating her offense. Esparza tries a takedown from way too far out and Waterson defends then lands a knee to the body. Body kick from Waterson and she evades the counters. Esparza misses a few punches. Waterson defends another takedown attempt and lands a knee to the body. Waterson blocks a few punches. High kick from Waterson, Esparza tries a takedown but is stuffed and Waterson again knees the body as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Waterson, 20-18 Waterson overall

ROUND THREE: Esparza still circling, Waterson lands a right to the body. Waterson lands a thrust kick to the knee then avoids a very telegraphed takedown attempt. Side kick from Waterson, bit of a right from Esparza. Jabs from the southpaw stance from Waterson then she switches back. Esparza lands a body kick at the end of a missed combination. Waterson kicks the knee again then ducks under a couple of punches. Waterson lands a leg kick. A couple of knees from Esparza land then a right. Waterson with another leg kick. They clinch up then break without anything coming of it. Another kick to the knee from Waterson. Waterson lands a knee but Esparza catches it and gets a clinch. Waterson breaks free quickly and separates. Another leg kick from Waterson, Esparza returns it. Front kick to the body from Waterson. Esparza lands a right in close. Hook kick from Waterson, Esparza tries another double leg but Waterson defends the knees her. Esparza bulls forward, tries a combination but a right from Waterson gets her to back off. They get close and swing wildly for a couple of seconds. A knee kick from Waterson basically ends the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Waterson but a close one, 30-27 Waterson overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Carla Esparza via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 30-27)

OK, 30-27 for Esparza seems totally incorrect based on the second round. Clucky seems unaffected by COVID-19.

Aleksei Oleinik has gone 3-2 in his last five fights, he’s coming off of a win and could score the biggest win of his career over a former champion and dark horse all time great of the division. Fabricio Werdum was last seen over two years ago in March of 2018 when he was stopped by Alexander Volkov, but now he’s back and looking to get his first win since 2017 with an eye towards climbing back to the heavyweight title. Despite the layoff Werdum is a solid -320 favorite to +250 for Oleinik.

Heavyweight Bout: #12 Aleksei Oleinik (58-13-1, 227.5 lbs.) vs. Fabricio Werdum (23-8-1, 243 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Werdum is two inches taller but Oleinik has three inches of reach advantage, also Werdum is notably heavier. They touch gloves to get us going. Oelinik jabbing forward, Werdum misses an uppercut and eats a right. Inside leg kick from Werdum. Werdum with a one two. Oleinik still coming forward swinging wide hooks. Knee from Werdum and he avoids a wild right. More punches from Oleinik, he might have stunned Werdum for a moment as Werdum is backing up. Now a right from Werdum and we clinch up. Oleinik working rights to the body, Werdum is able to push him off. Leg kick from Werdum. Right from Oleinik, now uppercuts and he’s looking to swarm but Werdum ties him up in a clinch. More punches from Oleinik, Werdum working knees now and blocking most of these punches. Oleinik slams home a series of upnches, Werdum clinches then breaks and lands his own right. This is sloppy heavyweight goodness so far. Oleinik still swinging punches from the clinch, Werdum mostly waiting him out at this point as he’s wearing himself down. They break and then clinch again. Werdum gets Oleinik on the fence, now Oleinik reverses the position. Oleinik punches free and Werdum misses a head kick. Body shots from Oleinik and they clinch again, then break again. Oleinik back into the clinch and he lands a left hook but Werdum absorbs the pressure without too much issue. Rights from Oleinik and he avoids a clinch attempt from Werdum. Both men still swinging, they clinch again this time Oleinik gets the back standing. That’s where the round will end.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Oleinik

ROUND TWO: And my internet crapped out for a bit, great. I missed most of the round, but come back to see Werdum on top in half guard. Oleinik moves to his knees, Werdum gets the back with both hooks in. Werdum winds up stepping off and over the head and they are back on their feet. Some kicks from Oleinik, who looks fatigued. Werdum avoids some punches in close. Oleinik still swinging though and coming forward. Bit of a knee from Werdum but Oleinik is still punching him and pressing him to the fence. They clinch, Oleinik moves towards the back and gets it standing. Werdum gets chest to chest again and they break. Oleinik lands a front kick then a right. Back to the clinch, Oleinik swinging body shots as the clock winds down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Werdum but I’m not sold on that one given how much I missed, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Another bit of missed time for me, Oleinik is on top but Werdum uses a kimura to sweep into full mount and still holding the arm to attack it. Werdum bails on the arm, Oleinik gives up his back and Werdum attacks an armbar. Spiderweb control for Werdum, he can’t hold it but gets back to full mount. Oleinik on a hip again, Werdum back to the arm attack but loses it and Oleinik is back up and they’re trading in the clinch. They break and Oleinik walks forward with punches into another clinch. Knee from Werdum as they break. Oleinik with punches, he stuns Werdum for a second but Werdum responds with a knee. Knee tap from Werdum and he’s in half guard on top. Oleinik to his knees, Werdum sits for a guillotine but time runs out before it can develop.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Werdum, but again I missed some time on the fight, 29-28 Werdum overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Aleksei Oleinik via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)

I can’t comment too much given my internet problems, but I don’t think it’s incorrect to give it to Oleinik.

Donald Cerrone is a legend of the MMA game and this once against marks his fifth fight in about twelve months. Cerrone is on a three fight losing streak, all of them were stoppage losses as well but that is somewhat mitigated by the level of opposition being Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje, and Tony Ferguson. Cerrone is trying to avoid his first four fight losing streak and prove there’s still some gas in the metaphorical tank. Anthony Pettis is just 1-3 in his last four fights and is on a two fight losing streak, he’s hoping to halt the skid his career is on while getting back on the winning side of things. These two fought previously in 2013 with Pettis winning via first round TKO, which probably contributes to his -160 favored status against a +130 for Cerrone.

Welterweight Bout: Donald Cerrone (36-14 1 NC, 171 lbs.) vs. #15 Anthony Pettis (22-10, 170.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Cerrone is three inches taller and has half an inch of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Pettis showing kicks early and feinting. Bit of a right to the body from Cerrone. Front kick to the body from Cerrone. Pettis is switching his stance a bit now. Stiff left from Pettis halts a Cerrone blitz. Pettis limp legs away from a single leg takedown then lands a right to the body. Lots of circling from Pettis, Cerrone mostly following him around. Leg kick from Cerrone but Pettis counters with a couple of punches. Left body kick then a right from Pettis. Cerrone misses a left hook. Leg kick from Cerrone. Pettis misses a kick, Cerrone gets a clinch on the fence. Pettis breaks free without much issue. Right from Pettis, Cerrone lands a left. Jumping left kick from Pettis lands to the head, Cerrone catches it and gets a takedown into side control. Pettis looking to bridge and bump, Cerrone trying to smother him. Pettis spins around, Cerrone steps free and stands over the guard of Pettis. Now Pettis is back up and they’re at distance again. A couple of punches land for Cerrone, Pettis with a counter left that stuns him for a second. Another counter right from Pettis stops the motion of Cerrone. Cerrone’s right eye is swelling, he lands a jab just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Pettis

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves again. Cerrone lands a bit of a left hook. Pettis hops into a right and Cerrone’s right eye is still swelling. Left high kick from Pettis mostly lands. Bit of a left from Cerrone. Both men land lefts, Pettis is baiting Cerrone’s counter combinations and then counter them more consistently this round. Spinning back fist from Pettis misses. Cerrone avoids a knee and lands a right. Jumping high kick from Pettis falls a little short. Pettis slips a punch and lands a left. They trade inside leg kicks. Pettis lands to the body and slips some counters. Cerrone lands a body kick. Body kick from Pettis, and another one. Cerrone gets a takedown into the guard of Pettis. Pettis scoots to the fence and looks to wall walk, he’s up as Cerrone lands a knee to the body and we’re clinched. Cerrone tries a high kick as they break but misses. Pettis digs a left to the body. Spinning back kick from Pettis. Cerrone lands a front kick to the body, bit of a right from Pettis closes out the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Cerrone but a close one, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They clash on kicks to start the round. Pettis coming forward now, he lands a left after Cerrone missed a couple of punches. Both men land rights. One two from Pettis lands, Cerrone is getting flatter on his feet now. Body kick from Cerrone. Cerrone ducks under a left but can’t get the takedown he wanted. Pettis lands a right hook. Hard body kick from Pettis but Cerrone gets a clinch off of it. Cerrone lands a knee as they break. Cerrone avoids a few high kicks. Leg kick from Cerrone. Right from Pettis stuns Cerrone and Pettis looks to swarm him. Both men throwing punches, Cerrone got punched in the eye I think. Cerrone barely avoids a left head kick. High kick from Cerrone lands and they both land punches after. Bit of a counter left from Pettis then a jab. Pettis lands a right hook. Cerrone tries a single leg, Pettis defends then lands a heavy body kick. We get some wild action from Cerrone just as time runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Pettis but who knows, 29-28 Pettis overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Anthony Pettis via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Close fight, no issues with it going either way. Nice action from both guys and Pettis gets an interview. He though the fight was close and acknowledges the last head kick from Cerrone and puts him over as a legend and his friend. He jokes that Cerrone didn’t get anything off of the takedowns but they both landed on the feet.

That will wrap up preliminary action, on to PPV for the main card.

Greg Hardy is on PPV again, for reasons that make sense only to ESPN executives. Hardy lost his last fight, a late notice affair with Alexander Volkov, and is trying to avoid his first losing streak. Yorgan De Castro is undefeated including his UFC debut when he scored a memorable first round knockout, he’s now hoping for a high profile win to keep that momentum going. Hardy is the -210 favorite to +175 on De Castro.

Heavyweight Bout: Yorgan De Castro (6-0, 262 lbs.) vs. Greg Hardy (5-2 1 NC, 265.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Hardy is five inches taller and has six and a half inches of reach over De Castro. They touch gloves. De Castro lands a right. Right and a left fro De Castro then a leg kick. They’re both swinging rather wide and wild. Hardy avoids a leg kick. Hardy avoids a few punches. Bit of a leg kick from De Castro. Hardy showing the jab now. Right from De Castro. De Castro lands a leg kick and eats a bit of a counter right. Both men land lefts, but there’s already not much on them. Hardy lands a leg kick. Coming up on the three minute mark, De Castro lands a right and a leg kick. Hardy avoids a couple of punches. De Castro lands a leg kick, they get close and swing punches with both men landing but neither man falling. De Castro is on the fence and Hardy is starting to find some of the openings. Hardy keeps backing De Castro up, tries a high kick but misses. They stare away the final seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 De Castro

ROUND TWO: They touch gloves again. De Castro lands a leg kick. Hardy needs a response to those kicks, and he lands one of his own. Another leg kick from De Castro. Bit of a right from Hardy. Hardy misses a superman punch. Both men miss low kicks. Lots of half thrown blows at this point, the cardio of both men is in serious question. Hardy leans away from a couple of wide punches. De Castro’s output has waned considerably. Leg kick from Hardy. De Castro is giving this round away, he’s not doing anything. Hardy keeps showing inside leg kicks at the moment. Bit of a jab from Hardy. Leg kick from Hardy then a left. Hardy misses on an ugly overhand right and the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hardy, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Hardy lands a right to get the last round going. Inside leg kicks from Hardy, De Castro lands a lunging left. Leg kick from De Castro, where were those for the last three minutes of the previous round? De Castro lands an inside leg kick. Hardy looking to pump the jab, he lands a right to the body. Right to the body from Hardy. De Castro slips on a leg kick, Hardy stands over him and lands punches to the thigh then a leg kick. Finally Hardy makes De Castro stand back up. Lots of posturing but little action so far. Hardy still showing stuff, De Castro is just circling and doing nothing. They stare away the final few seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hardy, 29-28 Hardy overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Greg Hardy via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Well that sucked, terrible way to kick off the PPV. 30-27 seems wrong. Mic time for Hardy, who puts over DC on commentary for calling for him to check leg kicks. Hardy says this feels like he should be saying he wants to go to Disney World, but also wants to be on the Joe Rogan Experience.

Jeremy Stephens hasn’t won a fight since February of 2018, despite being on an 0-3 1 NC streak he’s still a ranked fighter and is trying to halt the skid his career is on. Stephens also missed weight by a whopping five pounds or so, but given the pandemic I’ll give him a bit of a pass. Calvin Kattar has gone 4-2 in the UFC, only dropping decisions to Renato Moicano and Zabit Magomedsharipov. Kattar could score a critical win here as he’s coming off of the loss to Magomedsharipov but could rebound over a fighter ranked above him and resume his march towards the top of the division. Kattar is a significant -260 favorite to +240 for Stephens.

Featherweight Bout: #9 Calvin Kattar (20-4, 146 lbs.) vs. #7 Jeremy Stephens (28-17 1 NC, 150.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Kattar is two inches taller and has an inch of reach advantage. Kattar starts out circling while Stephens looks to shift forward. Body kick form Stephens. Stephens is pressing forward early but Kattar is circling well and getting his reads. Stephens punches forward but it’s mostly blocked. Leg kick from Stephens. Kattar now punches forward but mostly misses. Kattar jabs the body. Leg kick from Kattar. Both men block and slip punches. Leg kick from Stephens, Kattar returns it. Stephens gets close and lands a couple of body shots. Inside leg kick from Stephens, Stephens is cooking along right now. Kattar lands a counter left. Bit of a jab from Kattar then they trade leg kicks. Stephens lands a right, Kattar lands a left hook then Stephens hits a couple of body kicks. Jab from Kattar, thena left to the body off of it. Stephens lands a calf kick, and another. Those calf kicks from Stephens are adding up quick. Hard right from Kattar rocks Stephens, but he fires back while backing up and Kattar resets. Stephens lands a calf kick but Kattar is stalking forward now. Bit of a right from Kattar just as teh round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Stephens

ROUND TWO: Stephens back to calf kicking, Kattar is kicking with him more this round. Kattar lands a right and a left to the body. Leg kicks from Kattar now, Stephens lands a left body kick. Kattar slips a right. One two from Stephens is partially blocked. Bit of a right from Kattar. Hard jabs from Kattar and rights, he’s really getting his combinations working now. Stephens gets a clinch and has Kattar on the fence then lands an elbow as they break. More jabs to the body from Kattar then a leg kick. Right elbow from Kattar floors Stephens and we’re all but done here, Kattar follows him down to the mat and unloads until the ref stops it.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Calvin Kattar via KO, punches and elbows, at 2:42 of Round 2

Stephens was out of it for a long time, that was a brutal elbow from Kattar. There’s also a huge cut on Stephens’ forehead. Mic time for Kattar, who’s nose is visibly busted. He says he expected Stephens to come out hard, Stephens comes over to put him over briefly on his way out of the cage. Kattar says he was a little annoyed by the weight miss from Stephens but he knows how to fight and respects his ability. He talks us through the finish to close his mic time.

Have a look at this, Kattar times a stepping elbow with Stephens bringing his head back into the center line and just crushes him with it. Brutal.

We get some Hall of Fame inductee update, going in will be two division champion and all time great Georges St-Pierre. Can’t argue with that at all, the man is absolutely one of the best to ever do it. Kind of a shame there wasn’t a crowd reaction to that announcement, but you can’t help but celebrate GSP.

Francis Ngannou has managed to regain some of the momentum that propelled him to a heavyweight title shot in 2018, he’s stopped his last three opponents including former champions Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos. Ngannou could probably secure another title opportunity with a win here. Jairzinho Rozenstruik is undefeated and has become the new surging contender at heavyweight with four finishes in four UFC fights, he could likewise secure a probable title shot with an impressive win. Ngannou is the -255 favorite to +205 on Rozenstruik.

Heavyweight Bout: #2 Francis Ngannou (14-3, 261.5 lbs.) vs. #6 Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-0, 260 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height but Ngannou has five inches of reach advantage. Rozenstruik opens with an inside leg kick. Ngannou working the lead hand, he wades in swinging and clips Rozenstruik with a left and this one is over.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Francis Ngannou via KO, punches, at :20 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Ngannou for his work this evening. Mic time for Ngannou, he puts over Rozenstruik as having a bright future but not being there yet. He talks us through the finish and puts over his coaches for working hard with him. He is frustrated with the lack of motion at the top of the division, he wanted to fight for the belt after he beat JDS and he doesn’t know what’s going on with the title. To close he thanks everyone around the world for their support.

This is kind of ugly from a technical perspective, Ngannou squares up quickly and his chin is very high in the air, but it works for him so far.

Dominick Cruz is a former bantamweight champion and generally regarded as the best bantamweight of all time. Cruz hasn’t fought since December of 2016 when he suffered his first loss at bantamweight ever against Cody Garbrandt, now he’s looking to return from the longest layoff of his career and potentially reclaim the title. Standing in his way is Henry Cejudo, the current bantamweight champion on a five fight winning streak over some truly elite opposition. Cejudo could notch one of the highest profile wins of his MMA career and possibly make a case for another high profile money-weight style fight. Cejdo is the favorite at -230 while a Cruz win would pay out at +185.

Bantamweight Title Bout: (c) Henry Cejudo (15-2, 135 lbs.) vs. Dominick Cruz (22-2, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Ugh, my stream lagged for a second and I missed the tale of the tape, suffice it to say Cruz is taller and longer. Cruz will switch his stance frequently. Cruz moving early, Cejudo kind of just holding the center of the cage. Leg kick from Cejudo. Cruz lands a leg kick. Another leg kick from Cejudo. Cruz lands an inside leg kick. They clash on kicks. Bit of a side kick to the knee from Cruz. Cejudo lands another heavy leg kick. Inisde leg kick from Cejudo. Cruz with a brief takedown, Cejudo back up and free. Cruz lands a jab. Cruz with a knee to the body, Cejudo gets a takedown but Cruz scrambles free quickly. Cejudo blocks a takedown attempt. Front kick to the body from Cruz. Front kick then a right from Cruz. Bit of a blitz from Cejudo, partially successful. Cejudo lands another leg kick. Cruz lands a right to the body. Both men land in close then Cejudo lands a leg kick. Bit of a leg kick and a right from Cruz. Cejudo lands another leg kick. That will end the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Cejudo

ROUND TWO: Cruz moving well still, he’s starting to mix punches with his kicks. Cejudo lands a leg kick. Leg kick from Cruz. Cruz with another leg kick. Cejudo lands an inside leg kick then walks into a jab. Bit of an uppercut from Cruz in close then a body kick. Both men swing in close. Leg kick from Cruz. Cejudo with another leg kick. Cejudo lands a left hook. Cruz with a stiff right. Another right from Cruz, then another and Cejudo is backing up. Cejudo with another leg kick. They get close and trade rights. Calf kick from Cruz. Cruz lands a right to the body. Another leg kick from Cejudo, Cruz returns it and lands a left. Cruz lands a left after faking a takedown attempt. They clash heads, so chalk another cheeky nodder up to Cejudo, and we get time as Cejudo is cut. Cejudo can continue and we’re back to fighting. Cejudo blocks a high kick and lands a left. Knee from Cejudo hurts Cruz and he lookss to swarm along the fence until the ref jumps in to stop it. I’m not sure about that stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER and STILL UFC Bantamweight Champion – Henry Cejudo via TKO, knee and punches, at 4:58 of Round 2

On closer review I can live with the stoppage, not great but understandable. Mic time for Cejudo, he calls himself a chameleon who can do anything and puts over his coaches. He talks us through the finish, and says he’s ruthless despite being corny and cringey, then says again he’s the greatest combat combat sports athlete of all time. He then tells everyone he’s retiring on top.

Mic time now for Cruz, he wasn’t happy with the stoppage despite the shots, he was still working to get up and feels he should have been allowed to continue but puts over Cejudo for catching him. Asked about his future, he’s not sure what’s next for him and says he could have retired on top, then feels he wasn’t knocked out.

Tony Ferguson is on one of the greatest winning streaks in the history of the lightweight division, he’s won twelve fights in a row and could claim his second interim title while potentially securing the long awaited showdown with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Justin Gaethje is on a three fight winning streak, all three of them violent finishes, and now he finds himself perfectly positioned to play spoiler. If Gaethje wins he’d secure the first title of his UFC career and could earn a date with the full champion next. Ferguson is the favorite at -220 to a +180 comeback on Gaethje.

Lightweight Interim-Title Bout: #1 Tony Ferguson (25-3, 155 lbs.) vs. #4 Justin Gaethje (21-2, 155 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height but Ferguson has six and a half inches of reach over Gaethje. They touch gloves, Gaethje orthodox while Ferguson switches all the time. both men probing early. Leg kick from Gaethje lands. Ferguson lands a front kick to the body. Gaethje blocks a couple of punches. Calf kick then a left from Gaethje land. Another leg kick from Gaethje lands. Inside leg kick from Ferguson as Gaethje lands a right. Ferguson jabs the body then Gaethje lands a right. Left from Gaethje lands flush but Ferguson is still here. Ferguson avoids a left hook then they trade lefts. Leg kick froom Gaethje lands. Head kick from Ferguson is blocked but the follow up left lands. Front kick to the body from Ferguson. Gaethje lands an inside leg kick. They both barely miss rights. Gaethje lands another leg kick. Right then a left from Gaethje. Right from Gaethje lands. Bit of a left hook from Gaethje. Gaethje lands a right. Both men slip some punches then Ferguson lands a jab and they trade left hooks. Gaethje lands another left hook then an inside leg kick. Both men miss kicks as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Gaethje

ROUND TWO: Ferguson looking to jab more this round. Left hook from Gaethje lands flush, Ferguson has a chin on him. Bit of a right from GAethje then a left that stuns Ferguson. Ferguson lands a couple of leg kicks. Gaethje lands a right. Leg kick from Gaethje, and another one. Right then a left from Gaethje, but Ferguson is rolling with a lot of these now. Ferguson lands a one two. Gaethje with another calf kick. Gaethje lands a right to the body then a calf kick. Another left from Gaethje, Ferguson lands a leg kick. They trade rights and Ferguson got the worst of it. Gaethje cops at the calf again. Another leg kick from Gaethje under a right from Ferguson. Gaethje lands a right but Ferguson avoids the left hook. Ferguson lands a one two, Gaethje responds with a leg kick. Right then a left from Gaethje land. Ferguson lands a body kick, Gaethje avoids an elbow and returns it. Massive uppercut from Ferguson drops Gaethje but the round ends before it can develop.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Ferguson based on that last moment, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Ferguson back to jabbing this round. Gaethje lands a left hook, Ferguson is cut under the right eye. Leg kick then a left from Gaethje. Ferguson walks into a right hand. Ferguson is cut under the right eye and over the left, his right one is swelling. Right from Gaethje catches Ferguson clean. Gaethje lands a leg kick. right from Gaethje wobbles Ferguson and now he’s stalking forward. Ferguson is firing back but he’s on the back foot. Gaethje lands another right then a left hook, Ferguson has a chin of some unknown material. Ferguson misses a high kick. Gaethje slips a few punches and misses a left hook. Another right from Gaethje lands. Ferguson lands a left. Low sweep from Ferguson, nice move. Gaethje lands a left head kick and a right. Ferguson lands a leg kick. Gaethje lands another left hook. One more left hook from GAethje ends the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Gaethje, 29-28 Gaethje overall

ROUND FOUR: Gaethje circling again, lands a leg kick. Gaethje checks a leg kick. Ferguson lands a couple of jabs. Gaethje lands another leg kick then a right. Left hook from Gaethje again then a calf kick. Ferguson lands a leg kick then eats another left hook. Gaethje lands another calf kick. Ferguson lands a front kick to the body. Gaethje lands a left to the body. They trade rights then split jabs. Another chopping right from Gaethje badly hurts Ferguson then another one. Ferguson still fighting but eats another leg kick and left hook. Gaethje lands another right. Ferguson kicks Geathje in the groin and we’ve got time for him to recover. Gaethje doesn’t want much time and we’re back. Ferguson lands a left to the body. Gaethje blocks a couple of punches then lands a crippling leg kick. Bit of a right from Gaethje. Another leg kick and right from Gaethje, Ferguson lands a left. High kick from Gaethje wobbles Ferguson for a second and the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Gaethje, 39-37 Gaethje overall

ROUND FIVE: Gaethje opens with a right and a leg kick. Right then a elft and another right from Gaethje, he’s smashing Ferguson. Leg kick from Gaethje lands, those are killers. Body kick from Ferguson. Gaethje slips a few punches. Stiff left from GAethje then a right and a left, Ferguson staggers away then eats another right. Gaethje isn’t going crazy, just smartly picking at Ferguson. Gaethje lands another jab then checks a leg kick. Gaethje avoids an Inamari roll with ease. Another jab from Gaethje. Right from Ferguson, Gaethje responds with a series of power punches that all land. More lefts from Gaethje. Ferguson is really getting beat up. Another right from Gaethje lands, I don’t know what Ferguson’s chin is made of but he’s not a normal man. Another left hook from Gaethje. Gaethje with a left hook that staggers Ferguson, Ferguson is backing up and hurt, he kind of turns away and the ref waves it off.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER and NEW UFC Interim Lightweight Champion – Justi Gaethje via TKO, punches, at 3:39 of Round 5

And thus dies Tony vs. Khabib. The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Gaethje for his work this evening. I don’t smoke but I feel like I need a cigarette after that. Mic time for Gaethje, who tosses the interim belt down, he says he knows he’s a killer and feels good despite the war. He puts over his coaches and says he had to lose to change and has since adjusted, he says he was having too much fun in the fight and he has to stay sharp not get complacent. He calls Ferguson and Khabib the best in the world, he wants to fight the best in the world and represent the USA against him. Gaethje says he’s half Mexican and knows who El Cucuy is, then finally notices he’s got a badly broken finger on his left hand. He says it’s not about winning or losing for him, just representing himself and his family to the best of his ability. He says if he wasn’t a fighter he’d be doing social work somewhere because that’s what his degree is in. To close he gives glory to God, thanks his parents for all that they’ve done for him.

Ferguson on the mic now. He says it’s been a long camp as he’s been preparing since November and puts over Gaethje as a tough opponent and just says it happens. He would have preferred to get KO’d but it is what it is. To close he puts over Gaethje again, says he loves his family ad tells them he’s OK.

That is your front runner for Fight of the Year, it’ll take a heck of a fight to dethrone it. Thank you all for being here everyone, I might have my concerns over the responsibility of this event but I wont deny I’ve missed the fights and all of you people as well. I’ll be back on Wednesday unless something crazy happens between now and then for UFC on ESPN 9, and also next Saturday because that’s the schedule the UFC is keeping apparently. I hope you’ll be back for those as well. We’ll be breaking down all the action from this event Sunday on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast, and previewing both of those events. Until next time stay safe out there and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC 249, Robert Winfree