With UFC 249 just around the corner, fans are excited for the return of MMA. UFC 249 boasts arguably the most loaded card in recent memory with several notable fighters including Ronaldo Souza, Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Jeremy Stephens and more! Today, we will discuss four things that will happen at UFC 249!
Calvin Kattar defeats Jeremy Stephens and becomes a future UFC Featherweight Contender:
Kattar is like Stephens in several ways. Both portray themselves as a hard hitting, no bs type of guy that just want to fight as often as possible against the best of the best. Stephens is one the most well-known and experienced UFC fighters currently active on the roster today. The Iowa native is 3-5-1 in his last nine UFC appearances and is in the back end of his extremely long and successful career as a mixed martial artist. He has struggled with competing with the elite of the division, which is apparent in his losses to Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez. Stephens last win came in February 2018 where he met fellow knockout artist Josh Emmett in the main event. On the other hand, Kattar is a newer addition to the featherweight division and has quietly established himself as the #9 ranked UFC featherweight since his debut back in 2017. He has compiled a 4-2 UFC record and continues to get better in every fight. While Stephens has been a staple in the UFC for over a decade, it is time to pass the torch to Kattar as he continues to ascend the featherweight ladder of contenders afterer UFC 249.
On May 9, Kattar will begin his assault on the upper half of the featherweight rankings by defeating Stephens convincingly. Kattar is the longer, younger and fresher fighter. Do not get me wrong, Stephens can knock anyone out due to his viscous power, but it seems those days might be behind him going into the second half of 2020. Expect Kattar to come out, dictate the distance, use his reach and trade heavy shots with Stephens early before landing and finding a way to close the show.
Fabricio Werdum announces his return to the UFC Heavyweight Division with a huge win over Aleksei Oleinik:
I have been excited about this fight since the possibility of it was first announced back in 2019. It is rare we get to see such accomplished grapplers square off in the UFC these days. Werdum and Oleinik combine for 57 submissions wins and may just be the two best grapplers in the heavyweight division today even at their older age. Oleinik is averaging 2.99 takedowns per 15 minutes, 2.66 submissions per 15 minutes and a dismal 11% takedown defense rate throughout his UFC career. He has been susceptible to the knockout which is evident in his seven out of thirteen losses coming by way of knockout. Oleinik’s poor takedown defense rate comes from the fact that he is so comfortable on the ground that he is willing to be taken down just to be able to get the fight to the mat. He is 3-2 in his last five UFC appearances with three submissions victories and two knockout losses. Bottom line, if Oleinik can get a fight to the ground, his chances of winning exponentially increase. The problem? He is fighting someone who is arguably just as good as he is on the ground in Werdum.
After a knockout loss to Alexander Volkov in 2018 and a USADA suspension, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum returns to the Octagon at 42 years old to face fellow grappler Oleinik. Werdum is 9-3 since his return to the UFC back in 2012 and has since then captured the UFC Heavyweight title and defeated top heavyweights in Cain Velasquez, Roy Nelson, Walt Harris and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Werdum is similar to Oleinik in the sense that he is also willing to be taken down due to his stellar ground game. The difference here will be that Werdum’s striking has greatly improved since his younger days as a BJJ ace and he is comfortable trading on the feet as he is averaging 4.47 significant strikes per minute. Werdum will return to the octagon with a vengeance and will force Oleinik to fight on the feet where he will enjoy a distinct advantage. At UFC 249, Werdum will win via knockout in round one and receive a top ten opponent for his next appearance.
Donald Cerrone considers retirement after another loss to Anthony Pettis:
If you are a longtime UFC fan who has witnessed Cerrone and Pettis grow in the Octagon over the years, this fight is extremely bittersweet. For one, I do not think this fight would have ever happened if it were not for COVID-19 because both Pettis and Cerrone need wins after compiling active losing streaks. Both have suffered setbacks and losing streaks in their careers only to come back looking better than ever. Unfortunately, this time that will only be true for Pettis. Cerrone went on an impressive win streak between November 2018 and May 2019 where he defeated Mike Perry, Alexander Hernandez and Al Iaquinta. He met Tony Ferguson shortly after in the co-main of UFC 238 which resulted in a fight of the night performance but dominant victory for Ferguson up until the fight was stopped by the doctor. Cerrone went on to face Justin Gaethje and Conor McGregor afterwards which resulted in two brutal knockout losses extending his losing steak to three. The most concerning part is not that Cerrone is on a losing streak as he has shown his ability to bounce back from one in the past. It is the fact that he recently admitted he “didn’t want to be there” when questioned about the Conor McGregor fight. He has now 180’d from that mindset and publicly stated he wishes to fight “three times in one week” referring to the timeframe of May 9 to May 16. Something does not seem right with Cerrone and I think it will be obvious at 249.
When Duke Roufus says that he has not seen Anthony Pettis look this good in a while, I believe it. The Carlos Diego Ferreira loss back in January of 2020 has lit a fire under Pettis and he is going to come out on May 9 ready to jump back into contention with a huge win. He has already shown he can defeat Cerrone in the past with an outstanding liver kick knockout back in 2013 and he will do something similar in their meeting at 249. Unlike Cerrone, Pettis is not done and will still do damage in the UFC for multiple years. Pettis will come out in round one, fire away and unfortunately put Cerrone on a four-fight losing streak.
Vicente Luque and Niko Price steal the show with a Fight of the Year Candidate:
The first meeting between Luque and Price resulted in a submission victory for Luque in round two. Since then, Luque has gotten exponentially better and compiled a six-fight win streak before losing a fight of the night performance to Stephen Thompson. The #13 ranked UFC welterweight is looking to rebound from his first loss since 2017 and he gets to do so against a familiar opponent. Niko Price is undoubtedly one of the most exciting UFC fighters to watch, period. The Florida native is 6-3-1 in his UFC career and is known for his highlight knockout wins over Randy Brown, Tim Means and James Vick.
There is not much to say about this fight. Unless Price can land something spectacular, Luque will defeat Price again but it will be the most entertaining fight of the night by far. These two will trade shots for as long as the fight lasts and receive a performance of the night reward. Get ready for a welterweight showdown that will be up there for best fights of 2020.
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