UFC 249 Shatters MMA Betting Records Before Main Card Starts: Sportsbooks Rooting for Cruz, Gaethje and Rozenstruik


Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Tony Ferguson interacts with media during the UFC 249 press conference.

Most UFC cards don’t generate massive betting handles for sportsbooks, but Saturday’s show in Jacksonville is the first major sporting event in the United States in nearly two months. And the pent-up demand for sports — and betting — is clear.

DraftKings‘ Stephen Miraglia told The Action Network, “UFC 249 is officially the most-bet MMA event in DraftKings Sportsbook history — and the main card hasn’t even started yet.”

That text rolled in at 9:30 p.m. ET and the headlining fight of the night between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje won’t go off until around midnight.

As the handle piles up, so too do the potential liabilities for sportsbooks.

Upsets are almost always good news for sportsbooks, so it’s no wonder that the bookmakers we spoke with are hoping to see underdogs Gaethje and Dominick Cruz upset the odds in Saturday night’s headliners.

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Gaethje, who is a +155 underdog against Ferguson, has accounted for just 36% of the bets and 37% of the total handle at PointsBet, though there’s still hours to go before the fight starts.

“There’s still a lot more to come on the main event, but we need Gaethje bad,” Patrick Eichner of PointsBet told The Action Network.

BetMGM‘s Elisa Richardson echoed that sentiment and noted that their best-case scenario would be Gaethje winning via decision. It’s more of the same at FanDuel which will be rooting for anything besides a Ferguson first-round KO.

The betting splits at PointsBet for the co-main event between Henry Cejudo and Dominick Cruz paints an interesting picture. The tickets are basically dead even, Cejudo is getting 51% of the bets, but the total handle is much more skewed with Cejudo attracting 76% of the dollars.

[3 Best Bets for UFC 249]

“We want Gaethje and Cruz in the two main events,” Eichner said. “A Cejudo win and the fight going Over 2.5 Rounds would be the worst result for us.”

While the two headliners will certainly attract the most action, they aren’t the most lopsided fights of the night. That honor belongs to the heavyweight fight between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

“We want Jairzinho Rozenstruik,” Eichner said. “Ngannou is building up a pretty big liability.”

PointsBet reported that 90% of the money is on Ngannou in his showdown with “Bigi Boy.”

[Track and Sync Your Bets for UFC 249 in the Action Network App]

UFC 249 Notable Bets

  • Fanduel: $2,000 on Justin Gaethje (+160) to win $5,200.
  • FanDuel: $5,200 Parlay on Henry Cejudo (-215) and Vincente Luque (-280) for a total payout of $10,339.
  • MGM: $1,000 on Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+235) to win $2,350
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