UFC 249 Co-Main Event Pick, Prediction & Odds: How to Bet Dominick Cruz vs. Henry Cejudo

Credit:

Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Henry Cejudo

  • Dominick Cruz and Henry Cejudo will face off in the UFC 249 co-main event, and the latest betting odds make Cejudo a relatively significant favorite (-230 odds).
  • Should you be betting Cruz or Cejudo? Our MMA expert Sean Zerillo analyzes the fights and picks out his favorite betting approach ahead of the UFC 249 co-main event.

UFC 249 Betting Pick, Prediction & Odds

  • Henry Cejudo odds: -230
  • Dominick Cruz odds: +185
  • Time: Approx. 11:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena (Jacksonville, Florida)
  • Channel: ESPN+ PPV
  • BET NOW

Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


The co-main event on a stacked UFC 249 card between Dominick Cruz (22-2-0) and Henry Cejudo (15-2) is a fight that I have changed my mind about so many times; I ultimately decided that it’s unwise for me to bet this one personally.

I have an official pick – I wouldn’t leave you without one – but I have seen this fight play out too many times before, and when you’re on the wrong side betting-wise, it is a slow and painful death.

Typically, you know your fate within a few minutes into the first round. The athleticism for the underdog is either there or it isn’t. The favorite either looks in control or seems a bit on their toes.

In 2017, Georges St. Pierre returned from a four-year layoff and defeated Michael Bisping with ease, as a tiny favorite, to reclaim his Middleweight title – but GSP is arguably the greatest of all time.

Cruz, merely an all-time great, hasn’t fought since a December 2016 loss to Cody Garbrandt but returns to UFC action in place of Jose Aldo to reclaim his Bantamweight title against Henry Cejudo – the current No. 3 pound-for-pound UFC fighter and former flyweight champion, who won the vacant Bantamweight title last June, becoming the fourth fighter to hold titles in two different divisions.

All of the classic storylines are present – old guard fights the new guard for his old title; one fighter coming off of a long layoff; another fighter competing at a higher weight class; Cejudo seeking his signature moment; while Cruz vies for legendary status.

How should you go about betting what could accidentally end up as the best Bantamweight fight of all-time?

Odds History

Cejudo’s favoritism is rooted in Cruz’s long layoff, and his newly cemented status as a giant-killer, upsetting former No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter Demetrious Johnson via split decision as a +350 underdog in their Flyweight title rematch in 2018, before stopping TJ Dillashaw and Marlon Moraes as an underdog in consecutive championship fights.

In his prime, Cruz closed as a -625 favorite against Johnson in a Bantamweight title fight, but like Cejudo, was also an underdog to T.J. Dillashaw – albeit in different weight classes and on different timelines.

Tale of the Tape

Cruz is a natural Bantamweight, while Cejudo is a true flyweight – but the UFC Eliminated the Flyweight division in 2018.

Cruz wasn’t merely waiting for a title fight opportunity during his layoff – he had fights that were scheduled, but ultimately canceled due to injuries, and he has also undergone multiple surgeries to his groin, knee, and shoulders throughout his career.

Cejudo is the more accurate striker, but defense is also Cruz’s greatest strength.

Both men own positive takedown stats, both offensively and defensively, but Cejudo has the more substantial wrestling pedigree – winning a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics.


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Henry Cejudo’s Path to Victory

Few fighters have as rugged a wrestling base as Cejudo – he’s strong in close quarters, hard to take down and dominant from positions of control with his knees and elbows.

But it’s his quick hands and surprisingly powerful kicks that have started to impress in recent bouts -with improved boxing technique leading to some highlight-reel clips:

Note that Dillashaw underwent a brutal weight cut before that fight, and many felt that that had a lot to do with the knockout.

Cejudo also gets docked for his win over, what looked like, a fatigued Marlon Moraes.

But he doesn’t get credited for his gameplan, toughness, or adaptability.

Cejudo is in there early controlling the distance and making Moraes chase him around, before coming in for some big exchanges. Then once he’s taken enough energy out of Moraes, he suffocates and damages him in the clinch, takes him down, and works some ground and pound to the finish line.

This was a new dimension to Cejudo’s game – offensive wrestling – using his strength as a weapon, rather than as a shield.

Cejudo’s boxing still isn’t nearly at the level of a Cody Garbrandt, who had the right tools to take out Cruz on the feet, and so I think Cejudo’s best option is to try to limit the challenger’s movement – unless Cruz has slowed down.


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Dominick Cruz’s  Path to Victory

Mentally, Cruz has probably grown used to these extended layoffs between fights – but only a few people at this high of a level of anything have ever tried to resume their previous role after a 41-month break – and particularly on short notice.

But perhaps for Cruz, a fighter who always looks at the ready, the transition is more natural than it would be for most.

He’s undoubtedly the bigger man in the bout, having competed at Lightweight in his pre-UFC days, but seems far less to finish the fight – earning just one stoppage in six UFC fights and as a heavy favorite.

“The Dominator” will probably look to dominate on the scorecards, staying active by pushing the pace against a fighter who isn’t particularly quick, while using his superior footwork and movement to frustrate Cejudo:

Seemingly, Cruz rarely gets hit, but he also owns an array of boxing and kickboxing combinations, in addition to his sound wrestling base, which makes him a difficult puzzle to solve.

His ability to slip and counter with hooks and uppercuts could serve to frustrate Cejudo, who, while rarely out of position, could get baited into some bad spots.

If Cruz looks like he’s in the fight from the early stages, I would almost say that he is the favorite from that point on.

Just two years older than Cejudo, Cruz has significantly more experience in big fights, and against much better competition.

Fight Prediction

Early in the week, I was thinking about using Henry Cejudo as a parlay piece.

At this point, I think you either have to bet on Dominick Cruz or pass on the fight.

Yet I still wouldn’t be surprised if Cejudo, though smaller, dominates physically from start to finish.

In terms of single-fight wagering, I have to pass on this one – though that won’t stop me from say, including Cruz in a small, multi-underdog parlay.

Stylistically, the matchup is right for him. The odds history and fight logs also suggest that he’s the better competitor.

The only negative factors are the long layoff and his past injuries, but those are still big enough question marks to dissuade me from buying in on the underdog altogether.

If I had to place a bet, Cruz by decision (+275) is where I would put my money.

The Pick: Dominick Cruz (+185)

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