Greg Hardy vs. Yorgan De Castro Pick, Prediction & UFC 249 Best Bet: Should You Take the Underdog?
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: Yogan de Castro
- The UFC 249 PPV card will begin with a showdown between Greg Hardy and Yorgan De Castro.
- The latest betting odds have Hardy as a significant favorite to win (-200 odds), but should you be betting the former NFL player to take De Castro down?
- MMA expert Sean Zerillo picks out his best bet for Hardy vs. De Castro.
UFC 249 Betting Odds & Picks
- Greg Hardy Odds: -200
- Yorgan De Castro Odds: +165
- Time: Approx. 10:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena (Jacksonville, Florida)
- Channel: ESPN+ PPV
- BET NOW
UFC 249 was originally scheduled for April 18 in Brooklyn – and the card now looks much different than it did on March 1.
From top to bottom, it’s as deep as any card in recent UFC memory, with several preliminary fights that would typically find a home in the early to middle part of the main card.
The heavyweight bout between Greg Hardy (5-2, 1 NC) and Yorgan De Castro (6-0), the first fight on Saturday’s main card, is arguably the seventh-best contest on a 12-fight card.
But from a betting perspective, it’s right near the top of my list.
Due to his villainous status, Hardy – the former NFL star – remains, unfortunately, incredibly marketable, which is why he gets top billing – just 3.5 years into his fighting career – and perhaps why he attracts a lot of betting attention.
His opponent De Castro, a native of Cape Verde, doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page – and lays claim to fewer Twitter followers than your wacky aunt.
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Yorgan asked for this fight – he wanted to be a part of this historic card, to lay claim to victory over a potential big name, and to get Hardy at the moment in time that is opportune – before the former football player reaches his full fighting potential.
But what are Yorgan’s actual chances at winning against a more prominent and faster athlete, who is simply newer to the fight game?
Tale of the Tape
Hardy is five inches taller and has six inches of reach advantage against his opponent. He’s extremely athletic for a heavyweight.
Most of De Castro’s ring stats have to be taken with a grain of salt; collected only from a tiny sample thanks to two first-round knockouts.
Note, however, that neither man is interested in attempting a takedown.
Greg Hardy’s Path to Victory
Hardy has been fighting for fewer years than his opponent but has faced a higher caliber of competition, gaining substantial ring experience in his last fight against Alexander Volkov in Moscow.
He never had a shot at winning but acquitted himself well against the Russian – with his back truly against the cage for the first time. Before that fight, Hardy had only defeated himself – with an illegal knee to Allen Crowder on January 19 marking his first loss, and the use of an inhaler that October turning a win into a no contest.
I’m not so sure that he has faced someone with the same raw power as De Castro, however, which is what makes this a dangerous fight.
Hardy’s striking and defensive wrestling has no doubt improved during his time in the UFC, but he absolutely cannot be headstrong and look to rush in to score a quick knockout.
Hardy may be his own worst enemy in his fight – and will have to look to control space with his size and speed, rather than letting whoever has the better power to decide the outcome.
If he’s patient and looks to pick apart and wear down De Castro from a distance, rather than seeking a highlight-reel knockout, Hardy should control the proceedings.
He has shown that ability in recent fights.
Coming off the loss to Volkov and looking to make noise on a massive stage, however, it’s possible that Hardy comes forward, and these two trade blows from the outset.
Yorgan De Castro’s Path to Victory
The relatively unknown Yorgan De Castro went 2-4 as an amateur but has yet to lose as a professional, with five knockouts in six fights – including a pair of highlight-reel finishes under the UFC banner.
His style seemingly hasn’t changed much since his early MMA days – he has a solid low kick and a powerful overhand right. Take a look at this sequence leading to a knockout from his pre-UFC days, in November 2018:
— LORD HONKY HUMUNGUS (@Mr_Honky) June 18, 2019
Now watch him bust a leg up with that same kick in the UFC contender series:
— Jason Floyd (@Jason_Floyd) June 19, 2019
Before flattening Justin Tafa last October with that overhand right:
— UFC (@ufc) May 6, 2020
Serious fight fans would tell you that, “anybody could have countered that.” And it’s true – Tafa left himself exposed in that exchange – but Yorgan also finished it, and his raw power is genuinely exceptional.
De Castro has repeatedly said that he will come forward. If Hardy is unwilling to do the same, then De Castro will have to sustain the pressure until he has no choice.
The Cape Verdean senses that this is his make or break moment – a loss doesn’t do much to Hardy’s career trajectory – a win, especially by knockout, could cement Yorgan as a UFC regular.
Hardy hasn’t been this short of a favorite since early in his career.
Yorgan came through as a small favorite in his last bout, after winning as a significant underdog in his Contender Series matchup.
Roughly 55% of fights end before the scorecards in the UFC – but at the heavyweight level, that number jumps up to over 70%.
And when you two gigantic thumpers like Hardy and Yorgan ready to swing, the number has to be closer to 80%.
In a heavyweight battle like that, it’s hard to make either fighter a substantial favorite.
I think that Yorgan’s true odds are around +120 (implied 45.5%), and I bet him at +187 (implied 35%) – which I tracked in the Action app.
If you multiply 45.5%, against a 75% knockout rate, you get odds of +194 (implied 34%) – so anything over +200 on Yorgan by knockout is fair value too.
It’s Yorgan or nothing.
The Pick: Yorgan De Castro (+165)