Ferguson vs. Gaethje Pick, Prediction & Odds for UFC 249: How to Bet Saturday Night’s Main Event

Credit:

Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Tony Ferguson, Dana White and Justin Gaethje

  • We have the latest picks for the UFC 249 fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.
  • According to the latest odds, Ferguson is a relatively big favorite (-200 odds), compared to +168 for Gaethje.
  • Should you pick the underdog or side with the favorite? Our MMA expert Sean Zerillo analyzes the UFC 249 main event and gives his pick.

Ferguson vs. Gaethje Pick, Prediction & Odds for UFC 249

  • Tony Ferguson odds: -200
  • Justin Gaethje odds: +168
  • Time: Approx. 11:30 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.


For months, Tony Ferguson has been preparing for the fight of his life against Khabib Nurmagomedov, the fourth time that the pair of champions were scheduled to battle for the UFC Lightweight title, only to see the bout canceled.

Instead, Ferguson will look to reclaim his interim title and defend his 12-fight UFC win streak against Justin Gaethje, who originally took this title shot on 12-days notice – when the card was still set for April 18th.

After the card was rescheduled, Gaethje relished the extra three weeks to prepare.

Both Ferguson and Gaethje come into this bout after a win over Donald Cerrone – who will close out the Preliminary Card against Anthony Pettis on ESPN.

And they were lined as relatively similar betting favorites before those wins over “Cowboy.”

There are certainly reasons why Ferguson has an advantage over Gaethje in a five-round environment – but the odds also say that “The Highlight” is the most dangerous opponent that “El Cucuy” has faced in some time.

Odds History

Ferguson closed as a -242 favorite (implied 70.7%) against Cerrone, while Gaethje closed at -227 (implied 69.4%) four months later, a 1.3% difference.

At -200, implied odds suggest that Ferguson would defeat Gaethje two-thirds of the time.

Yet if current odds hold, Ferguson will be the shortest price that he has been since 2016 when he closed as a +110 underdog to Rafael Dos Anjos; winning a narrow Fight of the Night decision.

Tale of the Tape

The two Lightweights are the same size, but Ferguson has the longer reach and limbs – part of what makes his jiu-jitsu so dangerous.

Gaethje is a good takedown defender, but Ferguson is also very accurate if he wants to take the fight there, and active in the submission game once he gains a dominant position.

His striking defense also outclasses Gaethje’s, who is one of the more active and accurate strikers that you will ever see –  but the latter also takes back a lot of damage too.


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Tony Ferguson’s Path to Victory

The prop market lists this fight at -400 (implied 80%) to finish inside the distance, and Ferguson has finished exactly 20 of his 25 wins (80%).

His game is all about stamina and unpredictability. A relatively slow starter, “El Cucuy” knows how to control the tempo of his fights, make the proper adjustments, and to conserve his energy for the right moments.

If this fight reaches the later stages, he’ll undoubtedly get the best of the action – if not finish off a likely exhausted Gaethje by that point.

In general, he’s also a more well-rounded fighter.

Ferguson’s strike differential metrics are noticeably more robust than what Gaethje offers, he’s shown a sturdy chin in the past, and he can finish you in a variety of ways – with six wins by submission, and three by KO/TKO over his 12 fight UFC win streak:

But his opponent presents a unique challenge.

Justin Gaethje’s Path to Victory

Looking at Ferguson’s fight history, I’m not sure if he has faced either as powerful of a puncher, or as strong of a defensive wrestler as Justin Gaethje.

The 31-year-old has looked resurgent, after suffering a pair losses to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier to ruin his 18-0 career record, with a more relaxed style – stalking his opponents rather than rushing forward recklessly, unleashing three first-round knockouts:

Ferguson has the major edge on the ground, and I would imagine that he will try to take Gaethje down at some point – so Gaethje’s strength and defense in those moments could make those the turning points of the fight.

If he remains standing, his power will present a significant test for Ferguson to withstand, but he needs to avoid gassing himself out entirely.

Gaethje is called “The Highlight” for a reason. He’s one of the most exciting strikers on the planet, and if he can maintain his composure, he should be able to land some big shots and test Ferguson’s chin.


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Fight Prediction

One thing has been itching at me all week – the number of sportsbooks offering ridiculous odds boosts on Tony Ferguson props, or reduced juice moneylines after they got crushed by doing the same thing for Conor McGregor against Donald Cerrone.

“Cowboy” never had a chance in that fight, and the public made a killing. McGregor opened -130, closed -400, and should have been -1000.

This time, however, it seems as though the sportsbooks are essentially betting on Gaethje – whose style in and of itself makes him a live underdog against anyone – even Conor or Khabib.

Ferguson and Khabib have circled one another for years. Finally, it seemed like attempt No. 4 would be the one – and a pandemic got in the way.

Maybe Ferguson lands a big counter on Gaethje or takes the fight to the ground and takes his title back via submission, in convincing fashion.

If he wins, the UFC will try to market Tony vs. Khabib, attempt No. 5 – but it’s starting to seem as though that “Super Fight” is never destined to happen.

Gaethje is the one thing standing in the way of setting up that match, with Ferguson in the role of champion.

His style has spoiler written all over it, and my money will be with the sportsbooks on this one – as they try to recoup their McGregor money and then some.

It seems unlikely that Gaethje wins a five-round battle, so the small knockout boost at +190 looks tempting, but stranger things have happened – I’ll stick with The Highlight on the moneyline.

The Pick: Justin Gaethje (+168)

[Bet now at PointsBet. NJ and IN only.]

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