Justin Gaethje says he hopes his nose gets broken in Saturday's UFC 249 main event so he'll be forced to have long overdue surgery performed on it. Undoubtedly, Tony Ferguson will be happy to oblige. The lightweight contenders agree that fists and blood will fly when they meet for the interim lightweight title to headline the UFC 249 fight card in Jacksonville. The 11-bout UFC card at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena marks the first event for the MMA giant since four previously scheduled cards were axed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The top-ranked Ferguson looks for his 13th consecutive victory, while the fourth-ranked Gaethje has stopped his last three foes in the first round. Ferguson is a -190 favorite (risk $190 to win $100), while Gaethje is a +160 underdog in the latest UFC 249 odds at William Hill. In the co-main event, champion Henry Cejudo (-220) defends the bantamweight crown against Dominick Cruz (+180). Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza was slated to fight Uriah Hall at UFC Jacksonville, but tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday. Before you lock in any picks for the UFC 249 card, make sure you check out the latest UFC predictions from SportsLine MMA analyst Kyle Marley.
Marley won the first-ever "ToutMaster" UFC betting contest sponsored by MMAOddsBreaker and also appears regularly on multiple MMA betting and DFS shows. Over the past year, $100 bettors who have followed Marley's picks are up nearly $19,000.
At UFC 248, Marley told SportsLine members to expect middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (-275) to retain his title against Yoel Romero (+235) by unanimous decision. He argued that Adesanya would pick Romero apart on the feet and was proven correct, as the champ dominated the action with leg kicks while dodging Romero's explosive power. Also, Marley went a stunning 9-2-1 at UFC Fight Night 170, the last UFC event. Anyone who has consistently followed Marley is way up.
Now, with UFC 249 fast approaching, Marley has carefully studied every matchup on the card, identified the best value in the UFC odds and released his MMA picks for every fight. Those selections are only available at SportsLine.
Gaethje vs. Ferguson preview
Marley knows the 36-year-old Ferguson (25-3) comes in on a 12-fight winning streak and hasn't lost since May 2012. He is revered for his fearlessness and ability to win through a variety of MMA disciplines. Six of his last eight victories have come by stoppage, including a TKO of Donald Cerrone last year and a submission of Anthony Pettis in October 2018. The top-ranked Ferguson briefly held the interim belt after beating Kevin Lee by submission in October 2017.
Ferguson faces a challenge from the No. 4-ranked Gaethje (21-2), the former World Series of Fighting champion who has been waiting for a title opportunity amid a crowded division. It is believed the winner of the May 9 main event will get to challenge the Russian champ for the unified title.
Gaethje, 31, is known for his knockout power and relentless aggression. He started his UFC campaign with a 1-2 mark, but has since won three straight bouts by first-round knockout. He stopped Cerrone in September 2019. Gaethje has 18 knockouts among his 21 career MMA victories and only gone to a decision twice in his career. See Marley's picks for Ferguson vs. Gaethje and every fight on the upcoming UFC 249 card here.
Top UFC 249 predictions
We'll share one of Marley's UFC 249 predictions here: He is backing Fabricio Werdum (-310) against Aleksei Oleinik (+255) in a battle of veteran heavyweights.
The combatants have a lot in common: They are both 42 years old and among the most skilled submission specialists the heavyweight division has ever seen. They also have shared the Octagon with the sport's biggest names.
Werdum (23-8-1) made his UFC debut in 2007 and has long been a fixture in the heavyweight rankings. His career pinnacle came in 2015 when he pulled an upset of Cain Velasquez to win the championship. But his reign was short-lived, as he lost to current champ Stipe Miocic in his next bout. The Brazilian hasn't won a UFC fight since November 2017.
Oleinik (58-13-1), ranked No. 12, has fought for numerous promotions in his 24-year MMA career and made his UFC debut in 2014. He has split his last six bouts, but the wins include submissions of high-profile opponents such as Mark Hunt and Travis Browne.
"Werdum is miles ahead on his feet and I would pick him in a BJJ match as well," Marley told SportsLine.
How to make UFC 249 picks
Marley also has strong picks for Ferguson vs. Gaethje and every other bout on the UFC 249 card. He's also backing one man who's "the scariest fighter alive." You can only see every pick for every UFC fight here.
Who wins Ferguson vs. Gaethje? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every UFC 249 fight, all from the accomplished expert who's up almost $19,000, and find out.
UFC 249 odds
Tony Ferguson (-190) vs. Justin Gaethje (+160)
Henry Cejudo (-220) vs. Dominick Cruz (+180)
Francis Ngannou (-280) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+230)
Calvin Kattar (-240) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+200)
Anthony Pettis (-150) vs. Donald Cerrone (+125)
Greg Hardy (-195) vs. Yorgan De Castro (+165)
Fabricio Werdum (-330) vs. Aleksei Oleinik (+260)
Carla Esparza (-160) vs. Michelle Waterson (+135)
Vicente Luque (-280) vs. Niko Price (+230)
Bryce Mitchell (-165) vs. Charles Rosa (+140)
Ryan Spann (-420) vs. Sam Alvey (+330)