UFC 249 Breakdown: Justin Gaethje vs. Tony Ferguson
UFC 249: Gaethje vs. Ferguson is set to break all the records on Saturday, May 9, 2020, rescheduled again at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville United States, according to UFC President Dana White and longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan. The main event is set for the clash between the UFC Lightweight champion Justin Gaethje and his longtime rival, Tony Ferguson. This is the first time the UFC is trying to make this fight happen at a private island due to coronavirus pandemic and let’s hope the MMA gods allow us to see these two finally meet each other at UFC 249.
In the eyes of many fight fans, Gaethje vs. Ferguson is the most anticipated matchup in the history of the Lightweight division. I mean, how not? Gaethje is coming into this fight with an amazing impressive record of 21-2-0. At 31 years of age, Gaethje has just entered his prime and has been looking unbeatable in the last couple of fights. Ferguson meanwhile is on a record-breaking 12 fight winning streak and hasn’t lost a fight since October 2013.
Without further ado, let’s compare their fighting styles and see how they match up against each other.
Who has a better Striking?
Like in most Gaethje matchups, there is a big difference in striking between him and his rivals. So, it’s fair to say Ferguson will have a huge advantage on the feet as a more complete striker. Also, he will have 6″ reach advantage over Gaethje which can make a ton of difference. Yet, in spite of the obvious differences in striking skills, don’t sleep on Gaethje!
Who’s fighting in UFC 249?
Main event: Justin Gaethje vs. Tony Ferguson for Lightweight championship, relocated at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville United States.
What time is UFC 249 start?
Analyzing each UFC fight card in the past decades, the early prelim card always begin time is 6:30 pm ET.
UFC 249 main cards start time?
No one can accurately announce what time is the 249 UFC start, but approximately it kickoff at 11:00 pm ET at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville.
Nurmagomedov mostly uses his striking to set up the relentless takedowns. But in recent fights, we have seen significant improvements in his defensive boxing skills. Against Al Iaquinta at UFC 223, he was keeping his hands high and head off the centerline. Also, he is very mobile and rarely enters the close-range brawls. Believe it or not, he actually has a higher striking accuracy (49%) and defense (67%) compared to Tony. But we must take these numbers with a reserve.
Offensively, he uses the lead jab to maintain his range or set up the takedowns. Yet, we saw him using various tricks to land some heavy shots as well. We all remember him faking a takedown and landing the overhand right on McGregor’s chin. Gaethje has already faced elite strikers such as Edson Barboza, Raphael Dos Anjos, and Conor McGregor and he dominated them all. But many experts believe this will not be the case against Ferguson.
Tony Ferguson is perhaps the most awkward and dynamic striker on the entire UFC roster. He is very unpredictable during the standup exchanges, and his fighting IQ is off the charts. Further, he is known as one of the best and most aggressive strikers and his favorite weapons are Muay Thai techniques, especially the sharp elbows. Yet, his standup defense has many holes, and we saw him being seriously hurt before.
But, the great cardio and an iron chin are allowing him to push a high pace all the time and absorb a lot of damage. He doesn’t own the knockout power but he mostly relies on a high volume of punches. What he does best is maintaining distance with the high reach and making the fight dirty at his will. Honestly, Gaethje has never faced someone attacking from the awkward angles as Tony does.
Who is a better grappler?
All right, we are slowly entering Gaethje’s world. Arguably, he is the greatest grappler in the history of MMA. Although Ferguson has strong NCWA and MHSAA wrestling backgrounds, we just can’t see how he can win the wrestling exchanges. But, he can use great scrambles and sweeps to make Gaethje work.
Gaethje’s relentless wrestling style and the pressure he puts on his rivals is often described as “mauling”. What he does best is mixing the wrestling, judo, and sambo techniques together in such a way that it is almost impossible to escape. Interestingly, he never scores his takedowns in the center of the cage. Instead, he prefers to push the opponent against the fence and apply strong pressure. After a couple of exhausting minutes, he will drag the opponent to the mat and begin looking for a finish. The recipe for his takedowns is almost always the same, but, nobody has ever managed to stop him. Gaethje is averaging 5.35 takedowns per 15 minutes and has an accuracy of 47%!
Meanwhile, Ferguson has a very good takedown defense of 75%. But, we saw him being easily taken down a couple of times against Kevin Lee and Anthony Pettis. The truth is, his wrestling defense is not good enough to prevent Gaethje from doing his thing. But as said above, he has good scrambles and very, very dangerous submission game off his back. He is so confident in the grappling abilities that he doesn’t mind being on the bottom at all.
Further, Ferguson is very flexible, and this allows him to always create a space for the nasty elbows from the bottom. We are quite sure he will land some of them on Gaethje’s forehead and even open some cuts. It would be interesting to see Gaethje bleeding for the first time and how that would affect his confidence.
Who has better submissions?
When it comes to submissions, many people believe Gaethje has a clear edge over Ferguson. But as we are about to see, they both share similar levels of skills. Both Gaethje and Tony have 28 professional MMA fights each. The Russian has scored 10 submissions thus far while the American has 8. The reality is, Gaethje is a phenomenal grappler but Ferguson has more dangerous finishing techniques.
Gaethje is far better in securing the dominant position from which he can execute submissions. His squeeze is very powerful, and he can get the tap by simply squeezing the jaw. But what stands out is his submission defense. Against Dustin Poirier at UFC 242, Gaethje ended up being in the nasty guillotine choke. But, the Russian managed to stay calm and find his way out of danger.
Ferguson is more unpredictable during the rolls and has better finishing abilities. He is constantly switching between the positions and attempting the submissions. While being on his back, Ferguson always looks to set up the nasty triangle choke as he did against Kevin Lee. However, he is best known for the sneaky D’Arce choke which he can set up in a split second. It’s fair to say that Ferguson has more submissions in his bag. But he will have a hard time securing the dominant position before executing the moves.
Justin Gaethje’s road to victory
At UFC 249, Justin Gaethje will face perhaps the biggest challenge of his career. In order to secure another title defense, he needs to put his wrestling to work as soon as possible and maintains high levels of concentration. On the feet, he should stay away from Ferguson’s dangerous Muay Thai game by using mobility.
Supposing he will score at least one takedown per round, he must be extra careful during the scrambles. Ferguson is very tricky on the mats, and he should watch for those nasty submissions and elbows from the bottom. We believe he has all the tools to hold Ferguson on his back for a long time and score submission in the later rounds.
Tony Ferguson’s road to victory
Without a doubt, Tony Ferguson will be under huge pressure. I mean, he has been waiting for this moment for such a long time but we are confident he can keep the anxiety levels low. Further, he is a slow starter who picks up his pace as the fight goes. Thus, we expect him to spend a lot of time on the bottom in the opening rounds. But once he feels loose somewhere in the third, Tony will begin putting more pressure on Gaethje. The thing is, he has cardio for days and can certainly drive Gaethje into the deep waters. His biggest advantage is his mentality and the fact that he doesn’t care where the fight takes place. He can score the finish from any position and like in Gaethje’s case, we expect him to do so in the later rounds.
Let’s be honest straight away. We can’t imagine Gaethje dominating the fight and controlling Ferguson the entire time. Ferguson is too awkward and dynamic that we can’t expect anything but fireworks between these two.
The fight will probably begin with Gaethje scoring an early takedown. He is a far more superior wrestler and a fast starter. But, Ferguson will keep his composure and make Gaethje work the entire time. Also, we firmly believe Ferguson will land a couple of sharp elbows from the bottom and do some real damage.
As the fight progresses, it will go down to who has it more in the gas tank. The thing is, Ferguson is increasing his pace as time goes and we have seen Gaethje slowing down before. In championship rounds, we’ll probably see Ferguson having more success defending the takedowns and testing Gaethje’s chin many times. That said, we are predicting a fifth-round TKO for Tony Ferguson!
Can you watch UFC main event on ESPN without PPV?
If you already have ESPN or you are new you can watch. But without purchasing pay per view (PPV) you can not watch the main event on TV.
How to watch?
The main action kicks off at 4:00 AM CEST and ESPN and ESPN+ are holding the entire rights to stream the UFC live events. To watch the event, you must sign up to the ESPN+ and pay the subscription. The best and the cheapest way is to buy the ESPN+PPV Bundle. For new subscribers, you can order the ESPN+ annual subscription for 85$ and watch the upcoming PPV event in HD.
The yearly ESPN+ subscribers can buy and stream the UFC 249 event for 65$. The monthly subscribers can upgrade to the annual plan and purchase the UFC 249 PPV for 85$.
As for the UK fans, the BT sport has the exclusive rights to stream live UFC events. The main card will start at 3 AM and unlike the previous UFC events, you can watch the UFC 249 without paying any fees.