Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje predictions: UFC 249 expert picks, best bets by proven main card specialist

Sports fans are desperate for live action, and Saturday’s UFC 249 main event promises to provide plenty of it. Tony Ferguson will attempt to capture the interim lightweight title for the second time in his career when he takes on Justin Gaethje. The main UFC 249 fight card is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. ET from VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville. Ferguson (26-3) is aiming for his 13th consecutive victory as he looks to win the belt he initially captured more than 2 1/2 years ago.

“El Cucuy” is a quick striker and possesses the ability to turn things in his favor rapidly, while Gaethje (21-2) has had a penchant for quick endings, as his last three victories have all been first-round knockouts. Ferguson is a -190 favorite (risk $190 to win $100), while Gaethje is a +160 underdog according to the latest Ferguson vs. Gaethje odds from William Hill. In the co-main event, Henry Cejudo (-240) defends his bantamweight title against two-time former champion Dominick Cruz (+200). Before making any UFC 249 picks, make sure you see the latest UFC predictions from SportsLine MMA analyst Brandon Wise.

A CBS Sports editor specializing in MMA, Wise has been dissecting the sport for five years. He specializes in picking main-card fights for UFC, which has enabled him to be profitable every year. Wise went a perfect 5-0 at UFC 239 and 4-1 at UFC 245. He also nailed Khabib Nurmagomedov’s destruction of Conor McGregor in 2018, Stipe Miocic’s upset of Daniel Cormier and Max Holloway’s downfall in 2019. Across UFC 247 and UFC 248, Wise went 7-3 with his main-card picks, returning healthy profits for anyone following them.

Wise also nailed the main event of UFC 248 in March, telling 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 keep the action on the feet and was proven correct as the champ landed numerous leg kicks en route to victory. Anyone who has consistently followed Wise is way up.

Now, with UFC 249 fast approaching, Wise carefully has studied every matchup on the main card, identified the best value in the UFC odds and released his MMA picks for each fight. He’s only sharing those selections here.

Ferguson vs. Gaethje expert preview

Wise knows Ferguson had been preparing to fight Nurmagomedov, who currently is stuck in Russia. It marks the fifth time a matchup between the two has failed to take place after being booked.

Ferguson is in the midst of the longest winning streak in UFC lightweight history. The 36-year-old Californian has won 12 consecutive fights, the last being a second-round TKO against Donald Cerrone on June 8. 

A former collegiate wrestling champion, Ferguson has not lost since dropping a unanimous decision to Michael Johnson on May 5, 2012. He captured the interim lightweight championship with a submission win over Kevin Lee in October 2017, but was stripped of the title after withdrawing from a fight with Nuragomedov in April 2018 due to a torn knee ligament.

Ferguson’s winning streak could come to an end against the fourth-ranked Gaethje, who has recorded three straight victories after suffering back-to-back losses. The 31-year-old from Arizona’s most recent win also came against Cerrone, as he scored a TKO in the first round on Sept. 14. Get Wise’s predictions for Ferguson vs. Reyes and every main card fight here.

Top UFC 249 predictions

One of Wise’s UFC 249 predictions: He is backing Calvin Kattar (-240) to defeat Jeremy Stephens (+200) in a featherweight match. 

The ninth-ranked Kattar (20-4) has registered three straight victories via TKO after winning seven consecutive fights by decision. The 32-year-old known as “The Boston Finisher” last fought on Nov. 9, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Zabit Magomedsharipov for just his second loss in 14 bouts.

Stephens (28-17) also lost a unanimous decision to Magomedsharipov last year and is winless in four fights since knocking out Josh Emmett in February 2018. A 33-year-old former lightweight who is ranked seventh in the featherweight division, Stephens will be appearing in his 33rd UFC fight, breaking a tie with Demian Maia for third-most all-time, and needs to score one knockdown to pass Anderson Silva (18) for second-most in UFC history.

“Kattar has blossomed into an all-around fighter at 145 pounds, with an elite wrestling game on which to fall back,” Wise told SportsLine. “Kattar should win this fight comfortably by out-wrestling the elite striker.”

How to make Ferguson vs. Gaethje picks

Wise also has strong picks for Ferguson vs. Gaethje and every other bout on the main UFC 249 fight card. He’s also backing a fighter whose “explosiveness” will propel him to a decisive victory. Get every pick for every fight on the UFC 249 main card at SportsLine.

Who wins Ferguson vs. Gaethje? And how exactly does each fight end? See the latest UFC 249 odds below and then visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight on the UFC 249 main card, all from the accomplished expert who has been profitable for five straight years.

UFC 249 main card odds (via William Hill)

Tony Ferguson (-190) vs. Justin Gaethje (+160)
Henry Cejudo (-240) vs. Dominick Cruz (+200)
Francis Ngannou (-260) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+210)
Calvin Kattar (-240) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+200)
Greg Hardy (-175) vs. Yorgan De Castro (+150)

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