Justin Gaethje will be looking to make the best of his first-ever UFC title shot when he battles Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight championship at UFC 249 on Saturday as a +150 underdog on the UFC odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Gaethje stepped in after reigning champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was forced to withdraw due to travel restrictions stemming from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Originally set to take place on April 18, the UFC 249 card was subsequently postponed. However, after getting the nod from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Saturday night’s card will now take place with no fans present at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville.
Gaethje has climbed to No. 4 on the UFC lightweight rankings during a dominant three-fight win streak. The 31-year-old American finished opponents inside five minutes in each of those contests, capped by a first-round TKO win over Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 158 on -175 odds that also improved his professional MMA record to 21-2.
While Saturday’s contest represents Gaethje’s first bid for a UFC belt, title fights are nothing new to the former All-American wrestler. Gaethje successfully defended the WSOF lightweight title on five occasions during a nearly three-year reign as champion that ended when he joined the UFC in 2017.
Pegged as a -185 favourite at online sports betting sites, Ferguson aims to reclaim the interim UFC lightweight title he won with a third-round submission victory over Kevin Lee at UFC 216 as a -280 wager. Ferguson was later stripped of the title after being forced to withdraw from a clash with Nurmagomedov due to injury. However, Ferguson has remained dominant in the octagon during a 12-fight win streak that dates back to 2012, which has featured nine finishes and earned him eight performance bonuses.
Earlier on Saturday, Dominick Cruz makes his return to the octagon for the first time since 2016 to challenge champion Henry Cejudo for the UFC bantamweight title as a +195 underdog. Widely considered to be the greatest bantamweight fighter in MMA history, Cruz has been idle since losing the belt to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207 as a -235 wager. The loss ended a 13-fight win streak that spanned almost a decade and featured nine victories by decision.
After winning the UFC bantamweight crown with a three-round TKO win over Marlon Moraes at UFC 238, Cejudo makes his first title defence as clear -250 betting chalk. The former Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler rides a five-fight win streak that featured a stunning split decision victory over the legendary Demetrious Johnson that earned him the UFC flyweight title, and avenged his first-round loss to Mighty Mouse at UFC 196