UFC 249 … take two. 

UFC 249 shows the resilience of the organization and its president Dana White.

dana white ufc 249

Shrugging off the abrupt cancellation of the April 18 card, which was originally set for New York and later in California, White announced unheard of triple-hitter bouts on May 9, 13 and 16.

White also said the UFC could be back on its original schedule in a couple of months.

The NJ online sportsbooks delivered odds nearly as fast as Conor McGregor’s 40-second victory in his last fight.

In almost no time, odds went up at most NJ gambling sites for the May 9 event in Jacksonville, FL. Tony Ferguson is still favored against Justin Gaethje in the main event, contested for the interim lightweight championship.

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The winner will presumably fight division champ Khabib Nurmagomedov in September or October.

Odds change little between major books like DraftKings, FanDuel and PlaySugarHouse. All of them jumped on the chance to expand their prop board, however, to offer some unique plays.

Here’s a sample from FanDuel:

  • Ferguson to win by knockout or TKO is +260.
  • For Gaethje, the number is +190.
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Are you new to UFC betting, compared with boxing? A submission has the same effect as a knockout or technical knockout, but it’s a separate betting item. A fight ending in submission is a losing bet on the knockout/technical knockout line.

But you can take a combo, what’s known as a double chance, with reduced odds. 

Here’s how that plays out:

ufc 249

Other props include how the fight ends: knockout, submission or points. Will it go the distance, yes or no?

  • The “no” bets have it here at -750.
  • There’s also an over/under for the fight, which is 2.5.

Ferguson, 25-3, has the UFC lightweight division record of 12 consecutive wins and has not lost since 2012. Gaethje is 21-2.

With a combined 17 post-fight performance bonuses, Ferguson and Gaethje have thrilled fans like no other duo over the last several years, defeating the likes of Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis and Edson Barboza. 

Many of the other fights have a stream of props to go with them.

The co-main features former world champion Dominick Cruz making his long-awaited return to the Octagon to challenge Henry Cejudo for the UFC bantamweight crown.

Cejudo is -220 and Cruz, who has not fought since 2016, is +185.

Cejudo, the division champion, is the UFC’s third-ranked pound-for-pound top fighter. 

Prelims begin on ESPN at 6 p.m. EST. The latter fights are on pay-per-view.

Here is the rest of the card with betting odds from DraftKings. Most other books are close to these odds. What separates them is what props they want to offer.

  • Anthony Pettis -139 vs. Donald Cerrone, +117
  • Greg Hardy -182 vs. Yorgan DeCastro +152
  • Calvin Kattar -265 vs. Jeremy Stephens +211
  • Ronaldo Souza -127 vs. Uriah Hall +107 
  • Bryce Mitchell -186 vs. Charles Rosa +155
  • Carla Esparza -150 vs. Michelle Waterson +126
  • Fabricio Werdum -355 vs. Aleksei Oleinik +260
  • Francis Ngannou -286 vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik +233
  • Ryan Spann -420 vs. Sam Alvey+325
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These are unique circumstances. There are no fans allowed at the events, but that’s of little consequence to bettors. Horse racing has performed well enough during the past couple of months with no spectators.

This is an excellent audition opportunity for UFC with potential new fans and gamblers.

Besides the exciting action, the UFC will try to educate new fans about how the sport works.

Why Florida? It lifted restrictions, reclassifying sporting events, like UFC, as an essential business. This puts that state in the driver’s seat in the near future for hosting sporting events.

Jacksonville nailed all three UFC matchups in one announcement.

Beyond the odds

A number of fights carry implications beyond the result.

Ngannou is the No. 2 heavyweight and Rozenstruik is No. 6. The fight is unofficially viewed as a title eliminator for the right to oppose champion Stipe Miocic next.

Esparza is the No. 7 strawweight.  Waterson comes in at No. 8. Both fights to retain a spot in the rankings and to be taken seriously in consideration for bigger bouts.

UFC, more so than boxing, puts its top five fighters in the ring during a title bout. There are much fewer champions versus No. 15 contenders. The rankings mean more in this organization, especially the highest ones, than in boxing.

A special place for the ‘Cowboy’

donald cerrone ufc 249

Is that Donald Cerrone in the lineup, right on the heels of a 40-second loss to McGregor in January?

Yes, it is.

The “Cowboy” returns to fight Anthony Pettis in what’s very close to a must-win for his career.

Cerrone has lost three straight fights and the sudden loss to McGregor had him contemplating retirement. This is a rematch of a 2013 setback to Pettis.

A fourth straight loss would seriously damper his marquee. It is only his unique personality and mindset that places Cerrone in this event.

He accepted plunging from the headlined fight against McGregor to and undercard assignment in this one. That’s a path most fighters can’t swallow, but he did.

Cerrone is one of the most beloved UFC fighters, as he has often battled on short notice and in unfavorable situations to merely keep appearing in the lineup. He’s achieved enough financial success to be comfortable and has the most UFC wins of all fighters, 23, but suddenly looks his age, 37.

In the past week, Cowboy has:

Said he “sucked” against McGregor.

Expressed concern about staying with the younger fighters.

He joked about taking so many shots that his young children “would be reading to me.”

Cerrone also rekindled, tongue-in-cheek style, the relentless availability that’s made him a fan favorite.  We recall him popping into towns a night before a UFC main event and making himself available to White on short notice in case a fight got canceled.

He did it again this week, making himself available for all three UFC cards in the eight-day period. Cerrone was joking, we think.

It would do UFC and Cerrone well to make him a permanent part of the landscape once he retires. The Cowboy has been one of the organization’s top promoters, without officially trying. At some point, he should become an official part of the promotional team.

Final thoughts

Watch for news to trickle out about May 13 and 16 as fights become finalized.

Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira were tabbed for the 13th and Edson Barboza’s foray into the featherweight division against Dan Ige was hinted at for May 16.

But there will be much more to come.

And when it does, the books will be right there.

Dave Bontempo

About

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.