UFC 249: Recap and Grade
Updated: Jul 11, 2020
UFC 249 took place in Jacksonville, Florida behind closed doors on Saturday night. This was the first time that a UFC Pay-Per-View event took place behind closed door.
MMA is a spectator sport that consists of many different fighting styles including Jiu Jitsu, Boxing, Wrestling and Muay Thai. It felt different watching an MMA event without any fans and any type of energy.
But at least we got to hear Joe Rogan call the fights.
The fight card consisted of many great fights on paper Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje, Henry Cejudo vs Dominick Cruz, Francis Ngannou vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Jeremy Stephens vs Calvin Kattar, Greg Hardy vs Yorgan De Castro, and Donald Cerrone vs Anthony Pettis 2. The most stacked fight card in UFC history.
But how did UFC 249 turn out?
Well let's dive right in:
Cerrone vs Pettis 2
Result: Pettis by Unanimous Decision
A rematch that consisted of two fighting legends, this lightweight bout lived up to expectations. It was disappointing that this fight was the main event of the prelims and not on the main card considering not only how good this fight was, but the two fighters involved in this fight.
This fight was close every single round. Personally, I thought that Cerrone won this fight because of his takedowns, but it could have gone both ways. Yes, Cerrone did not do much after the takedowns, but for the most part he took Pettis down and kept landing with his strikes.
However, Pettis out-struck Cerrone for most of the fight and landed with more volume. Everytime it looked like Pettis was going to strike, he kept pressing forward, backing Cerrone up towards the cage. Pettis did get away with an eye poke in the third round and Cerrone did recover towards the end of the fight.
Cerrone landed with a big roundhouse kick, which usually doesn’t end well for his opponents, but the former WEC and UFC lightweight champion Pettis showed that he can take as many shots as possible and his will throughout the round led to his victory.
But now the question is what will happen to both fighters after this fight?
Hardy vs De Castro
Result: Hardy by Unanimous Decision
After a unanimous decision loss at UFC Fight Night: Magomedsharipov vs. Kattar, Greg Hardy was looking to rebound in a big way against Yorgan De Castro in which he did.
Fun fact from ESPN: this is the first time in his UFC career where Greg Hardy has more professional fights than his opponent.
Despite the many kicks he took to the left leg, De Castro did not do much outside of that.
Hardy dominated every single round in what was otherwise a boring fight, to say the least.
So far, this might be Hardy’s best fight in his UFC career. Hardy now sits at 6-2 and hands De Castro his first loss dropping him to 6-1.
Where does the heavyweight contender and former NFL star go next?
Stephens vs Kattar
Result: Kattar by TKO in Round 2
This featherweight bout, despite it being ruled a catchweight bout due to Jeremy Stephens missing weight, ended quicker than what I imagined.
In Round 1, Jeremy Stephens came out swinging and dominated the first round. Stephens looked in good shape. Every time Kattar caught him, Stephens responded and responded strong. He was teeing off at Kattar, but near the end of the first round Kattar made some adjustments and did not stop from there.
Kattar stormed out the gate in Round 2 and just kept connecting with all of his strikes.
Almost midway through the second round, Kattar landed a beautiful combo and connected with an elbow right to Stephens’ forehead, which opened up a grueling cut and knocked Stephens down.
After knocking Stephens down, Kattar got on top of Stephens and ended his night with a ground and pound.
A phenomenal TKO victory and adjustment heading into Round 2 for the 32-year-old from Massachusetts. He is now 21-4 while Stephens falls to 28-18, losing four out of his last five fights.
Ngannou vs Rozenstruik
Result: Ngannou by KO Round 1
Now this was one of many fights in this fight card that I was looking forward to.
Two heavy-hitting heavyweights who are both contenders for a potential bout with arguably the greatest UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic in the near future.
The second ranked heavyweight Francis Ngannou vs the undefeated sixth ranked heavyweight Jairzinho Rozenstruik
This fight however did not last long as expected, but boy did this fight end with a BANG.
Opening seconds into the first round, Rozenstruik landed with a leg kick. But a few seconds later the two heavyweights swung and missed until Ngannou tagged with a vicious left hook to the face which knocked Rozenstruik out cold 20 seconds into the fight. Rozenstruik could not move and was unconscious as Ngannou displayed his great power once again.
Rozenstruik falls to 10-1, while Ngannou bumps up to 15-3 and sets himself up for a possible rematch with Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title.
Cejudo (c) vs Cruz
Result: Cejudo (c) by TKO Round 2
The co-main event of UFC 249 for the bantamweight championship. A highly anticipated title fight and return for Dominick Cruz after 3 and a half years when he lost his bantamweight belt in a one sided fight with former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207. This is also a big fight for Cejudo, as he looks to continue his reign in the bantamweight division and adding to his resume of a gold medal, flyweight, and now defending his bantamweight title.
The first round went Triple C’s way easily. The leg kicks, the take down, and the pace of this round was all Cejudo. Cejudo just teed off at Cruz’s leg, kept pressing forward, took Cruz down, and showed the difference in speed for both fighters with Cejudo being the faster fighter.
The second round could have gone either way. It wasn’t a flashy round, but it was a close round. It was close until a beautiful knee to the chin stunned Cruz and knocked him down. Cejudo got on top of Cruz and kept pounding away.
However, a questionable stoppage by referee Keith “No Nonsense” Peterson with 10 seconds left in the second round ended the fight and gave Cejudo the victory. Although Cejudo kept tagging Cruz on the ground, the fight was stopped while Cruz was recovering and making his way back up to his feet.
Cruz said after the stoppage, “How are you going to stop a fight if I was getting up? I understand if I was out cold, but I was making my way back up.” Cruz told Peterson to not stop the fight unless he was out.
Despite the loss, Cruz could get another shot at the Bantamweight title after Cejudo announced his retirement from the UFC at 33-years-old. The Bantamweight champion ends his great run in the UFC as bantamweight champion and after an impressive performance. This will now open things up for the bantamweight division.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens now in the bantamweight division.
Ferguson (c) vs Gaethje
Result: Gaethje by TKO Round 5
AND NOW (Bruce Buffer voice) The main event of UFC 249 for the interim lightweight title. An underrated interim title fight between two contenders and two (almost) evenly matched fighters. Whoever wins this fight will get a shot at the lightweight championship against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The first round was back and forth. Fireworks from the beginning of the fight between both fighters tight from the get-go, a great start to the fight. Very close round, but I would have to give the slight edge to Gaethje. Well timed shots, a bit more pressure, and more strikes were landed.
The second round was good, but I would give it to Gaethje. Even better than the first round, and Gaethje was connecting with even more shots, but Ferguson kept on answering and knocked Gaethje down at the end of the second round.
In the third round Gaethje took complete control. Tony Ferguson’s eyes started to swell up more as blood started to come out of Ferguson’s eyes. Gaethje kept timing his punches really well and it seemed like there was barely any answer from Ferguson. Out of every fight he’s been in, Ferguson has never looked out of place up until this fight.
Fourth round Gaethje started to dominate, and I mean DOMINATE. There was no looking back for Gaethje, as he continued to connect and his leg kicks were hurting Ferguson. Ferguson looked torn apart and was not going to recover from the past three rounds along with this round.
Fifth round, Gaethje finished what he started. This was the fight of Gaethje’s life. Gaethje looked phenomenal and was picking Ferguson apart from head to toe and hurting him badly. It was surprising that this fight went into the fifth round. Gaethje, however, did not let it go to decision, although he would have won regardless by unanimous decision, as he punished Tony Ferguson throughout the fight. Ferguson’s face was all beaten up, bloodied and he started to limp as his legs were beaten up.
Late into the fifth round as Gaethje kept tagging Ferguson, referee Herb Dean stopped the bout as Gaethje celebrated his huge win after an impressive performance and now sets himself up for a shot at the lightweight championship against Khabib Nurmagomedov in what could be another great fight. Khabib, who was originally supposed to fight Ferguson in the main event of UFC 249 for the Lightweight strap, was unable to due to travel bans from Russia to the US amid the virus. Gaethje was underestimated, especially by me and showed how underrated he is.
Can this be the man who puts an end to Khabib’s reign? Can Gaethje give Khabib the biggest challenge of his career? Only time will tell, but don't sleep on Justin Gaethje.
Although I wish a few fights went the distance and the world was normal so the fans could be there to bring that energy, this card lived up to the hype. One of the best fight cards on paper and the best fight card I have ever watched. A night to remember and a brilliant idea by Dana White to not only re-open the UFC, but to test the fighters for the virus and have a great PPV in Jacksonville, Florida. The UFC is heading the right way and I am excited to see which fights happen next for the remainder of 2020 and the foreseeable future. Dana White and the UFC have something up their sleeves.
Also, a big congrats to one of the greatest fighters of all time Georges St-Pierre for being inducted into the UFC Hall Of Fame.