While this may not be the fight originally planned, the UFC lightweight championship fight will still take place as Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson faces Justin ‘Highlight’ Gaethje at UFC 249.
Will veteran Ferguson enjoy a 13th straight win? Or maybe rising star Gaethje will win? In this article, we will analyze the chances of each of the opponents.
|Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson||Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gatji|
|180 cm||Growth||180 cm|
|70 kg||Weight||70 kg|
|194 cm||Hand span||178 cm|
|10:04||Average fight time||08:39|
|# 1||UFC Ranking||# 4|
Khabib announced his refusal on April 1 amid fears that he would not be allowed to leave Russia, and Gatji was confirmed as Ferguson’s new opponent four days later. But Ferguson’s meeting with Gaethje has already been postponed twice, until it was reported that the UFC management would still hold the tournament on May 9 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial arena in Florida, albeit without spectators.
Ferguson enters the fight after 12 consecutive UFC wins, rising to No. 1 in the lightweight rankings and winning three Performance of the Night awards. Widely regarded as one of the best fighters ever to compete in the UFC, he is also one of the oldest fighters in the Top 16, behind only Donald Cerrone.
The 36-year-old’s victory in this bout will allow him to become the first fighter to record 13 straight wins in the UFC Lightweight division, also marking the second longest streak in the UFC overall.
Meanwhile, Gaethje has only six UFC fights. He had a tough start with two losses in his first three fights, but has drawn attention with quick knockouts in his last three fights against James Wick, Edson Barbosa and Donald Cerrone.
The 31-year-old American quickly established himself in 4th place in the lightweight rankings, and was touted as the future opponent of Khabib and Conor McGregor. However, he still has to defeat some of the fighters who are currently higher in the ranking.
This event is the first battle between opponents. Ferguson has not previously viewed Gaethje as a potential opponent, stating that “he is no one with a 4-2 record,” while Gajee stated, “I am ready to fight anyone because I know I can beat anyone.”
Ferguson vs. Gaethje Odds Analysis
Ferguson is the favorite with a 1.56 odds, which is just under 63% chance of winning. By comparison, Gaethje is quoted at 2.56, which is about 37% likely.
Ferguson was rated almost exactly at the 1.51 average closing rate over the past five fights. He was the favorite almost everywhere, except for the one he beat Rafael dos Santos when he closed at 2.29 odds with a 42.5% chance of winning, up from 1.69 for the Brazilian.
Over the past five fights, in which he was the favorite, Ferguson’s odds have dwindled between the open and close of the lane by an average difference of 0.11, indicating that those seeking to support El Cucuy can get higher value by placing their bets earlier. .
Conversely, those following Gaethje should be careful, as in this case his opponents’ chances increased by a significant average difference of 0.59. For comparison, in the last five bouts, Gajee has been the favorite twice and has been the underdog three times. Historically, his chances decreased when he was expected to lose, and increased when he was the favorite.
The market implies that it has a better chance of winning than many of Ferguson’s recent rivals. For example, quotes are lower than dos Santos (1.69), but higher than Cerrone (2.93), Kevin Lee (3.39), Anthony Pettis (3.98) and Landon Vannath (6.26).
Ferguson vs. Gaethier: Style Comparison
Ferguson is a classicist, although, like other UFC competitors of comparable age, he developed a versatile style in the second half of his career and is able to respond to changes in combat as it develops. Of his last ten victories in MMA, five were submissions, three times we witnessed a 36-year-old fighter knocked out his opponent, and two victories were obtained by decision.
History shows that if Tony manages to control a fight, then he prefers to lead it in a standing position. He only makes 0.60 takedowns in 15 minutes and spends 89% of his attacks from standing. When the fight is on the ground, he often decides to try submission or choke instead of exhausting his opponent, on average 1.49 submission attempts within 15 minutes.
Ferguson also has a strong punching ability due to a much larger arm span than Gaethje: 194 centimeters versus 178. As a result, he feels more confident in the punch. If Ferguson’s approach can be considered aggressive but tactical at the same time, Gaethje’s approach is relentless. All but three of his 21 MMA wins have been achieved by knockout, and he’s hitting an impressive 8.50 bpm in his UFC fights (up from 5.51 for Ferguson).
Considering the huge number of attacks, he shows an impressive 55% accuracy rate, which again surpasses Ferguson (44%). However, it comes amid a whopping 10.23 bpm missed, which is a testament to his unwavering commitment to attacking technique and also why he has suffered two knockout losses in the last five fights.
Gaethje also constantly supports the fight. He has not yet attempted to act out or submit in his UFC fights and has only fought in one MMA fight that has come to an end. Another similarity to Ferguson is that he boasts a strong 80% impact protection alongside Ferguson’s 77%.
As a result, the outcome of the battle directly depends on Gaji’s stamina and preparation. Ferguson has been gearing up for UFC 249 since December, while until this week, Gaethje’s camp assumed he would not return to the Octagon until the summer.
Ferguson will come out more prepared in this pair, and will likely be able to withstand Gaethje’s initial onslaught by trying to use a larger arm span, and will attack from a distance to lay the foundation for a mid to late knockout.
Conversely, if Gaji gets in shape, then the fight has a certain potential to develop into a fight in a stance, in which the winner will be the one who shoots the opponent.
Ferguson vs. Gaethje: where is the value?
It’s not hard to see why Ferguson is the favorite for this fight – he has a higher rating, in better shape and should be more prepared. Still, Gajee’s odds are higher than four of Ferguson’s five previous opponents, and rightfully so: he’s at his peak right now, arguably one of the most intimidating fighters in the UFC, and is easily capable of quick knockouts.
For this reason, wherever possible, any bets should be based on Gatji’s shape. Naturally, the weaker they seem, the more it favors Ferguson, although if Gaji enters the octagon in decent shape, it could lead to an equal fight
Knockout seems like the most likely outcome of the fight. As previously mentioned, if Ferguson sees that Gaethje is having stamina issues, he can prepare himself for a knockout attempt starting in the third round, letting Gaji tire of his constant attacks early on.
For Gatji’s supporters, a first-round knockout win is definitely worth considering – of his last six MMA wins, four have come from the first stretch. As good as Ferguson is at changing styles when necessary, Gaethje’s formidable attacks leave him limited room to maneuver.
Regardless of who you think will win, the style and characteristics of the fighters indicate that it is best to avoid betting on a protracted fight or a decision. Instead, it’s best to focus on where there is value.
What does the bookmaker say?
Bookmaker Pinnacle, known for its low margins and high limits, said the fight will become popular with players given the coverage it has received in recent days. Statistics show that 67% of the bets were placed on Ferguson and only 33% on Gatji.
This indicates that the market is generally in agreement with the assumption that Gaethje’s limited lead time may be decisive now. Although, of course, this is only a fraction of the bets by volume, and the fight itself can become completely different.