UFC 249: Tony Ferguson v Justin Gaethje Odds - May 9

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The Khabib-Ferguson curse

Khabib Nurmagomedov is out of UFC 249. The UFC lightweight champion was set to put his belt on the line against Tony Ferguson on April 19, for what was the fifth attempt at getting the two in the octagon together.

The first time these fighters were set to clash was all the way back 2015, as both men looked to make a name for themselves in the lightweight division. A rib injury would prevent Khabib from competing, which forced the reschedule for April the following year, where it was Ferguson's turn to withdraw.

Then, after full 2016 of back and forths, it became clear the two were destined to fight as they both went on a relentlessly unrivalled streak within the lightweight division. 2017 comes, and a third scheduled bout is on the cards for the interim belt, as the current champion, Conor McGregor, was busy making history with Floyd Mayweather in boxing.

The ball was back in Khabib's court this time, as he withdrew due to being hospitalised because of a brutal weight cut. This forced Ferguson to fight Kevin Lee, who he submitted in the third round after a marvellous display. 'El Cucuy' would finally claim UFC gold as a result, although it was far from the magical manner in which we all envisioned.

We're now in 2018 and Dana White announces a fourth attempt to get this bizarre battle of the ages done. Now, with McGregor failing to fight for his lightweight title since 2016, this 2018 bout between Khabib and Ferguson was seen as the fight for not the interim belt, but the "real title".

The American had to withdraw once more, after freakishly blowing out his knee *on the way out* of doing his media work for the fight. To now have the fight off for the fourth time and in the circumstances of actually being injured whilst promoting the fight, led fans to label the matchup as a curse.

Khabib would have to fight Al Iaquinta, instead, where he won to claim lightweight gold and the Russian has held the belt ever since that April 2018 win.

Now, after amazingly getting things scheduled for an almighty fifth time, we once again have to sit back and wonder what would happen if arguably the two best ever lightweights meet.

Justin Gaethje vs Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 - May 9

With Khabib stuck in Russia, the UFC have looked to a variety of names, such as Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor to step into the famous octagon. However, as is Irishman occupied at welterweight, and with 'The Diamond' losing to Khabib himself in September, it has meant there is one man who quickly became the natural selection: Justin Gaethje.

Gaethje is now ranked #3 in the lightweight rankings after falling down the order in 2018 when he lost to Poirier and Eddie Alvarez. Now, after two Performance of the Night awards and one Fight of the Night claim, Gaethje has thrown himself right back into this confusing lightweight mixture.

Although, yes, we all wanted to see Khabib take on Ferguson, in truth, there can be no denying that 'The Highlight' is incredibly deserving of this shot, as he is the most in-form fighter outside of the top two.

Now, let's look how Ferguson vs Gaethje looks on the betting odds for the bout on May 9.

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UFC 249 Podcast

Ferguson to win outright

Understandably so, Ferguson comes into this bout as the favourite, both because of his 12-fight win streak, and as Gaethje has had less than a month to prepare.

At odds of 8/15 with Paddy Power, 'El Cucuy' is the clear favourite on the betting markets. The 36-year-old was the underdog for the initially scheduled bout against Khabib at 2/1, whilst he was 9/2 to win via submission and a high 8/1 to KO/TKO the champion.

Now, with Ferguson's opponent perhaps not at his best coming into this one, as well as the fact that Gaethje isn't on Khabib's ability level, this one could be much simpler for the Californian.

Although odds are low at 8/15, it's important to remember the aforementioned factors when making your bet. Indeed, Ferguson's challenger is on a phenomenal three-fight win streak, but coming into a bout on short notice against Ferguson is perhaps too much to ask any man.

The American has lost just once in his stellar UFC career, against Michael Johnson in May 2012. Since then, 12 opponents have tried and all failed and what makes this even more impressive is how there is a special blend of winning each fight in a different manner. On this magical run of form, there are six victories via submission, three via KO/TKO, with the other three coming via decision victories.

Ferguson has been on an unstoppable rampage over the past eight years and is rightfully so regarded as one of the best lightweights to ever do it. Now, by getting his hands on the interim belt once more, he may well step into the history books as the greatest.

Gaethje to win outright

As of taking the fight on Monday, April 6, Gaethje has had just under a month to prepare until the door is closed on the octagon, with Ferguson opposite him, staring deep into his psyche. Indeed, perhaps, this will be too much to ask for in getting the result he so painfully desires.

Because of this, when all is considered, an 11/8 price with Paddy Power for Gaethje to win outright makes sense. This is a little shorter than the 13/8 price Gaethje was when the fight was initially announced.

However, there are a variety of factors we must not look over when considering the 31-year-old's chances.

The first being that of this age and the fact it looks like the American is in the midst of his peak years, following three fantastic performances. Since losing to Poirier, two KO victories and a TKO win earned Gaethje two Performance of the Night awards and a Fight of the Night title as well.

Not just was this three consecutive stoppage wins in the octagon so impressive, it was over excellent fighters: James Vick, Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone. In truth, there are not many better pound for pound knockout artists than the lightweight, with 18 of his 21 wins coming via KO/TKO.

As a result, Gaethje cannot be overlooked so easily. Yes, Ferguson is rightfully so the favourite, but with his opponents brutal KO power, this one will be enticing from beginning to end. At 11/8, Gaethje is certainly worth a go.

To win by KO/TKO

This fight may well end up being a war. Both fighters are no stranger to stopping the show within the distance, with Gaethje's knockout power and Ferguson's constantly threatening versatility key to their respective success.

For 'El Cucuy' to stop his opponent by KO/TKO, odds are a very appealing 13/5. Nine of Ferguson's battles on his 12-fight win streak have been stopped within the distance, with three of them coming via KO/TKO.

In total, the Californian boasts a fantastic 48% KO/TKO ratio from his 25 wins in mixed martial arts. And, perhaps what makes this one more likely is Gaethje's lack of preparation time. Due to multiple switches and suspensions, the American has had a month to train now, compared to two weeks initially planned when Khabib withdrew. Although, this is still going to be far from acceptable to keep up with the unrivalled gas tank of Ferguson.

As for Gaethje, the 31-year-old is as strong as a knockout artist as they come. With a sensational 21 wins on his record, an almighty 18 wins have come as a result of a KO/TKO - this is an 86% ratio - for Gaethje to become the first man to KO/TKO Ferguson in professional mixed martial arts, odds are 15/8.

Based solely off his incomparable record in stopping his opponents, a price of 15/8 is always going to be worth a go.

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To win by submission

Submissions are a Ferguson speciality. For a man who boasts ridiculous endurance and incredible knockout ability, the American is one of the few fighters on the roster who can finish you from his back with a submission.

In total, Ferguson has won eight of his 25 fights via submission, meaning he boasts a very impressive 32% ratio by winning this way. What makes this more special, is how 'El Cucuy' has claimed six of those eight submission wins since his last loss to Johnson in 2012.

This means that 50% of Ferguson's 12-fight win streak since then has come as a result of forcing his opponent to tap. As a result, the former interim champion is 13/5 to submit Gaethje, which is arguably the tip of the night and certainly the Oddschanger tip to go for.

Furthermore, we already know the potential Gaethje has in the stand-up game, so he may want to keep the fight off the canvas if he can. Only one of the 31-year-old's wins has come via submission in 21 fights, which came against unknown fighter Sam Young all the way back in 2012.

The price for Gaethje to win by submission is 25/1. And, in truth, it'll be one of the shocks of the year if that happens.

To win on points

It's tough to see this one going the distance. On one hand, you have a man who has stopped nine of his last 12 opponents on his relentless 12-fight win streak. On the other, there is a man who has only failed to stop two of his opponents within his 21 wins.

Even in Gaethje's two losses in the sport, they were themselves stoppages - 'The Highlight' has only gone the distance twice in his career. Now, odds are justifiably high for either fighter to claim the victory on points.

Starting with Ferguson; odds are 6/1 to win on a decision. As mentioned, most of the 36-year-old's wins come within the distance, taking his opponent to the judges scorecards just three times since 2012.

As for Gaethje, the KO artist is incredibly unlikely to make it to the fifth round, famously tiring in the second round against Michael Johnson and winning in the first round of his last three fights - odds are a high 12/1 to win on points for him. Plus, those two fights in between that Johnson bout and his three-fight win streak ended with him TKO'd.

Furthermore, considering Gaethje has had only a month to prepare and Ferguson boasts arguably the best cardio in the game, it's unlucky this one goes the distance. Very unlikely.

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