Preview – UFC 249 on ESPN+

We have been going without sports for almost two months now and some of us are starting to itch for their return. Luckily, we only have to wait until tomorrow for the return of the UFC. And, while it may be coming from an empty arena, UFC 249 is a stacked card that is sure to include some fireworks.

It seems like every card the UFC puts together is loaded these days and, at first glance, UFC 249 may not stand out to the casual fan because of the lack of household names. More avid fans, on the other hand, are very aware of the talent on this card and the stylistic matchups that are sure to lead to some of the most fun fights we’ve ever seen. Two title fights and a potentially explosive heavyweight bout are sure to make this a night to remember.

Let’s take a closer look at those three bouts:

Heavyweight bout: Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Did I mention this card would feature some fireworks? Francis Ngannou is arguably the most feared striker the UFC has to offer, after he set the record at the UFC Performance Institute for the hardest punch ever recorded there. The massive heavyweight is always one punch away from adding his opponent to his already star-studded highlight reel. He’s also the UFC’s second ranked heavyweight and likely just one win away from his second shot at the championship.

Ngannou can’t afford to look ahead though, as his opponent is arguably even more dangerous than he is. 10 fights, 10 wins, nine knockouts. That’s the record Rozenstruik boasts and two of those wins came over Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem, two of the high-profile victims on Ngannou’s aforementioned highlight reel. In fact, Rozenstruik needed just 29 seconds to dispatch of Arlovski, a former Heavyweight Champion himself. And that’s only his third fastest knockout! And did I mention Rozenstruik is a year younger than Ngannou? This is sure to be a fun fight with the winner being thrust to the top of the heavyweight rankings.

Bantamweight Championship bout: Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz

Jumping to a very different weight class, the octagon will be graced by two of the greatest of all time. Cruz hasn’t fought since 2016 and has since become an analyst for the UFC, but none of that changes the fact that he is a former two-time Bantamweight Champion and the was the first to hold the UFC title. He holds a 22-2 professional record, with wins over some of the greatest fighters the division has ever seen. But can he still compete nearly four years after his most recent fight?

Cejudo is certainly going to find out. The 33-year-old is one of just four fighters to hold championships in two different division simultaneously, putting him in a group with Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Amanda Nunes – a list of surefire future UFC Hall of Fame inductees. Cejudo is impossibly fast, with dangerous hands and even better grappling technique. Look for this fight to be very strategic and technical from both fighters.

Lightweight Interim Championship bout: Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje

The UFC has attempted to arrange a fight between interim Lightweight Champ Tony Ferguson and current Lightweight Champ Khabib Nurmagomedov on multiple occasions without the bout ever actually coming to be. Unfortunately, it’s starting to feel as though we will never know who the true king of the 155 Lb. division will be. In the meantime though, the UFC can give us some pretty exciting fights at that weight.

Ferguson is possibly the hottest fighter in the UFC right now, winning 12 straight fights en route to becoming the interim Lightweight Champ. His last loss came all the way back in 2012. With nearly 30 fights under his belt, the 36-year-old has all kinds of octagon experience, including wins over some of the top fighters today like Donald Cerrone, Kevin Lee and Rafael dos Anjos. Ferguson is dangerous everywhere. With 12 wins by knockout and eight by submission, he’s as well-rounded as they come and he’s certainly going to be looking to add to one of those totals.

That’s not going to come easy for Ferguson this time though. Gaethje is an absolute warrior with some incredibly impressive striking skills of his own. Of his 21 wins, 18 have come by way of knockout. That’s 18 knockouts in just 23 fights. After dropping back-to-back fights, which we both complete wars that ended in Gaethje going out on his shield, he has responded, winning three straight all by knockout. Gaethje is an all-or-nothing fighter with the potential to put his opponent to sleep or be put to sleep himself. One thing’s for sure though, he’s always going to give the fans a fun fight.

UFC 249 will be held tomorrow night, Saturday, May 9 at 10 PM ET. Fight fans can order the pay per view through ESPN+ and receive a special offer: $84.98 for UFC 246 and an ESPN+ annual plan. ESPN+ subscribers can order the pay per view for $64.99.

Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."