What you need to know.
First off, this is the most excited I think our team has ever been providing an upcoming sporting event preview. (Someone pinch me please!)
When: Saturday, May 9
Time: Early prelims begin – 6:30 p.m.
Prelims begin – 8:00 p.m.
Main Card – 10:00 p.m.
Venue: somewhere in a quarantine safe arena in Jacksonville, Florida – the details are not important
TV: Catch the prelims on ESPN (US) or TSN (Canada)
Main Card – Pay-per-view via ESPN+ (US) or Pay-per-view (Canada)
Here. We. Go.
Tony Ferguson (-177) vs. Justin Gaethje (+150) – Interim Lightweight Title
Ferguson (25-3) is looking to extend his current fight win streak to 13 with his upcoming date with Gaethje (21-2).
The bout was supposed to be lined up against the 155-pound champ, Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0), but as we all know very well, this is just simply never going to happen. In steps, “The Highlight” for none other than an action-packed bout for the Interim Lightweight Title – something Tony is quite familiar with. The bout is scheduled for 5, 5-minute rounds, but there is a solid chance it will not go the distance as Gaethje has only gone the distance twice in his 23 fight career.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
Both fighters are coming off stoppage wins over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone – he is also featured on the card – nonetheless the stylistic match-up is unprecedented. Gaethje is a world-class wrestler who chooses to only stand and trade with opponents, where Tony is an all-around match-up nightmare, throwing bombs from every angle possible – check out his wild training if you want to get stuck in a YouTube vortex. Side note – Can Tony be knocked out??
The Corner’s Pick: Ferguson (TKO stoppage)
No questions asked. This guy is a mutant and unlike the rest of the world, he has taken his training regime to the next-level. At age 36, his eyes are set on one thing and one thing only – Khabib. If you have ever watched the way Tony treats his opponents, he is no dog, he is all work. He has mentioned this is the real fight the fans want to see, regardless of the accolades – an occurring trend as of late.
*The interim champion is sometimes a little difficult to understand – let me explain. If the current Division Champ is unable to compete for whatever reason granted by the sports promotion, the title contender and the “replacement” fighter square off for what is know as the interim – or the in the time between fight availability belt – once the true Champ is back, a bout is formed called the unification title bout – these fights are often the most hyped ones.
Henry Cejudo (c) (-220) vs. Dominik Cruz (+183) – Bantamweight title
Dominik Cruz (22-2) is back and so are his dance moves. Expect to see mayhem as these little buggers love sizing up, dipping, and sneaking bombs in on their opponents. The two fighters can be described as the slipperiest – yes, that is descriptor – of Bantamweight contenders as they come. “Triple C” (15-2) as we all know and love, will defend his Bantamweight belt for the first time. This match-up has not come without scrutiny as Dominik has not been inside the octagon since a 2016 loss to big baby Cody Garbrandt – this division is full of drama lol. Nonetheless, Cruz was granted a straight title shot after the layoff due to his previous accomplishments and former Champ status.
The Corner’s Pick: Cejudo (unanimous decision)
There is just no stopping Triple C, he is the complete package when it comes to mixed martial arts. He carries world-class wrestling with powerful striking ability. The layoff and injuries for Cruz makes this a major uphill battle for his return. This one is likely to be a 25-minute classic.
Francis Ngannou (-278) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+225)
This makes me nervous just typing those two names out side by side. The match-up is set for the two most lethal Heavyweights currently in the division – Dana White is a little aroused right now. Our hopes are that the repertoire translates into combat within the octagon, as we have seen a similar match-up be a yawn – a la Derrick Lewis versus Ngannou (14-3). Francis was outspoken about this as he got his behind whooped by reigning Champ Stipe Miocic. He has since finished 3-straight opponents, let’s say, finding his rhythm. Did I mention they were all in the very first round? Yikes. As for Rozenstruik (10-0), his left hand should be pixelated when shown on national television. His current mixed martial arts record is something out of a Heavyweight’s fairy tale book – 4 KO’s and 1 TKO over his last 5 bouts at a 10-0 clip. Although his competition has not been as stiff as Ngannou’s – we all know too well this one is going to end real early.
The Corner’s Pick: Jairzinho Rozenstruik (TKO stoppage)
We are taking the dog here. Why you may ask? There has never been a sneakier knockout artist than Rozenstruik – Ngannou’s biggest weakness. He may look huge, but his striking ability is in the realm of the Lightweight division.
Someone tweet @ Coaster if Tony can be knocked out… we will be waiting.
Find out the history of Tony vs. Kahbib here.