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UFC: Cejudo vs Cruz Odds Analysis

The UFC is returning to regularly scheduled cards in a big way with UFC 249 taking place on May 9 in Jacksonville, Florida at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. The card is set to have two titles up for grabs, including the bantamweight strap as champion Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo makes his first defense against former champion Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz.

Online sportsbook Bovada has listed the current titleholder, Cejudo, as the favorite at -240 with the challenger, Cruz, coming back at +190.

Odds Analysis

It may come as a bit of a surprise to see Cejudo as a favorite, even though he’s on a five-fight winning streak and has won titles in two different weight classes. Even with the success, The Messenger has been an underdog in five of his last seven fights, including his last three. This title fight was supposed to be against Jose Aldo and Cejudo was going to be favored in that bout as well. The former Olympian earned backers a profit of $715 based on $100 wagers over his last three fights.

As for the challenger, Cruz, you may be seeing potential dollar signs with him coming in as an underdog, having only had plus odds once in his five UFC bouts. If you go back to his WEC days and including UFC, The Dominator has been an underdog just four times over 13 pro fights, sporting a record of 11-2 in that duration. That said, Dom hasn’t been in action since he lost his belt to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207 in December 2016, as the former champ has since been plagued by injuries.

How Will Cejudo vs Cruz Play Out?

Henry Cejudo is a former Olympic gold medalist in wrestling from the 2008 Beijing Games so obviously his grappling skills are elite. However, it is his striking skills that have really improved throughout his MMA career, and the moment that put his striking on the map was his knockout win over Wilson Reis.

During his five-fight winning streak, he has three knockout victories, including T.J. Dillashaw and Marlon Moraes to win the bantamweight strap. Additionally, his resiliency and toughness was on display in the Moraes win because he endured a lot of damage early but dug deep and flipped the script for the victory.

For those who are unfamiliar with Cruz, he is extremely well-rounded and prior to his most recent injuries was on a 12-fight winning streak that was snapped in his last bout with Garbrandt. Dominick has exceptional striking defense, absorbing only 2.15 significant strikes per minute, and makes his opponents miss 74 percent of their strikes. He has only been outstruck once in his last 13 fights.

His grappling shouldn’t be overlooked as he averages 3.17 takedowns per 15 minutes and landed multiple takedowns in 10 of his last 11 fights, including 10 against Demetrious Johnson, though that was in 2011.

Both fighters have exceptional wrestling and crisp striking. Many will discount Cruz because he’s been inactive for more than three years, which is definitely a valid concern. However, it wasn’t long ago that he was considered one of the top fighters in the UFC and he is only two years older than Cejudo. If Cruz has any semblance of his former self, this could be a terrific fight. If not, Cejudo should have his first bantamweight title defense in the bag.

Henry Cejudo vs Dominick Cruz Betting Odds
Henry Cejudo -240
Dominick Cruz+190

Odds as of May 8 at Bovada