Favourites Ngannou, Hardy highlight rest of UFC 249 slate

A pair of contenders looking to earn a shot at the UFC heavyweight title highlight the rest of Saturday’s UFC 249 main card as Francis Ngannou takes on undefeated Jairzinho Rozenstruik as a minus-275 favourite on the UFC odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Ngannou has shown he is serious about earning a rematch with reigning champion Stipe Miocic by tallying first-round knockouts in three straight outings. The streak has cemented his position as the No. 2 contender in the UFC heavyweight division going into Saturday night’s bout in Jacksonville.

Ngannou needed just 71 seconds to dispose of Junior dos Santos as a minus-230 wager at online betting sites at UFC on ESPN 3. The 33-year-old has also recorded recent opening-round victories over Cain Velasquez and Curtis Blaydes. Those wins put the brakes on a two-fight slide that started with a unanimous-decision loss to Miocic as a heavy minus-175 favourite in their battle for the UFC heavyweight crown at UFC 220.

Rozenstruik puts a perfect 10-0 pro MMA record on the line as he enters the octagon as a plus-215 underdog on Saturday. The 31-year-old native of Suriname stunned Alistair Overeem with a fifth-round KO victory back in December at UFC on ESPN 7 to pay out on minus-150 odds, and has now recorded knockout wins in nine of his 10 career contests including seven opening-round finishes.

Elsewhere on the UFC 249 odds, former NFL player Greg Hardy will be aiming to rebound from the second loss of his fledgeling MMA career as he takes on fellow heavyweight Yorgan De Castro as minus-205 chalk. Hardy dropped a unanimous decision to Alexander Volkov as a plus-230 underdog at UFC Fight Night 163, but has five first-round finishes to his credit since joining the UFC two years ago.

Pegged as a plus-165 underdog against Hardy, De Castro is coming off a first-round KO win over Justin Tafa at UFC 243. That marked his fourth opening-round finish in six career fights including a KO victory over Alton Meeks in his UFC debut in Season 3 of Dana White’s Contender Series. The main card is rounded out with a featherweight battle as Jeremy Stephens searches for his first win in five octagon appearances, battling Calvin Kattar as a plus-205 underdog.

As well, a number of familiar faces appear on the UFC 249 undercard. Donald Cerrone aims to put the brakes on a three-fight losing streak as he battles fellow welterweight Anthony Pettis as a +120 bet. Carla Esparza is set as minus-150 chalk in her women’s strawweight clash with Michelle Waterson, and Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza meets fellow middleweight veteran Uriah Hall as a narrow minus-135 favourite.

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