we made it. Twenty four week UFC card. Finally, an end.
To the next one.
Not a voice of gratitude to UFC President Dana White or to the fighters, coaches, and staff who have worked their fists to provide entertainment during the epidemic, but I think we all punch in the face for a few weeks. There are reasons to kill. . For fans, they will think about resting, recovering and for the time being Fighter X’s game plan, the 2021 fantasy matchup, or whether the wacky scorecard comes with judge Chris Lee.
Right now though? There were fights to pick us up.
Two-time welterweight title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson has been given a tough task: find a way to stop hard-charging Geoff Neill on Saturday’s UFC Vegas 17 Main Event. Five UFC opponents have tried and five failed, with only one of them scoring a scorecard against Neil.
Neil has yet to face a veteran of Thompson’s caliber, so this could be a reality check for a UFC liner for the first time. If he can get past Thompson, Neil immediately becomes one of the most intriguing welterweight contenders heading into 2021.
In the co-main event Marlon Vera sees him finally getting a shot at tossing a marquee name, an opportunity he has been chasing for ages, even finishing one bantamweight after another . The name belongs only to Jose Aldo, who has the hill to take over as he is still yet to win the 135-pound battle. Is it Vera’s time to shine or does Aldo prevent “Chitto” from reaching elite status?
In the other main card action, Michelle Pereira and Khos Williams face exciting welterweight, bantamweight contenders Marlon Moras and Rob Font, and veteran heavyweight Marcin Tybura battles Greg Hardy.
what: UFC Vegas 17
Where to: UFC APEX in Las Vegas
When: Saturday, December 19. The seven-card opening card on ESPN + will start on ESPN +, the five-card main card starting on ESPN +.
Stephen Thompson vs Geoff Neil
Geoff Neil has a spring for striking which I really like and I think “Wonderboy” will be the key to understanding the puzzle. He will have to stay on top form against Stephen Thompson, who has created an art to fool his opponents.
A glance at Neil’s high-finishing rate may portray a picture of a berserker, but indeed a lot of patience is shown when the opening rush arises. He is quick, accurate and explosive, if you want a chance against Thompson, all traits are necessary. The 25-minute duration of this bout could actually benefit Neil as he has the luxury of giving a round-the-clock start to gather data.
On the other hand, Thompson’s signature karate style suits the judges’ decisions well enough to win and if Neil isn’t able to carry the momentum, it’s Thompson who will cruise to a win. He specializes in controlling the distance and exploiting the weaknesses of less experienced opponents like Neil.
I’m going in vain on this and choosing a decision win for Neil, which I think is for a title shot sometime next year. It would be difficult to generate any sustained offense against Thompson, but I expect that to be a burst of action in favor of the young Neil and he should have just enough to win.
Jose Aldo vs Marlon Vera
I hated picking against Junior dos Santos last week and I hated picking against Jose Aldo here. Win or lose, these Brazilian champions deserve our respect.
The fighting game doesn’t give an idea for the word “worth”, though, which is how we ended up with a starving Marlon Vera himself as one of the best at 145 pounds, himself at 135 pounds Is seen as cement. “Chito” has a very high crime to do, which takes some time to get going, but once it does, most are very difficult to handle.
I’m afraid Aldo is also involved. He looks fantastic in some of his past fights, even defeats, but I understand that he doesn’t have the ability to put an exclamation point on performance like he used to. His close decision against Marlon Moras in December last year was priced. This may cost him some more brain cells against Vera.
Even if Aldo is competitive for the first two rounds, I just don’t see Vera slowing down in the third. He would finish strong and put Aldo away, leaving no scoring controversy.
Khos Williams vs Michelle Pereira
Khos Williams is ending the feud so quickly that he does not get a chance to show how well-rounded he is. He probably did not get that chance against Michael Pereira.
There is simply no one in the UFC like Pereira, the human incarnation of chaos. He is a fighter who dares to honor his masterful strike as well as eclipse his vicious (read: entertaining) antics. Beneath all the flips and acrobatics lies a fighter with real technical ability and Pereira has shown that in all of his UFC fights thus far.
Williams’ main issue would be to deal with the unconventional angles that Perera is going to approach. His last two knockout victories have come against opponents who made the mistake of walking in a straight line, something that Perera might not try to do. He is going to work under Williams’ skin and if he succeeds, there could be half the battle.
Perera from first round knockout.
Marlon Mores vs Rob Font
Is this a trap game for Marlon Mores?
On paper, it looks nothing like what the Rob font does better than that. Mores hits hard, is a strong ground game, and should be a match for Font in the speed department. I love the physical gifts that the font brings to this matchup. Let’s not forget that Moraz fought a ranger in Corey Sandhagen and he ended up on the wrong end of a spinning wheel kick.
Moras can deal with reach damage, even if it means fighting with more touch than usual. Questions have been raised about Moras’ ability to put together a three-full performance and if Font could get it in the third round, he could be more in the gas tank than Moras.
Still, there are plenty of ways for Moras to win here and I hope he will be smart and get into the fray. He may have to play it safe to avoid his third loss in four fights, but I’d really rather see him gain submission at some point.
Marcin Tybura vs Greg Hardy
Apologies for starting this section with another question, but how good is Greg Hardy really? The matchmakers have done an excellent job of finding suitable matchups for inexperienced heavyweight, but Marcin Tybura is a big step forward for Hardy.
Tybura may never produce notable citations like Derrick Lewis, but the Polish veteran was a solid fighter for years and has a huge experience advantage over Hardy, especially when comparing his level of competition. His lack of punching power could prove to be his shortcoming in this matchup as it is something in which Hardy has shown no shortage.
The athletic difference between Tybura and Hardy cannot be ignored. Speed and agility can make up for a lot of shortcomings when you’re learning on the fly and although Hardy had nothing to offer Alexander Volkov, the smaller and slower Tybura is a more hitable target. If Hardy’s skills begin to take hold with his raw ability, Tybura could fall for the former NFLer.
Tybura needs to bring this fight to the ground where he will benefit heavily. He is smart and must do so many times until Hardy tires and sues for ground-and-pound or submission.
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