Tag Archives: Deron Winn

UFC Vegas 66: Cannonier vs Strickland – Prelims predictions

The final UFC card of 2022 is upon us after a crazy year, with middleweight contenders battling it out in the main event.

Jared Cannonier returns to the octagon after a failed title attempt to take on Sean Strickland, whose last fight saw him beaten by the current champion in the division.

It’s a stacked 14-fight card including people like Drew Dober, Manel Kape, Bryan Battle, Said Nurmagomedov and more.

Last weekend at UFC 282 we went 6/11 with one perfect pick (we don’t count draws) to move to 795/1238 (64.22%) with 326 perfect picks (41.01%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims, we move on to the rest of the prelims here.


Said Nurmagomedov (16-2) vs Saidyokub Kakhramonov (10-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An absolute banger at bantamweight up next. Nurmagomedov has won his last three in a row, KO’ing Mark Striegl (UFC Fight Island 6), submitting Cody Stamann (UFC 270) and then earning a decision over Douglas Silva de Andrade most recently. Kakhramonov is on a four-fight win streak including a submission win over Trevin Jones and a decision win over Ronnie Lawrence in his first two UFC bouts.

Nurmagomedov is a good grappler, but despite his surname it’s his striking that is his standout attributes, with really good kicks in his arsenal. Kakhramonov is more like you’d expect Nurmagomedov to be, with excellent and relentless grappling with a fantastic gas tank to go with it and some okay striking at best. But his gas tank is a big problem for Nurmagomedov who can start a bit slowly sometimes.

With that said, Nurmagomedov is very good at what Kakhramonov is best at. The same cannot be said the other way around. Nurmagomedov will look to stand and land from distance and if he gets taken down he will make Kakhramonov work hard and it’ll be 50-50, so that leads me to a pick for Nurmagomedov in a really fun bout.
PICK – Said Nurmagomedov via Decision

Julian Marquez (9-3) vs Deron Winn (7-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A weird middleweight bout next. Marquez earned submission wins over Maki Pitolo (UFC 258) and Sam Alvey (UFC Vegas 23) before a knockout loss to Gregory Rodrigues most recently. Winn on the other hand 1-3 in his last four, getting KO’d by Phil Hawes in his most recent bout.

Marquez is a powerful striker with good elbows and a heavy right hand, but it’s his gas tank that stands out most. He really struggles with defensive wrestling too, which is a big problem against a wrestler of Winn’s calibre. Winn is small but he should be able to get on the inside here and get his takedowns off, but his biggest issue is his cardio which falls off a cliff at some point in the second round regularly.

Winn should win the first round because of his wrestling, but Marquez’s pressure and power is a big problem. As the fight goes on Winn will start to waiver and Marquez will get stronger, meaning the takedowns get easier to defend and the strikes become easier to land. This could be billed as a bit of a “comeback” win, but I do think Marquez has the power and cardio to get it done late on.
PICK – Julian Marquez via Knockout, Round 3



Jake Matthews (18-5) vs Matthew Semelsberger (10-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Welterweight banger up next. Matthews has won four of his last five fights, with his only defeat coming to Sean Brady back at UFC 259. Most recently he claimed a win over Andre Fialho via knockout. Semelsberger is coming off a short-notice loss to Alex Morono at UFC 277, which snapped a two-fight win streak.

Matthews has developed himself into a really well-rounded MMA fighter, with excellent striking and power to go with really good wrestling and some fine submission skills too. Semelsberger on the other hand is a straight up powerhouse, with a huge right hand that puts people’s heads into orbit. Defensively he has struggled with wrestlers in the past and his striking defence isn’t the best either, as shown against Morono.

Semelsberger will always have a punchers chance in a fight, but in this match it seems tough that he has anything more than that. Matthews is the better striker with good power and volume, and his wrestling is a get out of jail free card if he needs it too. Both guys are durable so a finish is unlikely, but Matthews should pull away by mixing all his skills together and claim a big win to show he’s a serious contender in the division.
PICK – Jake Matthews via Decision

Cheyanne Vlismas (7-2) vs Cory McKenna (7-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

The only women on the card take up the featured prelim spot for this card. Vlismas (formerly known as Buys) has won her last two in the UFC, KO’ing Gloria De Paula before earning a decision win over Mallory Martin most recently (UFC Vegas 44). McKenna has won five of her last six, with a defeat to Elise Reed at UFC London prior to her most recent win against Miranda Granger via submission.

Vlismas is a very good striker on the feet with good defensive takedown skills and plenty of output and volume, but she has often gone against an ideal game plan and found herself in trouble. McKenna is a strong wrestler who uses her striking to open up opportunities to shoot, but she struggled for control against Elise Reed which is a bad sign here. Vlismas is very good at moving away from shots and controlling distance, which would allow her to land clean a lot because of her five-inch reach advantage in this fight.

McKenna is capable of getting her to the ground, and once there she has a big advantage. She’s stronger physically and has good technique, but she may eat a host of shots trying to get in there. If Vlismas fights to her strengths by keeping distance on the outside and limiting her kicks, then she should be able to come away with a win.
PICK – Cheyanne Vlismas via Decision

UFC Vegas 39: Dern vs Rodriguez – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex once again this weekend for a strawweight main event that could decide the next title contender for the division.

Mackenzie Dern looks to continue her win streak when she goes up against Marina Rodriguez in the main event, with both women aware that a win could pit them against the winner of Rose Namajunas vs Weili Zhang 2 at UFC 268 next month.

Elsewhere on the card is a fun welterweight clash between Randy Brown and Jared Gooden, while there is also an exciting flyweight fight between Tim Elliott and Matheus Nicolau as well as the return of heavyweight Alexandr Romanov.

Last week at UFC Vegas 38, we went 7/11 on picks with just one perfect pick to move us up to 428/670 (63.88%) with 184 perfect picks (42.99%).

We’ll look to improve on that here on this ten-fight card and after starting with the prelims picks, we move on to the main card picks now.


Phil Hawes (11-2) vs Deron Winn (7-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun middleweight fight opens up the main card in the middleweight division. Hawes is on a seven-fight win streak, beating Kyle Daukaus last time out at UFC Vegas 26 via decision while Winn is coming off the back of a win over Antonio Arroyo at UFC Vegas 17 following back-to-back losses.

Hawes is a power puncher with legitimate one-punch KO power, while Winn is a wrestler before everything with some okay boxing too. Winn is only 5ft 6′ so he tends to struggle when it comes to engaging in his strengths, and with Hawes having such a big advantage in the striking and the range this is a weird match-up.

Most likely, Hawes keeps his distance and just picks Winn apart from range before landing one of his really big punches and securing a stoppage win.
PICK – Phil Hawes via Knockout, Round 2

Sabina Mazo (9-2) vs Mariya Agapova (9-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun women’s flyweight bout between two up and coming prospects in the division. Mazo lost her last fight to Alexis Davis last time out at UFC Vegas 20, while Agapova was beaten by Shana Dobson last time out at UFC Vegas 7 over a year ago.

Both of these women are excellent kickboxers who look at their best from range, but seem to struggle whenever their opponent looks to close the distance and starts grinding in style with dirty boxing and grappling. Luckily for them both, neither will do that here. Agapova has had trouble with her cardio in the past and Mazo is the bigger woman naturally, having previously fought at bantamweight.

This is a close fight but I think Mazo’s size, reach and cardio will edge her over the line to earn a decision win.
PICK – Sabina Mazo via Decision

Tim Elliott (18-11-1) vs Matheus Nicolau (16-3-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

My pick for the fight of the night in the flyweight division next. Elliott has won each of his last two, with decisions over Ryan Benoit and most recently Jordan Espinosa at UFC 259. Nicolau won his second UFC debut against former RIZIN champion Manel Kape in a controversial split-decision at UFC Vegas 21.

Elliott is a great wrestler who gets his takedowns using his cardio as a weapon and making every fight a straight up war. Nicolau on the other hand is a power puncher with some decent wrestling defence too and some good kicks in his arsenal. Elliott is a veteran who has never even been dropped in the UFC but it’s his relentless pace that often breaks opponents.

Nicolau’s best chance of a win is a big knockout and with Elliott’s durability it seems unlikely. Elliott will keep the pace high, perform his wrestling duties well and be able to just overwhelm Nicolau for a decision win.
PICK – Tim Elliott via Decision

Randy Brown (13-4) vs Jared Gooden (18-6) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A banger at welterweight in the co-main event between ‘Rudeboy’ and ‘Nite Train’. Brown bounced back from defeat against Vicente Luque with a one-arm rear-naked choke win over ‘Cowboy’ Alex Oliveira last time out at UFC 261, while Gooden starched Niklas Stolze last time out at UFC Vegas 33 to bounce back from two consecutive losses.

Brown is a great striker with terrific length and some very good submission skills, with his 11 stoppage wins split 6-5 in KO’s and taps. Gooden on the other hand is an explosive puncher with some good wrestling skills, but it’s still hard to know where he stands at the UFC level. He got dominated in his first two fights, but then earned a win with a flash knockout early so it’s hard to see if he made many improvements.

That said, he has the power advantage in this fight if he and Brown were to go strike for strike. I don’t think Brown will do that though and he’ll look to mix in his grappling and use his length well to earn himself a close decision win.
PICK – Randy Brown via Decision

Mackenzie Dern (11-1) vs Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

The main event is a super fun strawweight battle between grappler and striker as they look to make themselves title contenders with a win. Dern has won each of her last four, with three by submission including her most recent against Nina Nunes at UFC Vegas 23, while Rodriguez made it two in a row with wins over Amanda Ribas at UFC 257 and Michelle Waterson at UFC Vegas 26.

Dern is one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners on the roster, with seven submission wins in her career but she has shown a marked improvement in her striking in recent fights too. Rodriguez on the other hand is a boxer first with some decent kicking too, with six knockout wins in her career. It’s a classic striker vs grappler bout and my mind tends to almost always go with the grappler, because they can dictate where the fight goes.

Rodriguez will look to keep the distance and use her slight reach advantage to land strikes, but Dern will be aggressive and likely pull guard because her takedowns are pretty rubbish. If she does, she’ll lock up a submission in no time but if Rodriguez keeps it standing she’ll win easily. That said, I don’t see Rodriguez keeping it standing for five rounds, so I’m backing Dern to earn yet another submission win.
PICK – Mackenzie Dern via Submission, Round 2

UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs Neal – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Christos Giagos def Carlton Minus via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-28)

Fast start to the round from Christos Giagos here as he comes out with a big overhand right hand that goes straight into a level change for a takedown. Minus immediately tries to scramble out but gives up his back and Giagos goes straight into full mount. He’s floating well and landing some good ground and pound, while also threatening with a rear-naked choke relentlessly. Minus gets back up but Giagos is more than comfortable on the feet and gets it back down again as the round ends. Potentially a 10-8 for Giagos.

Second round is essentially the exact same thing as first. Complete domination on the ground from Giagos with plenty of attempts at head and arm chokes, rear naked chokes and ground and pound. Minus is being totally controlled but doing just enough to avoid being finished. Potentially 20-16 after two rounds in favour of Giagos.

Third and final round starts in the same way as the previous two, with Giagos circling before eventually securing a takedown that Minus just can’t defend. Minus gets back up this time though as Giagos is clearly fatigued and starts landing some nice jabs and one-twos. Minus lands a stiff uppercut as the fight draws to a close, with Giagos just circling to survive the final 60 seconds. Easy win in the end for Giagos, 30-25 on my scorecard.

Jimmy Flick def Cody Durden via Submission (Triangle choke), Round 1 (3:18)

Great start to the fight from Durden as both fighters exchange strikes before he grabs a takedown and moves quickly to take the back. He lands some decent punches on the ground but Flick gets back to his feet relatively quickly and they separate. Durden looks explosive and lands some big punches, as Flick covers up well and keeps his guard high. Flick goes for a head kick that Durden catches, but Flick turns it into a flying triangle choke! He pulls him into his guard, tightens the choke and gets the tap! Unbelievable! Wow!

PRELIMS

Tafon Nchukwi def Jamie Pickett via Unanimous Decision (30-25, 30-26 x2)

Nchukwi makes a fast start and comes across the cage throwing heavy strikes but Pickett tries to avoid using his speed and mobility. Nchukwi throwing combinations and ending with a head kick a lot, but not landing them. Pickett scores a nice takedown against the cage, but Nchukwi does well to get back to the feet without taking too much damage. Nchukwi gets the fight down to the ground himself and shows good control but Pickett gets back up. Spinning elbow lands from Nchukwi as his cardio seems to be holding up well, with lots of knees to the body landing in clinches too. 10-9 Nchukwi.

Fast start against from Nchukwi as he powers out of the traps with a big overhand right hand. Nchukwi is still pressuring Pickett against the cage and whenever they clinch he starts dirty boxing with lots of body strikes and knees to the body too. Left hand landing a lot from Nchukwi but it’s lacking the big power now, although still doing damage. Pickett lands a nice one-two that snaps Nchukwi’s head back, but then he returns with a right hand of his own. Pickett lands a big four or five punch combination that sends Nchukwi backwards. Pickett comes forward and there’s a big clash of heads as the buzzer goes. 20-18 Nchukwi but he’s slowing a little.

Before the third round starts with the doctor checking out Pickett after the clash of heads but the fight goes on. Nchukwi lands a big left hand out of the gate as the round begins and Pickett looks dazed still. Nchukwi is starting to land more flush now and Pickett is hurt. Big knees to the body against the cage again followed by a big left elbow and Pickett is down! Big ground and pound from Nchukwi but Pickett is covering up well and surviving. Nchukwi lets him back up to his feet into the final minute and continues to walk him down looking for a finish. Great fight, but that’s a 10-8 for Nchukwi and a big win. 30-26 for me.

Taila Santos def Gillian Robertson via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 29-28)

A quick start to the fight for Robertson as the two end up in a clinch against the cage and she goes for a flying armbar quickly! Santos is in danger but she stays calm and eventually gets out of the position and ends up in full guard, controlling the position and landing some nice ground and pound. Robertson throwing elbows from her back to create space and damage but Santos is doing well to nullify her. Robertson tries to scramble back up to her feet but once agains Santos is able to over-power her and land strikes on the ground to see the round out. 10-9 Santos.

Second round begins and once again a clinch against the cage ends up with Taila Santos on top and landing some nice short shots to the face. Santos ties her up and ends up on top with a reverse triangle choke with the legs, but Robertson defends really well and escapes into top position. Santos slides out of the back and ends up back on top once again, landing strikes and making Robertson very uncomfortable. Impressive round from Santos. 20-18.

Santos comes out in the third round and lands two nice punches, showing her striking chops, before Robertson throws a head kick and goes for a takedown. She ends up catching Santos in a guillotine, but the Brazilian stays patient and escapes, ending up back against the cage in top position. More short strikes from Santos as Robertson keeps working for a submission but nothing is working. Robertson finally manages to isolate an arm and rolls through for an armbar but Santos fights out of it once again and ends the round taking the back of Robertson. Dominant performance from the Brazilian. 30-27 Santos.

Deron Winn def Antonio Arroyo via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Explosive start from Arroyo as he comes in with some powerful strikes before Winn hits an early takedown. Arroyo scrambles back to his feet but then Winn gets another takedown early. A third and fourth takedown follow as the pattern of this fight continues as we pass the halfway point. Arroyo throws up an armbar attempt and then gets back to his feet once Winn escapes. He lands a big knee to the face and then a combo that hurts Winn, but he steps back and recovers. Arroyo starts stalking with hands low, but Winn looks for another takeodwn. Again Arroyo gets to the feet and lands a nasty front kick to the face but Winn eats it and gets another takedown as the round ends. 10-9 Winn but Arroyo looks more likely to win it at this rate.

Winn opens up the round with a wheel kick attempt that misses before landing a takedown, which he sees keep Arroyo down a little longer this time but Arroyo eventually gets back up to his feet. The round continues with the same pattern of Winn landing lots of takedowns and Arroyo getting back to his feet and landing nice strikes before going down again. Arroyo is exhausted at this point, throwing lazy kicks and accepting the position on his back while Winn lays on top to take a breather also.

Third round and once again Winn continues to blast takedown after takedown, taking him into double figures officially for the fight. Arroyo is exhausted and is accepting the position, being lazy off his back throwing up-kicks before Winn lets him back up. A nice head kick lands but Winn just goes straight back in for another takedown as we enter the final 30 seconds of the fight. They get back to the feet and Arroyo lands a body kick as the round comes to an end. Should be a win for Deron Winn.

Pannie Kianzad def Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A strong start for Eubanks as she lands a flurry of punches before getting the takedown at the first attempt. Lots of floating position and some good strikes from top control as Kianzad is clearly at a disadvantage in these instances. Eubanks controls the entire round with top control and ends the round taking the back of Kianzad, but she runs out of time before she can sink in a choke. 10-9 Eubanks.

Kianzad starts the second round well, landing some good strikes and then defend against the takedown attempt from Eubanks. Kianzad lands some nice knees to the body in the clinch and some good body shots that are doing some damage. Eubanks blasts a takedown and gets it but Kianzad immediately throws up her guard and defends. She looks to sink in an armbar from her back but Eubanks escapes well and Kianzad manages to get back to her feet. A few more body shots land and the round ends with Kianzad throwing elbows to the side of the head as she defends a takedown. 19-19, big round incoming.

Third round continues from where the second left off, as Kianzad keeps the fight standing and starts landing some nice jabs. Eubanks looks laboured now but then lands a big right hand on Kianzad that gets her attention. Kianzad throwing knees to the body again and her jab is landing but Eubanks is walking forward. Both women exchange jabs in the centre before a wild left hook misses the target completely. Final minute now as Eubanks lands a right hand before Kianzad steps in and out landing a nice one-two. Big left hook from Eubanks lands but Kianzad responds with a hook of her own. Fight comes to an end with the women exchanging blows in the centre. 29-28 Kianzad for me but that’s a great fight.

Anthony Pettis def Alex Morono via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A blistering start to this fight as Morono charges across the cage and gets an immediate takedown with a hook in to take the back. He starts raining down huge punches and busts the nose of Pettis early. Body lock tightens as Morono looks for a rear naked choke, but Pettis rotates into him and reverses the position well before getting back up to his feet. Pettis starts flicking out strikes, looking for his big left hand but Morono countering well and forcing Pettis to move backwards. Big spinning kick from Pettis lands clean to the chest but Morono eats it and continues to come forward. Morono goes for another takedown and drags Pettis down to the mat but Pettis reverses it perfectly and ends the round on top. 10-9 Morono but great fight so far.

Fast paced start for the second round as Pettis comes out looking for jabs and kicks but Morono still coming forward. He’s beginning to slow down now a bit though as Pettis looks for a huge spinning elbow but hits fresh air. Pettis throwing some nice leg kicks and a straight left that is causing Morono some trouble, as Pettis throws an axe-kick that grazes the face of Morono. Body kick from Morono as he continues to come forward, but Pettis is landing shots and avoiding any big damage coming back his way. Body kick lands and then a jab from Pettis as both men look for spinning attacks at the end of the round. 19-19, Pettis looking good right now.

Morono lands a nice strike to open the round, before Pettis throws another axe kick that grazes the head. Pettis turns his back after a strike attempt and Morono charges for a takedown, but Pettis rolls through and ends up on top in control. Pettis doing brilliant work to remain on top, stacking Morono against the cage and landing short shots to stay busy. Morono battles back to his feet but Pettis controlling head position and landing knees to the body as we enter the final minute. Separation from the clinch and Morono charges forward with a flurry, but Pettis responds with a clean uppercut. Spinning wheel kick lands to the top of the head by Pettis and Morono is wobbled! Pettis charges for the finish and drops him, but then goes for a guillotine which he doesn’t quite get and ends the round on top raining down punches.

MAIN CARD

Marcin Tybura def Greg Hardy via Knockout, Round 2 (4:31)

An interesting start to this fight as both guys looking to fight from range using jabs, while Tybura looking to add a few kicks too. Hardy lands a nice right hand but Tybura eats it and throws a nice body kick. Hardy lands three big right hands in a row and Tybura is wobbled! Hardy slows it down again and Tybura goes for a single leg takedown but it’s defended well. Hardy then lands SEVEN heavy right hands in a row that really hurts Tybura but the round comes to an end. Best we’ve seen Hardy. 10-9.

Better start to the round for Tybura this time as he starts to time the shots of Hardy and countering well. He’s walking Hardy down and throwing kicks and jabs, feinting takedowns constantly too. Tybura shoots in for a takedown this time against the cage and Hardy defends it well at first before ending up flat on his back. Tybura flattens Hardy out onto his back and starts throwing bombs down! Hardy starts covering up and Tybura keeps punching until the referee stops the fight! Big comeback win for the Polish fighter!

Rob Font def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 1 (3:47)

Explosive start to the fight from Font as he comes out with two big hooks, which makes Moraes change levels and get a takedown quickly. Font manages to reverse the position and lands some nice knees to the body, but then Moraes picks him up and slams him down and takes control from top position. Font gets back to his feet and Moraes lands a nice head kick that sends Font backwards. Font then throws some bombs that rock Moraes and he drops him with a beautiful uppercut. He jumps on him for the ground and pound and the referee stops it! Wow! What a knockout!

Michel Pereira def Khaos Williams via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A very tactical start to the fight with both guys throwing feints and just testing their range for the opening minute. Pereira throws a big one-two and a front kick to the body that connects hard, but Khaos doesn’t flinch. Halfway through the round, Khaos throws some leg kicks as the two clinch and separate quickly. Body kick from Pereira is caught by Khaos and the throws a big one-two that wobbles Pereira. Another front kick by Pereira is caught and another big right hook lands flush, but Pereira eats it and continues to come forward. Right hand lands by Pereira now and he follows it up with a knee up the middle. Flying knee attempt at the end from Pereira but it’s a tight round. 10-9 Khaos.

Another slow start to this round, but it bursts into life as Pereira counters a low kick with a straight right hand flush on the chin. Khaos comes forward and launches a flurry, that leads to a clinch in the centre that ends in a stalemate. Some nice leg kicks land from Khaos and then he starts attacking the body. Pereira responds with a body kick of his own and Khaos charges across the cage throwing punches, landing three in a row to the chin. Clinch against the cage and Pereira throws big knees to the body before they separate. Seconds to go and Pereira jumps on the back and sinks in a rear-naked choke, but runs out of time. Super close round, 20-18 Khaos for me though.

Fancy footwork from Pereira as he looks to get in and out with powerful strikes, but Khaos is throwing hooks that are landing too. Pereira goes for a weird mule-kick but misses completely and then Khaos throws a flurry of shots to the body and head. Pereira throws a body kick again and then changes levels to secure a takedown. Pereira tries to pass into mount but Khaos defends well and gets back to his feet as we enter the final minute. Khaos eats a kick to the head and then Pereira changes levels again and gets another takedown, ending the round with lots of ground and pound strikes. 29-28 Khaos at the end for me but could go either way.

Jose Aldo def Marlon Vera via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Tense start to the fight as Vera and Aldo stand in boxing range and exchange leg kicks early before Vera initiates a clinch against the cage. Aldo eats some knees to the thigh before reversing the position and separating. Big left hook to the body from Aldo gets a reaction from Vera and he throws it again shortly after. Straight right and a big leg kick from Aldo followed by a third body shot, as Vera throws straight kicks to the lead leg of Aldo. Vera throws a head kick which Aldo avoids then throws a big body shot and right hook combo. 10-9 Aldo as the round ends.

Aldo starts the second round with another big left body shot followed by a right hand to the head. Vera still throwing that stabbing leg kick to Aldo’s lead leg, but Aldo is countering with good head shots. Aldo catches a body kick and Vera spins and lands a back fist, moving out of range of Aldo’s counter at the same time. Clinch against the cage as Vera throws knees to the thigh, then looks for a trip. Aldo stays on the feet and throws a knee to the body before they clinch up again against the cage. Better round for Vera there, could well be even.

Vera charges across the cage to start strong but misses a strike and Aldo latches on to the back and locks in a body triangle. He jumps up to the back and eventually flattens Vera out, before eventually rolling through as he looks for a rear-naked choke. Vera is battling the position but Aldo controlling from the back. Vera manages to stand up with Aldo still on his back and walks him over to his corner, slamming him down, but Aldo keeps the body triangle synched up. Aldo keeps the back for the rest of the round and threatens the choke but the buzzer goes and that’s that. Should be an Aldo win.

Stephen Thompson def Geoff Neal via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)

Competitive start to the fight from both men as Wonderboy manages the distance expertly as usual, using kicks and jabs. Neal marching him down, looking to close distance to then explode with flurries of strikes but Wonderboy landing combos and then evading. Wonderboy looks very sharp, landing good strikes. Both men go for an exchange of strikes but clash heads, opening up a cut on both men just above their eyes. Fight is paused for a short while but only lasts for another 5 seconds before the end of the round. 10-9 Wonderboy.

Neal comes out in the second round and looks to engage in a clinch, but Wonderboy defends well and they separate quickly. Wonderboy then lands a stiff one-two down the middle, followed by some clean body kicks. Neal responds with a body kick of his own but Wonderboy counters with short strikes and stabbing body kicks. Straight right lands from Wonderboy as he continues to evade Neal’s attacks with excellent footwork. Neal traps Wonderboy against the cage and finally lands a big left hand, but Wonderboy eats it and responds with a strike of his own to end the round. 20-18 Wonderboy.

Wonderboy continues in the third as he has gone in the first and second so far with good kicking and nice one-twos before moving out of the way. Neal closes the distance and gets a clinch position against the cage, throwing knees to the thigh. Wonderboy swivels and separates well and goes back to landing strikes from range. Both throwing jabs, with Neal landing a couple of nice ones in particular before another clinch against the cage with Neal leaning on Wonderboy, but the veteran separates well then lands a lovely combination. Big straight right hand from Wonderboy lands twice before Neal lands a big left hand just before the buzzer. 30-27 Wonderboy.

More of the same in this fourth round, with Wonderboy using his jab perfectly. Big right hand lands flush and Neal looks like he’s hurt, so Wonderboy lands three more. Nice body kick lands on Neal, that causes an audible burp in the octagon, but Neal is just being outclassed right now. Clinch situation against the cage at the end of the round, Wonderboy is cleaning up right now. He ends the round with what looks like a knee injury though… 40-36.

Final round and Neal comes out aggressive, throwing his big left hand and Wonderboy is clearly compromised by that injured leg. Big exchange against the cage and both men land some big bombs but nobody flinches yet. Body shots from Wonderboy as Neal gets a clinch against the cage. Big body shots from Neal with 70 seconds left as they separate in the clinch, Wonderboy steps forward with a couple of right hands of his own. Neal lands two clean shots but Wonderboy returns with shots of his own as they trade in the centre of the cage to end the round. Great fight, vintage Wonderboy performance. 50-45 for me.

UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs Neal – Prelims Predictions

The final UFC card of the year looks to end 2020 with a bang with a welterweight main event that could decide on a new contender for the belt.

Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Geoff Neal step into the headline slot following the collapse of the fight between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev. Neal is looking to extend his win streak against the highest level of competition he has faced, knowing a win puts him into the top five conversation.

Elsewhere on the card Jose Aldo looks for his first win at bantamweight against Marlon Vera in the co-main, on a card that has an insane 14 fights on the night.

Last week at UFC 256, we had a poor showing as we scored just 4/10 on the night on a night of incredible fights. That moved us to 185/292 (63.36%) with 80 perfect picks (43.24%) since starting predictions back in June.

With so many fights the predictions will be split into three parts this week, starting with the early prelims here and now with the rest of the prelim card.

PRELIMS

Gillian Robertson (9-4) vs Taila Santos (16-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Gillian Robertson was supposed to face off against Andrea Lee at this event while Taila Santos was supposed to fight against Montana De La Rosa at UFC Vegas 16, only for both to fall out and the women agree to face each other instead. Robertson has won her last two, submitting Courtney Casey in June before outclassing Poliana Botelho back in October. Taila Santos destroyed Molly McCann in July after losing her UFC debut to Mara Romero Borella. Santos is a very good striker who has a jiu-jitsu black belt, although we’ve not really seen her go to ground so far in her UFC career. If Robertson can get a takedown and dominate from the top, she will be confident of coming away with a comfortable win. If Santos is able to deny the takedowns though, she has a massive edge on the feet and will pick Robertson off. It’s all about the takedown and I think Santos will be able to deny the attacks of the 25-year-old and get the win.
PICK – Taila Santos via Decision

Deron Winn (6-2) vs Antonio Arroyo (9-3) – (Catchweight/195lbs)

A return to the octagon for Deron Winn following consecutive defeats, sees him come in against short-notice step in Antonio Arroyo in a catchweight bout. Arroyo won twice on Dana White’s Contender Series before getting a contract, only to be beaten in his debut by Andre Muniz in November 2019. Winn is a wrestler by trade and has come under the wing of former double-champ Daniel Cormier but has struggled to make his wrestling impactful so far in the UFC. Arroyo is a fine striker, who is often brought into camps for the opponents of Thiago Santos due to their style similarities. He has a nine-inch height advantage and a three-and-a-half inch reach advantage but his takedown defence isn’t the greatest. Physically, Winn is stronger but Arroyo is a good scrambler off his back and carries decent power. Winn will eventually be able to get a takedown and control the fight on the ground, but Arroyo definitely has a path to victory here. It will be a close bout that really depends on if Winn can close the distance and get his takedown. I believe he will, so I’ll take him for a career-saving win.
PICK – Deron Winn via Decision

Karl Roberson (9-3) vs Dalcha Lungiambula (10-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A return to the octagon for Karl Roberson following his submission loss in a grudge match against Marvin Vettori back in June, as he takes on Lungiambula who moves down to middleweight after his defeat to Magomed Ankalaev in November 2019. Roberson is a fantastic kickboxer who is also a pretty decent wrestler too, and has fought some top class fighters already. Lungiambula was trying to fight at a more natural weight class at 205lbs but was often undersized and struggled against top wrestlers because of it. This move down is good for him, but Roberson is just a level above him. He outclasses him on the feet by keeping the range and should be able to take him down too if he wants, so should get back into the win column.
PICK – Karl Roberson via Decision

Sijara Eubanks (6-5) vs Pannie Kianzad (14-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A dominant performance against Julia Avila saw Sijara Eubanks make a quick turnaround to fight Ketlen Vieira at UFC 253 just two weeks later. She got beaten in that one, and now looks to close out the year trying to keep her winning record. She comes up against Pannie Kianzad, who has won her last two fights against Jessica-Rose Clark and Bethe Correia on Fight Island in July. Eubanks is a solid wrestler and does her best work in top control but Kianzad has an excellent takedown defence rate. She’s lengthy and a good striker from range and so long as her takedown defence holds up, Kianzad should make it three in a row in a closely contested affair.
PICK – Pannie Kianzad via Decision

Anthony Pettis (23-10) vs Alex Morono (18-6) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis recently made the move up to welterweight and holds a knockout win over main eventer Wonderboy Thompson. He then lost to Nate Diaz and Diego Ferreira, before getting back in the win column against Donald Cerrone back in May. He fights out his contract against Alex Morono, who beat young prospect Rhys McKee just last month in a great three round performance. Morono is a good wrestler who prefers to brawl on the feet, but Pettis is arguably the better striker of the two with his excellent kickboxing skills. Should Morono choose to purely wrestle with Pettis and use his jiu-jitsu black belt on the ground he’s capable of getting a win, but with the style that both men tend to employ regularly I’d be surprised if Pettis doesn’t make it consecutive wins at 170lbs.
PICK – Anthony Pettis via Knockout, Round 2