Tag Archives: Geoff Neal

UFC Vegas 59: Santos vs Hill – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas for the TUF 30 finale card, headlined by light heavyweight bangers.

Thiago Santos will take on Jamahal Hill looking for a place in the top five of the rankings at 205-pounds in the main event, while Vicente Luque will also fight Geoff Neal in the co-main event.

The TUF finale also takes place as the heavyweights Mohammed Usman, brother of Kamaru, takes on Zac Pauga while the women’s flyweights will see Brogan Walker take on Julianna Miller.

Last time out at UFC 277 we went 10/13 with two perfect picks to move to 683/1059 (64.49%) with 291 perfect picks (42.61%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims and moving on to the rest of the prelims, we now pick the main card.


Ariane Lipski (14-7) vs Priscilla Cachoeira (11-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very interesting women’s flyweight bout opens up the main card here. Lipski snapped a two-fight losing streak after KO defeats to Antonina Shevchenko (UFC 255) and Montana De La Rosa (UFC Vegas 28) when she beat Mandy Bohm last time out. Cachoeira has won three of her last four with KO wins over Shana Dobson (UFC Vegas 14) and Gina Mazany (UFC 262) as well as a decision last time out against Ji Yeon Kim. She was beaten by Gillian Robertson in the middle of that at UFC 269 via first-round submission.

Lipski is an effective Muay Thai striker with excellent technique, but her power is lacking and she tends to be relatively hesitant to throw. Cachoeira is the opposite, with incredible power and wild technique as she marches forward and takes one to give two. Lipski is by far the more technical, but that means little if she can’t keep Cachoeira away from her as she throws bombs.

Cachoeira will move forward through the lack of power and look to blast her head off with elbows and hooks. If they clinch then Cachoeira is big and strong enough to break away and if it goes to the ground then the Brazilian has the advantage there too. If it’s clean and tidy then Lipski has a chance, but Cachoeira fights rarely are so expect a nasty win.
PICK – Priscilla Cachoeira via Knockout, Round 2

Augusto Sakai (15-4-1) vs Serghei Spivac (14-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweight banger up next. Sakai has lost his last three in a row, getting stopped by Alistair Overeem, Jairzinho Rozenstruik (UFC Vegas 28) and most recently Tai Tuivasa (UFC 269). Spivac on the other hand has won four of his last five, with a KO defeat against Tom Aspinall followed up by a KO win over Greg Hardy at UFC 272 most recently.

Sakai is a powerful striker with good combinations and kickboxing, and some solid takedown defence to show too. Spivac is a grappler who looks to wrestle and use his size to wear on his opponents although his striking has been improving in recent bouts. With that said, this fight is an interesting battle between differing styles and could be settled based upon each fighter’s approach.

Prior to his three defeats in a row this is the type of fight that Sakai absolutely loved. Spivac’s striking isn’t good enough or powerful enough to strike fear in Sakai’s heart, while he’s be confident of stifling the wrestling attempts. But if he’s more hesitant after those defeats to come forward and throw then he could be in trouble. Based on what we’ve seen in the past though, it’s hard not to pick Sakai. The Brazilian should be able to walk Spivac backwards and unload combinations against the cage, and his power is enough to close the show early.
PICK – Augusto Sakai via Knockout, Round 2

Brogan Walker (8-2) vs Julianna Miller (3-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The TUF 30 women’s flyweight finale up next. Walker us 8-2 in her professional career, fighting in Invicta before going on the show, while Miller is 3-1 having done the same thing. Both women claimed decision wins on the show throughout the series, except for Miller’s submission in the semi-finals.

Neither of these women are particularly standout athletes or fighters, but they’re here for a reason. Walker is a 10th planet jiu-jitsu fighter and is very comfortable fighting off her back, but her grit and volume won her bouts in the TUF house, while Miller has plenty of volume on the feet herself with solid leg kicks and a decent jab too. There will be plenty of grappling in this fight though.

Nobody knows who the better wrestler is at this point, because neither were really forced to grapple in the house. Both have submission wins in their career to this point, but the experience of Walker is a big factor here. She has fought a far higher level of competition in her career up to this point and if she ends up under Miller she’ll be confident enough with her submission skills, while Miller’s submission wins came from the top. Because of that, and only that, I’m going with Miller to claim a decision win but this could probably go either way in reality.
PICK – Brogan Walker via Decision



Mohammed Usman (8-2) vs Zac Pauga (6-0) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweight TUF 30 finale next. Usman suffered defeat in his last bout before entering the house, getting submitted by Brandon Sayles in the PFL back in May 2021. Pauga is an undefeated fighter with a decision win over Markus Perez in Cage Warriors last time out in October 2021 via decision.

Usman is a natural heavyweight who is pretty well rounded, with decent striking and very good wrestling similar to his brother. He has finished five fights in his career, split pretty evenly with three knockouts and two submissions. Pauga is a natural light heavyweight who uses his slick movement and kickboxing skills to outpoint opponents so far in his career, with just one KO finish to his name. He has a big speed advantage here, but he will be severely undersized.

It’s strength and size against technique in this one. If Usman is able to get his hands on Pauga and take the fight to the mat, then it will be incredibly difficult for “The Ripper” to get back to his feet. If he keeps it standing though, Pauga wll be too quick and should be able to land well. I expect it to go the distance, and I can’t see how Pauga keeps Usman off him for 15 minutes so I expect “The Motor” to make it a family affair in the UFC.
PICK – Mohammed Usman via Decision

Vicente Luque (21-8-1) vs Geoff Neal (14-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An absolute banger at welterweight in my pick for the fight of the night. Luque was on a four-fight win streak with submission wins over Tyron Woodley (UFC 260) and Michael Chiesa (UFC 265) the stand outs, before being dominated by Belal Muhammad last time out. Neal snapped a two-fight losing streak to Stephen Thompson (UFC Vegas 17) and Neil Magny (UFC Vegas 26) when he earned a split decision win over Santiago Ponzinibbio at UFC 269.

Luque is a brilliant boxer with unbelievable power and cardio, as well as a solid jiu-jitsu game and unreal durability. Neal is a powerful striker too, but he tends to throw less volume and has been more hesitant in recent fights than usual. He’s got a bit of wrestling in his back pocket too, but he’s rather reluctant to use it. This should be a banger on the feet, and I can’t look past Luque at this point.

He’s the faster fighter, has better combinations and variety in his striking, great durability and he’s also more than capable of taking the fight to the ground. His chokes are great, but I expect plenty of body work and a threat of takedowns to be enough for Luque to be able to claim a highly entertaining decision victory.
PICK – Vicente Luque via Decision

Thiago Santos (22-10) vs Jamahal Hill (10-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Heavy hitters up next in the main event in the light heavyweight division. Santos is a former title challenger, but that defeat started a 1-4 run. He was beaten by Jon Jones, submitted by Glover Teixeira (UFC Vegas 13), dominated by Aleksandar Rakic (UFC 259) and most recently controlled by Magomed Ankalaev. He did claim a decision win over Johnny Walker at UFC Vegas 38. Hill recovered from the only defeat of his career where Paul Craig snapped his arm at UFC 263 by KO’ing Jimmy Crute (UFC Vegas 44) in just 48 seconds and then sleeping Johnny Walker in the first-round in February this year.

Santos is a brilliant kickboxer with unreal one-punch knockout power, but his volume has dramatically decreased since he blew out both his knees in the defeat to Jones. He’s also a black belt, but it’s hard to know why because whenever he’s gone to the mat he’s been dominated. Hill is also a brilliant striker with unbelievable knockout power, and he is confident on the mat too. It’s his surreal striking power and speed that make him a huge threat though.

This fight should be what many expected Santos vs Walker to be. That one ended up being very slow as both guys were worried about the power coming back their way, but Hill never has that fear. He will come forward, use his boxing and low kicks to close the range and look to take Santos’ head off. Santos is very durable on the feet but his lack of volume is a problem, and he’s nowhere near as effective when going backwards. Hill could make a big statement with a KO, but expect it to go 25 minutes with a bit more caution in Hill’s favour.
PICK – Jamahal Hill via Decision

UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Gillian Robertson def Priscilla Cachoeira via Submission (Rear naked choke), Round 1 (4:59)

Fast paced start to this fight as Robertson looks to take the centre and attempts a couple of takedowns early. Cachoeira defends them well and is starting to land some decent strikes on the feet, landing good jabs and starting to do damage. Robertson suddenly changes levels in the centre though and scores a nice takedown before looking to secure a kimura lock. She transitions into side control and then full mount and starts raining down huge elbows! Cachoeira is in danger and Robertson switches to the back and gets a choke in under the neck. Cachoeira tries to defend it by sticking her thumb in Robertson’s eye but she refuses to let it go and then gets the tap with one second left! What a performance!

Tony Kelley def Randy Costa via Knockout, Round 2 (2:15)

Very fast start from Kelley who steps forward immediately and starts chasing Costa across the cage looking to land big shots. Costa trying to weather the storm and countering with his jab, but Kelley continuing to come forward aggressively. Clinch against the cage and Kelley is trying to wear on Costa early, landing some nice knees but Costa seemingly the stronger fighter physically. Kelley switching stances as he throws his combinations and Costa is struggling to make reads, before they clinch up against the cage once again and tangle until the end of the round. 10-9 Kelley.

Another fast start from Kelley as he comes forward quickly again and starts the clinch battles again once again. Costa looks a little fatigued but he’s defending himself well and and staying in it. Costa starting to land his jabs well but Kelley closing the distance and making this fight ugly. Costa lands a nice kick and follows it up with a short right hand that hurts Kelley, but he clinches up quickly and starts defending. Kelley gets him in a Thai clinch and lands some big knees to the body and Costa drops to his knees! Kelley battering the body and thrashing elbows onto Costa who’s just trying to defend himself now. Kelley going for the finish and the referee steps in! What a performance from Kelley.

Ryan Hall def Darrick Minner via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-27)

Tactical start to the fight from both guys here as Minner lands a couple of leg kicks and misses wildly with some big strikes. Hall very patient and lands a nice body kick and then Hall shoots for the legs. Lots of transitions and rolling for submissions but Minner defending against the kneebars and heel hook attempts well. Minner gets back to the feet and lands a big right hand that cracks Hall who starts to retreat. Hall starts to go for a takedown again and ends up in top position landing some decent ground and pound to end the round. 10-9 either way, but I lean to Hall just.

Hall coming out more aggressive now as he starts swinging kicks, before Minner lands a nice right hand and gets a takedown as Hall goes for a leg. Minner in Hall’s full guard and looking for ground and pound, but Hall is looking to throw up an armbar or triangle submission. Minner stands up and slams Hall down to escape it and goes back for ground and pound. Hall throws up another triangle and it’s tight and he starts throwing big elbows from his back but Minner surviving. Hall looks to advance to a straight armbar but Minner denies it and then he rolls to an omoplata attempt and ends the round with ground and pound. 20-18 Hall.

Final round and Hall rolls under a punch and secures a triangle attempt immediately from his back. Minner defends it well but Hall then switches and is able to get on top. He advances to full mount and is in complete control here, looking for an arm triangle.

Erin Blanchfield def Miranda Maverick via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Good start to the bout for Maverick as she steps forward aggressively and throws a few strong strikes. Maverick looks to step in with a right hand but Blanchfield ducks under and immediately has a body lock from the back. She maintains the lock and continuously forces Maverick to the ground with excellent wrestling. She moves to full guard and maintains position again, dragging Maverick to the mat every time she tries to get back to the feet. 10-9 Blanchfield.

Maverick starts up well with a little blitz but immediately Blanchfield is able to hip throw her and end up on top. Blanchfield quickly transitions to a crucifix position and starts blasting elbows down on Maverick, but she manages to just about escape as Blanchfield switches to an armbar attempt. Maverick just about defends but Blanchfield then goes for a kimura, but Maverick defends it well. Blanchfield switches to another armbar attempt but Maverick defends it by scissoring the head of her and the buzzer goes. 20-18.

Final round and Maverick is trying to go for a finish because she knows she needs it, but Blanchfield is landing well too. Clinch up against the cage and then Blanchfield catches a leg and moves straight into a takedown. She moves into top control and looks to dominate again and starts landing some big shots from mount. She controls the rest of the round from the top and claims a dominant decision win.

Andre Muniz def Eryk Anders via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:13)

Good start to the fight for Anders as he takes the centre and starts to throw powerful strikes early. Muniz does well and throws a nice calf kick before throwing a short left hook. Anders goes for a right hand again and Muniz ducks under and changes levels with a big takedown. Muniz looks to pass from side control straight into mount but Anders defends it well. Anders gets to his feet but Muniz has a body lock and drags him back down after a bit of back and forth and takes the back. He threatens with a choke and then switches to an armbar attempt and forces the tap from Anders. What a performance.

PRELIMS

Bruno Silva def Jordan Wright via Knockout, Round 1 (1:28)

Crazy start to this fight as Wright charges forward and looks to engage quickly with hard strikes. Wright continues to come forward and attack and he hurts Silva! They clinch up and Wright lands some big knees but Silva lands some big strikes too. They separate and Silva lands two huge blows and Wright is wobbled! Silva goes for the finish and drops him! Some huge shots and the referee steps in! What a KO by Silva!

Tai Tuivasa def Augusto Sakai via Knockout, Round 2 (0:26)

Slow and steady start so far with Tuivasa in the centre stalking Sakai, who’s throwing leg kicks and circling on the outside. Tuivasa goes for a nice combination and Sakai retreats, before they clinch up and Sakai lands a nice knee to the body. More knees to the body from Sakai as he holds Tuivasa close to him, before they separate and Tuivasa just misses with a big uppercut. Sakai landing heavy knees and hurting Tuivasa, but he then retaliates with a big right hand and forces Sakai to cover up before they clinch again to end the round. 10-9 Sakai, but Tuivasa looking dangerous too.

Second round and Tuivasa lands a huge left hook early and Sakai is rocked! Tuivasa steps forward and goes for the kill, landing huge hooks as Sakai tries to cover up. Another huge strike and Sakai is out coldddd! What a KO!

Dominick Cruz def Pedro Munhoz via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to this fight as both guys look to take the centre and trade leg kicks and movement. Munhoz throwing hard low kicks but Cruz making him miss big. Munhoz throwing bombs but only just missing and Cruz is doing well to land blitzes and flurries of strikes. Cruz goes for a big right hand and Munhoz lands first with a big left hand that drops him! Munhoz lands a huge left hook and goes for the finish but Cruz grabs a leg and somehow survives. He gets up and continues the pattern of the earlier fight. 10-9 Munhoz.

Second round and Munhoz coming forward again and looking for his big bombs. Cruz using his excellent footwork well again though and is using his speed brilliantly. Cruz throwing great combinations on the feet and Munhoz is eating shots, but there isn’t enough power in them to hurt him. Cruz throws a hard low kick that hurts Munhoz and continues to throw his strikes brilliantly. 19-19.

Final round and Cruz has definitely taken over now with his speed and footwork. Cruz has made his reads now and is landing his combinations well, but Munhoz is throwing powerful strikes back and just barely missing. Cruz lands a big one-two clean down the pipe and Munhoz is starting to back up a little. Munhoz lands some nice jabs but Cruz is too slick and is moving so well, throwing leg kicks and left hands. Cruz lands a big combo in the centre as the round comes to an end and that should be the comeback victory for him. 29-28 Cruz.

Josh Emmett def Dan Ige via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Nothing happens between these two in the opening minute and them Emmett explodes with a massive overhand right that drops Ige! Emmett goes down for a finish but Ige recovers quickly and starts to wrestle. Both guys scramble well and end up back to their feet where they separate. Ige taking the centre now and using his jab well and sees out the round relatively comfortably. 10-9 Emmett most likely for the knockdown, but could go either way in honesty.

Emmett comes out with a big right hand early once again but Ige takes it and continues to come forward. Good exchanges on the feet and Ige landing his jab well with movement and power. Emmett looking for one big shot but he keeps missing it. Ige replies with a big strikes and wobbles Emmett with a big left hook. He stays patient and Emmett eventually recovers. Ige staying so calm though and using that jab well again, circling on the outside and threatening then ending the round with a big right straight. 19-19, Ige round.

Final round and Ige takes the centre once again, looking to use that jab and counter with his left hook. Emmett still looking for the power right hand but Ige seems to have him scouted now. Emmett steps forward and throws a straight right down the middle and wobbles Ige but he recovers very quickly and circles out. Ige lands his jab over and over, but Emmett is being more aggressive and coming forward. Both guys are missing with big shots as we enter the final minute. Emmett ducks under a big head kick but then eats a big uppercut. Both guys throw a final flurry, but that’s a super tough fight to call. Great fight.



MAIN CARD

Sean O’Malley def Raulian Paiva via Knockout, Round 1 (4:42)

Composed start to this fight from both guys as Paiva looks for an early takedown attempt but O’Malley sidesteps him into the cage. Body kick grazes the cup of Paiva and causes a short pause in the action. Paiva throws a hard low kick that gets a reaction, before O’Malley steps in with a hard straight left hand. Paiva trying to apply pressure but O’Malley moving well and avoids a leg kick then lands two left jabs and a big right hand behind it. O’Malley steps well to his right and lands a huge right hand that wobbles Paiva! He stays composed and lands a beautiful combination that hurts him badly! Huge body shot and hook combo drops Paiva and the referee steps in, huge win for O’Malley! Amazing!

Kai Kara-France def Cody Garbrandt via Knockout, Round 1 (3:21)

Lots of range finding in the opening minute of this fight as Garbrandt finds himself with his back against the cage circling, throwing some loose kicks. Kara-France just misses with a big overhand right and then just avoids a big right-hook from Garbrandt. Kara-France lands a big right hand that flattens Garbrandt! A big follow up shot drops him again but Garbrandt retreats and eggs him on, but he’s clearly hurt! Kara-France staying patient and then he lands a stunning combination that ends with a massive uppercut and Garbrandt is out! Kara-France lands a couple of strikes before Herb Dean steps in, but that’s that! What a KO!

Geoff Neal def Santiago Ponzinibbio via Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)

Steady start to the fight for Neal with plenty of bouncing on his toes and throwing his jab and some leg kicks, forcing Ponzinibbio backwards. Both guys trade leg kicks and are starting to try and hold their ground in the centre. Neal lands a nice high kick and the referee warns both fighters about having their fingers out. A few short strikes each but not much damage so far. Neal using his jab well and both guys exchange before an accidental low kick from Neal causes a pause. They get back to it and Ponzinibbio lands a huge one-two right on the buzzer to end the round. 10-9 Neal for me.

More active start to the round as Ponzinibbio comes forward with a hard low kick and some straight right hands. Big one-two from Ponzinibbio down the middle to counter Neal’s leg kick and then a short right hand from Neal lands too. Ponzinibbio changes levels and blasts a takedown before Neal sweeps him to get back to his feet nearly immediately. Hard left hand lands from Neal, but Ponzinibbio lands a nice left jab-right hand. Neal lands a hard right hand but then eats a big leg kick in return, before a one-two of his own down the middle into the final minute of the round. Neal lands a big shot and Ponzinibbio claims it was a finger but the referee says no. They stare at each other and then trade a couple of strikes before the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Ponzinibbio lands a right hand before Neal lands a left. More exchanges in the centre and Neal lands a hard right hook that wobbles Ponzinibbio but he recovers quickly and lands a hard low kick. Neal starting to come forward and throws his left hand before a left high kick that just misses. Right hand gets a reaction from Ponzinibbio again, but then he lands a hard low kick to get Neal to back up. Hard left hand from Neal lands but Ponzinibbio replies with a solid right hook himself. Hard low kick and Neal steps backwards, but then he counters another attempt with a right hand. Neal coming on strong with jabs but Ponzinibbio continues to come forward too. Neal lands a big three-punch combo with the left hand and Ponzinibbio is wobbled! Final 30 seconds and Ponzinibbio just misses with a right hand to end the fight. Good fight. 29-28 Neal for me.

Julianna Pena def Amanda Nunes via Submission (Rear-naked choke), Round 2 (3:26)

Nunes opens up with a hard low kick that drops Pena immediately. Nunes lets her up and kicks the leg again, before Pena tries to throw a small flurry. Nunes throws a right hand that drops Pena and then she eventually drops on top of her looking to control on the ground. Nunes looks to transition to the back for a rear-naked choke but Pena just about defends it, before Nunes gets back to top position. Pena threatens with a kimura from the bottom but Nunes stays patient, defends it and sees the round out on top. 10-9 champ.

Nunes takes the centre and she starts looking for huge strikes early doors but Pena isn’t going anywhere. Pena is landing her jab at will and Nunes is getting hurt! Nunes trying to slug it out but she’s slow and looks exhausted already. Pena keeps coming and is smashing Nunes up! Big strikes from Pena and Nunes is rocked! Pena goes for a takedown and immediately goes to the back and locks up a choke! NUNES TAPS! NUNES TAPS! AND NEWWWW!!!

Charles Oliveira def Dustin Poirier via Submission (Rear-naked choke), Round 3 (1:02)

Fast paced start to the fight as Oliveira looks to take the centre and land body shots and his jab, but Poirier lands a right hand that knocks Oliveira off balance. Oliveira lands a big strike of his own and backs Poirier up and then he clinches looking for knees. Poirier getting kicked in the body and firing back with big combinations and drops Oliveira again. He lands a huge shot on the ground but Oliveira ties him up and then Poirier stands them up again immediately. Body work from Oliveira again is affecting Poirier and the rounds ends. Wow. 10-9 Poirier.

Huge start to the second round again as the frantic pace starts again and Oliveira immediately goes in for a takedown against the cage. He drags Poirier to the ground but as he tries to escape Oliveira takes the back. Poirier tries to escape but Oliveira holds his arm in place and illegally holds the glove before rolling into full guard. He lands some huge, thudding elbows as Poirier looks to defend off his back. Oliveira absolutely dominant with pressure and elbows but Poirier survives. 19-19.

Oliveira comes out fast once again and shoots in for a takedown and immediately transitions to a body lock from behind. He drags Poirier down and then jumps on to his back, sinking in hooks and looking for a standing rear-naked choke. Poirier defending the hands but Oliveira continues to switch the grips, sinks in the choke and forces the tap! Amazing!! What a fight!

UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier – Main card predictions

The final pay-per-view card of 2021 is finally upon us and it is absolutely stacked, with the lightweight championship bout between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier headlining the card.

‘Du Bronx’ is looking to legitimise his title reign when he takes on ‘Diamond’, who knows it is now or never to become undisputed champion during his career.

The co-main event features women’s G.O.A.T Amanda Nunes as she looks to silence all doubters when she takes on Julianna Pena in a bantamweight title fight.

Also on the main card will see the flyweight debut of Cody Garbrandt, who is looking to prove it’s the perfect weight class for him while Sean O’Malley hopes to kickstart a huge 2022 for himself when he takes on Raulian Paiva.

Last time at UFC Vegas 44 we had a pretty good night with our picks, as we went 9/13 with five perfect picks to move to 491/765 (64.18%) with 207 perfect picks (42.16%).

We’ll look to improve on that here on this massive 15-fight card and after starting with the early prelims, and picking the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card.


Raulian Paiva (21-3) vs Sean O’Malley (14-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An absolute banger in the bantamweight division to open the main card. Paiva is on a three-fight win streak in the UFC thanks to victories over Mark De la Rosa, Zhalgas Zhumagulov and most recently Kyler Phillips at UFC Vega 32. O’Malley bounced back from his only career defeat against Marlon Vera after a leg injury to earn back-to-back highlight reel KO’s against Thomas Almeida at UFC 260 and Kris Moutinho at UFC 264.

Paiva is a well-rounded fighter with good striking technique and decent takedowns to earn top control. O’Malley on the other hand is a specialist striker with legitimate one-punch power. He’s also a very skilled jiu-jitsu grappler, it’s just not something he needs to use much because of how good his striking is. ‘Suga’ is excellent and changing angles and mixing up his attacks with kicks and punches and to the head and body.

O’Malley has a big height and reach advantage, has a clear power advantage in the striking battle, is the better grappler of the two and is on an upwards trajectory. Paiva has a chance if he checks kicks and can get top position, but realistically I expect O’Malley to put his lights out after putting on a show yet again.
PICK – Sean O’Malley via Knockout, Round 2

Kai Kara-France (22-9) vs Cody Garbrandt (12-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A former champion debuts in a new weight class in this one. Kai Kara-France welcomes Garbrandt to the division on a 2-2 run. He was submitted by Brandon Royval at UFC 253 but bounced back with a KO win over Rogerio Bontorin at UFC 259. Garbrandt has lost four of his last five at bantamweight, with a KO win over Raphael Assuncao at UFC 250 sandwiched between two losses to TJ Dillashaw, Pedro Munhoz and most recently Rob Font.

Kara-France is a well skilled all-rounder, with good boxing combinations and power mixed in with decent wrestling and good kicks. He’ll have a reach advantage over Garbrandt, who is a great boxer with tremendous one-punch power and good wrestling too. This is a really even match up because Kara-France’s abilities are similar to that of Font, who beat Garbrandt last time out.

If Garbrandt is to win he needs to use his power strikes and wrestling, much like he tried to do against Font too. He has the speed to match up with Kara-France and the power to end the fight in one shot, but with the reach advantage on ‘Dont Blink’s side he could land first in any exchanges. Ultimately, the big experience factor and power edge leans me towards picking ‘No Love’, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go the other way.
PICK – Cody Garbrandt via Knockout, Round 2

Geoff Neal (13-4) vs Santiago Ponzinibbio (29-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Banger at welterweight up next between two guys who are desperate to get a win and get back up the rankings. Neal has lost his last two, getting taken the distance by Stephen Thompson at UFC Vegas 17 and then Neil Magny at UFC Vegas 26. Ponzinibbio on the other hand returned from a long lay-off to get KO’d by Li Jingliang at UFC Fight Island 7 before earning a big decision win over Miguel Baeza at UFC Vegas 28.

Neal is a solid southpaw striker with genuine knockout power and some good wrestling skills in his back pocket too. Ponzinibbio is a top level boxer with good power, but injuries have taken their toll on his career to date. Neal’s best attacks are his straight left hand and left kick, which will be wide open against the orthodox Ponzinibbio.

Ponzinibbio will need to establish range and use pressure to force longer striking exchanges, where his superior boxing skills and combinations can land and cause damage. Neal is likely to stall the fight in those instances with clinches to stop any momentum, and land that body kick and left hand. I don’t think this one ends early and it’ll be razor close throughout 15 minutes, but with Neal looking gun shy in his last two bouts I think Ponzinibbio will be able to be busier to claim a win.
PICK – Santiago Ponzinibbio via Decision



Amanda Nunes (21-4) vs Julianna Pena (11-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The women’s G.O.A.T makes her return to the bantamweight division for the first time in two years. Nunes is on a UFC-high 12-fight win streak, with her last two wins coming at featherweight against Felicia Spencer and Megan Anderson at UFC 259. Pena on the other hand has just two wins since 2017, beating Sara McMann at UFC 257 to claim this title shot against her long-time rival.

Nunes is the best ever for a reason. She has abnormal punching power on the feet, is a tremendous boxer with great combinations and has the ability to wrestle and submit opponents with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to her name too. Pena on the other hand is a jiu-jitsu fighter with good wrestling herself and she looks to secure top position and work from there.

This fight is only happening because Nunes needs to defend her belt and Pena just keeps saying her name out loud. ‘Lioness’ has the advantage in every single aspect of this fight and it’s really up to her how she wants to finish this one. I think Nunes blitzes her early to make a statement and claims a vicious KO victory early doors.
PICK – Amanda Nunes via Knockout, Round 1

Charles Oliveira (31-8) vs Dustin Poirier (28-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Without a doubt my favourite fight of the year, and it’s for the lightweight championship of the world. Oliveira is on an amazing nine-fight win streak which includes a dominant win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 256 before winning the belt by knocking out Michael Chandler at UFC 262. Poirier on the other hand bounced back from defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov in his first undisputed title shot back at UFC 242 to defeat Dan Hooker in a war at UFC Vegas 4 before back-to-back stoppage wins over Conor McGregor at UFC 257 and UFC 264.

Oliveira is a scarily good all-rounder, with the most submission wins in UFC history to add to some new-found striking credentials that have seen him generate fight-ending power. Poirier is one of the best boxers in the UFC with brilliant cardio, great power in both hands and a good wrestling game too. This is such a good fight, because both fighters excel everywhere but are at their most comfortable in different places.

If Oliveira is to be successful, he needs to make this a grappling match. Much like against Ferguson, he can take the fight down and use his amazing jiu-jitsu to secure a submission win or control for long periods. While the fight is on the feet though, Poirier is the man in the driving seat. His takedown defence is good and his ability to mix up his attacks stand him in good stead, because Oliveira won’t hide from the striking exchanges. Because of that I think Poirier keeps the fight standing for long periods, does damage with his combinations before eventually earning a stoppage at some point in the championship rounds to finally become champion.
PICK – Dustin Poirier via Knockout, Round 4

UFC Vegas 26: Rodriguez vs Waterson – Results (Highlights)

**Ryan Benoit missed weight and wasn’t cleared medically to compete, so his fight with Zarrukh Adashev was cancelled.

Phillipe Lins fell ill before the weigh-ins and wasn’t able to get on the scales, so his fight with Ben Rothwell was cancelled.

Amanda Ribas and a member of her corner team tested positive for COVID-19 hours before the event, so her bout with Angela Hill was cancelled.

The card will proceed with nine fights.**


PRELIMS

Carlston Harris def Christian Aguilera via Submission (Anaconda Choke), Round 1 (2:52)

Positive start for Aguilera in the opening minute as he tries to close the distance with strikes but Harris grabs him and looks for the takedowns. Aguilera is able to stay on his feet though and lands a big uppercut that seems to rock Harris. Harris stays calm and starts using his range well with kicks to recover, then lands a big left hand of his own that hurts Aguilera! Harris lands a nice right hand down the middle and then Aguilera shoots for a takedown to try and recover. Harris sprawls, locks up Aguilera’s neck with an anaconda choke and puts him to sleep! What a debut win!

Jun Yong Park def Tafon Nchukwi via Majority Decision (30-25, 29-26, 28-28

Good start to the fight from both men, as they both look to take the centre and be first ahead of their opponent. Park doing well behind his jab, using his great speed advantage to land well but Nchukwi is throwing good strikes too with more power. Park establishing the jab really well and trying to get Nchukwi to throw more so he can counter back. Nchukwi goes for an inside low kick but lands on the cup of Park and causes a pause in the action. Action resumes and Park continues with the jabs, both men trade leg kicks and the round ends. 10-9 Park.

Better start to the round for Nchukwi this time as he fakes a few times and lands a nice flurry of strikes to the face of Park. Park responds with his jabs once again but Nchukwi starting to throw some powerful kicks to the body. Park catches one of those kicks and looks for a takedown against the cage with it and gets a front headlock. Nchukwi fighting the hands and throws a knee to the body but misses and hits the cup once again for another low blow. The referee deducts one point from Nchukwi. Park continues to land his jab and come forward with his speed advantage and then changes levels for a takedown. Nchukwi reverses it with pure power and ends up on top but can’t land any damage before Park is able to work his way back up to the feet and start landing the jab again. Nchukwi goes in for a takedown but Park stops him with a headlock. Nchukwi uses pure power to lift him but Park locks in a guillotine and it’s tight, but the buzzer goes to end the round and save him. 20-17 Park.

Good exchanges at the start of the final round as Park’s jab goes to work once again while Nchukwi looks to come forward with a bit more urgency. A few low kicks from Nchukwi and some big swings with his right hand, but Park rolling well and is able to jab away with ease. Park changes levels and gets a takedown against the cage and is starting to wear on Nchukwi, putting all his weight on him and dragging him to and from. Park gets into three-quarter mount and starts throwing big elbows and heavy strikes, looking for a choke and big ground-and-pound as we enter the final 90 seconds. Nchukwi is bleeding badly but Park eases up on the mauling as the round ends and that’s a very dominant win. 30-25 for me.

Mike Trizano def Ludovit Klein via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Nice, tactical start to the fight from both guys as Trizano takes the centre and forces Klein backwards immediately. Klein lands a nice one two and Trizano responds with a right hand of his own before the exchange body kicks. Trizano’s pressure is forcing Klein to fight backwards and he’s struggling to get his attack going, but Trizano not landing much of his own. Klein shoots in with a nice double-leg takedown and gets Trizano down against the cage and tries to wrap his legs up Khabib-style. Trizano works his way back to his feet and the clinch and the round comes to an end. 10-9 Klein for me but it was close.

Nice right hand lands early on in the second round that puts Klein on his heels as Trizano continues his forward pressure. Klein goes for a head kick that just misses but follows it up with a nice right hand and a big left behind it. Klein shoots for a takedown again but Trizano is wise to it and stuffs it this time. Nice inside kick from Trizano as he forces Klein backwards again, but Klein explodes forward and lands a big left hand again. Trizano landing his jab well as he continues to push Klein backwards but he keeps bursting forwards with nice flurries. Klein bursts forward once more and gets another takedown and ends the round on top, but Trizano active off his back with body shots and should take that round. 19-19 for me.

Forward pressure once again from Trizano and it pays dividends early as he lands a big right hand that rocks Klein! Klein goes for a desperate takedown to survive and Trizano stuffs it, but Klein moves and manages to shake the cobwebs for now. Klein lands a nice left hand of his own but Trizano eats it, then Klein lands a nice leg kick. Body kick from Klein lands and Trizano goes for a right straight to the body. Trizano starting to land his strikes more as he forces Klein backwards and it forces another takedown from Klein. They get back up and then Klein takes him down again, but Trizano looks to sink in a guillotine but runs out of time. 29-28 Trizano for me but could go either way.

MAIN CARD

Phil Hawes def Kyle Daukaus via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 29-27)

Big pressure early on from Hawes as he backs Daukaus against the cage, while Daukaus looks to keep him at range. A few wild exchanges from both on the feet and Hawes goes in for a takedown early. He gets him down and passes the legs, but Daukaus holds on to the neck and it looks like Hawes has a Von Flute choke in. Daukaus elevates his hips and sweeps Hawes to end up on top and starts looking for control. Hawes eventually gets back to the feet and Daukaus goes in for a takedown again immediately but Hawes defends really well and the rest of the round plays out in a stalemate. 10-9 Daukaus for controlling the grappling against the cage.

Huge start to the second round from Daukaus as he comes out swinging with short hooks and combinations. He lands six or seven big punches and Hawes looks badly hurt on the feet before Hawes is able to clinch up and stall until he has recovered. They separate and Hawes lands a few strikes of his own and Daukaus gets wobbled! Daukaus immediately clinches up too but Hawes then breaks with a big elbow. Nice right hand against from Hawes and they clinch up, then both throw a knee at the same time but Hawes hits the cup to cause a pause. Action resumes and Hawes goes back to working the body with big hooks, slowing Daukaus down as the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Hawes lands a big right hand early before shooting in for a takedown and getting the fight down. Daukaus trying to be very active off his back, but Hawes defending everything well and landing some nice short strikes from top position. Daukaus looks to sweep again but Hawes denies it and goes back to the ground pound, going body-head. Hawes starts landing heavy shots and forces Daukaus to try and cover up and the referee is threatening to call the fight off here. He moves enough to supress that, but Hawes is working brilliantly from top position and in complete control. Final 30 seconds and Hawes continues the ground and pound to win the round and probably the fight. Great performance. 29-28 Hawes.

Gregor Gillespie def Diego Ferreira via Knockout, Round 2 (4:51)

Interesting start to the fight as Gillespie takes the centre and lets off a nice left hook. Ferreira shoots a few strikes of his own before Gillespie goes for the early takedown, but the Brazilian defends with submission attempts and eventually gets back up to the feet. Gillespie shoots for another takedown but it’s denied, then Ferreira lets off a couple of right hands that have wobbled him! Gillespie keeps going to the well for the takedown but Ferreira is scrambling brilliantly and using his jiu-jitsu to escape regularly. Ferreira scrambles and sweeps to Gillespie’s back with hooks in, going for a choke and ground and pound but the round ends. 10-9 Ferreira.

Second round and Gillespie looks tired but he’s shooting in for the takedowns still and avoiding the big swings of Ferreira. Lots of scrambling on the ground and Ferreira looks for a kimura from the bottom but Gillespie just keeps moving and floating to the next position as Ferreira is tiring. Gillespie starts landing some big strikes and threatening with chokes of his own and is really wearing on Ferreira. Gillespie takes his back, flattens him out and starts landing big elbows and strikes and the referee steps in to end the fight! Huge win for Gregor Gillespie!!

Marcos Rogerio de Lima def Maurice Greene via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)

Fast start to the heavyweight bout as de Lima starts throwing wild hooks looking to take Greene’s head off. Both men swing and miss for the most part before they clinch up and de Lima takes the fight down to the ground in Greene’s full guard. Nice ground and pound from de Lima from top position as he’s putting some big pressure on to win the round. 10-9 de Lima.

Second round and immediately de Lima gets the fight down to the ground and gets control. Lots of control and ground and pound from top position as Greene looks to tie him up but it’s just more and more control and ground and pound. As the buzzer goes to end the round, Lima throws a big bomb and Herb Dean gives him a very serious warning. 20-18.

Third and final round and once again de Lima gets a very early takedown into top position and controlling the fight. Plenty of ground and pound again from de Lima as Greene just continues to accept bottom position and get beaten up. This is a completely one-sided fight and relatively pointless as the round ends. 30-27 for me because of a lack of damage, but could be a 10-8 for each round in reality.

Neil Magny def Geoff Neal via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Great start to the round from Neal as he steps forward quickly and immediately puts Magny on the back foot. Nice straight shots as Magny looks to throw a kick or two, but Neal catches it and pushes him back to the cage. Nice one-two lands from Neal before they clinch up and Magny starts to throw some nice knees to the body. Magny bursts forward with a flurry of punches to get a clinch, but Neal takes him across to the cage. Magny changes levels and gets a takedown and looks to take the back, but Neal spins out and gets back to the feet once again. Another clinch against the cage as the round ends. 10-9 Neal.

Magny looking to up the pressure a bit in the second now as he starts throwing some kicks to the body and nice flurries to the head too. Neal doing well to block most of them though and firing back with some nice combinations of his own. Neal clinches and gets a nice trip before a big left hand lands, but Magny gets up and then shoots for a takedown of his own. Neal sprawls and puts Magny against the cage. Nice straight left lands from Neal before Magny goes for a single leg takedown but Neal defends it relatively well until Magny changes the angle and is able to take the back with a body lock. Magny is able to escape it again as they go back to trading in the centre. Magny just touching him with more jabs and kicks as Neal’s output is starting to slow a little. Another clinch against the cage and Neal lands a big elbow as the round ends. 19-19, great fight.

Neal looking to close the distance in the third but trying to avoid a clinch situation, as Magny continues to throw out jabs that are barely landing. Magny definitely the more active of the two, but not much damage being done by either guy at the moment. Neal stuffs a Magny takedown attempt, as he starts to walk Magny down more. Nice one-two lands against the cage but Magny immediately grabs him and clinches before separating and landing some nice jabs. Neal looking frustrated now and Magny gets hold of him and drags him down to the mat, but Neal gets back up quickly once again. Final 30 seconds and Neal lands a huge straight left but Magny sees out the round with with jabs to probably take the win. 29-28 Magny.

Alex Morono def Donald Cerrone via Knockout, Round 1 (4:40)

Fast start from Morono as he charges out into the centre, but Cerrone grabs hold of him and clinches up against the cage to drain that early start out of him. Morono swinging bombs as they separate but Cowboy avoiding it for now and landing a few shots of his own. Nice body kick from Cerrone and then Morono swings in hard again, but Cerrone changes levels and goes for a takedown that is denied. Morono gets a trip of his own but allows Cerrone up and hits him with a right hand on his way up. Morono throws a big right hand that lands clean on Cerrone and he’s backing up. Cerrone throws a left hand and Morono ducks under and a huge looping left overhand cracks Cerrone clean! He’s badly hurt and Morono goes for the finish, throwing a big body shot and knees to the head. Big right hands again from Morono and the referee steps in with Cowboy out on his feet! Wow! What a knockout win for Morono!

Marina Rodriguez def Michelle Waterson via Unanimous Decision (48-47, 49-46 x2)

Slow start to the fight in this one as both women look to feel each other out early on, with Waterson throwing some hard leg kicks that are just missing. Rodriguez takes the centre as the round goes on, throwing some nice body kicks and hard punches while Waterson looks to counter with some nice spin kicks. Rodriguez trying to close the distance to nullify the kicks but Waterson moving well so far to stay out of danger. Bit of a wild clinch at the end of the round ends with a nice knee from Rodriguez, good round that could go either way. 10-9 Rodriguez for me.

Waterson unloading with kicks in this second round, looking to really keep Rodriguez at distance with a side kick counter. Rodriguez continues to come forward and throw the right hand, but Waterson keeps moving away. Waterson goes for a takedown but Rodriguez stuffs it easily and then lands two big punches. Rodriguez grabs a clinch against the cage and lands a nice knee to the body and Waterson separates. Both women trade leg kicks before Rodriguez goes for another clinch and lands some more knees. Waterson goes for a leg kick that just misses but then she lands a body kick and avoids a big right hook from Rodriguez. Big flurry of hooks from Rodriguez followed up by some big knees and an elbow to end the round. 20-18 Rodriguez.

Waterson goes for a leg kick early but misses and ends up on her butt, before Rodriguez catches her with a nice head kick on her way up. Waterson clinches against the cage but Rodriguez defends well and the separate with the Brazilian back in the centre. Rodriguez lands some huge hooks and Waterson covers up hurt, before stepping out and escaping. Two hard leg kicks by Waterson put Rodriguez down for a second, before a nice body kick too. Rodriguez swinging with a lot of power, but Waterson is absorbing it for now. Rodriguez is landing heavy punches but Waterson is still moving and countering with leg kicks and side kicks. Leg kick from Rodriguez followed up by a three-punch combo lands nicely. Rodriguez clinches and throwing big knees but Waterson replies with an uppercut to end the round. 30-27 Rodriguez.

Rodriguez staying patient in the centre as we enter the main event rounds, throwing some low kicks and searching for a home for the big right hand. Waterson keeps moving around the cage, throwing leg kicks of her own as Rodriguez lands a body kick. Waterson goes in for a takedown and gets it, straight into the guard of Rodriguez. Waterson controls the position and lands some heavy elbows on the ground with Rodriguez pinned against the cage. Rodriguez threatens a kimura to try and escape but Waterson rains down big elbows again to end the round on top. 39-37 Rodriguez.

Final round and Waterson staying calm in the centre, not shooting straight in for a takedown as many would have expected. Rodriguez just misses with a right hand and then Waterson throws back-to-back head kicks with the second one clipping Rodriguez. Side kick to the body from Waterson looks like it hurts Rodriguez, but she stays calm and then hits Waterson with a big right hand of her own. Waterson finally goes for the takedown but Rodriguez stuffs it and lands a nice body shot. Another big body shot and left hook from Rodriguez but Waterson replies with a right hand. Waterson steps forward and lands a side kick to the body again, but Rodriguez throws a jab and then looks to clinch up. Big knee and head kick from Rodriguez but Waterson keeps moving and the two women go out swinging as the round ends. 49-46 Rodriguez for me. Great fight.

UFC Vegas 26: Rodriguez vs Waterson – Main card predictions

A rather short-notice card finally comes together this weekend when Marina Rodriguez takes on Michelle Waterson in the main event.

After the original main event between Cory Sandhagen and TJ Dillashaw fell through due to an injury to the former champion, the UFC were left scrambling and managed to throw together two strawweights competing at flyweight to headline the card.

In the co-main event, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone will now also face off against a short-notice opponent when Alex Morono replaces Diego Sanchez in the welterweight division. There’s also a big welterweight bout on the card between Geoff Neal and Neil Magny, with both men looking to get back on the winning trail and among the contenders of the division.

Last week at UFC Vegas 25, we went 8/11 with four perfect picks to improve to 302/473 (63.85%) with 133 perfect picks (44.04%).

With a fun 12 fight card ahead of us this weekend and after predicting the prelims here, let’s look to improve that record with the main card now.


Phil Hawes (10-2) vs Kyle Daukaus (10-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An absolute banger at middleweight as Phil Hawes takes on Kyle Daukaus in this one. Hawes is on a six-fight win streak including an 18 second KO against Jacob Malkoun at UFC 254, before a dominant decision win over Nassourdine Imavov at UFC Vegas 19 in February. Daukaus lost his UFC debut to Brendan Allen at UFC Vegas 4, before winning against Dustin Stoltzfus at UFC 255 in his most recent fight.

Hawes is an incredibly powerful striker with legit one-punch knockout power, but he showed his wrestling chops in his last fight too. Daukaus on the other hand is a brilliant grappler, who has good height and reach against most opponents. He’s taller than Hawes, but not longer and that’s an issue for him. Hawes will know that and will look to stand and strike with him, using his wrestling only defensively to keep this fight standing.

Daukaus is pretty hittable and has shown a good chin in the past, but he’s never been hit by someone like Hawes. If Hawes lands clean as Daukaus tries to close the distance for a takedown, this will be a short night.
PICK – Phil Hawes via Knockout, Round 1

Amanda Ribas (10-2) vs Angela Hill (13-9) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A very fun strawweight fight to open up the main card as Ribas looks to bounce back from a defeat when she takes on the most active woman in the division. Ribas was on a five-fight win streak beating Emily Whitmire, Mackenzie Dern, Randa Markos and then Paige VanZant at UFC 251 before losing to Marina Rodriguez at UFC 257. Hill bounced back from her main event defeat to Michelle Waterson at UFC Vegas 10 with a decision win over Ashley Yoder at UFC Vegas 21 in March.

Ribas is a brilliant jiu-jitsu grappler and decent striking on the feet, while Hill is a great all-round mixed martial artists. Hill loves an active fight, where she keeps pushing forward with kicks and Muay-Thai clinches using knees. Her issue with going for those clinches could be that Ribas will try and get her to the ground which is a whole world of trouble for her.

On the feet Hill has the advantage but Ribas can hold her own and won’t get overpowered, and I can’t imagine Hill keeps the fight standing for the full 15 minutes and Ribas is skilled enough to finish it quickly down there.
PICK – Amanda Ribas via Submission, Round 3

Diego Ferreira (17-3) vs Gregor Gillespie (13-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An especially fun fight in the lightweight division here as Diego Ferreira takes on the returning Gregor Gillespie. Ferreira lost his last fight via decision against Beneil Dariush at UFC Vegas 18, while Gillespie hasn’t fought since getting knocked out by Kevin Lee at UFC 244 in November 2019.

Ferreira is a solid technical striker with good jiu-jitsu skills on the ground, while Gillespie is arguably the best wrestler in the division now that Khabib Nurmagomedov is retired. Ferreira will use his kicks and speed to avoid the wrestling, but if Gillespie gets hold of him it could be a long night for the Brazilian. He’s a good scrambler and if he ends up on top the level of jiu-jitsu he has is far superior to Gillespie’s, but ‘The Gift’ is likely to get that top position and look to hold it throughout.

From the top, Gillespie will land ground and pound and control the position en route to a good decision win.
PICK – Gregor Gillespie via Decision

Maurice Greene (9-6) vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima (17-8-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The big boys are back in the heavyweight division as two guys coming off losses meet here. Greene has lost three of his last four, beating Gian Villante via submission at UFC Vegas 4 before losing to Greg Hardy via knockout at UFC Vegas 12. de Lima has lost two of his last three including getting dominated by Alexander Romanov and submitted in round one at UFC Vegas 13.

Greene is a power striker with a solid chin and in his last fight showed some decent kicking too. de Lima is a good striker too, with good Muay-Thai and some good takedown defence to back it up also. He has alternated wins and losses in every fight since 2015 but he has got skills. Fast hands (for the division), good power and despite a size advantage Greene doesn’t really know how to use it.

Greene has the advantage of the ground but he rarely looks for takedowns and doesn’t have a wide enough advantage to work a submission, so I think de Lima lands one of his big overhand rights and ends the night early.
PICK – Marcos Rogerio de Lima via Knockout, Round 2

Neil Magny (24-9) vs Geoff Neal (13-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

My pick for fight of the night right here, as two scary welterweights go head to head. Both men lost their last fights after good win streaks, with Magny losing to Michael Chiesa at UFC Fight Island 8 while Neal got well beaten by Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in December at UFC Vegas 17.

Magny is an excellent wrestler who has used that to beat some top level opposition in the past, but he also has some really good striking too. Neal on the other hand is a powerhouse with a nasty left-hand, who stays very technical and tight at all times. Neal has some good leg kicks too and is without a doubt the more powerful of the two, but if Magny is able to get the fight to the ground he has the ability to grind his opponents out and land good ground and pound.

With that said, Neal seems to have all the tools to get the win here. His takedown defence is decent and the power and accuracy with which he lands his left hand should cause Magny enough problems to earn ‘Handz of Steel’ the win.
PICK – Geoff Neal via Decision

Donald Cerrone (36-15) vs Alex Morono (18-7) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Short-notice co-main event alert as Donald Cerrone looks to snap a five-fight winless streak against Alex Morono in the welterweight division. Cerrone has lost to Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson, Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis before a draw against Niko Price got overturned to a no contest due to a positive marijuana test for Price. Morono has lost two of his last three, getting a win over Rhys McKee at UFC Vegas 14 in between defeats to Khaos Williams and Anthony Pettis at UFC Vegas 17.

Cerrone is a great kickboxer with so much experience, but also has terrific wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills if he needs it. Morono on the other hand is a solid wrestler who uses his striking to get close enough to clinch up and get it down for a grind. Cerrone has got a brilliant head kick in his arsenal and if Morono keeps his hands relatively low to look for takedowns he could quite easily get caught with it, but Morono’s submission skills are really good and dangerous enough to make Cerrone be wary.

‘Cowboy’ is notorious for being a slow starter and Morono could look to take advantage, but if he performs as he did against Pettis then he could get lit up at kickboxing range. It’ll be close, but the short-notice nature of the bout takes me in Cerrone’s direction.
PICK – Donald Cerrone via Decision

Marina Rodriguez (13-1-2) vs Michelle Waterson (18-8) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An even shorter notice main event as two ranked strawweights meet in the flyweight division. Rodriguez won her last fight against Amanda Ribas via knockout at UFC 257, while Waterson won her last fight against Angela Hill at UFC Vegas 10 via split decision.

Rodriguez is a power puncher with great range and kicks, while Waterson is a karate fighter who uses her kicks a lot to maintain distance and look to work the body a lot. Rodriguez is without a doubt one of the better strikers in the division and that doesn’t bode well for Waterson. She has got nine wins via submission in her career and her takedowns are decent, but Rodriguez has a lot of size on her and with them both moving up a division for this short-notice clash she’ll be at even more of a disadvantage.

I don’t think Waterson will have enough to get the fight down to the ground and Rodriguez’s power is excellent so I think she could get the stoppage win pretty early on.
PICK – Marina Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 2

Welterweight contenders take centre stage at UFC Vegas 26

UFC Vegas 26 may have lost it’s main event last week, but there are two welterweights ready to take centre stage at the APEX.

After TJ Dillashaw withdrew from his bout against Cory Sandhagen after suffering a cut in training, the main event slot is now wide open and it won’t be going to them. But that doesn’t mean that Geoff Neal and Neil Magny won’t be looking to steal the show on the main card in one of the more highly anticipated bouts on the card.

Two highly rated welterweight contenders will go head to head almost a year after their initial bout was scheduled, with very different looks on what a win would do for both men from then to now.

When they were originally both supposed to face off they were coming into the bout on win streaks with a potential title contender status waiting on the other end.

The fight fell through and both men moved on to different opponents, with Magny firstly despatching of Robbie Lawler as the replacement for their fight before losing to Michael Chiesa on Fight Island in January of 2021.

Neal returned to action after withdrawing from their fight and took on Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson at UFC Vegas 17 in December, getting dominated in a five-round main event to a unanimous decision defeat.

Those wins have altered the way they sit in the division now, but a win can get them right back on track.

Currently sitting in ninth and tenth place respectively in the rankings, in one of the most stacked divisions in the company, a win sets them up for a fight against the top names among their weight class. The likes of Jorge Masvidal, a returning Nick Diaz and Vicente Luque all become possibilities while Khamzat Chimaev has already spoken about fighting Magny in his return fight.

All of those would give the chance to move into a title conversation once again as the champion Kamaru Usman starts looking for potential new challengers to his title, having already beaten everyone in the top five except for ‘Wonderboy’.

It’s a chance for both men to get back on the track they were on previously while also stealing the show of a card that is ready for someone to stand up and take centre stage.

A defeat however sends them rolling even further away from their goal destination. It would be two in a row against top level competition and would likely mean that they are now going to be questioned about whether they can make it at the top level or not.

The stage is set and the show is there to be stolen, now it’s time for one of these two welterweights to step up.

UFC Vegas 17 Fallout: ‘Wonderboy’ Outclasses Neal, Aldo Wants Dillashaw Next

UFC closed out the year with it’s final card in a fantastic way as the veterans showed that the passing of the guard isn’t quite a thing just yet.

Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson dominated for 25 minutes against prospect Geoff Neal, to give ‘Handz of Steel’ his first UFC defeat and snapping his seven-fight win streak in the main event.

‘Wonderboy’ used his kicking range and excellent footwork throughout the fight to avoid the big exchanges and just picked Neal apart. A clash of heads saw both men face adversity at the end of the first round, but Neal never seemed to get out of first gear throughout and seemed gun-shy in his first UFC main event.

Following the win, Thompson promised to win the welterweight title in 2021 and called for a rematch with Jorge Masvidal for his next fight.

The two met at UFC 217 back in November 2017, with ‘Wonderboy’ dominating him in a similar way to this fight and getting a unanimous decision victory on the night. Since then though, Thompson had seen himself beaten controversially by Darren Till and then knocked out by Anthony Pettis which pushed him down the pecking order.

But now with back-to-back wins, he’s back pushing for a fight against a top five ranked opponent. He was originally calling for Leon Edwards, but with the Briton already booked against Khamzat Chimaev and Gilbert Burns already getting the next title shot, that leaves either Masvidal or Colby Covington left. They could fight each other but if not, Wonderboy is waiting.

In the bantamweight division, Jose Aldo snapped a three-fight losing streak to defeat prospect Marlon Vera in a very good fight. Aldo used his sharper boxing and eventually his jiu-jitsu grappling to etch his way to a unanimous decision win, but Vera was very game throughout.

The body shots of Aldo were once again a huge weapon, with the patented left-hook to the gut landing freely throughout the bout and visibly taking the air from Vera as the fight progressed.

Following the win the featherweight G.O.A.T called for a fight with TJ Dillashaw, who is arguably the best bantamweight we’ve seen.

Dillashaw was the champion at 135lbs and dropped down to 125lbs to try and become the double champ, only to test positive for a banned substance and get a two-year suspension. He admitted to taking the substance and is eligible for a return to action in January.

Many have called him out for his return bout, while Dillashaw himself has called for an immediate title shot. While that won’t be happening, a win over Jose Aldo could potentially push him into that conversation once again.

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 – Main Card 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 with the rest of the prelim card here. We move into the main card now.

MAIN CARD

Marcin Tybura (20-6) vs Greg Hardy (7-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight clash between the Polish fighter looking to go 4-0 in 2020, against the former NFL star who looks to make it three wins in a row. Tybura is coming off wins over Sergey Spivak, Maxim Grishin and most recently Ben Rothwell, while Hardy got the TKO win over Maurice Greene in October. Tybura is a well rounded fighter who carries power and has submission skills, although he hasn’t won via tap-out since 2014. Hardy is a powerhouse, who uses boxing to get in close and tries to take your head off quite simply. Tybura has been KO’d in each of his last three defeats, so Hardy will take encouragement from knowing that if he lands clean he can put Tybura away. Should this one get out of the first round, Hardy will start to gas and the Pole can then take over and using his good range striking and grinding takedowns against the cage. For that reason, Tybura takes a decision win after surviving the early pressure of Hardy.
PICK – Marcin Tybura via Decision

Marlon Moraes (23-7-1) vs Rob Font (17-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

‘Magic’ Marlon Moraes returns to the UFC after his defeat to Cory Sandhagen back in October where he was dominated and knocked out in the second round. Rob Font makes his first appearance in over a year but is coming off a two-fight win streak having beaten Sergio Pettis and Ricky Simon. Moraes is a phenomenal striker in the Muay-Thai discipline and carries scary speed with his punches and kicks. Font is a kickboxer who has a great jab and is more than durable enough to have an all-out war. Font is a pretty standard striker style-wise, who tends to step forward and is very traditional with his footwork. Moraes is world-class when it comes to a kickboxing match and should be able to read Font’s attacks and counter with heavy hands to earn himself a knockout win.
PICK – Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 2

Michel Pereira (24-11) vs Khaos Williams (11-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The human highlight reel that is Michel Pereira looks to make it back-to-back wins following a beautiful submission win against Zelim Imadaev back in September. Khaos Williams has won his last eight fights in a row, including his two UFC fights so far. He smashed through Alex Morono in 27 seconds back in February, before annihilating Abdul Razak Alhassan in just 30 seconds with a violent one-punch knockout in November. This fight is highly unlikely to see the judges scorecards, with both guys carrying insane power in their hands and happy to engage in a war for the fans. Pereira has great submission and jiu-jitsu skills, but his go-to is always to strike with venom in his heart. He’s got great kicks and really good head movement, but he doesn’t have the one-punch power of Khaos. If Williams can land, there is every chance it ends there and then but if Pereira can use his movement and avoid using his wild antics to encourage a slug-fest then he should win. I just don’t think he does that and therefore gets chinned into unconsciousness.
PICK – Khaos Williams via Knockout, Round 1

Jose Aldo (28-7) vs Marlon Vera (16-6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

One of the greatest pound for pound fighters in UFC history, Jose Aldo has had a rough time recently. He’s lost five of his last seven, including his last three in a row including a knockout loss to Petr Yan in their vacant title fight on Fight Island. Marlon Vera though is on an upwards trajectory, having won six of his last seven including a shocking knockout win over Sean O’Malley back at UFC 252. Aldo is one of the best boxers the UFC has ever seen, with phenomenal counter-striking and dangerous leg kicks and speed. Vera has a good kicking game himself and has a great ground game but everywhere he excels, he’s just a level below Aldo. While Vera is super talented in his own right, this is just a step too far for the Ecuadorian. Aldo completely outclasses him on the feet and eventually gets a TKO win.
PICK – Jose Aldo via Knockout, Round 2

Stephen Thompson (15-4-1) vs Geoff Neal (13-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

‘Wonderboy’ makes his first appearance in the octagon in over a year following his big win over Vicente Luque in November 2019. Geoff Neal saw a fight with Neil Magny fall through earlier this year and steps into the cage for the first time since KO’ing Mike Perry in December last year. ‘Wonderboy’ is an excellent striker, using his karate style to stay out of range and use his kicks phenomenally well. He’s also a tremendous counter striker which could come in handy against ‘Handz of Steel’. Neal is one of the best finishers in the UFC and has legitimate one-punch power, but is also a very composed and accurate striker too. He throws great volume and has shown the ability to maintain a good pace throughout three rounds, although this is his first five round bout. Thompson is without a doubt the best striker Neal has ever fought and his range management is phenomenal. It’s a really close fight because Neal has never had a step up in competition like this, but he is clearly good enough to be at this level. With that said, I think ‘Wonderboy’ has a style so hard to beat. He was dominating Pettis before a shock knockout and most people had him beating Darren Till in that decision loss. For that reason, I think Thompson stops the Neal train in it’s tracks with a clinic.
PICK – Stephen Thompson via Decision

UFC Vegas 17: Geoff Neal Looking to Follow The Lead to Become Welterweight Contender

As the UFC looks ahead to their final card of the year, there is a growing trend right now of new contenders coming to the attention of everyoe.

In recent weeks we’ve seen Marvin Vettori move into the top five of the middleweight division, while Kevin Holland grabbed the headlines with a stunning knockout of Jacare Souza. We’ve also seen Charles Oliveira dominate Tony Ferguson to enter the lightweight title picture, while Brandon Moreno stitched his name into the minds of MMA fans around the world with his performances at UFC 255 and UFC 256.

After Leon Edwards’s bout with Khamzat Chimaev was scrapped due to the Briton testing positive for COVID-19, the main event was changed as Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Geoff Neal stepped up from the co-main slot.

That means the welterweight division stays in the limelight, but these two warriors now have the chance to leapfrog the two in the scrapped main event in the title scene.

Currently, Kamaru Usman is scheduled to fight Gilbert Burns for the welterweight championship in the first quarter of 2021. While a date isn’t announced, Usman is the heavy favourite for that fight. Should he win, his next contender is up in the air.

Edwards is currently on an eight-fight win streak, while Chimaev has cut through the UFC roster like a hot knife through butter so far. Chimaev’s rise and Edwards’ record had that fight pitted as the number one contender bout going into this card.

But with the fight scrapped until further notice, an impressive win for either Wonderboy or Neal could propel them ahead in the pecking order.

UFC 217: Thompson v Masvidal : News Photo

Wonderboy has challenged for the title twice before, fighting Tyron Woodley to a draw before losing the rematch back in 2017. Since then, he has gone 2-2 with wins over Jorge Masvidal and Vicente Luque while being beaten by Darren Till and Anthony Pettis.

Neal on the other hand is on a seven-fight win streak and is undefeated in the UFC, with his most recent win being a 90 second knockout of grizzly veteran Mike Perry.

‘Handz of Steel’ has earned his nickname from eight knockout wins in ten finishes and he moves into this fight knowing he makes a big step up in competition.

This will be the toughest fight of his career, against a fighter who is notoriously hard to hit with his style and range control. He has been knocked out before, by a bloated Pettis, but his performance against Luque proved he is still as good as ever.

Neal, and everyone with a brain, knows that his best hope of winning this fight is either by knockout or if he can get the fight down to the ground and control the fight from there. To do that though, he needs to get past the kicking and striking game of a world class karate fighter in Wonderboy.

The winner of this bout will undoubtedly see their stocks rise once again but the expectation is on Neal. He is the bookies’ favourite ever so slightly but also the one the fans want to see progress up the rankings.

Neal will be hoping to follow the current trend of new contenders heading into the new year, while Wonderboy will be hopeful that he can run it back to a title shot one more time.