3 reasons to watch UFC Vegas 17: Stephen Thompson vs. Geoff Neal

UFC Vegas 17: Stephen Thompson vs. Geoff Neal is right around the corner, so here are just three of the reasons why you should tune in.

UFC Vegas 17 will be the final fight card of 2020, with the promotion not returning to action until mid-January.

And while the original main event between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev got canceled, fear not, because this card still has a lot to offer the fans. The UFC’s matchmakers have put together some fantastic matchups that are sure to shake up multiple divisions. The card features two former UFC champions, multiple title challengers, more than a few Contender Series alumni, and plenty of new blood ready to make their mark in the company.

These are three reasons to watch UFC Vegas 17

1. Welterweight barnburner

The fight prior to the UFC Vegas 17 co-main event, a 170 pound scrap between Khaos Williams and Michel Pereira, is sure to produce fireworks one way or another. Williams and Pereira, while both just getting started in their UFC careers, are proving to be brilliant signings by the promotion. Out of six total UFC bouts between the two, they’ve combined for five post-fight bonuses, three from Pereira and two from Williams.

Williams (11-1) is coming off back-to-back first-round knockout victories over Alex Morono and Abdul Razak Alhassan, with his total cage time totaling just 57 seconds out of a possible 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Pereira is 2-2 in his tenure with he UFC, with both wins coming via stoppage. Pereira’s debut saw him land a devastating flying knee on Danny Roberts which led to a punch that put the Englishman out. Following consecutive losses, Pereira fought a more calculated fight against Zelim Imadaev in September, leading to a rear-naked choke finish in round three.

Whether this fight ends via first-round KO or goes the full fifteen minutes, it is sure to be exciting. And for a non-PPV main card, it doesn’t get much better than this.

2. Old guard vs. new blood

Upon looking at the bout list for UFC Vegas 17 you might notice a theme: old vs. new. Old guard vs. new blood, if you will.

Among the old guard are former UFC champions Jose Aldo and Anthony Pettis, former world title challengers Moraes and Thompson, and a staple in the heavyweight landscape in Marcin Tybura. Seemingly hitting their prime, or not far from it, are the new blood: Neal, Vera, Font and Hardy. One could even throw Morono in there despite his extended tenure in the promotion. All five are coming off winning streaks of two or more (minus Vera), while the old guard are a mixed bag, batting a combined .500 average in their last three bouts. Sure, the higher-ranked, more-experienced guys are facing tougher competition, but we’ve seen a trend lately of younger fighters defeating their older counterparts in key fights. Oliveira dominated Ferguson, Holland KO’d Souza, Vettori outpointed Hermansson, etc. As we know MMA math doesn’t always add up, but its an interesting stat line to ponder over.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see if the older, more experienced fighters keep their places in the division, or if the new blood will be able to dethrone them and move onto even higher-profile matchups in 2021.

3. How underrated is Geoff Neal?

Welterweight contender Geoff Neal will step into the main event spotlight for the first time in his UFC career. Neal, who is currently ranked No. 11 in the division, will be taking on a two-time welterweight title challenger in Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Neal has rattled off five straight victories following his win on season 1 of Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2017, most recently defeating the likes of Mike Perry, Niko Price and Belal Muhammad. Neal is as tough and heavy-handed as they come, two attributes that can be proven true by just looking at his record in the promotion Five wins, three via KO/TKO and one by way of submission.

Thompson looked solid in his last fight, a unanimous decision win over Vicente Luque. Thompson was able to control the distance well with his karate style of fighting, picking apart Luque for fifteen minutes. He has only stumbled against the upper echelon of the 170 lb division, suffering losses to Anthony Pettis, Darren Till and former champion Tyron Woodley.

Neal has been on a tear as of late, but it seems many fans and pundits are skipping over him when discussing the top players at welterweight. Either way, he’ll have to get past a tricky opponent in Thompson to really stake his claim as one of the best at 170.

If Neal can grab a win this weekend he will find himself among the top-5 of the welterweight division, along with the recognition he deserves.

UFC Vegas 17 takes place on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, live from UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV. Follow along with FanSided, who is on-site, for all your live news and highlights.

Published at Fri, 18 Dec 2020 03:52:54 +0000

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