UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs. Neal staff picks and predictions

The BE team has made its picks for UFC VEGAS 17: ‘THOMPSON VS NEAL’ , aka the final UFC show of 2020. We’re going…

By: Mookie Alexander | 2 years ago
UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs. Neal staff picks and predictions
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

The BE team has made its picks for UFC VEGAS 17: ‘THOMPSON VS NEAL’ , aka the final UFC show of 2020. We’re going with Stephen Thompson to beat Geoff Neal in the main event, while we’re learning towards Jose Aldo over Marlon Vera in the co-main event.

Stephen Thompson vs. Geoff Neal

Anton Tabuena: I think he’ll win either way, but I just hope this is entertaining. Stephen Thompson by decision.

Mookie Alexander: I really like Geoff Neal so it really makes me happy knowing that we’re mostly leaning towards Wonderboy. Neal might as well get his hand raised now to save us some time. But seriously I don’t know how Neal will look given his absolutely horrifying, life-threatening health scare. Say what you want about Thompson’s style but he’s not exactly been an easy solve. He’s still sharp on the counter and can win this at range. Neal has the edge in power, he’s rarely wild and has tremendous flow to his striking, but there’s a big jump in uh… let’s just say in-fight strategy from Mike Perry to Wonderboy. I’m a believer in Neal being an eventual title challenger but I don’t think he’s there just yet. Stephen Thompson by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: If we’re all picking Wonderboy, then there’s no way he wins this fight. That said, Neal has never fought anyone like him. Thompson’s command of range and distance, sharp counter punching, and unwillingness to throw himself out of position to land big could all cause Neal fits, since he’s much more used to opponents walking onto his shots. Also, Neal’s high output seems like it’s tailor made to give Thompson openings for counters. Stephen Thompson by decision.

Staff picking Wonderboy: Anton, Mookie, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Neal: Stephie

Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Vera

Anton Tabuena: If Aldo still has something left in the tank after years in combat sports and that insane beating (and horrible refereeing) from Yan, he should be good enough to beat Vera. I have no idea how he will look, but this being three rounds at least benefits him greatly. Jose Aldo by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: Vera is usually a slow starter and Aldo seems better served in three-rounders for the rest of his career. I’d be compelled to pick Aldo based on those reasons but I’ve also spent way too long doubting how good Marlon Vera is. There’s no denying that Aldo’s offensive firepower is still there (except the leg kicks) but I think there is valid reason to concern that the damage and mileage is starting to pile up and Vera is absolutely capable of hurting him. The Petr Yan fight is uncomfortable to watch because Aldo was fine for three rounds and then Leon Roberts let Aldo swim in his own blood for no reason. That type of beating won’t undo itself with age. Chito is on the rise and I think he’s going to slam the door on Aldo’s desired last title run. Marlon Vera by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Feels like the kind of fight where Aldo does great in round 1, and Vera may do great in round 3. But round 2 will be a pitched battle for momentum to determine the score. That said, Aldo is still a violent and varied and powerful enough striker that I think if he starts hot, he wins this fight. Could look a lot like Vera’s loss to Song Yadong, where he was never out of it, but not ever really able to recapture momentum against an athlete that skilled either. Jose Aldo by decision.

Staff picking Aldo: Anton, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Vera: Mookie, Stephie

Khaos Williams vs. Michel Pereira

Anton Tabuena: This should be wild either way, but I’m picking the more potent finisher. Khaos Williams by TKO

Mookie Alexander: There is close to no point in trying serious analysis for this. Williams is either going to knock Pereira into next week or Pereira is going to try a bunch of weird video game shit to varying success, and one of those things will lead to a finish for the Brazilian. Michel Pereira by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: Other than the fact that he has scary power, I still don’t know what to make of Khaos Williams. Before he got to the UFC, he was defined by a pretty ugly swing-n-cling style, but with a combined 57 seconds of Octagon time through two bouts, who knows how much of that has changed. On the flip side, last time around, Pereira looked like a much more controlled and commanding version of the wildman we know him to be. If that guy shows up again, I don’t know that Williams has the depth of talent to hang with him. Michel Pereira via KO, round 2.

Staff picking Williams: Anton, Dayne, Stephie
Staff picking Pereira: Mookie, Zane

Marlon Moraes vs. Rob Font

Mookie Alexander: Can’t help but think about the John Lineker fight for Rob Font. He would not defend those leg kicks at all and that seems like a recipe for disaster against Moraes. There are reasons to be concerned about Moraes’ cardio against a high-volume fighter, but Moraes is still the more skilled fighter overall and he should be able to overcome Font’s reach and win this one. Marlon Moraes by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Seems like a fight where both men will get the preferred range and pace. In that kind of bout, I think Moraes’ creativity, counterpunching, and power will really shine through. Font hits surprisingly hard, but he’s a fairly by-the-numbers kickboxer from distance. Guys who can take his shots and hang with him in the pocket tend to put him on the back foot. Moraes seems likely to be able to make that happen. Marlon Moraes via decision.

Staff picking Moraes: Anton, Mookie, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Font: Stephie

Marcin Tybura vs. Greg Hardy

Mookie Alexander: Absolutely wouldn’t be surprised if Hardy had the power to hurt and stop Tybura. I really am underwhelmed watching most Tybura fights. But he’s surely got the better cardio and likely can smother Hardy and have the savvy to circle away from his power shots and go for timely takedowns. Meh. Whatever. Marcin Tybura by unanimous decision.

Anton Tabuena: Hardy is in over his head (again) here. If he doesn’t land big and get a finish in the opening moments, he’ll probably get thoroughly beat up for several minutes. Marcin Tybura by TKO.

Zane Simon: One of the heavyweight top-15’s least inspiring athletes against one of the division’s least technical behemoths. Hopefully Tybura doesn’t get too panicked by Hardy’s sheer size. If he can survive for a round, I’d bet his wrestling and grappling will take over. Marcin Tybura via TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Tybura: Anton, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Hardy:

Anthony Pettis vs. Alex Morono

Anton Tabuena: Pettis deserves this slight step down in competition as he hasn’t had back to back wins since his title reign over half a decade ago. I still expect this to be very competitive, but Pettis should be able to finally win two in a row. Anthony Pettis by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: Morono can still be a bit wild with his striking and historically speaking, wild does not beat Anthony Pettis. “Showtime” may not be at the peak of his career but he’s surely way too skilled for Morono to have a serious chance of winning this. Anthony Pettis by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: For pretty much all of Pettis’ career, it’s taken more elite athletes than Morono to beat him, even when they’re getting the fight they want. Even Michael Chiesa couldn’t run through Pettis on the mat given the opportunity. That said, I do expect Morono to have some early success backing Pettis up with hard shots, but sooner or later he’ll probably eat something big that will totally change the fight. Anthony Pettis via Submission, Round 1.

Staff picking Pettis: Anton, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Morono:

Sijara Eubanks vs. Pannie Kianzad

Mookie Alexander: I am making a serious gamble on picking Eubanks to not gas out against a better striker with normally pretty good takedown defense. Sijara Eubanks by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: A damn hard fight to pick. Both women have improved a lot, but still have gaps in their games that can be exploited. For Eubanks, her boxing has turned a good corner, but she can still get overwhelmed and caught up in prolonged striking battles she’s not winning. And for Kianzad, she’s learned to do a much better job commanding the cage, but people who can march her down can still bully her and put her on her back. I get the feeling Eubanks is going to get caught up striking more than Kianzad will get caught up grappling. Even if it’s not by a huge margin. Pannie Kianzad by decision.

Staff picking Eubanks: Mookie, Dayne, Stephie
Staff picking Kianzad: Zane

Gillian Robertson vs. Taila Santos

Mookie Alexander: Really hard to see how this fight avoids becoming a grappling contest, which plays right into Robertson’s hands. Gillian Robertson by submission, round 2.

Zane Simon: A good fight that gives both women a chance to prove they’ve solved some of their most glaring problems. For Santos, a lack of technical depth, especially as a grappler, has been a notable issue. And for Robertson, an ability to get entirely pushed off of her striking game standing has plagued her performances. My feeling that Santos will really want to do everything, from striking to wrestling, to grappling, and my feeling that Robertson will shoot quickly and work hard for takedowns have me picking Robertson here. Just think she can pull Santos into a grappling battle, and even if it starts out with Santos on top, Robertson has the scrambling skill to turn that fight around. Gillian Robertson by submission, round 2.

Staff picking Robertson: Anton, Mookie, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Santos: Dayne

Rest of the card

Deron Winn vs. Antonio Arroyo

Staff picking Winn: Mookie, Stephie
Staff picking Arroyo: Dayne, Zane

Tafon Nchukwi vs. Jamie Pickett

Staff picking Nchukwi: Dayne, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Pickett: Mookie

Christos Giagos vs. Carlton Minus

Staff picking Giagos: Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Minus: Mookie, Stephie

Jimmy Flick vs. Cody Durden

Staff picking Flick: Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Durden:


Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 71%

    Stephen Thompson

    (407 votes)

  • 28%

    Geoff Neal

    (165 votes)

572 votes total

Vote Now

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About the author
Mookie Alexander
Mookie Alexander

Mookie is a former Associate Editor for Bloody Elbow, leaving in August 2022 after ten years as a member of the staff. He's still lurking behind the scenes.

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