Stupid, sexy Wonderboy.
UFC Fight Night 183: Thompson vs Neal Predictions & Results
For a random end of the year Fight Night card, there is a ton of fights – thirteen to be exact. That’s a whole lotta damage. Surprisingly enough, there are big names littered across the main card and it will be a most Gucci way to close out the year.
NMF belt holder, Stephen Thompson, returns for his annual fight. Hard to believe but Wonderboy is thirty-seven years old and there cannot be many more nights of violence left for the Karate King. The second Woodley fight aside, and perhaps Till, Thompson has been one of the finest athletes to ever enter the octagon. Challenged with beating the fan favourite, Geoff Neal is likewise returning after a year and has his eyes firmly set upon the Welterweight. Riding a five-fight win streak in the UFC, including impressive stoppages over Niko Price and Mike Perry, Neal is being shaped up as the organisation’s next sweetheart.
Further down the card, Jose Aldo shockingly finds himself in a non-title, non-main event fight. The Brazilian legend takes a step down in championship quality to face off with prospect killer, Marlon Vera. Digging deeper, Michel Pereira aims to deliver acrobatic excellence against the one-punch power of Khaos Williams. If we can also pretend that there isn’t a Marcin Tybura snuggle fest to open the main card, then we can all move along with our day happily.
Stephen Thompson (15-4-1) vs Geoff Neal (13-2)
Stephen Thompson is a beauty to watch when he has forced his opponent to fight to his range and pace. During the opening minutes, Wonderboy fights in the fashion of a points striker. Staying out of range from his opponent, Thompson dances around the striking distance using his lightning feet. Upon entering range, Wonderboy drops a simple one or two punch combination, then slides out of the side to avoid counter shots. There is nobody in the division (aside from Till) who can beat Thompson fighting at mid-range, he is simply too technically sound. To succeed against Wonderboy, he forces you to fight brave and eat the odd shot in order to enter the pocket. While Vincente Luque’s efforts will be remembered as a three-round whooping, Luque in fact had Thompson in a world of trouble during the first round. Possessing a granite chin, Luque absorbed Thompson’s straight shots but was able to push the American against the cage and landed hard right hands or leg kicks. By chopping away at Thompson’s legs, you work towards nullifying his most effective work as he can no longer slide away from danger. Unfortunately for Luque, you have to keep up the pressure for the entire fight, or else Wonderboy will be able to re-establish himself at a comfortable range.
Enter, Handz of Stell, Mr Geoffrey Neal. A powerful southpaw, Neal is a head-hunter who aims to work opponents onto his damaging left. Neal is patient from range, yet remains active on his heels, albeit largely limited to rolling to the right as to create an effective angle for his left hand. During the Perry fight, Neal instead landed the left high kick, but the same footwork was used to make room for a powerful strike from his left-hand side. At a clear speed disadvantage against Wonderboy, Neal will need to end his combinations with a leg kick. Until he can slow Wonderboy by rooting him down with leg work, Neal will be unable to land his hands on his constantly moving target. A controlled power puncher, Neal will need to up his feinting game massively if he wants to fight on the outside like he did against Perry.
Predicted Result: Thompson Decision
Neal is a powerful striker, his stoppage over Mike Perry is testament to that. Unfortunately for Neal, he will struggle to work himself into the necessary range to clip Wonderboy’s chin. Thompson’s long, bladed stance is ideal to sidekick Neal, stoic in his front-on guard, whenever he threatens to lunge forward. At distance, Thompson can snipe in his straight shots and exit the side before Neal is able to counter. At thirty-seven, and with yet another year out of the octagon, Wonderboy may show his age – but I doubt it, there isn’t many miles on his body.
Result: Thompson def. Neal // Decision (unanimous – 50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
Jose Aldo (28-7) vs Marlon Vera (18-6-1)
Poor, poor Jose. Aldo looked phenomenal in the first couple of rounds of the Yan fight, firing off chopping leg kicks that sent Petr Yan flying on occasion. Aldo would be Bantamweight champion right now if Yan wasn’t an absolute golem. The Russian ate a terrifying amount of punishment from Aldo, and any other fighter in the Bantamweight roster would have folded. And while it would end in gruesome fashion for the former Lightweight champion, Aldo showed immense heart as he was beaten black and blue from the bottom. While he may be riding a three-fight slide, Aldo has faced a murderer’s row for the past ten years. He may no longer be in his prime, but Aldo remains an exceptional boxer with incredible power, in addition to his strong top game that capitalises on opponents who attempt to panic wrestle. Vera’s susceptibility to being drawn into extended firefights in the pocket will be his undoing, as Aldo carries the power to put away his opponent.
Fear the sugar monster, Marlon Vera. The dark horse in the Bantamweight division, Vera should already have been recognised as a rising contender before his victory over prospect, O’Malley. Although a back and forth contest, Vera landed the far cleaner work and should have had his hand raised against Yadong Song. Regardless, Vera earned his due against O’Malley. Disrespected by Sean and fans alike, Vera was viewed as a lamb to the slaughter. While O’Malley’s demise came about from his Weetabix legs, Vera still landed the leg kicks and checked return shots that weakened Sugar boy’s limbs. In terms of striking, Vera throws counters based on what is in front of him. Against Song, Vera fired off regular front kicks while Song stood at range, yet switched to intercepting knees and elbows when Song attempted to enter into a clinch. Song’s striking game is a far cry from Aldo’s, with many more tells than the wily Brazilian veteran. Vera will have to use his jab more effectively if he wants to bait Aldo out of his shell.
Predicted Result: Aldo Decision
As a massive fan of Marlon Vera, it is sad to see his only path to victory as out-striking Aldo. The Brazilian posseses an immense TDD game, and even though Vera’s damaging clinch strikes could occupy his attention, Vera will still fail to take down (let alone keep down) Aldo. Sure Vera has the range advantage, but Aldo is freakishly powerful and will keep Vera humble from entering up-close as frequently as he did against O’Malley, Song, and Ewell.
Result: Aldo def. Vera // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Michel Pereira (24-11) vs Khaos Williams (11-1)
Boy was it good to say Pereira get a win. After the humiliating loss to Tristan Connelly, and a strange DQ to the corpse of Diego Sanchez, Pereira was on a slide that seemed to be taking him to the exit door of the UFC. Faced off against a similarly underperforming striker, Pereira delivered a career performance as he clowned his undersized opponent. While Pereira is nowhere near a complete product, he looked a new fighter at he threw rangey boxing combinations that definitively cracked Imadaev’s chin. Moreover, Pereira bullied Imadaev in the clinch, controlling him at the neck and landing brutal knees. There was still the stupidly fun acrobatics on show, yet it was nice to see it mixed in with legitimate mixed martial arts, rather than the circus shows of his earlier career.
Power. Has any checked up on Alhassan at the morgue recently? Khaos Williams is a bad, bad man. In less than a minute, Williams already has two UFC scalps. Alex Morono is a well-rounded fighter, despite his lack of name value, and Alhassan is a scary puncher. Both men were melted by the crisp hands of Williams. Flicking an irritating lead left jab out in front of him, used to hold an opponent’s attention, Williams creates the opening for his cannon right hand that nukes people out of existence.
Predicted Result: Pereira TKO Round 2
Pereira is such a mixed bag, you genuinely do not know what version of the mad Brazilian will rock up. If the man who destroyed Imadaev turns up, then his range/reach will mean that he beats Williams to the punch when they trade. Moreover, Williams himself may be more gunshy when facing such an orthodox striker. We haven’t seen Williams on the mat, nor tied up in a clinch, and thus Pereira’s experience just tips this.
Result: Pereira def. Williams // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Marlon Moraes (23-7-1) vs Rob Font (17-4)
Moraes is possibly, perhaps, perchance, starting to get over the hill now, lads. Losing to Sandhagen is nothing be embarrassed about, the man is a blue-chip striker, but it was the manner of defeat that stung. Renowned as a first-round killer, Moraes was unable to let loose with any of the usual counter shots that have enabled him to have so much success in the past. Biting on every feint from Sandhagen, Moraes was overloaded with too many offensive looks, and was unable to land anything significant. While Rob Font’s jab could force Moraes into a shell of inactivity like Sandhagen, Font’s defensive awareness is no where near the same level. There will be ample opportunity for Moraes to find the chin of Font in the first-round, and as we have seen in the past, the Brazilian only needs to hit it once.
Font is a beautiful tactician in the octagon who is only really held back by his lack of power. While he is able to land with relative ease, Font doesn’t have the power to switch off the lights of the top athletes. Worse still, Font has been out for a year with a knee injury, and could impact his ability to generate power. Perhaps I’m being too harsh on Font, because he has a fine gas tank, and can pressure Moraes if he manages to safely make his way through a dangerous first round. On the mat though, Font will struggle with the strength of Moraes, an underrated grappler who is more than capable of submitting Font.
Predicted Result: Moraes Submission Round 1
Moraes is an absolute killer despite a torrid couple of years. Arguably losing three on the trot, Moraes has taken a necessary step down in quality. Font is a fine striker, and will be able to take advantage of an exhausted Moraes if he manages to safely make his way past the first round, but I just can’t see it happening. Faster, harder hitting, and most importantly, stronger on the ground.
Result: Font def. Moraes // TKO (punches) Round 1 3:47
Women’s Flyweight (125)
Gillian Robertson (9-4) vs Taila Santos (16-1)
Gillian Robertson has had a career that makes you feel warm inside. Starting her career with a loss, Robertson’s stop and start career has encapsulated massive highs and lows. First round stoppages to more highly regarded prospects, Maycee Barber and Mayra Bueno Silva, sully Robertson’s record. Yet stoppage victories over Veronica Macedo, Sarah Frota and Cortney Casey all highlight the skill of the Canadian. Constantly developing her skillset, especially her striking, Robertson’s fine submission game makes her one of the easier female fighters to watch.
Yay Taila Santos is back. To commemorate her rescheduled match, I will be copying and pasting her prior analysis. Boom. Boom. Can you hear that? That’s the sound of Taila Santos’ massively padded record coming towards you. After an ugly split decision loss in her UFC debut, Santos surprised many when she was able to bully Molly McCann to a decision victory just a few months ago. McCann is a solid name on the roster, but she has always been wildly overrated for her loudmouth and her victories in the UFC have aged like fine milk. Santos has a powerful clinch game and can certainly grapple, but that appears to be it.
Predicted Result: Robertson Submission Round 3
Santos is massive, and has never been finished, but it is still so difficult to take her seriously. Santos’ game had already improved massively, as evident in the McCann match, and the safe bet is for her to bully Robertson in the clinch. But its so damn hard not to support Robertson and her ability to pull off an upset.
Result: Santos def. Robertson // Decision (unanimous – 30-26, 30-26, 29-28)
Marcin Tybura (20-6) vs Greg Hardy (7-2)
WWWWWHYYYYYY. Ben Rothwell, I blame you, you are the reason why we have a FOURTH Tybura fight in 2020. Hasn’t the world suffered enough? In all fairness to Tybura, he weathered an early Rothwell storm, but he did little to inspire outside of the bare minimum in the following rounds. TL;DR: Polish man wrestle, Polish man snuggle, Polish man snooze.
Greggs has nowhere near the TDD necessary to keep Tybura off him. Memes aside, Tybura is a very solid wrestler/grappler and can easily out-grapple the former NFL athlete. This isn’t even a Derrick Lewis situation either, as Lewis holds his power late. Hardy has not shown his power late, and has the gas tank of an early WW1 tank prototype.
Predicted Result: Tybura Decision
Hardy could technically finish this early, but he does not have the skills to land the power punch necessary to sleep Tybura. This will be a long, exhausting display of Tybura’s top control. Maybe he will attempt a submission. Doubt it, though.
Result: Tybura def. Hardy // TKO (punches) Round 2 4:31
Anthony Pettis (23-10) vs Alex Morono (18-6)
Showtime has officially hit a hard decline. A former main event shoe-in, Pettis finds himself rotting away as the prelims headliner. To be honest, it is likely Pettis has been handed a softball as this represents his final contracted fight with the UFC. Entering the octagon on Saturday following a dubious decision victory over fellow weathered veteran, Donald Cerrone, Pettis looked old. With a muffin top hanging over his shorts, Pettis was easily taken down and chose to absorb shots rather than move. Despite this, Pettis was still able to time a few powerful counters and remains dangerous to anyone outside of the top-fifteen.
Alex Morono is unlikely to ever be a long-term ranked Welterweight. He is well-rounded, an ok athlete, and has a solid wrestling gameplan, but he just doesn’t have the quality to cut it with the elite of the division. Even now, Morono will struggle to overwhelm Pettis on the feet to search for the clinch.
Predicted Result: Pettis Decision
Pettis offered little resistance to Diego Ferreira when he hit the ground, a rare sighting for a fighter once prized for his great heart and will. While the shock knockout of Wonderboy, and a dubious decision over Cerrone, paper over the cracks of Pettis, he is firmly over the hill. Still, Pettis’ freak athleticism will be enough to overcome the well-rounded but deeply average skillset of Morono.
Result: Pettis def. Morono // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Women’s Bantamweight (135)
Pannie Kianzad (13-5) vs Sijara Eubanks (6-5)
Is Kianzad finally starting to find a bit of form in the UFC? After a dominating loss to Julia Avila, Kianzad has since been able to cruise to victories over Jessica Rose-Clark and Bethe Correia. A solid striker, Kianzad is robotic, but she is able to bully opponents with her power at range. An athlete in a weak division, it is something to get behind I guess.
Sijara Eubanks, to her credit, has been expanding upon her game and adding extra layers every time she steps in the octagon. What was once a swang n banger, Eubanks now fights with more composure and attempts to find a comfortable mid-range. Her loss to Vieira in her last match-up was largely due to her losing the battle of the jabs, and it is a punch that Eubanks desperately needs to tighten if she wants to progress in her stop start career. For Gods sake, she got out-jabbed by Bethe Correia.
Predicted Result: Eubanks Decision
A very close fight, both ladies have clear flaws. The dividing factor will be Eubanks’ improved ability to wrestle and keep opponents down – constantly threatening submissions against Julia Avila, a dangerous striker herself.
Result: Kianzad def. Eubanks // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Karl Roberson (9-3) vs Dalcha Lungiambula (10-2)
For a man who talked a lot of smack, Roberson got bent over by Marvin Vettori when they finally met half a year ago. Roberson is a handy kickboxer but his ground game leaves much to be desired. Roberson has a pleasing style to watch, throwing accurate and well times combinations. Unfortunately, Roberson can be overwhelmed defensively as he gets caught over extended in his feints.
Lungiambula is the man who will forever be on Magomed Ankalaev’s highlight reel until the end of time. Front kicked into a good nights sleep, Lungiambula will be looking to distance himself from such a travesty. A brick s***house of a man, Lungiambula is able to throw with a lot of weight behind his shots. While rather wayward, and erratic in his striking, Lungiambula is also a threat in the clinch simply due to his size.
Predicted Result: Roberson Decision
Roberson is the cleaner fighter, able to establish a comfortable distance early and feint his opponents into inactivity. Lungiambula will remain a threat throughout the entire contest, but Roberson can wear on his opponent in the clinch, and pick him apart from range.
Deron Winn (6-2) vs Antonio Arroyo (9-3)
A manlet at Middleweight, Winn somehow still struggles to make weight due to his barrel-shaped body. Winn has more than respectable power in his hands, but his real strength is in his wrestling, regularly ranking 4th in the US Open Freestyles. Winn has had a bit of nightmare the past couple of years, choked out by Meerschaert and outworked by Darren Stewart. His height and reach disadvantage is the major limiting factor to his game, similar to Ilir Latifi at LHW/HW.
Arroyo is an okay fighter but there is still much to be seen before he can be considered a real threat to the Middleweight division. A decent top game shown in his DWCS victory over Henrique da Silva, his success was largely based on control rather than brutal ground and pound. Moreover, there were times he was easily reversed, a worrying sight against a fatigued opponent. Arroyo is a decent striker with a solid kicking game, but the volume is far too low.
Predicted Result: Winn Decision
A fight which may spell doom to the UFC contract of the loser. Both men will fancy their chances, but Winn’s wrestling is far superior to Arroyo’s. Arroyo’s kicks are dangerous, but he will have to be a little gun shy if he doesn’t want to end up on his back early.
Result: Winn def. Arroyo // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Tafon Nchukwi (4-0) vs Jamie Pickett (11-4)
DWCS prodigy, Tafon Nchukwi, has already destroyed hot UFC prospect, William Knight, by first-round knockout. If that doesn’t get you a little excited, consider this, Nchukwi has never reached the final bell in the professionals or amateurs. While he hasn’t fought an experienced opponent yet, Nchuwki has simply been murdering guys. Tons of body punches when in the pocket, Nchukwi tries to catch back pedalling opponents with spinning elbows or head kicks. Big yes for Nchukwi.
Jamie Pickett, a UFC debutant himself, represents the most well-rounded test for the Cameroonian yet. Pickett has been thrown in as a reasonable test of Nchukwi’s wrestling chops, but he will really struggle to work anything due to his opponent’s strength.
Predicted Result: Nchukwi TKO Round 1
A lack of hand speed may haunt Nchukwi as he progresses through the rankings, but his insane power will allow him to tear through the unranked of the division – a weight class not averse to monster punchers.
Result: Nchukwi def. Pickett // Decision (unanimous – 30-25, 30-26, 30-26)
Jimmy Flick (15-5) vs Cody Durden (11-2-1)
Jimmy Flick is a Flyweight workhorse with no exceptional athleticism, and a questionable chin. Flick’s game is well-rounded but it is slow and laboured, with only his impressive submission game to speak of. Flick’s striking defence is atrocious as well – moving backwards in a straight line and keeping his chin high in the air.
Cody Durden is a wrestler with heavy hands – how many times have we seen that combination work in MMA? It would be foolish of Durden to run straight into a takedown and offer up a submission opportunity for Flick, but that will probably be the case.
Predicted Result: Flick Submission Round 3
Honestly don’t know about this one, they are both as raw as each other. Flick’s defensive holes means that Durden’s heavy hands could easily reach Flick’s weak chin. On the other hand, Durden loves to wrestle and will be easy pickings for a Flick submission.
Result: Flick def. Durden // Submission (flying triangle choke) Round 1 3:18
Carlton Minus (10-2) vs Christos Giagos (17-8)
Minus’ debut didn’t go to plan when he was out-worked by the limited, Matthew Semelsberger. Minus was totally unable to deal with the forward pressure of Semelsberger, and was bullied against the cage when he started to absorb punishment in the centre. It could be debut jitters, but most likely it was the performance of a regional fighter who had been drafted in to fill out fight cards. Prove me wrong, please.
Giagos has reached his third year in the organisation, yet is still to find his USP to capture fans imaginations. A scrappy boxer, Giagos throws high volume combinations that crank up from behind his back – similar to the fashion of UFC-calibre striking circa 2000s. Giagos does execute a lovely inside leg trip when he finds himself falling into his punches, though.
Predicted Result: Giagos Decision
The workrate and wrestling aptitude of Giagos will see him to the end of yet another scrappy win during his UFC tenure.
Result: Giagos def. Minus // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-27, 30-26)
UFC Fight Night 183
2020 MMA Season
Takeaway comments: The reigning, defending, 170 pound NMF champion of the world – Woooooonderbooooooy.
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