Last Card Of The Year! UFC Fight Night: Main Card Odds, Preview, and Predictions!
The last UFC card of 2020 may be a free one, but there are plenty of fights to look forward to. Let's breakdown the most exciting fights on the card... and maybe make some cash doing it.
Welterweight Matchup (170): Stephen Thompson (15-4-1) vs Geoff Neal (13-2-0)
Neal represents the new breed of welterweights and he will finally get the 'big name fight' he deserves. This will be a major step up in competition as his last fight was against Mike Perry in December 2019. But, he knocked out Perry in the 1st round, which is very impressive considering Perry's chin and toughness. Also, in July 2019, he knocked out Niko Price (not easy either) in a fight where he put his name on the map. Neal has a 62% KO/TKO rate in his victories and lands 6 significant strikes per minute. He's the dark horse of the division and has been really avoided by top contenders because he's undefeated at 6-0 in the UFC. A victory over #5 ranked fighter, Thompson, will catapult Neal up the rankings and he will be able to inch his way closer to a title shot.
At 37 years old, we shouldn't write off Thompson as a contender just yet. He's 2-3 in his last 5 fights due to the fact he has been facing elite competition. In his last 5 fights, he has 2 notable wins over Jorge Masvidal and Vicente Luque, but his 3 losses were to Tyron Woodley, Darren Till, and Anthony Pettis. Thompson can either be a very exciting KO artist, or a boring fighter to watch when his opponents don't engage him. He's a counter striker with his accredited kickboxing background, and a defensive fighter as he only absorbs 2.73 significant strikes per minute. Also, he goes decision 47% of the time in his victories, and KO/TKO's his opponents 47% of the time as well. It will be interesting to see which Thompson shows up Saturday night in the main event. Neal is a slight favourite in this fight and people are sleeping on Thompson despite the fact he's not an easy fight for anyone. However, I believe youth will prevail in this fight and Neal will score the KO/TKO at some point. Neal is a very technical and disciplined striker that can put your lights out at any time, so I look for him to put Thompson away in this fight.
Prediction: Neal (-120)
Bulldogs Risky Pick: Neal by KO/TKO (+170)
Best Of The Rest
Bantamweight Matchup (135): José Aldo (28-7-0) vs Marlon Vera (16-6-1)
I refuse to give up on Aldo. Even though some consider Aldo a washed-up fighter, he's still only 34 years old. However, Aldo has been in wars inside the octagon and his time may be coming to an end despite his late-career choice to move down to bantamweight. He's 0-3 in his last 3 fights, and 2-5 in his last 7. But, we have to consider the caliber of fighters he's losing to. During that stretch, his losses were to Max Holloway, Alexander Volkanovski, Marlon Moraes, and Petr Yan. All of these fighters are championship-caliber fighters, but his opponent in this fight Saturday night is a young hungry up-and-comer. So, we will see how hungry Aldo is after getting absolutely demolished by Yan in the championship fight in July 2020.
Vera is only 27 years old, but he has been in the UFC since 2014. He's had a roller-coaster of a career but is now 6-1 in his last 7 fights. However, his loss came to Song Yadong in May 2020 in a fight where most people had Vera winning by decision. Regardless, Vera is on a roll and he had his 'coming out' party in August 2020 with a TKO victory over Sean O'Malley. He was able to steal O'Malley's hype with a dominant performance, and now he has an opportunity to take down a legend in Aldo to crack the top 10 in the bantamweight division. Vera has never been finished in his career and has only gone to a decision in 13% of his victories as he likes to put people away with both submissions and KO/TKO's. I see similar shades of the 'Ferguson vs. Oliveira' from last week in this fight. Vera, much like Oliveira, entered the UFC at a very young age and is just starting to come into his own as a fighter. Plus, Vera matches up against Aldo well because he's a durable fighter that likes to come forward and put pressure on his opponents. I see Vera winning this fight by decision because he will land more volume strikes, but I wouldn't be surprised if he got a finish while Aldo is tired late in the fight. Let's roll with the dog in this spot.
Prediction: Vera (+120)
Bulldogs Risky Pick: Vera by Decision (+325)
Bantamweight Matchup (135): Marlon Moraes (23-7-1) vs Rob Font (17-4-0)
We have another bantamweight fight on the card that shouldn't disappoint. Moraes is ranked 3rd in the division and looking to put his previous performance behind him. In October 2020, he was dominated by Cory Sandhagen and got KO/TKO'd in the 2nd round. Aside from his recent 1-2 skid, he has notable wins over top fighters that includes Jose Aldo, Aljamain Sterling, and Raphael Assunção. However, it's a common theme for Moraes that if he can't finish his opponent in the 1st round, he will most likely gas out and lose the fight. He's extremely explosive with his strikes, but his muscular build isn't meant to last long in the fight. Also, Moraes has an underrated ground game that he rarely utilizes because it takes too much energy to grapple. He needs a big win here to get back into the win column and end 2020 on a positive note.
Font is ranked 11th in the division and is on a 2 fight win streak with wins over Sergio Pettis and Ricky Simon. He's known for being a great boxer, but he's susceptible to being taken down and submitted. Also, this is a major step up in competition for him and it's hard to tell if he's ready for it since he hasn't fought since December 2019. There are a lot of unknowns coming into this fight for Font, but we know he will have a sizeable 4.5-inch reach advantage, which he will use to keep Moraes away from him. All the pressure is on Moraes in this fight to put his name back into the 'top contender' conversation, so I think he will come out with a big win. But, Moraes will either need to put this fight away early or he will need to pace himself to avoid getting gassed out like he always does. Regardless, Font has never been knocked out in his career, so I could see a scenario where Moraes rocks him and locks up a submission. Hammer the Moraes 'inside the distance' prop.
Prediction: Moraes (-155)
Bulldogs Risky Pick: Moraes Inside Distance (+155)