The final show of 2020 has unfortunately been plagued by some pullouts including the original main event of Khamzat vs Edwards. Despite these issues the UFC has still scratched together a solid card and a main event that presents the possibility of an exciting striking match up and at one point I even get to mention my boy Cory Sandhagen!
Marcin Tybura vs Greg Hardy
I have never been especially sold on Greg Hardy and recently have been less and less impressed due to how lackluster his fights are. He is not a vicious KO artist, his striking is ok, ground game not really tested and he is not fighting anyone especially good. He looked pretty good in his loss to Volkov but that may have been more about Volkov coming off of a KO loss and being overly cautious settling for a safe win. Tybura is an excellent BJJ black belt and has a style that revolves around wearing people down. Don’t get me wrong he is not an elite talent but he has a skill set that doesn’t mesh well with Hardy who simply doesn’t have enough ground experience to match someone with the credentials of Tybura. Its still Heavyweight and he could land a big shot but I really see his cardio abandoning him. Hardy’s training at ATT could very well see him last out until a decision loss but I’ll have a bit more fun with the method of victory.
Prediction: Marcin Tybura 3rd Round Submission
Marlon Moraes vs Rob Font
It’s funny what one loss can do to a fighter and how fans perceive them, pre-Henry Cejudo Moraes was the most feared fighter in the division and many believed he could be a dominant force. Since that loss it does seem Marlon declined although I wouldn’t say as badly as some would say. While it was close I’m in the minority in thinking he legit beat Aldo in the fight as he out landed him in the 1stand 3rd by a margin. Aldo pressured but that only counts for points when nothing else is happening. His other defeat was to Cory Sandhagen who as anyone who has read my articles may know is one of my absolute favorite fighters in the UFC (Shared top 3). Sandhagen may be the smartest most elusive striker in the division so no shame there. I just don’t think Rob Font has enough to beat Moraes, he is explosive and has solid KO power with better cardio. Moraes is technically better almost everywhere than Font and even more explosive, with it being 3 rounds he doesn’t have to worry too much about the cardio issues so I really don’t see Font getting this one unless Moraes is well and truly done as that Sandhagen (one more shout out to the Sandman) loss was brutal.
Prediction: Moraes 1st Round KO
Michel Pereira vs Khaos Williams
The problem with predicting his fights is that Pereira is very technical on his best day but lacks in fight IQ and often makes the dumb decision to focus too much on showboating causing himself to gas out. With Khaos coming off of a very solid knockout win, Pereira really needs to avoid making these stupid decisions otherwise he will get slept brutally. I’m really not sure so I’m going to assume Pereira doesn’t fight like an idiot in which case I would give him the edge due to being the overall more technical fighter and using his size to get the win in what I believe will be a closely contested fight.
Prediction: Michel Pereira Unanimous Decision
Jose Aldo vs Marlon Vera
Marlon Vera coming off the leg kick TKO win over Sean O’Malley has grown his fan base and now getting a fight against an absolute legend provides him the opportunity to build upon this following and insert himself in the top 10 of the division. Marlon Vera is a fighter who I would class as a jack of all trades but master of none. Which is fine because he mixes all together in a solid fashion along with a solid chin. He has a lot of losses on his record but most of these are close fights against top 10 worthy fighters. Some argue his win over Suga was a fluke. I disagree although I think that fight could go differently in the future if they rematch. Jose Aldo is no doubt on the decline but is still a dangerous fighter and again really has only lost to top level competition and now has the benefit of being back in a 3-round fight which is when Aldo performs at his best. Marlon Vera often goes into fights happy to play the defensive games often losing points in the process, whereas Aldo is all about offense and still does this very well. Aldo is still the superior striker and won’t be taken to the ground by Vera. Vera may have the better cardio and increases his chances if he pushes the pace which I think he has the toughness to do but if he does what I expect which is be overly defensive, Aldo is going to pick at him with relative ease.
Prediction: Jose Aldo Unanimous Decision
Stephen Thompson vs Geoff Neal
Geoff Neal coming off of his destructive win over Mike Perry is getting the biggest fight of his career in the ultimate counter striker Wonderboy Thompson. In his UFC run, Neal has demonstrated his crisp boxing game and some of the best killer instinct finishing ability in all the UFC. While Mike Perry is not an elite fighter at all, he is not someone who goes down easy and Neal made quick work of him in a brutal display. Neal is not just a brutal finisher but an incredibly smart striker who will observe his opponent before going into attack mode by waiting for the right times to go forward, in these moments always remaining defensively responsible. At this point most MMA fans know the style of Wonderboy using a karate Kickboxing style. Wonderboy on his best day can be a striker’s nightmare which we saw in his last fight against my boy Vincente Luque. Thompson was managing to counter Luque at ease from the second round onward at times looking like his absolute prime version of himself. If this is the prime version of Wonderboy I would pick him in this fight no doubt at all however a couple of things lead me to doubt him winning this fight (other than Neal being very good).
First off, Wonderboy is getting older and starting to slow down, the problem being much of his style requires speed and reflex although the fight IQ of Wonderboy can help to make up for these issues. Potentially the main problem is that Wonderboy has been dropped more often in his fights recently showing a decline in his chin. The worst of this being his Knockout defeat against the much smaller Anthony Pettis who is far past his prime. Wonderboy was winning this fight until the KO, and usually he is savvy enough to avoid the fight ending shots and knows how to set traps but I think he may have a problem against Neal. Luque, as big a fan I am, doesn’t have the required defensive mind-set to strike with Wonderboy but was still doing solid work especially in the third round. We saw Wonderboy have trouble with Darren Till who decided to counter fight with a fair amount of success.
Neal has the more aggressive boxing but also knows what to pick and choose. Meaning he has a solid shot at effectively countering the kicks of Wonderboy especially when they are thrown singularly. If Wonderboy throws in combinations like he did against Luque he may be more effective but again if he gets caught Neal is too good of a finisher to let Wonderboy survive. I can definitely see a scenario where Wonderboy is too elusive for Neal to handle overall, he is the far superior striker and still capable of setting traps and confusing his opponents. Wisdom suggests that Wonderboy gets the win but I feel the speed and finishing ability of Neal coupled with his patient boxing and hand speed may lead him to catch Wonderboy while in a bad position.