The UFC shuts the book on a spectacular 2020 with one last star-studded soiree in UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Neal, Saturday, December 19th from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas. The main card features an uber-exciting co-main matchup between Jose Aldo and Marlon Vera, and #11 ranked Welterweight Geoff Neal takes on #5 ranked Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson to close out the show in the main event. The prelims kick off at 3:00pm CST on ESPN+ with the main card commencing at 6:00. Follow along as we break down the main card matchups for this Saturday’s event, and give our picks and predictions for how we see each of those fights going down.
Marcin Tybura (20-6) vs. Greg Hardy (7-2-0, 1NC)
Bovada betting odds as of 12/16/20: Hardy (-125), Tybura (-105)
The main card opens up with a Heavyweight hitter in Marcin Tybura taking on Greg Hardy. Tybura, the 12-fight UFC veteran, is 7-5 with the promotion, with big wins over Andrei Arlovski, Stefan Struve and Ben Rothwell. After a 1-4 stint from 2017-2019, Tybura has made the most of 2020, going 3-0 this year. Ex-NFL pro bowler Greg Hardy is making his 8th walk to the Octagon by way of the Contender Series. Hardy is 4-2 with 1 no contest in the UFC. One of those losses, however, was a DQ for an illegal knee, and the no contest arose from what was originally a unanimous decision win for Hardy that was overturned because he used an asthma inhaler in his corner in between rounds. Hardy has all of the athletic prowess in the world, and it’s just a matter of time (and training) before his skill and technique catch up to his raw talent and size.
Our pick: Hardy, 2nd-round KO/TKO
Gillian Robertson (9-4) vs. Taila Santos (16-1)
Bovada betting odds as of 12/16/20: Santos (-120), Robertson (-110)
In the first and only female fracas on the main card, we’ve got Gillian Robertson taking on Taila Santos. Canada’s Gillian Robertson will be making her 8th walk to the Octagon by way of The Ultimate Fighter season 26, and she’s 5-2 with the UFC. After a loss to Maycie Barber in October of last year, Robertson has knocked off 2 straight. Robertson is a finisher and a submission specialist, with 7 out of 9 of her career wins ending in stoppages, and 6 of those were by way of submission. Brazil’s Taila Santos is a finisher in her own right. In 16 career wins, Santos has finished her opponent at least 9 times, with 8 of those fights ending in the very first round. Santos will be making just her 3rd UFC appearance by way of the Contender Series. Although she lost a split-decision in her debut to Mara Borella back in February, Santos rebounded with a win over Molly McCann in July.
Our pick: Santos, 1st-round KO/TKO
Marlon Moraes (23-7-1) vs. Rob Font (17-4)
Bovada betting odds as of 12/16/20: Moraes (-150), Font (+120)
Third up on the main card we’ve got an absolute stud of a matchup in Marlon Moraes vs. Rob Font. WSOF superstar “Magic” Marlon Moraes will be making his 9th walk to the Octagon. After an 11-fight tear in the WSOF, Moraes joined the UFC, but lost his debut to Raphael Assuncao. He then went on to win 4 straight, including victories over John Dodson, Aljamain Sterling, Jimmie Rivera and the rematch with Assuncao. Since then, however, Moraes is just 1-2, with many people clamoring that he should have lost his only victory in that span, a controversial decision over Jose Aldo. Rob Font will be making his 11th appearance with the UFC, and he’s 7-3 with the promotion. Although Font also has a loss to Raphael Assuncao, he’s won 2 straight since that defeat. Font is currently the #11 ranked UFC Bantamweight, and a win over #3 ranked Marlon Moraes would certainly help propel him into the top 5 of an utterly stacked division.
Our pick: Moraes, decision
Michel Pereira (24-11-0, 2NC) vs. Kalinn Williams (11-1)
Bovada betting odds as of 12/16/20: Pereira (-130), Williams (+100)
Next up we’ve got Brazil’s Michel Pereira taking on Kalinn “Khaos the Ox Fighter” Williams. Pereira is making his 5th UFC appearance, and he’s 2-2 with the promotion. The high-flying capoeira-style of Pereira typically makes for an exciting fight, but it’s that same style that has crippled his cardio in the past. After a sensational flying knee finish over Danny Roberts in his UFC debut, Pereira fell flat in his encore appearance against Tristan Connelly. Then, Pereira lost a DQ by illegal knee to Diego Sanchez, but won his last match against Zelim Imadaev this September. Kalinn (Khaos) Williams is one of the most highly-touted prospects on the UFC roster. Williams is on an 8-fight win streak, and he’s 2-0 with the UFC with 2 first-round finishes. In fact, 4 out of Williams’ last 5 fights have ended in the first round. That being said, Pereira has been known to start blisteringly fast, and in his last fight with Imadaev, showed much-improved cardio and striking accuracy.
Our pick: Pereira, 2nd-round submission
José Aldo (28-7) vs. Marlon Vera (16-6-1)
Bovada betting odds as of 12/16/20: Aldo (-150), Vera (+120)
In the co-main event, WEC and UFC legend Jose Aldo faces up-and-coming Bantamweight contender Marlon Vera. Although Aldo is on a 3-fight skid, he enters this one a -150 favorite over Vera. Jose Aldo, who many consider to be the greatest Featherweight of all time, will be making his 3rd appearance at Bantamweight. After losing a controversial decision to Marlon Moraes in his 135 lb. debut, Aldo was given the title shot against Petr Yan, which he loss by 5th-round TKO. Aldo, who defended UFC Featherweight gold 7 times, was 25-1 before colliding with Conor McGregor at UFC 194 in 2015. Including that loss, Aldo is now 3-6 in his last 9, and he’s in desperate need for a big win in the Bantamweight division. Marlon Vera will be making his 16th UFC appearance. Vera, who’s 10-5 with the promotion, is 6-1 in his last 7, and he’s coming off of a sensational stoppage of Sean O’Malley at UFC 252 back in August. In 6 career losses, Vera has never been finished. However, we think Jose Aldo rebounds big here and puts Vera away before the final horn.
Our pick: Aldo, 3rd-round KO/TKO
Stephen Thompson (15-4-1) vs. Geoff Neal (13-2)
Bovada betting odds as of 12/16/20: Neal (-120), Thompson (-110)
In what Vegas has as almost a pick ’em, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson takes on Geoff “Handz of Steel” Neal in the main event. Fan-favorite Stephen Thompson will be making his 16th walk to the Octagon. After joining the UFC, Thompson went 8-1 in his first 9 fights, including victories over Rory MacDonald and Robert Whittaker. Thompson’s run culminated in a career record of 13-1 and a title shot (and subsequent rematch) against then-Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, which ended in a draw. Since that first fight with Woodley, however, Thompson has gone 2-3 and he’s fallen to #5 in the rankings. Geoff Neal will be making just his 6th walk to the Octagon by way of the Contender Series. Neal is 5-0 with the UFC, and he’s currently on a 7-fight win streak dating back to 2017. What’s more, Neal’s most recent defeat (and only the second of his career) was a loss to current Middleweight stud (and fighter of the year candidate) Kevin Holland before either fighter had entered the UFC. Neal certainly has momentum on his side entering this fight, but Thompson is the more-experienced fighter, and on top of the quantity of fights, Thompson has faced a much higher quality of opponent.
Our pick: Thompson, decision
Tell us what you think! Where do we have it right, and where do you think we got it wrong? Comment with your picks, and don’t forget to bookmark our page and check back often for more predictions and fight coverage. If you like what you see, go ahead and give our Facebook page a like and follow us on Twitter & Instagram @fightsportfocus. Also, subscribe to the Fight Sport Focus podcast on Anchor.fm, Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts!