The Ultimate Fighting Championship held their final event of 2020 on Saturday with UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs Neal at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. No. 5 ranked welterweight Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson faced No. 11 ranked Geoff Neal in the fight card’s main event.
Thompson defeats Neal after a year on the sidelines
Thompson and Neal closed out the year by going the distance in a fight that left both fighters bloodied and bruised.
Neal pressured Thompson but was unable to box him in. Thompson moved along the perimeter of the octagon using his jab to keep Neal at distance. Thompson employed a high-output offense and used his footwork to avoid Neal’s forward attacks.
During the first round, the two had an accidental collision of heads leaving both fighters cut. When the fight resumed, Thompson went back to landing his jab. In the second frame, Thompson continued to stick and move. He outworked Neal and set the pace of the bout.
Neal had his moments but had a difficult time finding Thompson with strikes. He struggled to get inside on Thompson and resorted to rushing forward with a flurry of punches.
In the closing seconds of the fourth frame, Thompson injured his right leg. As the round ended, Thompson checked his leg and limped to his corner. There was visible swelling about his right knee.
In the final round, Thompson’s movement was compromised. He was able to move but Neal began to connect with power punches. Thompson fired back, winning the round, but Neal had his best round in the final one. After 25 minutes of fighting, all three judges scored the fight for Thompson 50-45.
“I’ve been off for a year. I broke both of my hands in my last fight a year ago at UFC 244. I took a year off. This is the longest time I’ve actually been off, and I’ve been in the fight game for a while,” Thompson said after the decision victory.
“Geoff is a tough, tough opponent. He’s just rock solid Every punch I hit him with, he just kept on coming.”
With the win, Thompson is now riding a two-fight winning streak and wants a fight with someone ranked ahead of him in the division.
“This is two in a row. I’m definitely working my way up. Give me somebody. I want to see the NMF verses the BMF. Let’s make that happen. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson verses Jorge Masvidal. I know he’s talking about fighting Colby Covington, but we’ll see,” Thompson said.
“Wonderboy is still here. That title. 2021 is going to be mine. You watch and see, but I’m just glad to be back.”
Jose Aldo back in the win column, targets TJ Dillashaw
The fight card featured four top 15 ranked bantamweights that resulted in a big shakeup in the 135-pound division. In the co-main event, former two-time featherweight champion and No. 7 ranked bantamweight Jose Aldo faced No. 15 ranked Marlon “Chito” Vera.
In the first round, Aldo and Vera engaged in a technical striking battle with both fighters landing leg kicks. Midway through the frame Aldo began targeting Vera’s body.
Vera pressured Aldo in the second frame as Aldo continued to connect to midsection. Vera tied Aldo up and delivered knees to the body and legs of the Brazilian. Vera landed a counter left hand near the end of the round. Heading into the final frame, the fight was even.
Between rounds, Aldo’s coach asked him to take Vera down. Aldo did just that early in the stanza. He took Vera’s back and remained on it for the rest of the round. All three judges scored the contest 29-28 for Aldo.
“It’s important to come back in the win column. It’s important to win. I have to thank all the people that trained me and the people that have been sticking around with us all a long. I have to thank them all,” Aldo said after the decision win.
Aldo snapped a three-fight losing streak with the win. Back in the win column, Aldo called out the former champion.
“As far as my next fight, it will be (TJ) Dillashaw. We’ve been talking about Dillashaw a lot. Dana, make it happen,” he said.
Rob Font knocks out Marlnon Moraes to jump into bantamweight contention
No. 11 ranked Rob Font stopped No. 3 ranked Marlon Moraes in the opening round of their bout. Moraes secured early takedowns but wasn’t able to keep Font grounded. Once on his feet, Font dominated Moraes. He put together combinations and staggered Moraes with a stiff jab. He dropped Moraes with an uppercut and it was just a matter of time before the finish came.
Font delivered punches, elbows and hammer fists until the referee stepped in to stop the fight. It was Font’s first bout in 2020, and the win puts him on a three-fight winning streak.
“It’s been a long time. It’s been a whole year sitting around. It was my third big opportunity. I finally took advantage of it. I’m feeling emotional right now,” Font said following the win.
“Once I hit him I felt him just give out. I just had to stay on top of him. I thought it went a little longer than it should have, but I’m not complaining.”
Anthony Pettis wins welterweight feature, plans lightweight return
In the featured bout on the preliminary fight card, former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis defeated Alex Morono in a welterweight bout During his post-fight interview, Pettis announced his intentions to return to the 155-pound weight class.
“I’m going back down to 55. I felt amazing at 170, but my goal is at 155. Before I’m all said and done, I want to go back and get that belt,” Pettis said.”
(Photos courtesy of UFC)
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