UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Jung
Saturday, December 19 – UFC Apex, Las Vegas
The headliner on the final UFC card of 2020 is a welterweight clash between the fifth-ranked Stephen Thompson and the 11th ranked Geoff Neal. This is a bout that will set the shape of the welterweight division as we move into 2021 and ‘Wonderboy’ has a tough opponent in Neal, a rising star who should push the 38-year-old two-time title challenger to his limits here.
Thompson last fought at the tail end of 2019 where he picked up his first win in three fights by outworking Vicente Luque. Neal is on quite the winning streak, having rattled off seven consecutive victories including five in a row in UFC. Unbeaten in the promotion, Neal last faced – and stopped – Mike Perry in stunning fashion at UFC 245 last December inside of 90 seconds.
‘Wonderboy’ has a style that has worked well for him over the years and he will try to maintain distance against Neal before moving in quickly to land strikes. Neal needs to counter this way of fighting by eating away at the space between the two – while being careful not to get caught on the way in – and if he can raise his game for the step up in competition then it will set him up nicely in the division. I like Neal to win as an up and coming fighter at 0.83 with BetXChange.
In the co-main there are a pair of bantamweights looking to make their way up the rankings in that division as the improving Marlon Vera takes on former featherweight king Jose Aldo. Aldo is looking for his place in the promotion after a weight year and a half that saw him end his featherweight time with a loss to current champ Alexander Volkanovski. He hit the ground running at his new weight, fighting Petr Yan in a contest to claim the bantamweight championship, which he also lost. On a three-fight losing streak, this is a massive fight for Aldo.
Vera is trending in the opposite direction to Aldo with a weird split decision defeat at the hands of Song Yadong standing in the way of him being undefeated in seven fights. His win over Sean O’Malley at UFC 252 drew a lot of attention his way and I like the up and comer to win this one in something of a shock.
The most fun fight on the card could well be Brazilian Michale Pereira fighting 2020 Newcomer of the Year contender Khaos Williams. Pereira has won two and lost two of his first four UFC fights, but his style – best described as unpredictable and wild – makes him a must watch. Wiliams has two fights on his UFC record that have resulted in two monster knockouts in a combined time of less than a minute. This could go either way, but the power of Williams is something to behold, and that gives him the edge against a fighter likely to walk into a finishing strike at any moment.