Stephen Thompson vs. Geoff Neal
Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 10:00 PM (UFC APEX)
The Line: Geoff Neal -118 / Stephen Thompson -102 -- Over/Under: Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
Stephen Thompson and Geoff Neal fight Saturday in UFC Vegas 17 at the UFC APEX.
Stephen Thompson enters this fight with a 15-4-1 record and has won 47 percent of his fights by knockout. Thompson has split his last eight fights and is coming off a November (2019) win over Vicente Luque. Thompson is averaging 3.93 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 44 percent. Thompson is averaging 0.36 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 45 percent. Thompson is coming off a decision win at UFC 244 where he landed 138 total strikes and 57 percent of his significant strikes. The victory earned fight of the night honors, and Thompson now looks for back-to-back wins for the first time since 2016. Thompson is a well conditioned striker who is very polished defensively, almost never taking clean shots from his opponent and has only been finished once in his career. Thompson has a deep kickboxing background where he produced a 58-0 record, and he follows up those kicks with clean shots to the head that often turn the fight. A brown belt in BJJ, Thompson is simply one of the more solid welterweights in the sport and is somebody who doesn’t beat himself when he steps into the octagon. Thompson has won seven of his 10 career decisions, and his fundamentals are on point, giving him a chance to beat anybody you put in front of him. This will be Thompson’s eighth career fight in Las Vegas.
Geoff Neal enters this fight with a 13-2 record and has won 62 percent of his fights by knockout. Neal has won each of his last seven fights and is coming off a December (2019) win over Mike Perry. Neal is averaging 6.04 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 49 percent. Neal is averaging 0.85 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 50 percent. Neal is coming off a first round knockout at UFC 245 where he landed 15 total strikes. Neal is now 6-0 under the UFC banner and hasn’t lost a fight overall in nearly four years. Neal is primarily a standup striker with powerful hands and has been a knockout artist since his amateur days. Neal puts together combinations nice and clean, and he also has a kicking ability that put Frank Camacho to sleep in devastating fashion. A blue belt in BJJ, Neal has also defended takedowns at a very high level up to this point, so he’s forcing guys to fight his fight, and he’s going to be very comfortable as long as he can stay on his feet. This will be Neal’s third career fight in Las Vegas.
This should be a fun fight between two stand up strikers with impressive takedown defense. The difference for me is that Neal is sharper with his hands, as he puts together combinations cleaner and his southpaw stance can be tricky and make his opponent uncomfortable. Neal also has an advantage with his BJJ and his better in the clinch, which will be key in this fight given Thompson’s kicking ability. Neal wants to close the distance and that should be easier in a smaller cage.
I like Neal to keep the winning steak intact.