Wonderboy takes the decision against Neal
Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson ended the final UFC fight of 2020 with a convincing unanimous decision win over Geoff Neal (50-45×3). Thompson won all five rounds by all three judges with the 37-year-old looking to push towards another title charge in the new year and finally looking to claim the welterweight title he has so desperately been looking to gain in his career.
The bout was originally set to serve as a three-round co-main event to Edwards vs Chimaev which was cancelled due to Covid 19 contractions, but the extended bout helped prove that the UFC veteran’s career is not done just yet.
The first round saw Wonderboy looking calm and composed, using a series of hooks well and attempting multiple spinning back kicks that his karate style of fighting is so famous for. Neal was more reluctant to strike and failed to catch Wonderboy when he did, although the two fighters did start bleeding before the round ended through a clash of heads that paused the contest for a brief moment.
At the start of the second, Neal went straight into clinch position after failing to win the first striking exchange. However, Thompson escaped from it quickly and continued to land a number of one-two combinations that opened a gash above Neal’s right eye. Wonderboy looked sharp and quick to avoid the counter-attack from Neal which the 30-year-old failed to do as a result of the former welterweight contenders’ illusiveness that he showed throughout the first ten minutes.
The third round was a similar theme with Neal again beginning with engaging in clinch work and managed to land a couple of knees to Wonderboy’s leg. Thompson brushed it off and again swiftly escaped early on, landing more technical combinations on the feet which were taking its toll on Neal despite now managing to connect with a couple of hard jabs himself. Nevertheless, it was clear that the fight was heading in only one direction at this point.
The penultimate round of the fight was again a repeat of previous rounds, Neal not having much success in the clinch and Wonderboy unloading a range of shots that were causing damage and having him well ahead on points. With the final round heavily in Wonderboy’s favour, it set up the best round of the bout where Neal knew he had nothing to lose.
Both men were involved in a slugfest, landing hooks to the head with Thompson now presenting an eye wound of his own. That being said, he showed his durability to see out the win in what was Wonderboy’s first fight in 2020. Neal ends his seven-fight win streak but will no doubt bounce back against the division’s elite in the near future.
Aldo back in the win column with first bantamweight win over Vera
Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo won his first fight for almost two years, defeating Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera in the co main event of the evening by unanimous decision (29-28×3). Vera was coming into the fight after his TKO win over highly touted UFC youngster Sean O’Malley, whilst Aldo was looking to make amends after a failed title attempt against Petr Yan last summer.
Chito started the first round with some good leg kicks that connected cleanly, but Aldo fought back to land some brutal body shots straight into the core of Vera. Aldo himself landed a couple of big leg kicks, a trait that was so feared by opponents when the Brazilian was the pound for pound number one earlier on in his career.
In the second, Aldo was coming out on top of the striking exchanges with some clean combinations and an uppercut that landed on Vera. Chito recognised the work Aldo was doing on the feet and attempted a couple of takedowns which were defended well. A couple of knees to the body in the clinch from Vera worked well to break up the striking of the Brazilian, but Aldo was looking in great shape to avoid damage and lead on points.
The final round saw Aldo switch up what we saw from him in the first rounds, as he got an early body lock on Vera and took the fight to the ground. Aldo’s dominance in back position had him in control on the mat, even when Vera returned to his feet and tried to slam Aldo down. The Brazilian held control and frustrated Chito who struggled in the crucial round. Aldo’s great wrestling skills earned him the round and subsequently the fight where afterwards he called out former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw who is due to return from suspension early next year.
Rest of the card
Michel Pereira was able to defeat Khaos Williams via unanimous decision (29-28×3) in what was a stylistic matchup that lived up to its billing. Both men have been known to have exciting fight styles and that proved to be the case when Williams connected with a head kick in the first few minutes that Pereira ate well.
The Brazilian returned with some brutal hooks of his own in the fight, including a vicious takedown that caught Williams by surprise. The fight was well in the balance going into the final stages of the bout, but the grappling advantage that Pereira gained seemed to sway the judges in his favour. Williams snaps an eight-fight win streak going 2-1 in 2020.
Rob Font secured a huge career win against Marlon Moraes by TKO in the first round in what was the most surprising result of the night. Font came into the fight as the underdog to the number three bantamweight contender Moraes, and was taken down by the Brazilian right away who took control in top mount.
Font managed to escape back to his feet after a couple of minutes of control by Moraes, and was suddenly struck with a couple of shots to the head which rocked the Brazilian and caused him to stumble. Font smelt blood and went for the kill by unloading more shots to Moraes in which he dropped to the canvas. Referee Marc Goddard stepped in to halt the contest, taking Font to a record of 18-4.
In the pick of the preliminary fights, former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis defeated Alex Moreno by unanimous decision (29-28×3). The fight was taken to the ground early on with Moreno in back mount and in control, but Pettis won the exchanges on the feet which edged the win for him and makes it two victories on the spin.
Meanwhile, a spectacular flying triangle choke from Jimmy Flick was enough to make Cody Durden tap in the first round of their flyweight bout. It was so impressive and bizarre that it could be a very late contender for submission of the year.