The UFC has put on 11 top quality PPV cards in 2019 so far. UFC 245, which takes place on Saturday, will mark the 12th and final one of the year. The card is arguably the most stacked of the year, it is only the fifth event in UFC history to hold three title fights and the two fights on the main card that aren’t title fights are also outstanding high stakes matchups.
The depth of exciting match-ups does not stop at the main card, the prelims and early prelims hold sensational bouts involving top contenders, seasoned veterans and young UFC newcomers. Here we are going to take a detailed look at the featured bout of the prelims involving number 14 ranked welterweight contender Geoff Neal and the formerly ranked ever-exciting contender Mike Perry.
As one of the more outspoken and unique characters on the UFC roster, Mike Perry has been entertaining fans inside and outside the cage ever since his UFC debut back in August 2016. He is a wild man, and although his brashness in the media has got him in trouble before it’s safe to say that he is a popular and treasured character within the MMA world.
Saturday will mark Perry’s third UFC appearance of 2019, both of his previous bouts this year against Alex Oliveira and Vicente Luque have won the fight of the night awards. He holds a pro record of 13-5 (6-5 in the UFC) and is coming off a split decision loss to Vicente Luque. Personally, I think he won that, along with many fans. He broke his nose in brutal fashion as he took a knee straight to it in the very late stages of the fight, he has since received surgery to deal with that and the nose is all healthy according to him.
Geoff “Handz of Steel” Neal came onto the big stage in July 2017 when he impressed the UFC by getting a TKO win on Dana White’s Contender Series. Since then it has been nothing but positives for Neal, as he has gone 4-0 since that night when the UFC signed him with three of his wins coming by stoppage. His work so far has earned him the 14th spot in the UFC welterweight rankings. Neal has had multiple fights at middleweight outside of the UFC, and even his contender series finish took place at middleweight. However, he is clearly a natural 170lb fighter which has shown so far.
Like his opponent (Mike Perry), Neal has fought twice this year, getting a unanimous decision victory over Belal Muhammad in January on the first card of the year, along with a 2nd round TKO finish over Niko Price back at UFC 240 in August. Neal has only recently quit his part-time job as a waiter thanks to the $50,000 performance of the night bonus he earned after his last win, which he feels will help him focus fully on fighting and training.
The Stylistic Matchup of Perry vs Neal:
This fight has all the makings of a fight of the night, it is the classic matchup of a clean, crisp and technical striker whose aim is to hit and not get hit, facing the less technical but more gritty and extremely durable brawler, who has no objection to taking a shot in order to give one. I feel like in this case, based on resumes, the matchup favours Neal, hence why he is coming in as the betting favourite.
They have both fought fairly similar styles to each other. For example, Geoff Neal has faced Frank Camacho, Niko Price, and Belal Muhammad in his last three outings, and in my opinion, all three of them have the same fighting attitude and perform in a similar way that Perry does. Perry has had some success against the solid technical strikers too, dragging them into his game as he did with Felder and Danny Roberts. However, on numerous occasions, the more fluent striker has managed to stay out of a firefight with him and pick him off as Santiago Ponzinibbio did.
One attribute that is vital to Perry’s game is his durability and toughness. He has an iron chin and has never been finished by knockout or TKO. However, this will not stop Neal from looking for the finishing blows. The main weapons on each side are the straight lefts down the middle for Neal and the winging hooks for Perry. It’s not just a battle of who can get these off first, it’s a battle of footwork and ability to set these strikes up. Neal has shown a great fight IQ, especially in the Camacho fight where he read the head movement of Camacho and timed a sensational head kick for the knockout. In order for him to land the left hand against Perry, he will have to take the outside foot which with Perry’s stubbornness will take a lot of feints, then when he has space, he can let off the jab then left hand or lead uppercut then left hand.
For Perry to stop this, he has to pressure constantly and cut off the cage. When he can take control of the centre and get Neal backing up, that’s when he can blitz with the hooks. Leg kicks are a valuable asset to use on both sides for this fight I feel, more so for Neal as it will take away the pressure and they will naturally work better on the boxing heavy style of Mike Perry as well as them setting up an opening for the head kick. Both have got great heart and an iron will to win fights. I will not be surprised if both men get off big shots in this fight and both have to battle adversity hence why it has fight of the night potential written all over it. I can not wait for Saturday to see this and every other fight on the card go down.
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