Well, we’re here folks. A time I never thought we’d be able to reach, but it’s the end of 2020 and we have one final UFC show, UFC Vegas 17. A card that seemed on fire and a banger to end the year have lost out on 2 fights with Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad, both testing positive for that wretched COVID-19. COVID-19 has been the biggest buzzkill when it comes to fights being canceled each time. But COVID-19 has blessed other stars, like Leon Edward’s opponent, Khamzat “Borz” Chimaev. The Swedish fighter who went from unknown to the baddest mother flipper in the octagon, all because he destroyed his opponent, then got 5 minutes of interview time and talked about “smeshing” all his opponents’ anytime, anywhere. Many like him have reaped the rewards of the post-pandemic era of UFC. UFC Vegas 17 has some matchups that are just too good to not watch on a Saturday night. Here is the UFC Vegas 17 main card that will be on ESPN+. It’s the finale for the year, and boy it got some finesse and action.
Alex Morono vs Anthony Pettis
Well, it’s been 10 years since we saw the once-in-a-lifetime “Showtime Kick”. Within that time span, Pettis became world champ, lost his belt, and fought some great fights with Ferguson, Diaz, Wonderboy (who’s the headliner for this card and who he KO’d via superman punch off the cage). The biggest question for Pettis when he fights in UFC Vegas 17? What is left for him? Just like Tony, this is a crossroads fight for Pettis. If he loses, I could see Anthony Pettis joining the 60 men/women who will be cut from the UFC. As for his opponent Morono, now is the best chance for him to put his name out there by beating a well-known and savvy veteran in Anthony Pettis on UFC Vegas 17.
Greg Hardy vs Marcin Tybura
Greg Hardy has officially become an MMA athlete. He is coming off a 2-win fight streak while facing Tybura, who recently beat longtime veteran, Ben “Evil Laugh” Rothwell via UD. This fight in my opinion will allow either guy to break into the Heavyweight rankings. Hardy’s last loss came to Volkov, who is currently ranked #6. Even though Hardy lost, it was a major boost for his stock, since he was considerably new to the sport, took the fight on short notice, and he went the distance against someone who had the tools to finish him. Tybura has the chance to put a pause on the Hardy Hype Train. With a win, he can slowly start his climb up the rankings. UFC Vegas 17 will show us which Heavyweight will cave and who will start their ascension towards a title run.
Marlon Moraes vs Rob Font
After watching the first round of the UFC 238’s Main Event, I thought we were on our way to see another Brazilian champion since 2015 with Werdum and Dos Anjos. But fate is a cruel mistress. Now, Marlon Moraes is 1-2 (really 0-3), with losses to Sandhagen and Cejudo. He also “won” a split decision against Jose Aldo (also fighting in this card, and who managed to get a title shot off his “loss”). Rob Font comes in from the rising MMA stable known as the “New England Cartel”, with teammate Calvin Kattar. Font hasn’t fought in 2020, and his last appearance was over a year ago with a win over Ricky Simon. Font will try to continue his gym’s success with a win over a faltering Marlon Moraes. Font can put himself in the title picture with a win over Moraes and could possibly fight Sandhagen, barring any losses. Moraes honestly is fighting for his job, another loss could put him on the chopping block.
Michel Pereira vs Khaos Williams
OH, YEAH. My personal fight of the night for this UFC Vegas 17 card — two forms of chaos meeting each other. One with finesse. One with pure power and might. Chaos vs Khaos. Now Pereira cannot be fighting Khaos like he did hands down with his previous opponent. Khaos Williams needs one shot and he can end your night. But the chaotic style of Michel will be a maze for Khaos to figure out where he needs to land the fight-changing shot. While Pereira uses chaotic strikes to puzzle his opponents, Khaos Williams uses his brutal chaotic power to end the night quickly. The key point in this fight is who will control the pace and who will have octagon control time. Hard to pick a winner when all you want to see is an all-out war.
Jose Aldo vs Marlon Vera
MMA in December has had a common theme. Fighters facing crossroads. Jose Aldo is obviously in the tail-end of his career. The fact that he is 3-6 in his last 9 bouts (1-4 in championship bouts), and that he got his last title shot off a loss, it’s fair enough to say that if he loses in this UFC Vegas 17, that Jose Aldo’s time in the UFC could be coming to an end. He could be one of the many names in the 60-man roster cut. Marlon Vera on the other hand, super-hot after shocking the world with a 1st round TKO of Sean O’Malley, looks to continue his path to a title shot. It seems that a win over Aldo, who was the previous challenger for the belt, will enter Vera into the next #1 Contender’s bout for the 135 lbs. division. Old Guard Vs. New Guard. A tale as old as time. The co-main event has a rich story behind it and honestly can’t wait to see who comes out on top.
Stephen Thompson vs. Geoff Neal
The new main event of UFC Vegas 17, formerly the co-main event, is a fight where a veteran of the sport is looking to show that he is indeed no gatekeeper and that the young up-and-comer has a tough challenge ahead of him. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson has got 1 last title shot left in him. And that’s why he took on the Geoff “Hands of Steel” Neal fight instead of the Khamzat Chimaev fight. The Chimaev fight had too much downside for Thompson to agree on, while Neal is a ranked opponent, who’s proved that he belongs in the division. Geoff Neal is a brawler while Stephen Thompson is a precision kickboxer and counter-striker. With Wonderboy being the first legitimately-ranked opponent that he’s fighting, it seems to me that Wonderboy might be too big of a jump in competition for the KO specialist. I think we see another Wonderboy/Luque-type performance where Neal will be outgunned and outperformed by Thompson. And after watching Neal in his last bouts, it seems he is more than happy to lay it on the line and fall on his sword.
As the year ends, we should be thankful to Dana White, the UFC, and it’s fighters & staff for providing us with entertainment during a difficult and trying time. 2020 has been one crazy year but knowing what is set up for 2021 in the UFC world, I cannot be anything but excited for UFC Vegas 17. Wishing everyone a happy holiday and that everyone stays safe during these auspicious times.
Full UFC Vegas 17: Stephen Thompson vs. Geoff Neal fight card
UFC Vegas 17 Main Card (7 p.m. ET)
- Stephen Thompson vs. Geoff Neal
- Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Vera
- Michel Pereira vs. Khaos Williams
- Marlon Moraes vs. Rob Font
- Marcin Tybura vs. Greg Hardy
- Anthony Pettis vs. Alex Morono
UFC Vegas 17 Preliminary Card (4 p.m. ET)
- Sijara Eubanks vs. Pannie Kianzad
- Deron Winn vs. Antonio Arroyo
- Tafon Nchukwi vs. Jamie Pickett
- Rick Glenn vs. Carlton Minus
- Gillian Robertson vs. Taila Santos
- Jimmy Flick vs. Cody Durden
Featured Images Credits to Embed from Getty Images
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