UFC Vegas 17 select fight betting preview. Thompson vs Neal

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We have reached the last card of 2020, and for a Fight Night, it is an exceptional one, and that is even after losing the originally scheduled main event. It is also a card that is solidly booked, as we still have 14 fights after three cancellations and are likely not at risk of the eight or ten fight cards that have plagued us of late. In addition to the main event, we have six others that could very reasonably be placed on the lower portion of a pay per view card, and this is a nice and exciting card for us as we head into a holiday hiatus.

Geoff Neal pick’em vs Stephen Thompson

Fight is five rounds at 170 lbs and is -155 to end inside the distance. 

This is a very nice fall back plan main event, and is a striker’s delight. Geoff Neal gets the caliber of opponent he was looking for, while Wonderboy Thompson gets a chance to re-enter the top of the division and get booked against another highly ranked opponent. Geoff Neal has devastating power as a striker and is forcing his way up through the rankings. This main event booking is well deserved and we have seen money come in on him over the course of the past week, pushing him to a slight favorite in spots, while he remains a dog in others. Neal’s most recent knockout win was over Mike Perry, who always seems to take damage, but is never finished. Neal’s KO marked the only time Perry was ever finished by strikes. We could also get Belal Muhammed and Niko Price to testify to the power of Neal, as they were victims in the octagon. Neal has a diversified striking arsenal and keeps solid volume, but make no mistake, he brings very real power. This will have to be a massive concern for Thompson, who was put out by a superman punch by Anthony Pettis just two fights ago, and it should be noted Pettis’ second most recent KO win was in 2013. A straight punch from Neal might pack the same power as the superman variety from Pettis. Thompson did bounce back soundly with an impressive decision win over Vincente Luque, and while Luque is a finisher, he does not bring the power that Neal brings. Thompson will continue to bring his very wide karate stance and rely on his high end kicking game. He also switches stances seamlessly which could require adjustments for Neal. Wonderboy was highly reluctant to engage Darren Till in their main event matchup. In that case, we would not see that volume edge. In any event, my lean is that Wonderboy will be unable to survive 25 minutes of the Neal power. Wonderboy does not bring the same finishing ability and would be much more likely to have his hand raised via decision. With Neal likely not being the fighter to pull a decision win and much more likely to sleep another opponent, his ITD line of +195 is the most attractive betting avenue in the fight. 

The Line Movement MMA Betting Show

Jose Aldo -150 vs Marlon Vera

Fight is at 135 lbs and is +150 to end inside the distance. 

This co-main event bears some similarity to last week’s co-main event, as Marlon “Chito” Vera is finally getting the spike in competition he’s earned, much like Charles Oliveira last week. While I do not believe Chito should be favored in this matchup nor do I believe he will fully run through his opponent like do Bronx did last week, I do believe it should be something around a pick’em fight. I think we will see a feeling out process where leg kicks are traded to start the fight, and that particular game is one that Chito is unlikely to win at. He is at risk of overselling his own low leg kicking game after the damage done to Sean O’Malley in his last fight, that set up his finish, and that would be a mistake. Aldo would have the leg of Chito damaged before he knew it, and that would severely compromise him for the remainder of the fight. Moving on from that feeling out process sooner than later will be necessary. While Chito has had a grappling advantage in many of his previous fights, I think that edge is marginal, if it exists at all in this matchup and he will likely have to get the job done striking. Where I think Chito may decide the fight one way or the other, is eventually feeling the power of Aldo, and completely deciding that he can take it. What this would bring as the fight progresses, we will cumulatively see Chito walk Aldo down. He will attempt to initiate some pocket wars and clinching where I believe Chito would have an advantage. Chito has high end durability and that could very well be the determining factor of this fight, as he eats shots to pass out better ones, but it truly is a well made and close matchup. There is slight value on Vera in the betting line, but this is not a fight that has any betting avenue to bring a high degree of confidence. 

Michel Pereira -125 vs Khaos Williams

Fight is at 170 lbs and -260 to end inside the distance. 

This fight is going to be wild. Williams is currently 2-0 in the promotion with a combined 57 seconds of fight time. He clearly has wild finishing power and we will get another opportunity to see if an opponent can take it, or at least stretch the fight out to see how well that power carries later in a fight. Michel Pereira is his own worst enemy thus far in the UFC. He is 2-2, but his two losses have come via decision after expending too much energy on flashiness. He brings explosive power as well, and he will be the more technically sound fighter, assuming he comes to fight instead of showboating. He did come for business in his last fight, which resulted in a impressive finish win, be we sadly never know which version we are going to get. I would deem Pereira the more likely to win the longer the fight progresses, but make no mistake: either fighter is quite capable of turning the lights out on the other at any given time. If we did see wrestling and grappling to try to gain an opponent’s gas tank, I believe it would come from Pereira, but I also deem that unlikely as I believe both fighters want the flash highlight win and won’t come looking for anything less. With that being the case, my ever so slight lean would be to the Pereira side, but playing a side in this fight may well be a fool’s errand. The best play in this fight is laying a little more juice than is generally comfortable, and taking the fight to end ITD at -260. 

Greg Hardy -120 vs Marcin Tybura

Fight is at heavyweight and is -150 to end inside the distance. 

Drawing another comparison to last week’s card, this fight is not unlike Gane vs Dos Santos, except there is a massive discount on the price in comparison. We do not have to lay over -400 on Hardy, and instead we are just a tick north of a pick em price. Tybura’s chin held up in his last fight against Ben Rothwell, but I still do not believe him to be a durable fighter. Somehow Tybura has managed to dodge most of the truly powerful strikers in the heavyweight division, despite being a part of it since 2016 and has accumulated 12 fights. He very much has a trend of his results being the reciprocal of his opponents power. He has been KO’d by fighters like Derrick Lewis, Shamil Abdurakhimov and Augusto Sakai. Two of his wins have been against blown up 205 pounders and simply finds more success when his chin is not tested. Hardy is a fighter that will absolutely test his chin, as I believe only Lewis is comparable to Hardy from a power perspective among Tybura’s previous opponents. Hardy certainly remains a villain in the minds of many, but there is little room to argue that he has not truly progressed as a fighter. The only worry for Hardy in this fight will be defending a takedown or two, as he will be the larger, stronger fighter, and will certainly be the fighter threatening a finish on the feet. It will only take a shot or two to see Tybura wilt, but we may see Hardy content to sit back and keep Tybura off his legs and keep the fight standing at all costs. Combine that with the fact that Hardy’s ITD line offers little added value over his flat line, playing Hardy flat at -120 is one of the most sound wagers on the card. 

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