On Saturday, December 19th, the UFC will hold their final event of 2020 live from Las Vegas with UFC Fight Night 183: Thompson vs Neal also known as UFC Vegas 17 and UFC on ESPN+ 41.
The featured fight of the night is a Top 11 welterweight clash as the 5th ranked Stephen Thompson takes on the 11th ranked Geoff Neal. This was originally the co-main event, but the previously scheduled main event fight of Edwards vs Chimaev was cancelled due to a positive covid test.
Now, a Top 15 bantamweight bout of Jose Aldo vs Marlon “Chito” Vera will act as the co-main event of the night. A second Top 15 bantamweight contest will also be featured on the main card as #3 ranked Marlon Moraes takes on 11th ranked Rob Font.
Also on the main card are Michel Pereira vs Khaos Williams, Gillian Robertson vs Taila Santos, and a heavyweight battle between Marcin Tybura and Greg Hardy. In total, UFC Fight Night 183 has six fights scheduled for the main card with a 7PM ET start time on ESPN+.
UFC betting sites have released odds for the entire main card of UFC Fight Night 183. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine these odds, identify any potential value, and hit these predictions with a flying knee.
Marcin Tybura enters this heavyweight contest as the slight underdog. However, he’s won three straight fights and is now 7-5 inside the octagon.
Tybura’s last fight came in October when he defeated Ben Rothwell via unanimous decision. In fact, all three of his wins during this streak have come via unanimous decision.
13 of his 20 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 7-2 when going the distance.
Greg Hardy also enters this bout on a winning streak as he’s scored a victory in two straight contests. It was a nice bounce back from his loss to Alexander Volkov 13 months ago.
Hardy defeated Yorgan De Castro in May via unanimous decision and then scored a 2nd round TKO over Maurice Greene on Halloween. Six of his seven pro wins have come via TKO/KO. He’s 1-1 when going the distance.
This matchup is a compelling one as Tybura presents a challenge to Hardy that the former NFL player has yet to really experience. Tybura can strike at a range and also throw counter shots that are powerful enough to finish the fight.
For Hardy, he will need to apply the pressure, close the distance, and make this an ugly fight where he can rely on his power, physical, and athletic advantages.
I’m intrigued by this matchup. The winner could crack the Top 15. With that said, I am leaning towards Greg Hardy to win inside the distance (+130) and via TKO/KO (+135).
Tybura has four TKO/KO losses including his last three defeats. I believe he will hang in the proverbial phone booth for too long and Hardy’s power will put him down. Go with the Under 2.5 rounds as well (-145).
Marcin Tybura vs Greg Hardy –Hardy (-125)
Under 2.5 rounds (-145)
Fight doesn’t go the distance (-180)
Hardy wins via TKO/KO (+135)
Taila Santos vs Gillian Robertson
Taila Santos (-105)
Gillian Robertson (-115)
Over (-165)/Under (+145) 2.5 rounds
This women’s flyweight contest has the closest betting odds for the entire event. In fact, some online betting sites have these competitors at even odds.
For Taila Santos, she was supposed to fight at UFC on ESPN 19, but she couldn’t secure an opponent. At first, Santos was set to face Maryna Moroz, but she withdrew for unknown reasons.
Then, Montana De La Rosa agreed to step up on short notice to fight Santos. Once again, Taila’s opponent withdrew from the fight. However, this time it was due to De La Rosa testing positive for covid.
Santos last fought in July when she defeated Molly McCann via unanimous decision. It was an impressive performance where Santos dominated McCann.
It was also a nice bounce back win after Santos suffered the first pro loss of her career when she made her UFC debut in February 2019 to Mara Romero Borella via split decision.
Santos commented on her first two trips inside the octagon:
“Molly is a very good opponent and I was very nervous to fight her because of the situation: I was coming off a loss in a fight where I didn’t perform well, so I knew I needed a good win. Once it was done, I felt free to fight the way I really want. I’m not so worried about the outcome of the fight. Now I’m able to do what I want to do in the fight. Against Molly, I was able to only focus on the fight itself. I let everything else go.”
12 of her 16 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of TKO/KO. She’s 4-1 when going the distance.
Gillian Robertson was supposed to fight Andrea Lee at UFC 256, but that fight was scrapped due to Lee’s withdrawal. However, Robertson did fight last in October where she beat Poliana Botelho via decision. She also beat Cortney Casey via 3rd round submission in June.
For her career, Robertson now has six submission wins, which is the most in the women’s flyweight division. Yet, Robertson isn’t content to rest on her laurels as she wants to make this record unbreakable:
“I’m just trying to get these records to the point where no other girls can catch up. For most submissions, I think I have one more than most girls in the division. I’m trying to put that record way out of reach, so nobody can even get close to it.”
It’s a surprise that neither competitor is ranked in the Top 15 for the division. With that said, I expect the winner to get ranked.
For Robertson, she will look to get this fight to the mat where she can lock in a submission hold. For Santos, her goal is to use the striking skills and power that have already earned her 10 TKO/KO wins in her career.
Both women have a track record of finishing fights inside the distance, but I see this one going the full 15 rounds. Robertson went to a decision in her last contest, which was the first of her UFC career since joining the promotion over three years ago. Santos has three straight decision outcomes.
Once with the scorecards, I believe Santos will pick up the win. The Brazilian will be more active in the striking department, land more punches, and push the pace which should offset any potential takedowns from Robertson. Santos’ -105 odds to win, offer the best betting value.
Taila Santos vs Gillian Robertson –Santos (-105)
Over 2.5 rounds (-165)
Fight goes the distance (-150)
Santos wins via decision (+205)
Marlon Moraes vs Rob Font
Marlon Moraes (-150)
Rob Font (+130)
Over (-130)/Under (+110) 2.5 rounds
The 11th ranked Rob Font enters this bantamweight battle having won three of his last four fights including two in a row. Yet, he hasn’t fought in a year with his last bout being a decision win over Ricky Simon. Prior to that, he fought two years ago and beat Sergio Pettis via unanimous decision.
Font is 6-3 inside the octagon. 11 of his 17 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by TKO/KO. He’s 6-3 when going the distance.
Speaking on this fight, Font had the following comments about his opponent:
“You already know, he (Moraes) is a former champ, he just fought one of the tougher guys in the division in Cory Sandhagen, and he’s been there done that. I’m excited and I believe this fight will get me a number one contender slot or a bigger name after this. He wants to put on a show, he’s always looking for the big finish and I’ll bring the same.”
The #3 ranked Moraes is coming off a loss to Cory Sandhagen in October. It was the second loss in his last three fights as he also dropped a bout to Henry Cejudo in June 2019 via TKO in the 3rd round. Prior to that, Moraes had won four bouts in a row.
16 of his 23 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 7-1-1 when going the distance.
Moraes is out to prove that he’s turned things around since losing to Sandhagen as he hopes to get a big victory this weekend:
“On Saturday, I hope to come in and show everyone my ability to turn things around. He’s a tough guy, good at standing and on the ground, but I’m coming to be better in all areas. I want to be better in the three rounds, if I don’t have an opportunity to knock out or submit before. I want to dominate and bring victory without any challenge, quite the contrary, I want an undisputed victory.”
Rob Font is a solid fighter, but his style is perfect for Moraes. The former champ is a brutal Muay Thai fighter who will eat up Font’s straight forward kickboxing approach.
I expect this fight to end via stoppage as Moraes gets the TKO/KO win in Under 2.5 rounds (+110). Stick with Moraes’ moneyline of -150 odds for the best value.
Marlon Moraes vs Rob Font –Moraes (-150)
Under 2.5 rounds (+110)
Fight ends inside the distance (-105)
Moraes wins via TKO/KO (+335)
Kalinn Williams vs Michel Pereira
Kalinn Williams (+105)
Michel Pereira (-125)
Over (-125)/Under (+105) 1.5 rounds
This welterweight fight could be the most exciting bout on the entire card as it features two fighters who love to go for the knockout.
Kalinn “Khaos” Williams makes his 3rd trip inside the octagon, with all three coming in 2020. He started off the year with a 1st round KO over Alex Morono in 27 seconds. He followed that up with 30 second KO over Abdul Razak Alhassan in November.
Seven of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. He’s 4-1 when going the distance.
Now, Williams will go into a contest against an unorthodox fighter that will be looking to KO him. Williams had the following comments about Pereira:
“I look at it this way. The dude that I just fought [Abdul Razak Alhassan], he was more dangerous than the guy that’s in front of me. But I’ve never look past my opponents. I never bring a pillow to the fight. I never sleep on anybody. So I’m always in the gym. I’m always ready. No days off. Just like anybody else, if he does that against me; you can do that if you want to, but you’ve got to pay. Make sure when you’re doing all that your chin is protected. We going to test it out.”
Pereira comes into this fight having lost two of his last three bouts. Yet, the loss to Diego Sanchez in February was due to an illegal knee. He’s now 2-2 inside the octagon since making his debut in May 2019 with a 1st round KO over Danny Roberts.
He last fought in September and won via 3rd round TKO against Zelim Imadaev. 17 of his 24 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 6-8 when going the distance.
To further hammer home Pereira’s unique style, and being a showman, he made the following comments:
“I have 43 never repeated weird moves. There’s the neck slap, the fatality, the brutality, the mule kick. I can’t explain it. It’s really crazy and complicated. Sometimes I’m asleep thinking about it. Sometimes it’s during training or playing video games. I think it’s a God given gift, I’m sure. It’s like a singer who comes up with a song that goes on to become a hit.”
Pereira’s fights are always entertaining and this one shouldn’t be any different. I believe someone is going to pick up the TKO/KO win. As for the winner, I am going with Pereira.
I believe that ”Demolidor” will fight from a range and prove difficult for Williams to land his power shots due to Pereira’s footwork and head movements.
I see this bout going Over 1.5 rounds (-125), but ending inside the distance (-260). As for betting value, I would stick with one of the moneylines as this fight could go either way.
Kalinn Williams vs Michel Pereira –Pereira (-125)
Over 1.5 rounds (-125)
Fight ends inside the distance (-260)
Pereira wins inside the distance (+180)
Pereira wins via TKO/KO (+280)
Jose Aldo vs Marlon “Chito” Vera
Jose Aldo (-145)
Marlon “Chito” Vera (+125)
Over (-190)/Under (+165) 2.5 rounds
The co-main event of the night features the #7 ranked legend Jose Aldo taking on the #15 ranked Marlon “Chito” Vera.
For Vera, this will be the biggest fight of his career. As he’s been saying, he’s willing to die in the octagon to beat Aldo:
“I’m willing to hurt this guy and I’m willing to take it to win. I’m not gonna shy away and, like the samurais say, I’m accepting death in order to achieve victory. I’m not f*cking around with that. I’m coming and I’m coming in hot. That was my post when I announced the fight. I’m coming in red f*ckin’ hot.”
Vera can truly move up the rankings with a big win on Saturday. He broke into the Top 15 after derailing the Sean O’Malley hype train with a vicious 1st round TKO due to some nasty ground and pound. It was the 6th win in his last seven fights and a statement to the rest of the division.
This statement has given Vera confidence as he believes he will walk right through Aldo and finish him off. Yet, he still gives Aldo all the props due to his tremendous career.
14 of his 16 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by submission. He’s 2-6-1 when going the distance. Vera has never been stopped in a fight.
The great Jose Aldo enters this contest having lost three straight fights including a shot at the title in July when he fell via 5th round TKO to Petr Yan. Also came down from featherweight, but he has yet to get a win. In fact, Also is 2-5 in his last seven fights.
For his career, Aldo has seen 18 of his 28 pro wins come via stoppage with 17 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 10-2 when going to decision.
Aldo will go down as one of the P4P best fighters of all-time. But, it’s clear that his best days are behind him. In fact, there’s been calls for his retirement over the last year.
He was absolutely pummeled against Petr Yan and Alexander Volkanovksi. He’s no longer a legitimate contender, but more of a gatekeeper for fighters like Vera to break into the upper echelon.
Until Aldo proves he can still compete with the Top 15, I am going with the betting upset in Vera this weekend. This is the biggest fight of his career and one he has a decent shot at winning via unanimous decision. So, go with the Over 2.5 rounds (-190) as well.
Jose Aldo vs Marlon “Chito” Vera –“Chito” Vera (+125)
Over 2.5 rounds (-190)
Fight goes the distance (-195)
Vera wins via decision (+280)
Stephen Thompson vs Geoffrey Neal
Stephen Thompson (+100)
Geoffrey Neal (-120)
Over (+135)/Under (-155) 4.5 rounds
The main event of the night is a Top 11 welterweight clash between #5 Stephen Thompson and #11 Geoff Neal. Yet, it’s the higher ranked Thompson who’s the slight underdog for this bout.
For the second straight fight, Thompson is taking on a rising welterweight opponent. He last fought in November 2019 and defeated Vicente Luque via unanimous decision. Thompson commented on the similarities:
“This is very similar. Vicente Luque was on a seven-fight winning streak and Geoff Neal is undefeated in the UFC and knocking dudes out. He is heavy-handed and looks like a really strong welterweight. My opponent is a little taller and has a longer reach but they are stylistically very similar as well. I know Geoff Neal likes to throw that left high kick and if he touches you with it, you are going out. That is something I have to prepare for and that is what I’ve been preparing for.”
Thompson is 10-4-1 inside the octagon. He’s gone 2-3-1 in his last six fights. The two wins were over Vicente Luque and Jorge Masvidal in November 2017.
Eight of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 7-3-1 when going the distance.
Geoff Neal earned his UFC contract with a 1st round TKO win on DWCS in July 2015. Since then, he’s gone 5-0 inside the octagon with wins over Belal Muhammad, Niko Price, and Mike Perry. He last fought 12 months ago when he defeated Perry via 1st round TKO with a head kick.
Like his opponent, this will be Neal’s first fight of the year. The rising welterweight contender has dealt with heal issues most of the year after testing positive for covid and dealing with heart issues. He claims to be 100% healthy and ready for his fight against Thompson this weekend.
Neal had the following comments about his opponent:
“I don’t want to waste energy trying to take him down because he’s not an easy person to take down. It would be stupid for me to try to waste my energy taking him down and him getting up and then look at me, now I’m tired and his striking would flourish after that. So right now, I’m working on what I’m really good at and implementing that. And that’s punching people in the face.”
10 of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by TKO/KO. He’s 3-0 when going the distance. Neal has four finishes in his five UFC fights.
Thompson declares that he’s not a gatekeeper, but that’s exactly what the 37 year old is now. He’s no longer a legitimate title contender, but more of a gatekeeper for the Top 10 or Top 5.
The question is whether or not Thompson will hold of Neal’s rise into the Top 7 or fall victim to an explosive TKO/KO.
For Thompson, this will be his 5th UFC fight scheduled for five rounds. Neal has never competed in a five round bout before. However, I don’t see this bout going the full distance. There’s too much firepower for this matchup to go the full 25 minutes.
With that said, I like the Under 4.5 rounds (-155) and for the fight to end inside the distance (-155).
I see Neal eventually getting inside the range of Thompson and eventually landing the power shots that will finish off “Wonderboy” in the 3rd round.
Geoff Neal’s moneyline betting odds of -120 offers value. But, I like the fight to end inside the distance at -155 odds the best for this fight.
Stephen Thompson vs Geoffrey Neal –Neal (-120)
Under 4.5 rounds (-155)
Fight ends inside the distance (-155)
Neal wins inside the distance (+195)
Neal wins via TKO/KO (+190)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …