In the promotion’s final event of the year, originally slated to take co-main event status, a welterweight pairing of two-time title challenger, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and rising contender, Geoff ‘Handz of Steel’ Neal round out 2020 for the organization in a five-round headliner.
Making his first Octagon appearance since UFC 244 in November of last year ar Madison Square Garden, Thompson looks to improve on an impressive unanimous decision win over Vicente Luque over three frames, as he tackles fellow striking ace, Fortis MMA staple, Neal.
It’s a battle of two of the most technical strikers at 170-pounds today, with Wonderboy’s karate-bouncing style pitted opposite a traditional kickboxing flow of Sayif Saud product, Neal — who has knocked back five contenders in a row on his way to tonight’s first main event outing.
Neal, an alum of Dana White’s Contender Series most recently made an Octagon walk at UFC 245 in December last, stopping the outspoken, ‘Platinum’ Mike Perry with a high-kick followed by strikes in the opening-round. It’s a battle of striking styles tonight, with the victor emerging on the cusp of a potential title-eliminator next.
Promoted to the co-headliner as a result of Thompson and Neal’s reworked pairing, former UFC feathrweight kingpin, Jose Aldo ‘Jr.’ looks to snap a three-fight slide and nab his first win at bantamweight since his division move at the end of last year. Dropping a close split decision loss to one-time title challenger, ‘Magic’ Marlon Moraes, Aldo still competed for undisputed vacant bantamweight spoils against Petr ‘No Mercy’ Yan in July at UFC 251, dropping a late ground-and-pound loss.
Standing across from the Manaus favourite is streaking bantamweight contender, Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera. A winner of six-straight at 135-pounds, the Ecuadorian finisher last featured at UFC 252 in August in another co-main event slot, finishing ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley late in the opening-round with strikes, after he connected with a damaging calf kick which exacerbated a prior leg injury.
UFC Vegas 17 Results: Thompson vs. Neal
Main Card (ESPN+ 7 p.m. ET)
Welterweight: Stephen Thompson def. Geoff Neal via unanimous decision (50-45 x3)
Bantamweight: Jose Aldo def. Marlon Vera via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Welterweight: Michel Pereira def. Khaos Williams via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Bantamweight: Rob Font def. Marlon Moraes via first-round (3:49) TKO (Punches)
Heavyweight: Marcin Tybura def. Greg Hardy via second-round (4:31) TKO (ground-and-pound)
Preliminary Card (ESPN+ 4 p.m. ET)
Welterweight: Anthony Pettis def. Alex Morono via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Bantamweight: Pannie Kianzad def. Sijara Eubanks via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Catchweight (195-pounds): Deron Winn def. Antonio Arroyo via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Flyweight: Taila Santos def. Gillian Robertson via unanimous decision (30-26 x2, and 29-28)
Middleweight: Tafon Nchukwi def. Jamie Pickett via unanimous decision (30-25, and 30-26 x2)
Flyweight: Jimmy Flick def. Cody Durden via first-round (3:18) submission (flying-triangle)
Catchweight: Christos Giagos def. Carlton Minus via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-27, and 29-28)