After an absolute roller coaster of a year, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) limps across the 2020 finish line this Saturday (Dec. 19, 2020) with a bevy of intriguing match ups. In UFC Vegas 17’s main event, Geoff Neal attempts to continue his rise through the Welterweight ranks against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, while Jose Aldo looks for his first-ever Bantamweight victory against division stalwart Marlon Vera. UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, also hosts a Welterweight slobber knocker pitting Michel Pereira against Khaos Williams and a clash between Bantamweight contenders Marlon Moraes and Rob Font.
It’s been an interesting ride to say the least, Maniacs ... now let’s see if we can’t somehow end 2020 on a high note.
What Went Wrong at UFC 256?
Well, Virna Jandiroba almost pulled it off. Despite winning the second round against Mackenzie Dern and starting the third strong, she ultimately faded down the stretch, resulting in a loss. Taking it easy this week would ensure a greater overall profit than last year, but where’s the fun in that? Let’s get dangerous ...
UFC Vegas 17 Odds For The Under Card:
Taila Santos (-115) vs. Gillian Robertson (-105)
Sijara Eubanks (-160) vs. Pannie Kianzad (+140)
Karl Roberson (-255) vs. Dalcha Lungiambula (+215)
Antonio Arroyo (-155) vs. Deron Winn (+135)
Drako Rodriguez (-190) vs. Aiemann Zahabi (+165)
Tafon Nchukwi (-300) vs. Jamie Pickett (+250)
Jimmy Flick (-150) vs. Cody Durden (+130)
Rick Glenn (-325) vs. Carlton Minus (+265)
Thoughts: Pannie Kianzad looks like a decent underdog investment, while Jimmy Flick is an undervalued favorite.
Betting on Kianzad is 50 percent the product of actual critical thinking and 50 percent to see if my complete inability to predict a Eubanks fight proves chronic. Kianzad has strong takedown defense and good combination punching which Bethe Correia used to upset Eubanks three fights back.
It’s worth a shot, at least.
Though Cody Durden is a better wrestler than Flick, he’s woefully out-gunned when it comes to the actual ground game. Flick’s submission skills are top of the line, and Durden is so reliant on his takedowns that he’ll inevitably wind up in a doomed grappling exchange with the far more experienced “Brick.”
Bank on it.
UFC Vegas 17 Odds For The Main Card:
Geoff Neal (-120) vs. Stephen Thompson (EVEN)
Jose Aldo (-145) vs. Marlon Vera (+125)
Michel Pereira (-125) vs. Khaos Williams (+105)
Marlon Moraes (-145) vs. Rob Font (+125)
Greg Hardy (-120) vs. Marcin Tybura (EVEN)
Anthony Pettis (-230) vs. Alex Morono (+190)
Thoughts: Now here’s where the meat is. Stephen Thompson, Michel Pereira, Marcin Tybura and Anthony Pettis are worth your attention.
Geoff Neal is a massively promising contender with wins over some very capable Welterweights. He also hasn’t fought in a year, is coming off a bout of congenital heart failure, and is facing the best striker he’s ever seen. “Wonderboy” still has something left in the tank, and I like him to win a competitive kickboxing battle.
Pereira’s dominant win over Zelim Imadaev was as close to a masterclass as you can get, and as dangerous as Williams has proven himself to be, “Demolidor’s” size, strength, striking variety and ground game look like solid counters to his power brawling. In short, don’t go crazy — Pereira’s anything but reliable — but put a bit down.
Tybura turned in one of his best performances to date against Ben Rothwell, and if he shows that kind of form again, he’s way too much for Hardy. “Tybur” figures to have the edge in both the wrestling and the technical kickboxing. On the flip side, Hardy’s got enough pop to theoretically crack Tybura’s chin; however, he’ll struggle to get his offense going with the threat of Tybura’s ground game dangling over his head.
From where I’m sitting, Alex Morono looks tailor-made for Anthony Pettis. Sure, Pettis doesn’t belong at Welterweight, but he’s the better striker by a huge margin and has the chin to shrug off Morono’s haymakers. Plus, Morono’s a sufficiently poor wrestler that Pettis shouldn’t have an issue unleashing his kicks.
UFC Vegas 17 Best Bets:
- Single bet — Pannie Kianzad: Bet $40 to make $56
- Parlay — Jimmy Flick and Anthony Pettis: Bet $50 to make $69.50
- Single bet — Marcin Tybura: Bet $40 to make $40
- Single bet — Stephen Thompson: Bet $50 to make $50
- Parlay — Michel Pereira and Anthony Pettis: Bet $40 to make $63.20
There are definitely worse ways to cap off this mess of a year. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 17 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 17: “Thompson vs. Neal” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.