Last night (Sat., Dec. 19, 2020), UFC remained in the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 17. The final event of 2020 was in some ways a great representation of the last few months, given its replacement main event and fight week cancellations. However, UFC clearly has learned something, as the original card featured an absurd number of fights, leaving a talent-rich and appropriately lengthy night of combat for fight fans.
Let’s take a closer look at the slickest techniques and best performances:
Wonderboy Does It Again
37-year-old former title contenders are not supposed to style on up-and-coming knockout artists.
Yet, for the second time in two fights, Stephen Thompson did exactly that. Sure, he ate a few good punches along the fence of the UFC APEX’s smaller Octagon, but even when put in that vulnerable position, “Wonderboy” still stuck his opponent with quick jabs and counter shots before skirting back to the center.
Geoff Neal did not have an answer for Thompson. Very few men do. Perhaps it’s time Thompson is allowed to make one last run at the belt?
An Efficient Win
Jose Aldo’s victory over Marlon Vera was not amazing. There were great moments, to be sure, namely his first-round rib-roasting and low-kicking. However, the former champion did slow down a bit in the latter half of the second round. Though he still arguably won the round, the situation was uncertain heading into the third.
It hardly mattered how one scored the second. Aldo wasted no time in ducking under a punch and sneaking to the back mount, where he spent almost the full five minutes. “Chito” was outraged at being denied his chance to rally, frustrated by his inability to escape. It wasn’t fun to watch, but Aldo secured a clear win as a result.
What more can we ask from the all-time great? Go watch WEC highlights if you want to see a hungry up-and-comer throw caution to the wind. 2020 Aldo aimed to win, and he did just that.
Rob Font Returns
It’s been just over a year since Rob Font last stepped into the Octagon, but he made up for lost time.
Font came out aggressive, and Marlon Moraes was not here for it, promptly ducking into a picture-perfect double leg and securing top position. Font was active in mitigating damage and working back up to his feet, but he still spent a lot of time on his back before finally escaping to open space.
After grappling exchanges, most fighters take a moment to loosen up before stepping forward to trade. Font skipped that step and fired off a three-punch combination, which caught Moraes off-guard and stunned him. Font attacked, and soon Moraes was unconscious on the floor.
It’s a tremendous win for Font, but it’s hard not to focus on Moraes’ skid as well. The man was just destroying contenders en route to his title shot, and now he’s arguably lost four straight bouts. I don’t know what happened to “Magic,” but things are simply not going well.
MMA Is Complicated
A strong athlete can make gains quickly in MMA.
Such is the case with Greg Hardy, who is stronger and more powerful than the majority of his peers. As such, Hardy’s physical gifts have afforded him a great deal of leeway, an ability to find success while his skills catch up.
For the first round, it seemed like the Hardy experiment was really working. His hands were quicker and sharper than ever before, and he generally touched Marcin Tybura up. Tybura doesn’t lose to scrubs; a victory would have been the best of his career and a vindicating win at that.
However, there’s more to fighting than crisp right hands. Tybura upped the pressure in the second, and his foe’s gas tank suffered. Once taken down, Hardy revealed that his ground game is simply nonexistent and was quickly finished.
Gains can be made, but it’s still a long journey to become a top-tier UFC fighter.
The Flashiest Veteran
When Anthony Pettis ran off the cage and kicked Benson Henderson in the face a decade ago, he was one of the most stylish young fighters on the planet. “Showtime” oozed flashiness and swagger, as he relied on high-risk techniques more than even his strong fundamentals to pick up wins.
That’s no longer the case. Against an aggressive and opportunistic Alex Morono, Pettis could not offer his foe opportunities. In fact, when he tried to open the fight with a jumping switch kick, Morono punched him in the face, took his back, and won the first round as a result — reaffirming that it was not 2010 anymore.
Fortunately, Pettis has been adjusting his style. He won the second round by circling and flicking his left hand into the jaw. It wasn’t flashy, but it was effective work. In the deciding final frame, Pettis reversed a takedown attempt and hung out in full guard for a majority of the round.
Yet, “Showtime” is not dead. He still managed to land a gorgeous wheel kick in the closing minute of the fight, nearly finishing his opponent. Pettis may no longer be a championship-caliber hotshot, but even the veteran version is worth-watching.
- Jimmy Flick defeats Cody Durden via first-round triangle choke: Flick is simply a lethal grappler. Durden was largely winning the fight, landing the harder shots on the feet and even doing some good work on the mat opposite the jiu-jitsu black belt. When Flick timed a head kick well, however, Durden caught the strike and was caught off-guard when Flick jumped for a flying triangle. The choke was not yet set in fully, but Flick adjusted very smartly, securing the proper angle and forcing his opponent to submit. The former LFA champ is definitely one to watch at 125 pounds!
For complete UFC Vegas 17: “Thompson vs. Neal” results and play-by-play, click HERE!