UFC Vegas 17 took place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, last night (Sat. Dec. 19, 2020), headlined by a Welterweight scrap between No. 5-ranked Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Geoff Neal that saw “Wonderboy” re-establish himself as a threat at the top of the division. In the co-main event, Jose Aldo put on a gutsy and strategic performance to defeat Marlon “Chito” Vera on the scorecards.
Let’s take a look at what should be next for them and everyone else on the main card:
Winner: Stephen Thompson
Who He Should Face Next: Jorge Masvidal
We’ve been hearing a lot of talk about Jorge Masvidal facing Colby Covington but at a certain point the amount of time between negotiation rumors and a lack of announcement spell trouble for that match-up. It’s not exactly a bout that Jorge Masvidal seems to want, and with good reason: if he’s going to face an extremely good wrestler that’s liable to smother him and make him look bad, it might as well be Kamaru Usman for the welterweight strap. If UFC isn’t willing to pay him properly to fight “Chaos,” he’ll be happy to pass for a fight that looks better.
A fight with Stephen Thompson looks better.
After “Wonderboy” called out Masvidal, “Gamebred” tweeted “2021 #UnfinishedBusiness,” which to me signaled he was open to making that match-up happen next year. Why not next? Right now Masvidal needs a showcase fight where he gets to let his hands fly and try to babtize someone. There’s no better opponent at the top of the ranks for that than Thompson. If he didn’t blow his knee out against Geoff Neal, that is.
Winner: Jose Aldo
Who He Should Face Next: T.J. Dillashaw
Another fight, another fighter matchmaking himself perfectly. While Aldo’s win over “Chito” Vera wasn’t a domination, it did prove he’s got what it takes to hang with the best at 135 pounds. Would he beat T.J. Dillashaw? We don’t think so. But, he’d put up a hell of a fight and be a reasonable re-entry into UFC for T.J. after a two-year USADA suspension.
Winner: Michel Pereira
Who He Should Face Next: Geoff Neal
We liked Michel Pereira’s callout of Anthony Pettis, but as it stands, we doubt Pettis will be sticking around in UFC to face him. Which is really a shame. Pettis and Pereira would bring out the best in each other, and you can tell there would be no “Demolidor” without “Showtime” paving the way. Alas, that’s not happening. So let’s go for a straight rankings play. Pereira is looking to go up. Neal is coming off a loss to Stephen Thompson but probably won’t drop more than a spot or two from No. 11 to No. 12. We can’t think of a better present to give Michel than an opportunity to break hard into the Top 15.
Winner: Rob Font
Who He Should Face Next: Song Yadong
The Bantamweight division is currently pretty booked full, and if Font wants to stay active after that relatively quick knockout win over Marloes Moraes (watch it), he better not get too picky about pulling a high ranked opponent. So why not take a quick turnaround and face Song Yadong, who hasn’t competed since May 2020? You’d probably get to go to Fight Island, get the full COVID-era fighting experience and all that.
Sucks to have to go from beating the #3 ranked bantamweight to fighting #14, but I am not kidding: he won’t fight again until May if he decides to wait for everyone in the top 10 to duke it out, recover, and accept another date. Why not make that paper and put yourself in the minds of fans?
Winner: Marcin Tybura
Who He Should Face Next: Walt Harris
God bless Marcin Tybura for dealing Greg Hardy his first technical knockout loss of his UFC career (watch highlights). That being said, he didn’t look particularly inspiring on the feet against Hardy in the first round. I’m still not sure whether his turnaround in the second can be attributed to grit or Hardy’s absolutely terrible cardio. But hey, you win and you move up. Give Tybura a shot at No. 12-ranked Walt Harris, who has struggled through 2020 going 0-2 and needs a little Greg Hardy matchmaking after being matched against Alistair Overeem and Alexander Volkov. Jeez ...
For complete UFC Vegas 17: “Thompson vs. Neal” results and play-by-play, click HERE.