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Last UFC Event of the Year

The most interesting year is about to end for the UFC as they wrap up this year with the last event until January 2021 as welterweight contenders Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson takes on rising contender Geoff “Handz of Steel” Neal with the winner getting closer to an eventual title shot.

​     Stephen Thompson, currently ranked No. 5, is a former two-time title challenger for the UFC welterweight title. Thompson went against former champion Tyron Woodley in back-to-back fights where Thompson nearly won the belt in both fights. The first fight was scored a majority draw, and the second fight was a controversial majority decision that went in the favor of Woodley. Thompson is coming off an impressive and dominant unanimous decision win against hard-hitting Vicente Luque at UFC 244. Thompson looked the best he has in a long time against Luque and hurt Luque a couple of times that resulted in Thompson breaking both of his hands but still getting the win. Thompson has a karate-based background and uses his kicks to wear down and hurt his opponents. Thompson is very patient but knows when to be aggressive to out-point his opponent. Thompson holds wins over former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, Rory McDonald, and former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks. Even though Thompson is 2-2 in his last four, the former title challenger is still one of the best in world and can really put his name back in the hat for a title fight with a win this weekend.

​     Geoff Neal, currently ranked No. 11, is riding an impressive seven fight win streak with six finishes. Neal’s last win was an impressive first round TKO win over Mike Perry. Neal was able to turn heads when he fought Frank Camacho at UFC 228. Neal would shine and deliver a heavy head kick that put Camacho out cold. Neal would next defeat Belal Muhammad by unanimous decision and then take on Niko Price in a fight that would make Neal dig deep. Both men hurt each other in the first round by clashing heads and Price was able to recover first and take advantage, but Neal was able to take Price down and finish the round strong. Neal would TKO Price in the second in one of the best fights of 2019. Neal is a very exciting fighter who just recently became a full-time fighter. A win over Thompson would do great things for Neal and get him one fight closer to a UFC title shot.

​     The UFC was the first promotion to hold a professional sporting event after COVID-19 made all sports shut down. The UFC have successfully put-on weekly events, sometimes having two events a week, with every card being must-see TV. Many new fighters were given a chance to fight on short-notice and be given a new home in the UFC. The UFC even had a bubble set up in Abu Dhabi to decrease the chance of their fighters and staff getting COVID. With 2020 soon in the rearview mirror, I expect 2021 to be less chaotic and better than ever. I’m picking Stephen Thompson to win by decision. Catch all of the amazing fights this Saturday on ESPN+!

Tidwell record: 11-8-1

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