UFC Fight Night 183 looks set to end a continuous run of weekly events, dating back to July 4th, to end a great year for the sport (terrible for everyone else) with a bang.
With a card containing two former champions as well as two former title challengers, the main event on Saturday’s match card will see welterweight contestants Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Geoff Neal depart, while Jose Aldo and Marlon Vera will take on tasks as co-main event.
Add what could be Anthony Pettis’ final UFC fight on the opening card, while the exciting duo Marlon Moraes and Rob Font meet on the main card, and UFC Fight Night 183 could be a late challenger to this year’s event.
Stephen Thompson (15-4-1) vs. Geoff Neal (13-2)
This is a big step for Neal and to do it after one serious medical incident makes this task even more difficult.
Thompson is without a doubt the toughest problem to solve on his feet in the UFC, as his use of range and positioning is second to none.
Add his experience over five rounds and his ability on the counter, and I think that’s too far a step for Neal at the moment.
Neal to his credit appears to be accurate, powerful and produces a decent production, but his admission earlier this year is a big red flag over this match.
Select: Stephen Thompson
Jose Aldo (28-7) vs. Marlon Vera (18-6-1)
This is a big fight to determine where both men are placed in bantamweight.
Aldo comes out of a poor finish to his fight against champion Petr Yan, but he was still competitive in that fight before momentum began to mount up against him.
Vera, meanwhile, is a natural finisher, and although he tends to start slowly, the pressure he applies gradually builds up and he is durable enough to wade through damage.
I think this will be competitive throughout, but I do not think Aldo has fallen massively despite a decline of three straight defeats. With his speed and the fact that this is a little over 15 minutes, I think Aldo will have enough on his feet to pick up at least two rounds on the referees’ scorecard.
Select: Jose Aldo
Michel Pereira (24-11, 2 NC) vs. Khaos Williams (11-1)
Pereira is clearly the x-factor in this fight, as his bizarre entertaining approach can mean anything from attacks from the cage to backflips for no reason.
His last outing, however, showed a calmer game plan, and the complex version of Pereira combined with his remarkable athletics could be a major issue for those in welterweight.
Meanwhile, Williams has simply been a demolition man since joining the UFC. While his career outside the octagon has seen him be something of a fighter, his latest KO by Abdul Razak Alhassan showed a calmness that fantastically complimented his explosive power.
It’s a tough match to choose as both can produce a match-ending strike with a moment’s notice, but I sit down with Williams to find a counter against Pereira’s savagery.
Select: Khaos Williams
Marlon Moraes (23-7-1) vs. Rob Font (17-4)
Font is a lovely boxer to look at and his one-two is a beauty. In order for him to win this match, he will have to continue his higher production and try to fend off Moraes’ throbbing leg kick.
However, thanks to a torn ACL, I’m skeptical of Font’s mobility to dart in and out of reach, as he’s never before shown a tendency to control kicks.
Because of Moraes ‘heavy kicking, I think the Brazilian will throw Fonts’ legs away and prevent his opposition from tightening his boxing together.
Select: Marlon Moraes
Marcin Tybura (20-6) vs. Greg Hardy (7-2, 1 NC)
For Hardy to win, I think he will have to land early.
Tybura is far more technical, his more than willing to paint his opponent out on the mat and has that fat deeper fuel tank.
Hardy’s physically impressive size is a concern due to Tybura’s small stature, but I think he has way too much experience and technique for Hardy.
Select: Marcin Tybura
(Last predictions: 3/5, total: 133/199, 67% success rate)
(Success rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19 ′: 57%)