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411’s UFC Fight Night Report: Thompson Wins

December 19, 2020 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC on ESPN+ 41

MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
#5 Stephen Thompson (170 lbs.) vs. #11 Geoff Neal (171 lbs.)
#7 Jose Aldo (136 lbs.) vs. #15 Marlon Vera (135 lbs.)
Michel Pereira (170 lbs.) vs. Khaos Williams (169.5 lbs.)
#11 Rob Font (136 lbs.) vs. #3 Marlon Moraes (135.5 lbs.)
Greg Hardy (266 lbs.) vs. Marcin Tybura (255 lbs.)

PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET)
Alex Morono (170.5 lbs.) vs. #12 Anthony Pettis (170 lbs.)
#13 Sijara Eubanks (136 lbs.) vs. #14 Pannie Kianzad (135.5 lbs.)
Antonio Arroyo (194 lbs.) vs. Deron Winn (194.5 lbs.)
#13 Gillian Robertson (125 lbs.) vs. Taila Santos (126 lbs.)
Tafon Nchukwi (186 lbs.) vs. Jamie Pickett (184.5 lbs.)
Cody Durden (126 lbs.) vs. Jimmy Flick (125 lbs.)
Christos Giagos (159.5 lbs.) vs. Carlton Minus (159 lbs.)


Well everyone, this is it. The final UFC event of 2020. It’s certainly been a memorable year, for both good and bad reasons. I’m Robert Winfree, still hanging in there with all of you. The UFC is looking to go out with something of a bang, the main card for this event is really solid. I hate to be grateful for fights falling out, but this event originally had 15 fights on it before injuries and Covid issues came up and got us down to a more manageable 12. The main event sees former two time title challenger Stephen Thompson battle the surging contender Geoff Neal with the winner emerging a viable contender at welterweight going into 2021. Also on this card all time great Jose Aldo looks to halt a three fight skid by taking on rising contender Marlon Vera, and Marlon Moraes tries to halt his own slight skid against Rob Font. There’s a fair amount of Contender Series guys debuting on the undercard, so let’s hope that goes well.

UFC on ESPN+ 41 comes to the world from the UFC APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. On commentary we have Brendan Fitzgerald, Michael Bisping, and Daniel Cormier. Nevada uses a hybrid rule set, they’ve adopted most of the changes but you still only need one hand on the mat to be considered downed. They also have the use of instant replay whenever the in cage referee or a designated replay official want and can restart the fight if that’s a relevant consideration. Also of note the APEX hosts the smaller 25 foot cage instead of the usual 30 footer.

Christos Giagos took this fight on just a few days notice when Rick Glen fell out, hence the catchweight nature of the bout. Giagos has been out since a loss in August of 2019, he’s hoping to knock off some ring rust and get back on the winning side of things. Carlton Minus lost his UFC debut a few months ago, he’s trying to rebound by avoiding his first ever losing streak and getting his first UFC win. Giagos is a hefty -360 favorite to a +300 comeback for Minus.

Catchweight Bout: Christos Giagos (17-8, 159.5 lbs.) vs. Carlton Minus (10-2, 159 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Minus has three and a half inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get things started. Both men feinting early, just getting a feel for each other. Some stance switching from Giagos now. Giagos lands a right then gets a takedown. Minus starts scrambling but gives up his back doing so, fortunately he’s up and not on the mat. Giagos is after a high crotch, switches to a double leg and gets Minus down again. There’s an arm triangle threat from Giagos, he uses that to pass into full mount as Minus defends. Some short elbows from Giagos. Minus gives up the back as he gets to his knees. Giagos just lands a series of punches while floating over Minus. Minus is getting beaten up here, nothing fight ending but he’s in trouble. Minus moves to his knees, and finally is able to buck Giagos over the top and separate on the feet. Another right to double leg from Giagos and he’s got Minus down in half guard. Giagos moves to full mount with ease. Arm triangle from Giagos, but there’s not enough time so he bails on that to land blows as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Giagos

ROUND TWO: Let’s see if Minus can make some big adjustments, that first round was bad for him. Some rights from Giagos. Bit of a high kick from Minus. Double leg from Giagos into half guard, he moves to full mount almost immediately. Minus tries to get his hips in play, Giagos to side control then back to mount. Back mount for Giagos, back to full mount. Some lefts from Giagos as Minus hip escapes to half guard. Minus tries to regain his feet but Giagos wrestles him back down still in half guard. Giagos is trying to pass, but Minus escapes and stands as Giagos jumps to the backpack. Minus tries to slam out of it, bad idea as Giagos nearly gets a choke and winds up in full mount again. Giagos is after another arm triangle but Minus gets his arm back. Some rights from Giagos as Minus wall walks but they’re still clinched. They break, Giagos tries a double leg and Minus actually defends this one. They throw a few strikes but nothing substantial before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Giagos, 20-16 Giagos overall

ROUND THREE: Leg kick from Minus to start the round. A few punches from Giagos in close. Minus sprawls away from a double leg, but Giagos gets him to the fence and slips around to the back standing before tripping Minus down and landing on top in side control. Minus tries to bridge off of the fence, nothing doing and Giagos moves to the back but has no hooks yet. Back up, Giagos jumps for the back but has to settle for switching to a trip attempt. Minus is still upright and they separate. Giagos avoids a few punches. Minus lands a right and stops a double leg attempt. Bit of a knee from Giagos as Minus defends a double leg, Giagos is visibly tired. Inside leg kick from Giagos and he avoids some punches. Both men land glancing rights. Let hook from Minus lands. Minus lands a right but he’s running out of time. Both men miss some punches as the clock runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Minus, 29-26 Giagos overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Christos Giagos via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 29-27)

Wait, some judge didn’t give Giagos a 10-8 first? What in the world was that judge looking at? No interview for Giagos.

Jimmy Flick brings a three fight winning streak into his UFC debut, including a win on the Contender Series, and he’s looking to maximize the chance at a first impression. Cody Durden fought to a draw in his UFC debut but hasn’t lost since 2018, he’s hoping to get that first UFC win as well tonight. Flick is the favorite at -160 to a +140 payout for Durden.

Flyweight Bout: Cody Durden (11-2-1, 126 lbs.) vs. Jimmy Flick (15-5, 125 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two are the same height while Flick has an inch of reach over Durden. They touch gloves to get the fight going. Both men feinting early. Durden lands an uppercut. Jab from Flick then a leg kick, Durden gets a takedown to the back. Full back mount for Durden, Flick gets to a hip then his seat and scoots to the fence. Flick looking to wall walk, he’s up but still clinched. Durden is still on the back, but can’t get much going so they break. Stiff jab from Durden. Flick blocks a right but he looks more awkward on the feet than Durden. Durden lands a right, Flick with a leg kick. Calf kick from Durden. Bit of a head kick from Flick, he tries a takedown but Durden defends and flurries along the fence. Flick is keeping his guard high when Durden flurries, it exposes his body but Durden only seems interested in head hunting. Head kick from Flick, he goes for a flying triangle and he’s got it locked up. Flick is working to finish it, he hooks the leg to lock things down tight and Durden has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jimmy Flick via Submission, flying triangle choke, at 3:18 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Flick for his work this evening. Mic time for Flick after that late Submission of the Year contender, he says the win feels great especially doing it again in front of Cormier. He says he finishes fights, puts over Durden as a tough opponent, but he went for the flying triangle because he wants the post fight bonus. I’d say he’s got a good chance at getting it with that one. Asked when he wants back in the cage, he notes he’s fought four times this year and has a few little injuries to heal up but in a few months he’d love to take on a top fifteen opponent.

Durden catches the head kick but the angle allows Flick to jump for the triangle choke. Look at the finish in particular, as Durden tries to pull back he opens up his right leg to be hooked. Once Flick has underhooked that leg he can turn the angle with his hips to fully lock down the choke and force the tap.

Tafon Nchukwi is undefeated with all of those wins coming via stoppage, a head kick on the Contender Series being the one that earned him his spot on the roster. He’s trying to remain perfect and keep that finishing streak alive as a bonus. Jamie Pickett is on a two fight winning streak coming into his UFC debut, he’s likewise hoping to make a good first impression on the UFC audience. Nchukwi is the large favorite at -335 to a +275 comeback on Pickett.

Middleweight Bout: Tafon Nchukwi (4-0, 186 lbs.) vs. Jamie Pickett (11-4, 184.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Pickett is two inches taller and has three inches of reach advantage, but my word is Nchukwi bricked up in the torso and shoulders. Southpaw for both men as they start. Nchukwi comes out working the lead hand but Pickett circles off of the fence when they get there. Pickett tries a high kick, it’s blocked and Nchukwi lands a bit of a counter. Nchukwi is pushing forward but Pickett is being mindful of his cage position and trying to extend the fight. They clinch, near trip from Nchukwi but Pickett stays up and separates. They clinch again, then break without incident. Nchukwi lands some blows in close before they clinch up. Both men land in the clinch before they break. Short left from Nchukwi in close. Pickett avoids a hook, tries for a double leg against the fence and gets Nchukwi down. Nchukwi starts looking to wall walk, Pickett trying to strip his base but he can’t and they’re up but clinched. Some knees from Nchukwi before they break. Bit of a combination from Nchukwi, then they trade jabs. Jab from Pickett. Glancing head kick from Nchukwi, he’s good about throwing those as Pickett is circling off of the fence. Another clinch, Pickett tries a trip but winds up on his knees and Nchukwi gets a front headlock. Nchukwi spins to the ride position but Pickett is up and separates. They both miss lefts. Jab from Pickett, then a left and a body kick. Right from Nchukwi then a left in close as they clinch. An elbow from Nchukwi as they break. Pickett lands another body kick. They clinch up, trade knees then break. A body kick from Nchukwi ends the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Nchukwi

ROUND TWO: Nchukwi comes out with a flurry, mostly misses. They trade jabs, then Pickett tries a high kick that’s blocked. Inside leg kicks from Pickett, Nchukwi forces a clinch. Both men with knees then they break. Bit of a body kick from Pickett, Nchukwi returns it. Some jabs from Pickett, then a high kick as Nchukwi forces a clinch. Nchukwi with knees to the body in the clinch, he’s working hard to get damage in the clinch like this. They break after a bit, but Nchukwi owned that clinch exchange. Left from Pickett, and one from Nchukwi. They clinch again, knees from Nchukwi before they break. Both men have gone orthodox now. Knee from Pickett then a front kick to the body. Pickett avoids a right, they go southpaw again. One two from Pickett. They clinch again, knees to the body from Nchukwi, those are adding up. A couple of punches from Nchukwi as Pickett gets free. Pickett lands a couple of rights. Nchukwi back to the body with knees in a clinch then they break. Combination of punches from Pickett wobbles Nchukwi. Pickett kind of lets him off the hook though. They clash heads, that was a pretty bad one, but there’s no time called before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Nchukwi but Pickett made it close, 20-18 Nchukwi overall

ROUND THREE: We get time out at the start of the round for a doctor to check on Pickett after the headbutt. Pickett wants to continue, but that was a hard knock. Nchukwi with a jab and inside leg kick. Bit of a left from Nchukwi as Pickett is trying to circle around the fence. They trade rights, both men are switching stances along the way so they stay in closed stances. Nchukwi lands a right in close and gets a clinch then lands knees to the body. Elbow from Pickett as he exits the clinch. Pickett with a jab but he’s getting out worked. Left from Nchukwi in close, they hit the mat in the clinch but scramble back up still clinched. More knees to the body from Nchukwi, then a head kick as Pickett was trying to escape. A knee to the head from a Thai clinch from Nchukwi drops Pickett and Nchukwi is on the ride position looking to land blows. Pickett is fighting back to his feet, he’s after a single leg but Nchukwi defends. Nchukwi has a front headlock but Pickett is back up. Knees to the body from Nchukwi before Pickett gets free. Pickett lands a right uppercut. Nchukwi with another knee to the body. Another clinch, Nchukwi keeps working knees before they break. A one two from Nchukwi, that will be the last exchange of the fight.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Nchukwi but a marginal one, 30-26 Nchukwi overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Tafon Nchukwi via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26 x2)

There’s a lot of raw ability there in Nchukwi, but in some respects he still looks like a guy with less than 10 fights (because he does). No interview for Nchukwi.

Gillian Robertson has gone 4-1 in her last five fights, she’s on a two fight winning streak and is hoping to extend that here to earn a shot at someone higher up in the rankings. Taila Santos has gone 1-1 in the UFC but she’s coming off of a win and could become a ranked contender if she knocks off Robertson tonight. The odds are close but favor Robertson at -115 to a tempting +105 payout for Santos.

Women’s Flyweight Bout: #13 Gillian Robertson (9-4, 125 lbs.) vs. Taila Santos (16-1, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Santos is an inch taller and has a whopping five inches of reach over Robertson. Santos coming forward jabbing early. Robertson gets a front headlock for a clinch then spins Santos into the cage. Flying armbar attempt from Robertson, it’s pretty close as they hit the mat but Santos is defending so far. Robertson doesn’t like it and bails to get full guard. Santos drives Robertson into the fence. Another amrbar attempt from Robertson but this one isn’t as close and she decides to keep full guard again. Santos with some short punches. Robertson is trying to play her guard, now some elbows but Santos is being patient and landing short punches and elbows. Robertson is trying to wall walk but Santos keeps pulling her hips away from the wall. Left from Santos, Robertson tries to spin for another armbar but this one doesn’t really get close. Santos passes, Robertson spins under to try and come up on a single leg but Santos is squashing her down. Robertson winds up pulling for guard again, more of a half guard position now. Santos lands some lefts as Robertson gets full guard back. Elbows from Santos. Santos lands a couple more elbows as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-10 DRAW

ROUND TWO: Robertson is actually cut, I didn’t see that before. Santos gets a leg kick then forces a clinch. Trip from Santos into side control. Santos puts herself in half guard and starts landing elbows to the body and thigh. Robertson gets her full guard, tries to rotate for an armbar again. Santos is defending so far and pulls free to land in north-south. Inverted triangle choke from Santos, she winds up on bottom locking that up but it’s tight. Robertson gets her head free and is on top in side control. Santos gets half guard. Pass towards the mount from Robertson, but Santos sweeps her and Robertson is after another armbar. Santos gets on top in side control and lands elbows. Mounted crucifix for Santos now and she lands punches as Robertson scrambles to her knees. Santos on the back in the ride position. Some punches from Santos, Robertson tries to wall walk but gets taken down again into full guard. Santos is keeping Robertson pushed into the fence and working short blows to the head. Elbows from Santos. Santos lands one final elbow to close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Santos, 20-19 Santos overall

ROUND THREE: Santos comes out with a one two. Right uppercut from Santos lands. Robertson tries a double leg, Santos sprawls then Robertson jumps for a guillotine choke. Santos slips her head free as she pushes Robertson to the fence again then passes to half guard. Elbows from Santos as Robertson gets full guard. Robertson keeps trying to get her guard in play but Santos is minding her P’s and Q’s to stay safe and land elbows. A few more elbows from Santos. Robertson tries another armbar, this one is pretty tight but Santos is able to get her arm free. Some elbows from Santos and she moves to side control. Short elbows from Santos, Robertson to her knees but Santos pulls her to her seat with a rear waist lock. The fight will end with Santos taking the back and looking for a choke.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Santos, 30-28 Santos overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Taila Santos via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26 x2)

I can see a 10-8 in the third I guess, depends on how much you thought of Robertson’s armbar attempt. The 29-28 is a little surprising, at best Robertson drew the first rather than outright taking it. No interview for Santos.

Deron Winn has gone 1-2 in the UFC and is on a two fight losing streak, he needs a win pretty badly to try and salvage his UFC run. Antonio Arroyo dropped his UFC debut a little over a year ago but he’s back now and looking to get that all important first UFC win. The odds are with Arroyo at -175 while the +155 payout on Winn might tempt a few bettors.

Catchweight Bout: Antonio Arroyo (9-3, 194 lbs.) vs. Deron Winn (6-2, 194.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Arroyo is nine inches taller and has three and a half inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves, Arroyo doing a lot of stance switching but seems to like southpaw. Arroyo lands an inside leg kick. Winn lands a calf kick, then gets a clinch off of an Arroyo kick. Winn is after a takedown, finally gets it into side control from a body lock. Arroyo kicks Winn off and gets up. Jab from Arroyo. Winn grabs a leg when Arroyo tried a knee and gets a single leg against the fence. Half guard for Winn, but Arroyo wall walks then breaks the clinch. Winn gets close and gets another takedown against the fence. Arroyo trying to wall walk again, Winn pulls him away from the fence with a single leg and Arroyo gets full guard. Triangle attempt from Arroyo, doesn’t get it but as Winn escapes Arroyo is back up. Arroyo unloads with a knee and some punches, Winn is a little hurt. Right from Arroyo, Winn is trying to fire back but he’s falling short with his punches. Winn lands a calf kick. Some more jabs from Arroyo then a right. Single leg from Winn, Arroyo fights to defend and lands an elbow from his knees. Arroyo back up and they break. Right front kick to the face from Arroyo then a straight left. Winn eats a leg kick, gets a double leg against the fence as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Arroyo, Winn had takedowns but didn’t do much with them

ROUND TWO: Arroyo lands a body kick to start the second round. Winn misses a kick. Jab from Arroyo, then he tries a spinning back kick but Winn avoids it and gets a takedown into full guard. That was a questionable decision from Arroyo. Half guard for Winn but Arroyo uses that motion to sweep and regain his feet. Arroyo with a front kick to the body. One two from Arroyo and Winn falls short with his counters. Winn reaches for a takedown, Arroyo lands a knee then separates. Arroyo lands a jab. Winn avoids an elbow and gets a takedown along the fence. Arroyo to his knees, looking to wall walk. They’re back up but still clinched. Winn is holding the clinch, gets another takedown but Arroyo is already on his knees looking to wall walk. Some lefts from Winn but Arroyo is up and shoves Winn away. Front kick from Arroyo but he’s pretty tired. Winn eats a right, gets a double leg into full guard. Some elbows from Arroyo. The round ends with Winn on top.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Winn as Arroyo’s effective offense was much lower, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Arroyo looking to establish the jab this round, lands a one two but Winn gets a double leg into full guard. Winn stands over Arroyo, Arroyo inverts for a leg lock, can’t get it but does get up and separate. Jabs from Arroyo, Winn lands a body shot. Winn avoids an uppercut and gets a double leg into full guard again. Winn stands over Arroyo again, Arroyo tries to get up but Winn wrestles him back into full guard. Both guys are pretty gassed at this point. Winn stands again, this time Arroyo gets up and lands a head kick. Leg kick from Arroyo, then a knee and Winn lands a right. Arroyo with a couple of lefts to the body, and Winn gets a double leg. Winn stands again, Arroyo up and lands a knee to the chest but Winn takes him down again. Some blows from Arroyo, Winn stands and they get onto the feet again. Front kick from Arroyo. A bit of a one two from Arroyo as the clock runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Winn but a pretty terrible round overall, 29-28 Winn overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Deron Winn via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

That fight sucked, no interview for Winn.

Sijara Eubanks has gone 2-3 in her last five fights, she’s coming off of a loss though and is hoping to avoid another losing streak with a win here. Pannie Kianzad has gone 2-1 since returning to the UFC and is on a two fight winning streak, she’s hoping to get to three in a row and possibly crack into the top fifteen rankings. Eubanks is the favorite at -160 while Kinazad’s comeback sits at +140.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: #13 Sijara Eubanks (6-5, 136 lbs.) vs. #14 Pannie Kianzad (13-5, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Kianzad is three inches taller but Eubanks has an inch of reach advantage. Kianzad comes out jabbing, looking to maintain distance. More jabs from Kianzad and she avoids a combination from Eubanks. Eubanks has had enough of that, she hits a double leg into half guard. Kianzad wall walks, Eubanks drags her back down then lifts her and walks them both away from the fence. Eubanks moves to side control. Kianzad gets half guard. Some punches from Eubanks. Full guard now for Kianzad. Kianzad keeps thinking about an armbar but can’t really complete the attempt. Some hammer fists from Eubanks, Kianzad is trying to get her guard in play but can’t get much going. Eubanks passes on the armbar attempt and moves to side control. Kianzad hip escapes to full guard. Some rights from Eubanks. Eubanks passes to side control, then full mount. Kianzad gives up the back, and that’s where the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Eubanks

ROUND TWO: Eubanks quickly pushes into a clinch on the fence. Kianzad is trying to frame and break off, but she can’t get free. They jockey for position, trip from Kianzad but they bounce back up and resume clinch fighting. Knees from Kianzad then they trade rights. They trade lefts as Kianzad finally gets free and separates. Both women land rights. Kianzad avoids a takedown and they clinch again. Knees to the body from Kianzad as she’s got Eubanks on the fence. More knees from Kianzad, her use of the collar tie might be negating some of the work Eubanks wants to do. They trade rights, but Kianzad plants her feet and that let’s Eubanks double leg her. Full guard for Kianzad, she tries another armbar, this one is closer but Eubanks is defending and Kianzad bails to keep full guard. Triangle attempt, then Kianzad looks to invert for the legs, then comes up on a single leg while Eubanks is sprawling. They’re back up, Kianzad with another collar tie and she lands elbows and knees. They break. Kianzad with a left hook. Front kick to the body from Kianzad then they trade rights. Eubanks tires another double leg, they hit the fence though and Kianzad lands elbows to the head as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Kianzad, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Eubanks lands a leg kick, and then eats a series of lefts. Bit of a left hook from Kianzad. They clinch again, Kianzad gets Eubanks on the fence. Some positional jockeying, when they’re just fighting in the clinch Kianzad seems to have the advantage. Both women land some knees then they break. Eubanks is very flat on her feet now. Jab from Kianzad and Eubanks misses a labored counter. Kianzad lands a left, then a combination behind it. Another combination from Kianzad then a body kick. Leg kick from Kianzad. Eubanks lands a right but she’s falling behind in terms of volume. Knee from Kianzad and they avoid a clinch. Stiff jab from Kianzad. The combination punches from Kianzad are wearing on Eubanks. Both women land lefts. Knee then punches from Kianzad. Eubanks lands a body shot but misses a couple of hooks. A few jabs go back and forth. Kianzad lands a right. A right from Eubanks seems to have blood coming from the nose of Kianzad. They trade lefts. Kianzad lands a right. Kianzad with a left hook. Right and left from Kianzad. Some more long range punches from Kianzad, they clinch and punch for the final couple of seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Kianzad, 29-28 Kianzad overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Pannie Kianzad via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Eubanks continues to struggle down the stretch in fights, once Kianzad figured out her framing game in the clinch she was able to secure more neutral positions there and beat up Eubanks with knees. No interview for Kianzad.

Anthony Pettis is a former lightweight champion but has been bouncing between lightweight and welterweight for a few years now. He’s just 2-2 in his last four fights but did eek out a decision against Donald Cerrone in May, he’s now looking for his first winning streak since 2014 when he held the lightweight title. Alex Morono is 4-1 in his last five fights, he’s looking for one of his higher profile wins given the profile Pettis has while also starting up another winning streak. Pettis is the favorite at -200 to a tempting value bet of +170 on Morris.

Welterweight Bout: Alex Morono (18-6 1 NC, 170.5 lbs.) vs. #12 Anthony Pettis (23-10, 170 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Morono is an inch taller while Pettis has half an inch of reach advantage. Morono coming forward, Pettis throws some kicks but slips on one and Morono dives onto his back. One hook in for Morono as they’re on the fence. Some rights from Morono, he gets the second hook in and switches to landing elbows. Pettis is bleeding from somewhere, looks like the nose. Morono goes to a body triangle, he’s trying to strike to open up the choke. Pettis is defending so far but struggling to find ways to spin into Morono, which is what he’s looking to do. There he goes, Pettis on top in the guard of Morono. Morono tries a triangle choke, Pettis defends but Morono scrambles up off of the motion. Body kick from Pettis. Jab from Morono and he slips a few Pettis punches. Looks like there’s a cut around the upper lip of Pettis as well now, not sure of that though. Some stance switching from Pettis, Morono lands a right. Southpaw for Pettis, he lands an inside leg kick. Spinning back kick to the chest from Pettis, Morono lands a right and gets a clinch. Pettis slips on the break, but he’s back up though still clinched. Morono punches around to the back and drags Pettis down. Pettis is looking to spin on top, he does and that’s where the round will end.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Morono

ROUND TWO: Pettis jabbing and moving backwards while Morono comes forward. Bit of a right from Pettis. Morono coming forward, lands a bit of a body kick then checks a leg kick. Morono lands a knee. Right from Morono, he’s coming forward relentlessly and is trying to smother Pettis. Pettis lands a right. Right from Morono, Pettis lands a counter left hook. Morono is starting to let Pettis circle rather than cut him off. Pettis misses a spinning back fist. They trade power hand punches. Bit of a right from Morono, he’s still following though and that’s becoming a problem. Pettis misses an ax kick. Front kick to the body from Morono. Glancing right from Morono, Pettis with a knee to the body. Combination from Morono, Pettis lands a right. Jab from Pettis, then a front kick to the body from Morono. Morono lands a jab. Pettis lands a left, gets a knee tap but doesn’t actually follow things to the ground. Body kick from Pettis, then a right as well. Both men try to spin, neither connect and that ends the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Pettis, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: They touch gloves for the final round. Pettis lands a head kick. Morono gets the back, Pettis tries to granby roll but Morono is with him and gets on top but Pettis sweeps to get on top in the guard of Morono. Pettis moves to half guard. Morono is trying to get some motion from the back but he can’t upset the balance of Pettis. Some punches from Pettis as Morono gets full guard. Pettis moves to half guard again. Morono wall walks, still clinched though. They break with about 40 seconds left. Pettis lands an uppercut. Wheel kick from Pettis wobbles Morono, he looks to finish and jumps for a guillotine but loses it and moves to top position. Pettis has half guard, he stands and punches down on Morono as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Pettis, 29-28 Pettis overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Anthony Pettis via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Much needed performance from Pettis, he’s still taking a fair bit of damage along the way but he’s finally got a winning streak going. Despite the card running long, Pettis will get an interview. He says he had to fight through the adversity of the first round, then puts over his new jiu-jitsu coach. Asked what he wants next he says he’s going back to lightweight and wants to become the first two time UFC lightweight champion.

That does end the prelims, now exclusively on ESPN+ for the main card.

Marcin Tybura is on a three fight winning streak and could get another crack at some ranked opposition with a fourth consecutive win here. Greg Hardy has a two fight winning streak going, but Tybura is one of the better fighters he’s faced and represents a significant step up in class from his more recent opponents. That said if Hardy can get a win it would easily be biggest of his career. Hardy is a slight -120 favorite while Tybura’s +100 payout might be a tempting bet.

Heavyweight Bout: Greg Hardy (7-2 1 NC, 266 lbs.) vs. Marcin Tybura (20-6, 255 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Hardy is two inches taller and has two and a half inches of reach advantage, plus he’s eleven pounds heavier. Tybura fighting southpaw. Hardy misses a few leg kicks early. Tybrua catches a kick, forces a clinch but Hardy gets free. Jab from Hardy, body kick from Tybura. Tybura is doing some stance switching now, and working kicks to the body. Hardy lands a right, Tybura lands a left. Body kick from Tybura. Bit of a left hook from Hardy. Another body kick from Tybura. Bit of a left from Tybura. Hardy lands a left to the body, then a left up top. Tybura lands a left hook of his own. Hardy back to the body with that left. Right hook from Tybura partially lands. They trade punches. Hard right from Hardy, this is easily the most technical Hardy has looked in the UFC. Single leg from Tybura but Hardy defends and lands some punches along the fence line. Several rights in a row from Hardy. A final trade of rights ends the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Hardy, might even be a 10-8 argument in there

ROUND TWO: Bit of a front kick to the body from Tybura. Tybura is coming forward more this round, Hardy circling away from the fence. Left from Tybura. Bit of a body kick from Tybura. Hardy lands a right to the body. Both men slipping and trying to counter but neither finding much success yet. Jab from Tybura, then a left hook. Both men land lefts in close, they swing in the pocket. Hardy might be fading a bit under the pressure from Tybura. Double leg from Tybura hits the fence, he gets the takedown into half guard. Tybura lands a couple of knees to the body while working to get Hardy flat on his back. Elbows and hammer fists from Tybura. Hardy is just covering up and Tybura unloads until the ref waves this one off.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Marcin Tybura via TKO, punches, at 4:31 of Round 2

Hardy had good hands in the first, but he faded cardio wise and his lack of skill on the ground was evident. Mic time for Tybura, he feels happy and motivated despite winning four fights this year. He talks about knowing he was better on the ground, and knowing he’d have to wear Hardy down throughout the first and then take him down later. Asked who he’d like next he defers as his prior callouts didn’t lead to anything.

Nothing special here, Hardy just doesn’t seem to have the skills or knowledge to deal with the position and the ref has to save him from taking too much damage despite the blows not being all that hard individually.

Marlon Moraes fought for the UFC bantamweight title last year in a losing effort but he’s just 1-2 in his last three fights and was finished a couple of months back when he battled Cory Sandhagen. Moraes is hoping to defend his ranking here and prove he could still make one more run towards the title picture. Rob Font has lost just three times in the UFC and is 3-1 in his last four fights. Font has won his last two fights and has a big chance here, a win over a respected fighter like Moraes would be the biggest of his career and could earn him a spot in the title orbit. Moraes is your favorite at -155 while a Font win would pay out at +135.

Bantamweight Bout: #11 Rob Font (17-4, 136 lbs.) vs. #3 Marlon Moraes (23-7-1, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Font is two inches taller and has four and a half inches of reach advantage. Font doing some stance switching. Moraes with a kick, they trade punches then Moraes hits a single leg takedown into half guard. Font tries to sweep to top position but Moraes is after a guillotine choke. There’s no guard yet for Moraes though, he scrambles up and double legs Font into half guard again. They’re against the fence, Moraes is working to get some posture so he can land damage. Moraes lands some punches as Font gets full guard. Another pass from Moraes to half guard. Moraes moves to side control. Font gets to a hip, he’s up and separates. Moraes lands a head kick and they trade heavy punches. Both men land lefts. Stiff jab from Font, then another. Combination from Font, Moraes with a left hook but the volume and precision of Font is working. Font drops Moraes with an uppercut, and gets on top then unloads with hammer fists until the ref has to save Moraes.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Rob Font via TKO, punches, at 3:47 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Font for his work this evening. Mic time for Font, he says he’s been out for a long time but he’s finally made the most of a big opportunity. He talks us through the finish, he thinks the fight might have gone on a little longer than necessary but isn’t going to complain about the win. He puts over his camp, and says he’s no joke. Asked who he’d like next he doesn’t care, whoever gets him closer to the belt.

Here’s a look at the finish, Moraes has power and is game but what really bites him here is the lack of head movement. Moraes’s head winds up being an easy target and the accurate combinations of Font find the target reliably and eventually Moraes falls and can’t recover.

Michel Pereira has gone 2-2 in the UFC, but he’s coming off of a win in one of his more well rounded performances and he’s hoping for his first UFC winning streak. Khaos Williams has gone 2-0 in the UFC with two knockouts both in 30 seconds or less, he’s hoping to get to three wins in 2020 and have some serious momentum going into the new year. The odds are with Williams at -115 to -105 for Pereira.

Welterweight Bout: Michel Pereira (24-11 2 NC, 170 lbs.) vs. Khaos Williams (11-1, 169.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Pereira is an inch taller while Williams has four inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men feinting and probing a bit. One two from Pereira then a leg kick. Pereira is circling around the perimeter. Williams lands a bit of a left to counter a front kick to the body. Hard leg kick from Williams. Williams with a calf kick. Pereira tries a superman punch and misses. They clinch up, Pereira lands a knee to the body then separates. Pereira with a front kick to the body, then a left hook from Williams lands. Williams is pushing Pereira to the fence, looking to cut him off. Williams catches a front kick and lands a couple of counters. They clinch, Pereira lands a knee to the body as they break. Pereira tries a jumping knee, nothing doing, as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Pereira but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Both men showing the jab as the round gets going. Williams lands a calf kick. Bit of a right hook from Williams. Pereira lands a right. Williams lands a left uppercut, they clinch and trade knees. Pereira spins free after a bit. Right then a left hook from Williams. Williams with a calf kick. Another calf kick from Williams, Pereira counters with a few punches. They trade jabs. A couple of body shots from Williams. Pereira lands a front kick to the body. Those body kicks are adding up for Pereira. Combination of punches from Williams land, then they clinch up. Pereira gets Williams on the fence and lands a knee to the body. Both men with knees to the body then they fight free. Another front kick from Pereira, then a right, the grabs a standing rear naked choke and spins Williams down but the clock runs out before that can potentially finish things.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Williams but another close one, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Pereira circling again, misses a spinning kick. Bit of a jab from Pereira. They split some lefts, then Williams lands a calf kick. Both men land left hooks. Williams avoids a donkey kick, then lands a calf kick. Both men land lefts again. Williams hits to the body with a series of punches. Pereira with a front kick to the body. They trade in close again, both men have found success. Pereira keeps showing the front kick to the body, and he gets a double leg into side control. Williams wall walks, eats a knee to the body on the way though. They break without incident. Both men land rights, then Williams hits to the body. Pereira with a front kick to the body, and another one to the head. Another double leg from Pereira into full guard this time. Some elbows from the top, Pereira is trying to unload as the clock winds down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Pereira, 29-28 Pereira overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Michel Pereira via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Not quite what was expected in terms of action, but not a bad fight. Mic time for Pereira after the win, says he feels good then says he’d like to fight Anthony Pettis next. He says he’s able to fight anywhere the fight requires, puts over Williams as a tough opponent and thanks a bunch of people to close.

Jose Aldo is one of the very best fighters the sport has ever seen, but despite being only 34 he’s had 35 professional fights dating back to 2004. Aldo is on a three fight losing streak and is coming off of a failed shot at the bantamweight title, he needs a win pretty badly as a four fight skid in conjunction with his somewhat acrimonious with the UFC brass could mean his walking papers. Marlon Vera has a six fight winning streak going at bantamweight, he stopped Sean O’Malley in August but a win over a legend like Aldo would easily be the most significant win of his career. Aldo is the favorite at -150 to a +130 comeback on Vera.

Bantamweight Bout: #7 Jose Aldo (28-7, 136 lbs.) vs. #15 Marlon Vera (16-6-1, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Vera is an inch taller and has half an inch of reach over Aldo. Southpaw for Vera, though he might start switching that up. Aldo checks a few low kicks. Aldo getting his jab working, Vera lands a calf kick. Vera is starting his stance switching now. Aldo lands an inside leg kick. Bit of a left from Aldo, Vera forces a clinch and tries a takedown but that attempt hits the fence. Both men work some short blows to the body and leg. Aldo spins Vera into the fence then pulls free. Bit of a left from Vera. Aldo lands a left to the body then a jab. Another left to the body from Aldo, those are hurting already. Aldo is inching closer to Vera, doing a good job of not letting Vera establish distance. Right to the body from Aldo, then a couple of leg kicks. Aldo blocks a high kick, lands a right to the body then avoids a clinch attempt. Another right to the body from Aldo. Head kick from Vera, Aldo responds with a left to the body then a leg kick. They trade again one more time as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aldo

ROUND TWO: Both men land lead hand punches as the round starts. A couple of body hooks from Aldo then a right to the head. Aldo’s body shots are just brutal when he lets them go. Leg kick from Aldo. Vera lands a calf kick, but eats a left hook counter. More body punches from Aldo. Left hook from Aldo staggers Vera for a second. Vera is coming forward, lands a leg kick of his own. Aldo lands a right then an uppercut. Another left to the body from Aldo. Aldo with a right to the body. They clinch up, and Vera puts Aldo on the cage. Some knees go back and forth, Vera tries a trip but Aldo wont go down and land a couple of knees as they break. Aldo lands a right to the body, Vera with a counter left to the head. They clinch up again, both men work the body in close. More knees from Vera, they trade on the break as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aldo but a closer round, 20-18 Aldo overall

ROUND THREE: Vera lunges into a clinch, Aldo slips around to the back quickly and is looking for a takedown. Bit of a back elbow from Vera, but Aldo drags him to his knees long enough to jump to the back with both hooks in. Vera is posted up on his legs and is trying to shake Aldo over the top but Aldo breaks his base and they fall to the mat with Aldo having full back mount. Body triangle for Aldo, and he’s chasing the choke. Vera is defending well in terms of the choke but he’s not addressing the bad position he’s in, or when he tries Aldo is a step ahead of him. Vera stands, Aldo holding the backpack position. Aldo is tying up an arm, and Vera tries to fall out of the position but is just on the mat again now with Aldo on his back. Aldo is after the choke, he’s only across the chin but he’s cranking on it and forces Vera to move with that attempt. Vera tries to get free again, but can’t and the round ends in this spot.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aldo, 30-27 Aldo overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jose Aldo via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

No issues at all with Vera getting the second, that might be more correct than my card. Alas, such are the perils of scoring while doing all of this. Mic time for Aldo, he thanks Cormier for his kind introduction then talks about how important the win was for his career and thanks everyone who’s supported him all these years. He says he trained very hard and listened to his coaches during the fight and it all worked out. Asked what he wants next he wishes Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone and thanks the UFC brass for keeping the UFC running during the pandemic, and says he’d like to fight TJ Dillashaw next. You know, you could do worse than Aldo vs. Dillashaw for Dillashaw’s return from the drug test failure.

Stephen Thompson has gone 2-3 in his last five fights, he’s coming off of a win but that was over a year ago and he’s been dealing with injuries including breaking both hands. Thompson is looking for his first winning streak in over four years, but it’s a critical one if he wants to get another shot at the title. Geoff Neal has a seven fight winning streak with the last five of those being in the UFC and only one of those wins going the distance. Neal hasn’t fought in just over a year, but he could take out a perennial contender here and find himself in the title picture going into 2021. Neal is a slight -115 favorite to -105 for Thompson.

Welterweight Bout: #5 Stephen Thompson (15-4-1, 170 lbs.) vs. #11 Geoff Neal (13-2, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Thompson is an inch taller but the reach is identical. Southpaw for Neal, Thompson opens orthodox but will switch it up. Thompson has some high kicks blocked. Neal showing some stance changes now as well. Thompson lands an inside calf kick then a side kick to the body. Neal blocks a high kick. Thompson jabs the body as Neal starts coming forward. Right from Thompson, bit of a counter from Neal. Neal lands a left, but eats a counter combination. One two from Thompson. Thompson with some jabs as he’s moving. Spinning back kick to the body from Thompson. Thompson is picking at Neal constantly, Neal hasn’t found any sustained success. Neal lands a leg kick. Left from Thompson lands. Neal blocks a high kick, misses a counter left. A wheel kick from Thompson is blocked. Both men miss power hand punches, and we get a clash of heads and Thompson is cut around the inside of the right eyebrow and Neal looks to have a cut around his right eyelid. That’s unfortunate for both men. They touch gloves on the restart, purely an accidental clash there. They feint away the final seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Thompson

ROUND TWO: Both of those cuts are pretty bad, but Neal’s is in a much worse spot, being under the eyebrow while Thompson’s is a bit more vertical near the inside of his right eyebrow by the bridge of the nose. Thompson lands a side kick to the body. High kick from Thompson is blocked. Neal lands a front kick to the body. Neal punches into a clinch and they hit the fence. Some lefts from Neal but Thompson spins free then lands a right. Hard right from Thompson then a body kick behind it. Thompson ducks under a hook, he’s moving very well so far. Side kick to the body from Thompson. Neal blocks a few blows. Body kick then a head kick from Thompson. Neal eats a right and lands a body kick. Thompson with a right to the body, he’s got a good feel for how to attack Neal thus far. Neal blocks a high kick but eats a blitz attack. Jab from Thompson, then he kicks the body and moves off of the fence. Right to the body from Thompson, Thompson is fighting brilliantly thus far. Another jab from Thompson, both men’s cuts are bleeding again. They trade body kicks. Thompson lands a jab, Neal with a leg kick. Another right from Thompson lands. Thompson with a right, he’s leading Neal around the cage at this point. Lunging right from Thompson lands. Neal gets close and lands a left, Thompson responds with a combination as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Thompson, 20-18 Thompson overall

ROUND THREE: Some jabs from Thompson as the round starts, then a side kick to the body. Neal blocks a high kick. Bit of a right from Neal. Thompson lands a right to the body. Bit of a right from Thompson, then a right uppercut. High kick from Thompson partially lands. Neal blocks a body kick and lands a left then clinches up. Knee to the body from Thompson. Both men with some knees but things are stalling out a bit here. Thompson spins free and separates. High kick from Thompson lands, then some jabs while circling. Neal walks onto a right, he’s trying to force things now though. Both men land punches as they clinch up again. They break, and Thompson lands a front kick to the body. Bit of a right from Thompson and he avoids some jabs. Neal lands a right. They both miss blows then clinch up again. Thompson has gotten away from the body work, pity as that was some of his best work. Thompson spins free of the clinch and lands a head kick then a series of punches. Neal misses a one two. Neal lands a body kick, Thompson returns it. Let from Neal, Thompson fires a head kick that’s blocked as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Thompson, 30-27 Thompson overall

ROUND FOUR: They touch gloves for the fourth. Thompson with a combination that’s partially blocked. Thompson lands a straight right. Neal lands a jab, and eats a counter right. Right to the body from Thompson. Side kick to the body from Thompson, he’s peppering Neal as Neal comes forward. Thompson lands a body kick, Neal forces a clinch. Knee from Thompson, then he blocks a spinning back fist as he exits the clinch. Jabs then a right from Thompson. Neal lands a left, Thompson responds with a right elbow. Thompson lands a side kick to the body then a body kick. Neal slips on a kick, Thompson lets him stand back up. Neal blocks a couple of punches but he’s struggling with offense. Right from Thompson, then another one. Thompson lands a left. Body kick from Thompson, Neal sends it back. Neal ducks under a high kick. Another body kick from Thompson. Neal punches into the clinch again. Some knees to the thigh from Neal. The round will end in the clinch.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Thompson, 40-36 Thompson overall

ROUND FIVE: It looks like Thompson tweaked his right knee at the end of that round, let’s see how that plays. Both men working jabs. Neal punches close and they trade for a moment. Thompson with a right then a left hook. Neal eats a straight right. Jabs from Thompson then a body kick. Some body shots from Thompson. Neal lands a right, they trade in the pocket for a moment but Thompson isn’t going to do that for long. Thompson avoids a punch, lands a couple of counters. Those body shots are getting to Neal now. They trade power hand punches. A combination from Thompson partially lands. Thompson is touching Neal, they clinch up and Thompson lands some more body shots as they hit the fence. Thompson spins free and resumes sticking and moving. Neal lands a one two, Thompson hits the body in response. Hard right from Thompson, Neal responds with a left. They get close and swing for the final couple of seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Thompson but that could have gone to Neal, 50-45 Thompson overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Stephen Thompson via unanimous decision (50-45 x3)

Enjoyable fight, Thompson might be almost 40 but he’s a hard puzzle to figure out. I do think Neal still has a world of potential, we’ll have to see how he rebounds from this. Mic time for Thompson, he says the fight and win feels great then notes he broke both hands in his last fight but he’s glad to be back. Asked about the knee issue in the fifth he says he couldn’t straighten the leg and had to work around it, then puts over Neal as a rock solid opponent. He says he’s coming for the title in 2021, and loves the fans. Asked about what he wants next, he wants a fight between himself, the Nicest MFer and the BMF Masvidal. I mean they already fought and Thompson already beat Masvidal, but OK.

Alright everyone, on that note the UFC’s 2020 comes to an end. Thank you all for reading, be that live or after the fact. I’ll have my Year End Awards column up in the near future, so please be on the lookout for that. Tomorrow on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast we’ll review this event, but that’s kind of it for a few weeks. The UFC wont be back until January 16, but you can bet I’ll be back for it. Until next time everyone, stay safe out there and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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Robert Winfree