Stephen Thompson faced Contender Series veteran Geoff Neal in the main event of UFC Vegas 17 tonight and picked up a unanimous decision. The scorecard was 50-45 across the board.
Both the fighters gave their all inside the Octagon, going all the five rounds in a tremendous back and forth.
It started slow as the two fighters measured each other up with low sidekicks mixed up with occasional punches. The action soon picked up pace with combination strikes and counterstrikes.
Towards the end of the first round, Geoff Neal's head hit Stephen Thompson hard above the eye accidentally in an illegal headbutt, cutting open both of them above the eye and forcing the referee to call for a timeout.
The second round saw Stephen Thompson land a series of body kicks and heavy strikes while Geoff Neal kept his guard high. 'Wonderboy' continued to be too quick, giving little to no opportunity to Neal to deliver.
Towards the end of Round 2, Neal managed to land a big left successfully, and in the third, closed the gap in the fight delivering some well-aimed strikes and clinching along the fence. Round three and four continued in the same vein - Geoff Neal had the odd big punch or two but Wonderboy dominated with his elusive movement, surgical striking and also displayed a solid chin.
Going into the fifth round, Stephen Thompson's right knee showed distinct signs of injury with a big swelling. The slug fest continued, despite both fighters bleeding and looking exhausted after four rounds of action.
Despite the absolute brutal action, Stephen Thompson stayed true to the gentleman he is, and constantly enquired after his opponent, asking Geoff Neal if he was okay despite continuing to punish him.
Backdrop of the fight - Stephen Thompson vs Geoff Neal
At 38, Stephen Thompson took his current streak to two, coming off a win over Vicente Luque at UFC 244 last year. Before that he dropped a decision to Darren Till and got knocked out by Anthony Pettis.
A former top contender, the #5 ranked Welterweight initially hoped to return to action landing a fight with a top-ranked fighter in the division.
Despite not getting a top-ranked opponent, Stephen Thompson readily accepted Geoff Neal, who is undoubtedly one of the best-prospects in the 170 lbs. division. Before tonight, 'Handz of Steel' was undefeated in UFC, with five consecutive wins under his belt, including two back-to-back knockout wins over Niko Price and Mike Perry.
But Stephen Thompson also made it clear that he wanted to go out there and either finish Geoff Neal or secure a decisive win to show it to UFC that he deserved a top-ranked opponent and he was not here just to be a gatekeeper for the division.
Stephen Thompson did what he said he would.
Just like Daniel Cormier put it in the post-fight interview, it seemed like 'Wonderboy' had never left.Published 20 Dec 2020, 08:58 IST