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When Stephen Thompson fights at his pace and on his terms, he remains a sight to behold and one of the toughest outs in the sport.
“Wonderboy” outstruck and outmaneuvered rising Fortis MMA star Geoff Neal across five rounds and kept his spot in line in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division, as he was awarded a unanimous decision in the UFC Fight Night 183 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Thompson (16-4-1, 11-4-1 UFC) pitched a shutout, earning 50-45 scores from all three cageside judges.
Both men battled through serious cuts, the result of an inadvertent clash of heads in the first round. Neal (13-3, 5-1 UFC) had issues with the karateka’s movement and speed for much of the 25-minute confrontation, enjoying brief periods of success when he managed to close the distance. However, Thompson worked two or three moves ahead in their game of chess. He cut loose with linear punching combinations, zeroed in on the body with spinning kicks and targeted the gash on Neal’s right eyebrow with penetrating jabs. A leg injury suffered near the end of the fourth run limited Thompson’s mobility, but he was all too willing to plant his feet and exchange with the heavy-handed Texan.
The loss was Neal’s first since Jan. 28, 2017, and brought his career-best seven-fight winning streak to an end.
Rejuvenated Aldo Outpoints Vera
Nova Uniao’s Jose Aldo returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in nearly two years, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter Latin America” semifinalist Marlon Vera in the three-round bantamweight co-main event. Aldo (29-7, 11-6 UFC) drew 29-28 scores from all three judges and put a stop to a troubling three-fight losing streak.
Vera (16-7-1, 10-6 UFC) focused his efforts on the legs, attacking the former UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting champion with a steady stream of kicks. He also enjoyed success in the clinch, where he peppered the Brazilian with close-range knees. It was not enough. Aldo responded with crisp punching combinations and some patented leg kicks of his own. He turned in a rare takedown in the third round, climbed onto the Team Oyama export’s back and secured his position with a body triangle. From there, he bled precious time off the clock, frustrated Vera with merciless control and fished for rear-naked chokes.
The setback was just the second in eight appearances for Vera.
Composed Pereira Edges Williams
Front kicks to the body, close-range knee strikes and timely takedowns carried former Serbian Battle Championship titleholder Michel Pereira to a contentious unanimous decision over Kalinn Williams in featured welterweight scrap. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 in favor of Pereira (25-11, 3-2 UFC).
Williams (11-2, 2-1 UFC) struggled to find the Brazilian in a fog of feints and unorthodox movements. He did his best work when he countered kicks with shots to the head and plowed forward behind multi-punch bursts. However, Pereira was behind the dramatic swings in momentum, as he threatened the Murcielago MMA product with a standing rear-naked choke at the end of the second round and connected with a head kick and backed it up by pairing a takedown with meaningful ground-and-pound in the waning seconds of the third.
The defeat halted Williams’ eight-fight winning streak.
Font Blitzes Reeling Moraes
Onetime CES MMA titleholder Rob Font cut down American Top Team’s Marlon Moraes with punches in the first round of their hotly anticipated bantamweight feature. Font (18-4, 8-3 UFC) drew the curtain 3:47 into Round 1, as he extended his winning streak to three fights.
Moraes (23-8-1, 5-4 UFC) surprised the New England Cartel founder with two early takedowns and an attempted guillotine choke, but the former World Series of Fighting champion failed to consolidate his efforts with positional control or ground-and-pound. Back on his feet, Font went to work. A stiff jab drove Moraes backward, and a right uppercut marked the beginning of the end. The Brazilian staggered and collapsed, at which point he was met with a hellacious barrage of punches and hammerfists. Referee Marc Goddard gave Moraes every chance to recover, but Font offered no such refuge.
The 32-year-old Moraes has lost three of his last four fights.
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Resilient Tybura Dismisses Hardy
Former M-1 Global champion Marcin Tybura withstood considerable punishment before putting away Greg Hardy with punches in the second round of their heavyweight showcase. Tybura (21-6, 8-5 UFC) slammed the door 4:31 into Round 2, pushing his run of consecutive victories to four.
Hardy (7-3, 4-3 UFC) attacked the body and head with equal aplomb in the first round — during one sequence, he connected with six or seven right hands in succession — and appeared to have everything in order. Tybura had other plans. The Syndicate MMA-trained Pole moved Hardy backward with punches and pressure, executed a takedown and climbed to half guard against the former National Football League Pro Bowler. Fatigued and out of his element, Hardy wilted. After delivering a few knees to the body, Tybura cut loose with punches and hammerfists. Hardy was unresponsive, even as referee Dan Miragliotta hovered above urging him to defend himself. Soon after, Miragliotta moved in to call for the stoppage.
The setback snapped Hardy’s two-fight winning streak.