Bringing an end to a consecutive run of weekly events that dates all the way back to July 4th, UFC Fight Night 183 looks to end a good year for the sport (terrible for everyone else) with a bang.
Boasting a card which features two former champions as well as two former title challengers, the main event of Saturday’s fight card will see welterweight contenders Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Geoff Neal square off while Jose Aldo and Marlon Vera will take co-main event duties.
Add in what could be Anthony Pettis’ final UFC bout on the preliminary card while the exciting duo of Marlon Moraes and Rob Font will meet on the main card and UFC Fight Night 183 could be a late contender for event of the year.
Stephen Thompson (15-4-1) vs. Geoff Neal (13-2)
This is a big step-up for Neal and to be doing it after a serious medical incident makes this task even harder.
Thompson is arguably the toughest problem to solve on the feet in the UFC as his use of range and positioning is second to none.
Add in his experience over five rounds and his ability on the counter and I think this is too far a step for Neal at this moment.
Neal to his credit looks to be accurate, powerful and produces a decent output but his hospitalisation earlier this year is a big red flag over this fight.
Pick: Stephen Thompson
Jose Aldo (28-7) vs. Marlon Vera (18-6-1)
This is a great fight to determine where both men are positioned at bantamweight.
Aldo is coming off of a bad ending to his fight against champion Petr Yan but he was still competitive in that bout before the momentum began to mount up against him.
Vera meanwhile is a natural finisher and while he does tend to start slow, the pressure he applies does gradually build and he’s durable enough to wade through damage.
I think this will be competitive throughout but I don’t think Aldo has massively dropped off despite a slump of three straight defeats. With his speed and the fact that this is just over 15 minutes, I think Aldo will have enough on the feet to at least pick up two rounds on the judges’ scorecards.
Pick: Jose Aldo
Michel Pereira (24-11, 2 NC) vs. Khaos Williams (11-1)
Pereira is clearly the x-factor in this fight as his bizarrely entertaining approach can mean anything from attacks off of the cage to backflips for no reason.
His last outing did display a calmer gameplan however and that composed version of Pereira coupled with his remarkable athleticism could be a big problem for those at welterweight.
Williams meanwhile has simply been a demolition man since joining the UFC. While his career outside of the octagon has seen him be somewhat of a brawler, his most recent KO of Abdul Razak Alhassan showed a composure that fantastically complimented his explosive power.
It’s a tough fight to pick as both can produce a fight-ending strike at a moments notice but I’ll side with Williams to find a counter to Pereira’s wildness.
Pick: Khaos Williams
Marlon Moraes (23-7-1) vs. Rob Font (17-4)
Font is a lovely boxer to watch and his one-two is a thing of beauty. For him to win this fight he’ll have to keep up his higher output and try to ward off Moraes’ thumping leg kicks.
Thanks to a torn ACL however, I’m sceptical of Font’s mobility to dart in and out of range as he has never shown a propensity to check kicks in the past.
Due to Moraes’ heavy kicking game, I think the Brazilian will thump away at Font’s legs and prevent his opposition from stringing together his boxing.
Pick: Marlon Moraes
Marcin Tybura (20-6) vs. Greg Hardy (7-2, 1 NC)
For Hardy to win, I think he’ll have to land early.
Tybura is by far the more technical, his more than willing to grind his opponent out on the mat and has the fat deeper gas tank.
Hardy’s physically imposing size is a concern due to Tybura’s small stature but I think he has far too much experience and technique for Hardy.
Pick: Marcin Tybura
(Last Predictions: 3/5, Total: 133/199, 67% Success Rate)
(Success Rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19′: 57%)