The marquee matchup for UFC Vegas 17 saw the promotion’s #5 ranked welterweight, Stephen Thompson, take the #11 rated, Geoff Neal, to striking school, earning three scores of 50-45. Thompson was on fire tonight, sniping his adversary from range, while using his smooth footwork to stay out of harms way. This is the first time that Wonderboy has won back-to-back fights since 2016.
Neal pressed forward as expected with Thompson using his footwork to play the outside. Thompson kept scoring with sharp in and out striking as Neal tried to advance. Neal was struggling to cut the cage off, as Thompson was being his usual self. He would be connect with his hands the few times he was able to get Thompson’s back to the cage. Then, an accidental clash of heads resulted in a bad cut around the eyes of both fighters. The bout was paused for a moment before getting back underway for the remaining few seconds of the round.
Both fighters had cuts in bad spots going into the second round. Neal was quick to close the distance, pressing his foe against the fence. Thompson escaped into open space, and went right back to sharpshooting and playing the matador. Neal was advancing, but really seemed to struggle tracking down his elusive adversary. He was able to land one big combos at the end of the round.
Thompson opened the third frame with a series of jousting straight punches, cutting angles and out-classing Neal. The distance was closed, as Neal was able to stall out Wonderboy against the cage. Thompson would escape into open space and piece up Neal, who was resorting to a wall and stall tactic.
The fourth round saw more of the same sort of striking clinic from Thompson. He was using his rangey techniques to poke at his opponent, and wouldn’t allow Neal to hold him against the cage for very long. Wonderboy was running away with this fight, but seemed to have hurt his foot and limped back to his corner.
Neal came out aggressive in the final act. He went after the one-wheeled Wonderboy, but Thompson was willing to exchange. Despite the foot injury, Thompson was still throwing and landing volume with his hands. Neal was able to press Thompson against the cage with about 90-seconds to go, but again Thompson was able to free himself. The bout came to a close with the two fighters slugging it out in the middle of the Octagon.