Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Stories And Characters of UFC On ESPN: Thompson vs. Neal

UFC on ESPN: Thompson vs. Neal (UFC Vegas 17) takes place this Saturday, December 19, 2020, in what will be the final UFC card of the year. Here is a look at the stories and characters of Saturday’s showcase.

Marcin Tybura vs. Greg Hardy: The Prince’s War Against Order and Normalcy

The Characters

Marcin Tybura: The cool, composed Pole who looks to steady the storm from The Prince of War on behalf of all traditionalists and purists.

Greg Hardy: “The Prince of War” Greg Hardy seeking to upset the heavyweight MMA waters.

The Story

Greg Hardy has continued to improve his composure in every outing he has had thus far, but at UFC Vegas 17, he will be going against one of the coolest customers in the heavyweight division. With a victory, Greg Hardy will upset a lot of his detractors and also some traditionalists by potentially getting ranked after the win.

When Greg Hardy first appeared on UFC programming in Dana White’s Contender Series, he fought like an unrefined brawler who could cause a major ruckus with the right touch-ups. There were still many questions about if he belonged in the UFC, both in terms of whether or not he had the required skill set so soon or even if he deserved to be in the promotion considering the domestic violence accusations against him. With a victory over a fighter the caliber of Marcin Tybura, Greg Hardy would put the entire MMA world on notice that he is here to stay and that he is now turning the corner toward heavyweight domination through means of a much more measured yet equally destructive form of warfare.

The Conclusion: To Be Continued 

Gillian Robertson vs. Taila Santos: Two Women Enter, Two Will Win

The Characters

Gillian Robertson: A Savage looking to crack the top 10 of the flyweight rankings.

Taila Santos: A prospect to watch who is one split-decision shy of a perfect 17-0 record.

The Story

This fight is a story of the number two. It is one fighter’s mad dash to snap this number and the other’s determination to avoid having any contact with it.

Every time Gillian Robertson picks up a dominant win and/or submission, her potential screams a victory cry, and she makes it appear as though she could run through anybody put in front of her. However, whenever Robertson gets going and looks like she is about to go on a winning streak, the streak ends before it could really get started. To be precise, it ends right at the number two. Twice Gillian Robertson had a two-fight winning streak, and both times it was snapped on the third fight. Robertson will look to make the third time the charm and finally boost a winning streak above the number two.

UFC Vegas 17 will give Gillian Robertson an opportunity to grab a three-fight winning streak for the first time and begin getting over the hump on her way to the top of the flyweight division. In order to do so, she must hand Taila Santos only the second loss of her almost flawless career. Either way, the number two is going to stalk one of these women out of the cage at UFC Vegas 17.

The Conclusion: To Be Continued

Marlon Moraes vs. Rob Font: The Disappearing Or Reappearing Of Magic

The Characters

“Magic” Marlon Moraes: Former title contender looking to get back into contention one win at a time.

Rob Font: A veteran with an opportunity to prove he is not a gatekeeper by making the magic man disappear from the top 5.

The Story

Marlon Moraes has been on the giving end of some savage knockouts in his time that made the nickname “Magic” quite fitting for the Brazilian. 10 of Moraes’ 23 wins have come by KO, but his two UFC knockouts over Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera in particular left spectators giving a bow of respect as the magician left the stage. But has the magic disappeared?

Marlon Moraes has lost two of his last three fights; and many, including UFC president Dana White, believe he’s really lost three in a row, with the lone win coming against Jose Aldo in a controversial split decision. At UFC Vegas 17, Rob Font will look to dispel the illusion that Marlon Moraes is still in possession of the same tricks that’s captivated fans in the past. Meanwhile, Moraes could very well end the fight in the snap of an instant and return his magic right back to center stage.

The Conclusion: To Be Continued

Khaos Williams vs. Michel Pereira: Two Thiefs Bump In The Night

The Characters

Michel Pereira: The ultimate, self-proclaimed showman looks to win two consecutive UFC fights for the first time.

Khaos Williams: A medical specialist holding powerful barbiturates in his hands who is looking to once again ensure his opponent is not awake to see the second round. 

The Story

Both Michel Pereira and Khaos Williams have become known for stealing the show. 50% of their combined six UFC fights have resulted in a performance bonus. The question at UFC Vegas 17 is, will these two professional robbers steal the show together in a Fight of the Night-caliber outing, or will one strongarm the other and take all the credit and the spoils of an extra $50,000 for the heist?

Michel Pereira may bring his theatrics into the cage with him, which could result in some more viral highlights in his favor, or it could open him up to Khaos putting another patient to sleep for the doctor to wake up. As for the fans: Don’t blink.

The Conclusion: To Be Continued

Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Vera: A King Without A New Throne

The Characters

Jose Aldo: The former featherweight king still looking to solidify himself in a new territory.

Marlon Vera: The impassioned Ecuadorian with an opportunity to enter the bantamweight top 10.

The Story

Jose Aldo was undefeated in the featherweight division for over a decade. His lone loss from 2004-2014 took place in a lightweight bout outside of the WEC/UFC. It wasn’t until his 2015 loss to Conor McGregor that Aldo lost in the featherweight division. After losing three other title bouts over the next few years to Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski, the one-time featherweight king decided to venture out into the bantamweight division.

Much like his 2005 loss at lightweight, Jose Aldo has been unable to find success in another division. Aldo has had two fights at bantamweight, and both were losses. This makes Jose Aldo 0-3 in non-featherweight fights.

Many people believe Jose Aldo defeated Marlon Moraes at UFC 245, but the record books say otherwise. Jose Aldo is a proud king unfamiliar with mediocrity. His mere presence in the bantamweight division means he believes he can become champion. This fight against a young, hungry Marlon Vera is the first step in his ascension to a second throne. But there stands Marlon Vera right in Aldo’s path, prepared to take the torch and continue the forward march of his own.

The Conclusion: To Be Continued

Stephen Thompson vs. Geoff Neal: Wonderboy Battles Time’s Steely Grasp

The Characters

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson: A spellbinding striker who often leaves opponents frozen and mesmerized. 

Geoff Neal: An exciting knockout artist rising up the ranks and eying potential top-5 status during his physical prime.

The Story

Stephen Thompson does not like the word “gatekeeper.” For Thompson, this word implies complacency and a ceiling that seemingly everyone can look up and see except for the poor gatekeeper himself, who just stares forward at the next up-and-comer that advances his way. But Wonderboy believes he still has many adventures ahead of him, which includes another run at finally becoming welterweight champion.

The best way to shake a “gatekeeper” label is to win, but to do so, the 37-year-old Thompson will need to use his experience and technique to mentally break the Handz of Steel. Thompson may very well be the best technical striker to ever compete in the welterweight division, but Geoff Neal will look to use his clenched fists to show that not even Wonderboy can escape the steely grasp of time. 

The Conclusion: To Be Continued

Tune in this Saturday for the exciting conclusion of UFC on ESPN: Thompson vs. Neal’s stories, with the main card kicking off at 7:00 PM ET and the prelims beginning at 4:00 PM ET.