UFC Fight Night 183: Thompson vs. Neal main card staff predictions

UFC Fight Night 183 may have lost the much-anticipated Leon Edwards vs. Khamzat Chimaev main event, but this is still a stacked card with a very worthy main event between Stephen Thompson and Geoff Neal. In addition, Canadian-born Gillian Robertson will be taking on Taila Santos on the prelims. The predictions from the MMA Empire team, along with our guest picker, can be found below for the five-fight main card.

Our guest picker is Canada’s own TJ Laramie, who made his UFC debut in September after earning a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series. After falling to Darrick Minner in his debut, Laramie is hoping to be back in the cage in March or April to secure that first UFC win.

2020 standings (thru UFC 256)

1. Cooper Riehl (10-5-1)

T2. Joel Griffith (9-6-1)

T2. Cody Davis (9-6-1)

4. Cody Rempel (8-7-1)

5. Guest picker (7-8-1)

Stephen Thompson vs. Geoff Neal

Cooper Riehl – “The one advantage Neal does have is his power. He’s always going to be one punch away from ending the show. That doesn’t mean he’ll be able to land that punch though. Even with the smaller cage at the UFC Apex, I expect Thompson to stick and move on the outside and slowly pick apart Neal en route to a decision win. It should be a good fight, Thompson is always a joy to watch.” Pick: Stephen Thompson via unanimous decision.

Joel Griffith – “This is a fantastic fight, which I expect to take place entirely on the feet. While Neal’s power is always a threat, Thompson has a much wider variety of strikes to throw Neal’s way. I see Thompson ending this one in highlight-reel fashion.” Pick: Stephen Thompson via knockout.

Cody Davis – “Thompson has the better credentials, but Neal has had over a year to train and prepare for this fight. He’s on a hot streak, and I don’t think it stops on Saturday.” Pick: Geoff Neal via unanimous decision.

Cody Rempel – “Thompson used to look like a surefire bet to be a future champ, but it’s been a rough four years. Thompson recently snapped a 1-3-1 skid with a win over Vicente Luque. Neal is on a roll and will make Thompson work for the win.” Pick: Stephen Thompson via unanimous decision.

TJ Laramie – “Thompson has has the most success against technical strikers, which is what I believe Neal is. Thompson does an amazing job picking apart fighters that come in with nice, clean punches. I believe this fight will be similar to the Vicente Luque match.” Pick: Stephen Thompson via unanimous decision.

Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Vera

Cooper Riehl – “This is a bit of a step up in competition for Vera. Aldo might be getting older, but he’s still a top-level talent. I expect Aldo to find success on the feet, especially with his leg kicks and going to the body. Vera has the tendency to get into a firefight, and the last person you want to do that with is Aldo. I think Aldo gets it done.” Pick: Jose Aldo via TKO.

Joel Griffith – “This is a tough fight to pick because there are so many ways it can play out. Ultimately, I see Aldo’s leg kicks and volume taking over the fight. Vera has never been finished in his career, and I don’t see Aldo being the first to accomplish that, but I do see Aldo getting the better of Vera over three rounds.” Pick: Jose Aldo via unanimous decision.

Cody Davis – “I love Aldo, but come on–why is he still fighting? He’s never been the same since his infamous knockout loss to Conor McGregor, and his last three fights have been ugly. Like Anderson Silva and Junior dos Santos, his time has passed, and his performances are just getting embarrassing at this point.” Pick: Marlon Vera via knockout.

Cody Rempel – “With how dominant Aldo was for so long, it’s crazy to think how rough the road has been since Conor McGregor took his title way back in 2015. Maybe the game has passed Aldo by, and he’s facing another tough youngster, but Aldo should have enough left in the tank to get by the durable Vera.” Pick: Jose Aldo via unanimous decision.

TJ Laramie – “Aldo has fought the much better competition and has had way more success throughout his career, even recently as well. He gave Petr Yan the best match so far. Vera is tough and resilient, but I just don’t see him putting it together in a three-round fight to beat Aldo.” Pick: Jose Aldo via unanimous decision.

Michel Pereira vs. Khaos Williams

Cooper Riehl – “The only thing I know for sure about this fight is that it’s going to be exciting. I’m going to side with Pereira in this one based on his experience. I think Pereira will be able to avoid the power of Williams and land some shots of his own on the feet. Williams has insane power, but has some holes defensively, in my opinion.” Pick: Michel Pereira via TKO.

Joel Griffith – “This one is going to be chaos. Williams is coming in hot with back-to-back 30-second knockouts to start his UFC career, while Pereira is coming off his best performance yet. Pereira really toned down the extracurricular stuff in that last outing, and we really saw what he’s capable of. If that’s the Pereira we see Saturday night, he rolls here.” Pick: Michel Pereira via TKO.

Cody Davis – “Pereira will ride the momentum from his impressive win in September into Saturday night, and get the decision victory.” Pick: Michel Pereira via unanimous decision.

Cody Rempel – “Pereira is flashy, exciting, and an absolute blast to watch, but that doesn’t always translate to wins (see Connely vs. Pereira). Williams has been a buzzsaw, coming into the UFC with two knockout victories in a combined 0:57. Pereira is elusive enough to make this one last a little longer, but I still see Williams staying unbeaten in his UFC tenure.” Pick: Khaos Williams via TKO.

TJ Laramie – “This fight is extremely hard to call because we haven’t seen enough of Williams. But what we have seen is that he’s extremely explosive and powerful, with nice, clean, straight punches as well. Pereira tends to gas and be more loopy and wild with his striking. Also, he hasn’t shown much on the ground.” Pick: Khaos Williams via TKO.

Marlon Moraes vs. Rob Font

Cooper Riehl – “Font is a really well-rounded fighter and he’s never been knocked out, while Moraes is known for being a fast-starter. I like this matchup a lot. Font has proven he’s an elite fighter, but I think Moraes will be able to get back into the win column. Although he’s had a rough three-fight stretch, I expect him to be at his best this weekend.” Pick: Marlon Moraes via unanimous decision.

Joel Griffith – “This is a very well-matched fight and a big test for the well-rounded Font. While I can’t see him finishing the durable Font, I think Moraes’ speed and power will be the difference-makers over three rounds.” Pick: Marlon Moraes via unanimous decision.

Cody Davis – “No reach advantage? No problem–Moraes has black belts in muay thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Font is simply outmatched in this fight.” Pick: Marlon Moraes via submission.

Cody Rempel – “Moraes needs a win to stay relevant at bantamweight, as recent losses and a controversial split decision have him clinging to the No. three spot. Font is trending in the other direction, winning three of his last four, and is definitely capable of the slight upset here.” Pick: Rob Font via TKO.

TJ Laramie – “Although Moraes has shown amazing champion potential, his last two fights have not gone his way. Font is extremely consistent and well-rounded. I believe he’ll start to pick Moraes apart as the fight goes on.” Pick: Rob Font via unanimous decision.

Marcin Tybura vs. Greg Hardy

Cooper Riehl – “As much as I don’t like the guy, Hardy impresses me a little bit more every time he steps in the octagon. Tybura has a lot of skills for a heavyweight, but he tends to brawl a bit too much for my liking. I expect Hardy to land a power shot. He has a speed advantage on the feet, and he pretty much always holds the advantage athletically over his opponent.” Pick: Greg Hardy via TKO.

Joel Griffith – “This is a good test for Hardy, and I think it sets up perfectly for him. Hardy’s speed and power is what’s led to much of his success in the UFC so far, and Tybura is most definitely susceptible to those strengths of Hardy. I expect a quick one here.” Pick: Greg Hardy via knockout.

Cody Davis – “Hardy is an outstanding athlete, but his martial arts skills just aren’t there for this matchup. Tybura’s black belt in brazilian jiu-jitsu will carry the day.” Pick: Marcin Tybura via submission.

Cody Rempel – “Unfortunately, the UFC is still pushing Hardy. While Tybura has won three straight, he’s susceptible to the knockout, and if there’s one thing Hardy has it’s knockout power. So, while I’m hoping for a Tybura win, the smart money is on Hardy.” Pick: Greg Hardy via TKO.

TJ Laramie – “I believe athleticism goes a long way when it comes to this division, as Hardy has proven in his run thus far. His lack of technical skill is easily made up in speed and power, which I think Tybura lacks.” Pick: Greg Hardy via knockout.