Fight Study – December 19, 2020
The Main Event of Saturday’s Fight Night features a welterweight fight between Geoff Neal and Stephen Thompson. Both fighters were victorious in their last visit to the octagon. Neal is the slight favorite in this fight and he will carry the higher salary on DraftKings while being the less expensive fighter on Fanduel. He is available for $8,400 and $19 respectively, and Thompson is priced at $7,800 and $20. This fight is scheduled for five rounds of action, but current odds expect this fight to end before the final bell as a -175 favorite to do so.
Geoff Neal is 13-2 as a professional with 8 wins by KO/TKO, 2 wins by submission and 3 wins by decision. He is a perfect 5-0 in the UFC with finishes in 4 of those fights. Most recently he finished Mike Perry by first round TKO in December of last year. That fight lasted just 90 seconds. Only Belal Muhammad was able to go the distance with Neal in his five fight career in the UFC. He is averaging 103.2 FPPF (DraftKings scoring) and has done so as the considerable favorite each time. This will be his toughest opponent yet and the narrowest odds of any of his fights in the octagon.
Thompson has struggled in the octagon of late going 2-3 over his last five fights. He did lose to top competition with each of those losses coming to current contenders in the welterweight and middleweight divisions. Thompson is one of the most unique fighters in the welterweight divisions coming from a karate background. He is one of the best kickboxers in the UFC and his movement, speed and ability to place kicks and jabs accurately from distance make him a tough draw for any opponent. He will need to remain light on his feet to defeat Neal who will be the much more powerful fighter on Saturday.
This fight looks to be fought primarily on the feet as neither fighter seeks out grappling (over their last five fights each, they have combined for a total of 2 takedowns on just 5 attempts). Thompson will look to stick and move while Neal will look to land the power shots. Thompson’s footwork will make Neal’s job very difficult and may be the difference in this matchup. Thompson has routinely shown his ability to land shots from distance and keep slower fighters from inflicting damage. At age 37, however, it remains to be seen whether or not he still possesses the same speed he did a few years ago.
If this fight goes to the scorecards, Thompson is likely to emerge the winner in this fight. With five rounds of action, Thompson should score well in a decision win. For this reason, I like Thompson a lot on DraftKings where he is priced below average in salary. Neal is also priced much better on DraftKings and is more likely to bring value to his price on that platform. On Fanduel, both fighters are priced well above average and will have a much harder time bringing value to their salaries. Thompson’s movement should present a lot of difficulty for Neal and I believe Neal is going to struggle to score in this fight. For this reason, I will avoid him on Fanduel where he is priced more in relation to the field. Both fighters should get some GPP play, but Thompson is the better cash play for my money. Also, the longer this fight goes, the more things will play into his hands as he has a wealth of experience in five round fights. Neal will be a boom or bust play and will rely primarily on his ability to get a knockout to score well in DFS contests.