The intriguing welterweight matchup between two-time title challenger, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, and emerging striking force, Geoff ‘Handz of Steel’ Neal has been promoted to the main event of UFC Vegas 17 on December 19th. – replacing the COVID-19 stricken matchup of fellow contender, Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards, and streaking upstart, Khamzat ‘Borz’ Chimaev.
Forced from the curtain closing event of 2020 tonight, Birmingham based contender, Edwards recently returned a positive COVID-19 test result, with the promotion hoping to book him opposite the captivating Chimaev at an event in the opening quarter of next year.
According to tonight’s updated report from ESPN MMA’s, Ariel Helwani, the 170-pound pairing of striking talents, Thompson and Neal, which was initially booked for a co-main event showdown will now be promoted to main event status, in a five-round affair.
Slated for his first Octagon outing since UFC 244 in November of last year at Madison Square Garden, Simpsonville striking sensation, Thompson took home a unanimous decision win over the steely, Vicente Luque over three-rounds. The victory placed Thompson back in the winner’s enclosure following a rallying effort from former lightweight best, Anthony Pettis who became the first competitor in mixed martial arts to stop Thompson with strikes.
A product of Dana White’s Contender Series, Austin striker, Neal has won his first five outings under the promotion’s banner. Featuring at UFC 245 in December last, Neal scored a highlight-reel high-kick knockout win over the controversial, Mike Perry.
Expected to clash with former welterweight kingpin, Robbie Lawler at UFC Vegas 8 in August, the Fortis MMA mainstay was forced from the tie after a slew of debilitating health issues, where he was subsequently replaced by division veteran, Magny. The December 19th. showcase will mark Neal’s first headlining tilt since his transition to the Octagon back in February 2018.