UFC on ESPN 40 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Vicente Luque vs. Geoff Neal: Bettors Sleeping on Underdog (Saturday, August 6)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight Geoff Neal
Vicente Luque vs. Geoff Neal Odds
|Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings.
Easily one of the most anticipated fights on Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 40 card goes down in the co-main-event slot with a pair of ranked welterweights. No. 6-ranked Vicente Luque hopes to rebound after Belal Muhammad snapped his four-fight winning streak back in April.
No. 13 Geoff Neal, meanwhile, is on a mission to reclaim the hype and success of his run up until his first main event opportunity, when he fell to the hands of Stephen Thompson. Since then he also lost to Neil Magny but rebounded with a close decision victory over Santiago Ponzinibbio in his most recent trip to the Octagon.
Can Neal survive the inevitable war that Luque will drag him into? Or will Luque drown him with a firefight? Read on to find out as we break down the matchup and look for betting angles.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||9:11||10:02|
|Weight (pounds)||170 lbs.||170 lbs.|
|Date of birth||11/27/1991||8/28/1990|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||5.30||4.63|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||5.18||4.91|
|Take Down Avg||0.54||0.50|
Saturday’s ESPN-televised co-headliner is a great clash of striking styles as Luque enjoys firefights while Neal likes to keep things clean.
Luque is a solid technical striker, though his striking defense leaves a lot to be desired. He lands 5.3 significant strikes per 15 minutes while absorbing 5.18 in return. Luque is not gunshy by any means, which will likely give him the advantage on output in this fight.
His durability has allowed him to stay in fights that most fighters would’ve been finished in, and that gives him every opportunity to get the job done. A perfect example of this was his war against Bryan Barberena. Had that fight gone another six seconds, he would’ve lost on the scorecards.
Luque’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt could help him should this fight get dragged into the grappling realm. However, he’s not one to really seek those grappling exchanges. The last time he attempted a takedown was March 2017, when he got Leon Edwards down twice. On the flip side, Neal stuffs takedowns at an 85% clip.
Neal is a little more conservative with his output but still manages to land 4.63 significant strikes per 15 minutes. Statistically, he absorbs more than he lands, though a large part of that is because of the Thompson fight in which he got outstruck nearly 3-1.
Neal is very dangerous with his power and has finished three UFC fights by KO while landing five knockdowns in his eight total UFC appearances. Although Luque has yet to be knocked out in 30 professional MMA bouts, Neal has all the tools to be the first. His mix of technique and power is difficult for a lot of fighters to deal with.
I think the public has forgotten the heat that was surrounding Neal’s name after he got fanned out by Thompson. That fight was a pick’em at the sportsbooks, which is a good reminder of just how hyped he was. Having back-to-back losses against difficult stylistic matchups seems to be impacting this line, which I believe should be much closer.
Luque vs. Neal Pick
It is almost guaranteed that this fight will play out on the feet. We’ll have the volume and durability of Luque going up against the technical discipline and precision of Neal’s striking.
With how hittable Luque is, I expect this fight to be closely contested, which is why I think the odds are a bit wide here. Luque does himself no favors by throwing himself into the fire every time, and that can’t be a wise approach against Neal, who will take advantage of those openings.
It was not that long ago that Luque went to a split decision with Mike Perry, who in my opinion is the closest stylistic comparison we have from Luque’s former opponents to Neal. Neal has way more finesse and discipline than Perry, which leads me to believe he’ll land the more effective strikes.
This will come down to how Neal reacts to the volume and pressure of Luque. I trust in the Fortis MMA coaching staff to have Neal prepared and have counters ready to spring whenever they see their openings.
I see finishing opportunities for Neal, especially if he can consistently find his counters here, though I’m not counting out the possibility of him landing the more damaging blows and getting the nod on scorecards over the volume that Luque will be landing. That’s why I’m focusing on the moneyline, straight up, with Neal being given a 38.5% implied chance at victory, which is just too low.
I think there is solid value on Neal now at +160, and I’d be comfortable betting him down to +130.
I think he will shock some people while reminding others that he is still a high-level talent.
The Pick: Neal +160 (DraftKings)