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Stephen Thompson defeats Geoff Neal in UFC Vegas 17 main event

The Ultimate Fighting Championship held their final event of 2020 on Saturday with UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs Neal at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. No. 5 ranked welterweight Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson faced No. 11 ranked Geoff Neal in the fight card’s main event.

Thompson and Neal closed out the year by going the distance in a fight that left both fighters bloodied and bruised.

Neal pressured Thompson but was unable to box him in. Thompson moved along the perimeter of the octagon using his jab to keep Neal at distance. Thompson employed a high-output offense and used his footwork to avoid Neal’s forward attacks.

During the first round, the two had an accidental collision of heads leaving both fighters cut. When the fight resumed, Thompson went back to landing his jab. In the second frame, Thompson continued to stick and move. He outworked Neal and set the pace of the bout.

Neal had his moments but had a difficult time finding Thompson with strikes. He struggled to get inside on Thompson and resorted to rushing forward with a flurry of punches.

In the closing seconds of the fourth frame, Thompson injured his right leg. As the round ended, Thompson checked his leg and limped to his corner. There was visible swelling about his right knee.

In the final round, Thompson’s movement was compromised. He was able to move but Neal began to connect with power punches. Thompson fired back, winning the round, but Neal had his best round in the final one. After 25 minutes of fighting, all three judges scored the fight for Thompson 50-45.

“I’ve been off for a year. I broke both of my hands in my last fight a year ago at UFC 244. I took a year off. This is the longest time I’ve actually been off, and I’ve been in the fight game for a while,” Thompson said after the decision victory.

“Geoff is a tough, tough opponent. He’s just rock solid Every punch I hit him with, he just kept on coming.”

With the win, Thompson is now riding a two-fight winning streak and wants a fight with someone ranked ahead of him in the division.

“This is two in a row. I’m definitely working my way up. Give me somebody. I want to see the NMF verses the BMF. Let’s make that happen. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson verses Jorge Masvidal. I know he’s talking about fighting Colby Covington, but we’ll see,” Thompson said.

“Wonderboy is still here. That title. 2021 is going to be mine. You watch and see, but I’m just glad to be back.”

The fight card featured four top 15 ranked bantamweights that resulted in a big shakeup in the 135-pound division. In the co-main event, former two-time featherweight champion and No. 7 ranked bantamweight Jose Aldo faced No. 15 ranked Marlon “Chito” Vera.

In the first round, Aldo and Vera engaged in a technical striking battle with both fighters landing leg kicks. Midway through the frame Aldo began targeting Vera’s body.

Vera pressured Aldo in the second frame as Aldo continued to connect to midsection. Vera tied Aldo up and delivered knees to the body and legs of the Brazilian. Vera landed a counter left hand near the end of the round. Heading into the final frame, the fight was even.

Between rounds, Aldo’s coach asked him to take Vera down. Aldo did just that early in the stanza. He took Vera’s back and remained on it for the rest of the round. All three judges scored the contest 29-28 for Aldo.

“It’s important to come back in the win column. It’s important to win. I have to thank all the people that trained me and the people that have been sticking around with us all a long. I have to thank them all,” Aldo said after the decision win.

Aldo snapped a three-fight losing streak with the win. Back in the win column, Aldo called out the former champion.

“As far as my next fight, it will be (TJ) Dillashaw. We’ve been talking about Dillashaw a lot. Dana, make it happen,” he said.

RELATED > UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs. Neal Live Results

No. 11 ranked Rob Font stopped No. 3 ranked Marlon Moraes in the opening round of their bout. Moraes secured early takedowns but wasn’t able to keep Font grounded. Once on his feet, Font dominated Moraes. He put together combinations and staggered Moraes with a stiff jab. He dropped Moraes with an uppercut and it was just a matter of time before the finish came.

Font delivered punches, elbows and hammer fists until the referee stepped in to stop the fight. It was Font’s first bout in 2020, and the win puts him on a three-fight winning streak.

“It’s been a long time. It’s been a whole year sitting around. It was my third big opportunity. I finally took advantage of it. I’m feeling emotional right now,” Font said following the win.

“Once I hit him I felt him just give out. I just had to stay on top of him. I thought it went a little longer than it should have, but I’m not complaining.”

In the featured bout on the preliminary fight card, former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis defeated Alex Morono in a welterweight bout During his post-fight interview, Pettis announced his intentions to return to the 155-pound weight class.

“I’m going back down to 55. I felt amazing at 170, but my goal is at 155. Before I’m all said and done, I want to go back and get that belt,” Pettis said.”

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Economy

Stocks Could Have a Muted Year, Even if the Economy Booms – Barron's

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Welcome to the Roaring ’20s. When the world finally bids good riddance to Covid-19, courtesy of a bevy of novel vaccines, expect Americans to emerge from their lairs with a joie de vivre not seen since the 1920s. That’s marvelous news for the economy, which could use some cheer after a punishing year, and for the many companies that will help keep the good times rolling.

Just don’t expect the party on Main Street to spread to Wall Street, which had a rollicking celebration of its own this past year. As a consequence, stock…

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The economy is ailing again and layoffs are rising, but vaccines offer hope for cure – MarketWatch

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It’s not just the lives of Americans that rest on a quick rollout of coronavirus vaccines, it’s the livelihoods of millions of people who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Almost every forecast for the U.S. economy predicts a big rebound in growth and employment in 2021, but it sure doesn’t feel that way right now with the coronavirus still spreading like wildfire.

The last few weeks alone have shown weaker hiring, rising layoffs, and declining consumer spending, all of which point to a faltering economy.

Many businesses have closed, cut their operating hours and laid off workers, leaving some 10 million Americans who had jobs before the pandemic still out of work.

Also: The U.S. lost 140,000 jobs in December. How bad was it?

The bad news hasn’t stopped investors from piling more money into the stock market, however. They are also betting on a big rebound in the economy this year and next.

What they are watching most is the speed at which the vaccines are administered, how rapidly the pandemic recedes and what steps new President Joe Biden will take to boost the economy until the crisis passes.

Read: Consumer inflation increases in December on higher gas prices

Does that render moot the next month or two of economic data, the stuff that usually moves markets. Not all all.

These reports will tell us how much ground the economy has lost in the past few months, how much ground it has to make up —- and whether the hoped-for snapback in the economy is actually underway.

“Do the data over the next few months matter? They certainly do,” said Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial.

The key measure to watch is weekly jobless benefit claims, one of the few weekly government reports that’s very sensitive to changes in the health of the economy.

See: MarketWatch Economic Calendar

Jobless claims, a rough measure of layoffs, began to rise again in November just as the latest and biggest wave of coronavirus cases spread across the country. Last week new claims surged to almost 1 million from a pandemic low of 711,000 two and a half months ago.

Read: Jobless claims surge to 5-month high of 965,000

The report is not without its problems. A government watchdog agency found that jobless claims have been inflated during the pandemic.

Read: Jobless claims inflated, GAO finds

Also: Why the inaccurate jobless claims report is still useful to investors

Yet the direction of jobless claims has largely followed the path of the coronavirus cases and the resulting ups and downs in employment.

The latest snapshot on claims will be the most important report next week after the Martin Luther King holiday which closes financial markets on Monday, but most attention next week will be directed toward the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday.

Read: U.S. budget deficit climbs to $144 billion in December – and more red ink on the way

On Thursday Biden outlined a sweeping new proposal for up to $2 trillion in federal spending that included $1,400 cash payments to households, supplemental unemployment payments, and money for distributing COVID-19 vaccines, among other items, but it’s unclear how much will eventually pass Congress and how long it will take to filter into the broader economy. Stay tuned.

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Stocks Could Have a Muted Year, Even if the Economy Booms – Barron's

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Welcome to the Roaring ’20s. When the world finally bids good riddance to Covid-19, courtesy of a bevy of novel vaccines, expect Americans to emerge from their lairs with a joie de vivre not seen since the 1920s. That’s marvelous news for the economy, which could use some cheer after a punishing year, and for the many companies that will help keep the good times rolling.

Just don’t expect the party on Main Street to spread to Wall Street, which had a rollicking celebration of its own this past year. As a consequence, stock…

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