There was no shortage of adversity Geoff Neal faced before, during and after his appearance in the main event of UFC Vegas 17 and he has spoken about all of it in a post on social media from last Saturday night.
Neal took on former two-time welterweight challenger and No. 5 ranked contender Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in what would be his first main event billing since the start of his UFC tenure, but this was not original fight Neal was to have in his return to the Octagon. After making quick work of Mike Perry at UFC 245 nearly a year ago, Neal was set to meet Neil Magny at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic in August, but was forced to withdraw due to some serious health issues that essentially brought him to the brink of death.
Neal thankfully recovered and was ready to go by December, but that was not the only issue he had to overcome. Neal was left without his main cornermen from his team out of Fortis MMA — which included head coach Sayif Saud — due to them testing positive for COVID-19 prior to fight week.
“Not the outcome I wanted but I had fun nonetheless,” wrote Neal. “So much adversity dealing leading up to this fight…Sepsis, congestive heart failure, three of my corners testing positive for covid, with one of them being the General [Sayif Saud], but I still made that walk and fought that fight.”
Neal and Thompson fought for all 25 minutes in a very entertaining affair, but the former came up short and lost by way of unanimous decision. Fighting all five rounds with Thompson is an impressive feat in its own right, but it was even more so with Neal having to do it with one eye.
Towards the end of the first round, an accidental headbutt saw both men sustain cuts around the center of their forehead that continued to cause problems for Neal and Thompson for the duration of the fight. Still, Neal fought on and was happy with doing that.
“Couldn’t see out of my right eye for four rounds and still managed to hang in there with a guy who’s been kicking ass since I was, like, nine years old. I don’t know about y’all but I’m proud of me!”
Neal finished his message by thanking his team as well as Thompson, who he deemed the “true definition of a martial artist”. The loss to Thompson marks the first promotional defeat for Neal as well as the end of an impressive seven-fight win streak that began in 2017.
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