Geoff Neal may very well have earned the 2018 Knockout of the Year honors with his UFC 228 head-kick knockout of Frank Camacho, but he’s not resting on his laurels.
On January 19, when the UFC debuts on ESPN+ in Brooklyn, New York, Neal will take a big step up in competition as he battles Belal Muhammad. Muhammad is currently 14-2 as a professional, and there is no question that this will be Neal’s toughest fight to date.
“He is a tough dude, he is good everywhere. He is similar to my last opponent but just a way better version,” Neal said to BJPENN.com. “Better cardio, he has better defense but he still comes forward and likes to pressure fighters. The game plan for him is going to be very similar to my last fight to this fight.”
For this fight, Neal is back at Fortis MMA, and training there has made him a better fighter. Neal has gotten in better shape, and is stronger since his last fight and can’t wait to show it off.
While he is a fighter in the UFC, Neal also still has a full-time job. The welterweight is a waiter by night, and although he is starting to fight higher-level competition, he will continue to work his job.
“I am still doing that. The money goes away real quick,” he said, explaining why he still works full-time. “I still have money, but I don’t want to be digging into my pockets right now.”
Although he’s busy with this second job, Neal still puts in hours at the gym daily. He knows he has what it takes to be a UFC champion, and that he has the power to knock anybody out. Ultimately, that is the plan going into this fight against Muhammad.
“The plan is always to get the fight finished in the first round. I am fighting a tough dude,” Neal said. “Anybody who knows anything about MMA knows who Belal Muhammad is. But, they don’t know about me yet so this is a good fight to get my name out there.”
While Neal is looking forward to fighting on ESPN+ and getting his name out there with a big win, his primary goal is continuing his climb up the welterweight ranks.
“It is just another step,” he said. “I don’t look at it like I’m fighting on this card or that card, or this person is on the same card as me. I am being selfish with my thoughts and doing what I gotta do.”
He plans on doing what he has to do on January 19 and keeping his undefeated UFC record intact. In the meantime, he’ll continue to balance his life as a fighter with his life as a waiter.
“This is a different moment, now I am ready for more,” he concluded.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 12/17/2018.