Geoff Neal didn’t expect Stephen Thompson to accept the fight.
After Neal was forced to pull out of his fight against Neil Magny in August, he wasn’t sure if he would get a ranked opponent in his return. However, he was then offered Thompson and was surprised “Wonderboy” accepted it.
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“It has been really up and down. I beat Mike Perry and came into the year thinking I’ll get another fight and three months later still no fight. Then the whole COVID thing happened and I go through the entire spring and summer with no fight. I then finally get booked against Neil Magny and get sick as hell and that sucked,” Neal said on Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com. “I’m just happy that somebody in the top-five accepted a fight with me. It is also Wonderboy Thompson, who was the last person I thought would accept the fight with me. I needed that, I was trying to get a fight with Michael Chiesa who didn’t want to fight me at all. Wonderboy is a better matchup and it is the main event.”
Entering this fight, the common perception is it will be a striking matchup. However, Neal knows he has to mix things up. He also knows he can’t let Thompson get comfortable on the feet as that is when he is at his best.
“We will see, who knows. You might see a bit of wrestling you might not,” Neal explained. “It depends on him. I’m training for everything. Yeah, I’ve been wrestling for every camp so if there is an opportunity where I can wrestle or we clinch and I’m way stronger then I will take him down. It is not something that my whole game plan is to wrestle.”
If it remains standing Neal knows he has to close the distance and turn this into a boxing fight. He knows Thompson’s best weapons are his kicks so he has to be careful of them. But, Neal is confident in his game plan he will eventually land something big and knock out Thompson.
“I see it how I see all my fights and that is me going for the finish,” Geoff Neal said. “That is all I want is the finish, that is all I visualize. I don’t want to go to a decision because all that means is you got punched in the face more. I don’t look forward to things like that, I want to go in there and get out quick. But, he is durable so it might go to a decision. My goal is to take him out.”
Not only is this an important fight for Geoff Neal to move up the rankings, but he believes if he knocks out Wonderboy his next fight would be for the belt.
Although the welterweight division has a ton of contenders in Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal, and Leon Edwards, Neal isn’t so sure the UFC is interested in the rematches. So, if he wins, he provides a fresh matchup for Kamaru Usman if he gets past Gilbert Burns.
“That is what I see. I get this win and maybe I have one more fight before the belt, maybe not. I am really hoping to gain a lot of fans after this fight,” Neal concluded.
Who do you think will win, Geoff Neal or Stephen Thompson?