Josh Neer made headlines earlier this year for winning a fight in vicious fashion. Just not a sanctioned one that he got paid for.
A brutal video of Neer beating the crap out of a man at his gym went viral back in February. Neer claimed the man was a social media troll and boxer who threatened him. The video, which even made TMZ, showed Neer trapping the man on the ground and landing elbow after elbow to his face, then appearing to soccer kick him in the head.
Some were outraged by the visceral footage. But many fighters said they would have done the same thing in Neer's position if they were threatened. The video also spurred an Iowa Athletic Commission investigation.
Nine months later, the situation seems to have a happy ending. Patrick Martin, the boxer who Neer pummeled in the video, is now training at Roundkick gym, where Neer teaches and trains, in Des Moines. There are no hard feelings between the two and Neer said he welcomed Martin to come train without hesitation. Martin is even now competing in MMA for Midwest Cage Championship, the regional organization promoted by Neer.
Neer appreciated that Martin would come back and want to learn MMA after what happened.
"That's why I give him a little bit of respect," Neer said. "He got his ass whooped, but he didn't go and call the police or try to sue me or do anything dumb like that. That's why I let him come back to the gym. It was like, 'Alright, you made a mistake. You can come back and train with us.'"
Martin, who painted a different picture of what happened than the video immediately after the incident, said the entire thing was just blown out of proportion.
"Josh is a good dude," Martin told MMA Fighting. "All the controversy was a misunderstanding and just two guys getting to know one another."
Martin, a heavyweight, is 1-1 as a pro in MMA now with a win in June for MCC via second-round submission due to punches. Neer said he has some potential in the cage now that he's training regularly at Roundkick.
"The dude is 6-foot-6," Neer said. "He's 260 pounds of solid muscle. He's strong and big. But he has a lot to learn from MMA. That's why he came in and he's learning. If he keeps training, he could do something with it, for sure."
Neer (36-14) will be back in the cage himself at Bellator 146 on Friday at WinStar World Casino against Andre Santos. Neer is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Paul Bradley in October 2014. During that fight, the UFC veteran was visibly upset that all Bradley did was take him down and lay on him. That isn't the kind of fight that helped earn Neer the nickname "The Dentist."
"I feel like we missed out on an opportunity to have a good, exciting fight when there was no other fights going on," Neer said. "UFC didn't have fights that weekend. Neither did World Series of Fighting. So it sucked that he just went in there and didn't fight me. I don't have a problem with people trying to wrestle me, but if you're gonna wrestle me, at least try and finish me. He didn't try to finish me at all. That was my problem with the fight. He didn't do anything."
Neer, 32, expects more from Santos, who stood and traded with kickboxer Paul Daley in his last fight back in February. At this point in his long career, it's important for Neer to put on a show, perhaps a viral knockout that will get a more positive response.
Not that Neer regrets what happened. He just won't let it happen again.
"I still stand by it, 100 percent," Neer said. "But I ain't gonna do it again. I just don't want to get in trouble. He was threatening me. The thing about it is, he was way bigger than me. I fight at 170 pounds and you're a heavyweight, dude. He was threatening me and I wasn't doing anything. I was like, 'If you want to fight, come into the gym and we can settle it.'"
They did. It might not have come in the healthiest of ways, but Neer and Martin earned each other's respect.
"I wish him the best [in] his upcoming bout," Martin said. "[I] hope he kicks ass and brings home that victory."