It’s been over six months since Geoff Neal last set foot in the octagon and he’s getting a little tired of waiting for an opponent to accept his challenge.
After demolishing his first five opponents in the UFC with four of those ending by knockout or TKO, the 29-year-old former Contender Series veteran was anxiously awaiting the opportunity to climb into the top-10 rankings.
Unfortunately, Neal says that despite the UFC’s best efforts, the list of fighters willing to face him has been rather short; actually, it’s been non-existent.
“The UFC’s been doing a great job trying to find me a fight,” Neal said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “They can only do so much. They can’t make somebody fight. You hear Dana White say all the time ‘I can’t make these guys fight.’ That’s really what it comes down to. They’ve been trying.
“I don’t know the exact details of what the other parties have been offered but I know sh*t’s been going around and they’ve been pretty much saying no.”
Now, Neal makes it clear that he’s not saying every welterweight is flat-out avoiding him but for one reason or another, every matchup that’s been offered to him recently hasn’t happened.
There’s only one fighter who Neal has targeted who he truly believes is doing everything possible not to face him, which is why he’s more than happy to call him out by name.
“I don’t want to call any fighters scared,” Neal explained. “Well, I will call one fighter scared. I think Michael Chiesa is f*cking scared sh*tless to fight me.”
According to Neal, he’s been calling out Michael Chiesa for several months but the Ultimate Fighter 15 winner apparently has no interest in that fight.
What started out as a chance to take on a higher ranked opponent has now turned into something more personal for Neal after some back-and-forth with Chiesa online.
“I feel like that fight makes so much sense and he’s trying to make it seem like it doesn’t make sense,” Neal said. “That doesn’t make sense to me and it makes me think you’re scared. You only have three wins in the welterweight division. You fought two dudes who are pretty much f**king lightweights and one dude that’s old as hell.
“And then you think you deserve Colby Covington? No. Just because you’re ranked No. 7 or 8 or whatever the f**k you are, fight me. I’m 5-0, you’re 3-0, the fight makes sense. He’s trying to make it like the fight doesn’t make sense and I don’t know what to make of that.”
Neal says the war of words somehow pushed Chiesa even further away from the potential showdown, which only served to make him even angrier.
“That’s another excuse he made. I saw some interview where he was like [I said] ‘something about I don’t want no smoke’ and I didn’t even say that but he’s using that as an excuse why he doesn’t want to fight me,” Neal said. “If I said you don’t want no smoke and that’s the reason you don’t want to fight me, that’s a weak-ass excuse.
“Cause somebody said a word to you and offended you and now you don’t want to fight them? This is the fight game.”
Neal believes if Chiesa or anybody else is truly afraid to fight him, then perhaps it’s time to start looking for another job because they’re in the wrong business.
“If it is fear keeping people from fighting me, they need to retire from this sport,” Neal said. “This is the fight game. When it comes time to fight, yeah, I’m scared but I don’t give a f**k. That’s not going to stop me from fighting somebody. It’s the fight game.
“If that’s the reason they don’t want to fight me because they’re scared, they need to re-evaluate what the hell they’re doing.”
If the Chiesa fight doesn’t come together, Neal has a few other names that interest him but after such a dominant start to his UFC career, he truly feels like it’s time for a step up in competition.
“I want to test myself. I want to see how good I am,” Neal said. “That’s why I want these fights. I feel like Michael Chiesa, “Wonderboy” [Stephen Thompson], [Santiago] Ponzinibbio, these are great fights. Those are the only dudes I see myself fighting.”