Appearing this past week on The MMA Hour, Neal elaborated on his callout of the one-time welterweight title challenger, which was made after Neal scored an impressive knockout win over Vicente Luque in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 59.
Neal is aware that Burns has long targeted a bout with “BMF” champion Jorge Masvidal, but doesn’t see why he and Burns can’t fight first.
“It depends on Jorge and it depends on how long Gilbert wants to wait for Jorge to make up his damn mind,” Neal said. “I’m right here. I’m willing to fight. We can go ahead and we can get this done on the MSG card or we can just wait until December, but me and Gilbert could fight before the end of the year. If that’s something Gilbert wants, then I’m right here, I’m ready for it.
“Masvidal’s always going to be there, you can wait for that. He’ll probably come out next year, mid-March or something, talking about he wants to fight. But why wait on him when I’m right here? I’m ready to fight.”
Masvidal recently spoke to MMA Fighting and mentioned that he preferred a big-money matchup with Conor McGregor, though he is also interested in fighting Burns. Regardless of what Masvidal decides, he’s unsure of how soon he can sign on for a fight as he deals with lingering injuries and an ongoing assault case stemming from Masvidal allegedly attacking rival Colby Covington outside of a Florida restaurant this past March.
Neal, on the other hand, is coming off of arguably the best performance of his career against a top-10 ranked opponent in Luque. With several notable names in the welterweight division either already booked or otherwise out of the picture for now, Neal said the Burns callout was just a matter of elimination.
“I beat Luque and Luque was ranked, what, No. 6, something like that?” Neal said. “And it was a great win. It wasn’t like I barely got through it and he’s one of the most dangerous welterweights. All the finishes he had, he has so many records, I finished the finisher so I feel like I deserve something ahead of me and Gilbert’s the only one that’s available, so that’s why I want to fight him.”
Burns is coming off of a thrilling battle against undefeated contender Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 273, which ended with Chimaev claiming a unanimous decision win. Up to that point, Chimaev had finished all of his opposition, so some viewed Burns taking him to the scorecards as a moral victory.
Count Neal among those impressed by Burns’ performance.
“It was exciting, I liked it. He showed that Khamzat is beatable because Khamzat had this aura of invincibility around him. Gilbert showed that he held the line, and even though he lost, he didn’t let Khamzat walk through him.”