Geoff Neal is struggling to land an opponent.
Neal cracked the top 15 of the welterweight rankings following his impressive first-round TKO victory over Mike Perry at UFC 245 back in December.
Currently ranked No. 11 in the rankings, Neal is looking to climb up further in his hopes of challenging for the title one day. The only problem is no ranked opponent above him is willing to sign on the dotted line.
Although Neal — 5-0 with the UFC — can understand why, it’s still causing him a lot of frustration.
“I’ll tell people I’m in purgatory in my career,” Neal told theScore’s James Lynch when asked why he hasn’t fought since December. “I’m ranked number 11, not in the top-10 yet. I don’t have a big following behind me, so everybody that I want to fight doesn’t want to fight me because I’m a big risk. I’m somebody that knocks people out, I’m dangerous for their stock.
“So I see why they don’t want to accept the fight with me. But it’s still bullsh*t you know, I need to get paid, so I’m just sitting out here waiting.”
Neal Wanted Fights With Chiesa Or Ponzinibbio
Neal added that the only fighter ranked below him that he would be willing to face was Vicente Luque, but that seems to be out of the plan now with the latter set to face Randy Brown.
As for who Neal wants to fight ahead of him, there are two notable names.
“I’ll tell you who I’ve been trying to fight. I’ve been trying to fight Michael Chiesa and Santiago Ponzinibbio,” Neal said. “I don’t know all the details, whether or not they were offered a contract or whatever, but they know I want to fight them. I know that but they both never want to respond to anything I say. I know you hear me, I know you see me. I know you see all the tags, all the mentions. Don’t sit there and act like you don’t see.
“Michael Chiesa actually made an interview talking about how he didn’t want to fight me because I said he didn’t want no smoke. First of all, I didn’t say that, that was somebody else who said that sh*t. But for you to be like oh, you don’t want to fight me because of that? That’s trash. He’s probably scared. But it is what it is.”
To make matters worse for Neal is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which halted the UFC schedule for nearly two months.
The 29-year-old was previously a full-time server at Texas Steakhouse before quitting to focus on his MMA career after earning a $50,000 bonus for his win over Niko Price in July last year. But having had to stay on the sidelines since his win over Perry in December, Neal went back to serving before COVID-19 and returned again last week.
“It impacted a little bit,” Neal added of COVID-19. “I actually started working again right before COVID, because I [could] foresee that I was going to be sitting on the bench for a while so I needed to start doing something in that time.
“So I’m actually back working, I actually started working again after COVID on Wednesday. I’m going home right now to get ready for work again.”
That said, he also believes COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise as he got to hang out with people more and take time away from the gym.
Hopefully, Neal can have an opponent lined up real soon.