On April 2, Josh Neer will make his return to the Octagon after almost two years away from the promotion when he takes on lightweight division veteran Din Thomas at UFC Fight Night 13 in Broomfield, Colo.
The Des Moines-based fighter out of Iowa is eager to get back in the eight-sided cage.
"It feels good to be back in the UFC," Neer told MMAMania.com. "It's just a different atmosphere then the other shows."
"The Dentist" recently inked a three-fight deal with the UFC and looks to take full advantage of his opportunity when he takes on Thomas.
"My goal is to win and see how far I can get," Neer said. "I think before I went in there thinking 'if I lose oh well as long as I make it exciting.' Now I want to be exciting but I also want to win."
Neer has fought in smaller promotions between his stints in the UFC. His last fight was in October, when he defeated Nick Sorg at a Cage Combat Championship show. He won that fight via arm bar submission in the first round.
Neer also competed once in the IFL, fighting as a replacement on behalf of the Quad Cities Silverbacks. Neer lost to Mark Miller in the first round via knockout. His current MMA record is 23-6-1 (2-3 in the UFC). His last UFC fight was against Nick Diaz at UFC 62 during which he lost via submission in the third round.
Neer makes his return against a tough fighter in Thomas who last fought in September against Kenny Florian at Ultimate Fight Night 11. The American Top Team fighter lost the bout and suffered a knee injury in that fight. With Thomas looking to get back on winning ways, Neer knows this fight will be a challenge.
"I think Din Thomas is a tough opponent," Neer said. "Anyone who has wins over Clay Guida, Jens Pulver and Matt Serra is certainly no push over."
Neer has focused on improving his stand-up during his time away from the UFC.
"One thing I've been doing differently is moving my head and cutting angles," Neer said. "I think I got caught up in just straight boxing for awhile. I'm trying to do everything now with the kicks, knees and elbows."
Neer is not worried about his time away from the UFC. He's confident that he has fought well enough to not worry about the time away from the Octagon.
"I think I've fought pretty well outside of the UFC. Pretty much all the guys I fought were pretty decent," Neer said. "I beat T.J. Waldburger pretty quick, who turned around and beat Pete Spratt his next fight. I beat a game Paul Rodriguez in the first round. My only set back was against Mark Miller when I got caught with a punch I didn't see. When I'm motivated I can beat about anyone."
He sure sounds motivated for his UFC return. And a win over Thomas will certainly make Neer a relevant fighter in the UFC lightweight division.