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UFC Vegas 26: Geoff Neal believes Magny fight is good measuring stick for Kamaru Usman

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UFC Fight Night: Thompson v Neal Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Geoff Neal will be looking for answers when he challenges welterweight contender Neil Magny later tonight (Sat., May 8, 2021) at UFC Vegas 26 live on ESPN/ESPN+ from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Neal, who is currently ranked No. 10 in the division, is coming off his first UFC loss to date after Stephen Thompson defeated him via unanimous decision in a main event back in Dec. 2020. Before that, Neal ran through the competition at 170 pounds to turn in a 5-0 UFC record with four impressive finishes. His matchup with “Wonderboy” was a true learning experience and something that has made Neal a better fighter now, especially since he didn’t have his coach for the fight.

“I learned that I’m able to push through things; a lot of those issues would have made people nervous and scared. I walked into that fight still believing 100% that I was going to win,” Neal told UFC.com. “It would have been better if I would have had my coach there, but it never once did anything to cross my mind that I was going to lose that fight.”

Luckily, Neal will have another chance to test his growing fighting skills against a true veteran of the division when he meets Magny this weekend. Magny isn’t the most difficult puzzle to solve, but he’s a savvy fighter who is 17-7 since making his UFC debut back in 2013. He has all the tools to hand Neal his second-straight loss and send him back down the welterweight ladder.

“[Magny] is someone that I trained for already, so it was pretty easy to jump right back in camp and get ready for him. He’s a tough opponent and he’s a test for me,” said Neal. “If I can’t handle his grappling and his pace, I need to reassess myself and figure out some things because I’m not going to be champion if I can’t handle his pace and his grind.”

Neal has fought grapplers before but never someone that can control him like Magny. The veteran fighter brings unique length and years of experience into the cage, which is going to make it more difficult for Neal to stay off his back. However, Neal believes his matchup with Magny this weekend is a good measuring stick for the current UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman.

“The pace, the grind, the wrestling. [Kamaru] Usman the champ, he’s like that. He’ll grind you, but now he can knock you out,” Neal laughs. “So you’ve got to deal with that now. He’s that type of fighter he will grind you out for five rounds and try to break you and Magny tries to do the same thing. If I can’t handle Magny doing that, there is no damn way I could handle Usman doing that.”

If Neal is able to defeat Magny on ESPN and get back into the win column he’ll reposition himself to fight deep into the top 10 heading into the second half of 2021. After all, he was one of the most exciting and promising names in the division before “Wonderboy” stole his momentum. A victory over Magny will help right the ship.

“I just got to win. Winning handles everything. If I’m continuously winning, I’m eventually going to get where I got to be, so I can’t really worry about who wants this or who wants that or who is getting matched up with this person,” said Neal. “As long as I’m winning, and bonus points if I’m knocking people out while I’m winning, I’m going to get to where I need to be.

“I’m still here. It’s going to be the same Geoff, the same aggressive fighter. I’ve got some new flair to my style but I’m just looking to show who I am.”

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 26 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.