The UFC 296 main event between Leon Edwards and Colby Covington didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Even fellow UFC welterweight Geoff Neal was ready to change the channel before the fight was over.
Despite some very heated and personal trash talk leading up to the fight, Covington failed to do much of anything over five rounds. Edwards picked him apart from the outside and even slipped in takedowns against the former All-American wrestler from Oregon State.
Edwards cruised to victory with 49-46 scorecards across the board, but Neal didn’t see much that really impressed from the champion or challenger.
“I mean, I was low-key disappointed,” Neal said about the fight on The MMA Hour. “I was expecting a more competitive fight. More action.
“I wanted to leave in the fourth round. I was watching at Buffalo Wild Wings, and I was about to just get up and leave in the fourth round, but I don’t know what was going on with Colby. He wasn’t trying to press the action, and then Leon was being real passive. I feel like I beat both those dudes. I didn’t see nothing special out of either one of them.”
Neal, who is scheduled to return to action at UFC 299 when he faces Ian Machado Garry, has danced around the top 10 rankings at welterweight for the past few years. He still hasn’t gotten close enough to earn a title shot of his own.
Ideally, Neal would like to dispatch Machado Garry in March. Then, he’d like to get at least two more fights during 2024 so he could inject himself back in the title fight conversation. After watching Edwards and Covington this past weekend, the 33-year-old fighter from Texas definitely feels confident he has what it takes to become champion.
“I already thought I could beat them, but after seeing it, I know I can f*** these dudes up,” Neal said.
While he acknowledges he’s not near the top of the division just yet, Neal can tout an impressive resume since first arriving in the UFC. It includes a unanimous decision win over Belal Muhammad when they met back in 2019.
That was the last loss on Muhammad’s record before he built a 10-fight unbeaten streak. Now, Muhammad hopes he’ll get his chance at becoming UFC champion, and even Neal believes it would be an egregious error to pass him over.
“I don’t know if he can beat Leon, but I know he deserves the next title shot,” Neal said about Muhammad. “Like all this other s***, people talking down on him, saying he’s a boring fighter. He earned it. He’s won 10 straight after his loss to me?
“Give that boy what he worked for, and then after he gets the belt, I’ll go up there and I’ll beat him up again.”
Considering the run Muhammad has gone on since the first fight, Neal has nothing but praise for his former opponent. But he welcomes the chance to run it back, especially if there’s a title on the line.
“It’s about the work he put in,” Neal said. “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised. I’m impressed. To get 10 straight wins in the welterweight division, that’s not an easy thing to do.
“[Fighting him for the title] that would be perfect. Anything that leads me to the belt is perfect, I don’t care who it is.”