After previously being scheduled to fight him in August, UFC welterweight Geoff Neal will finally get an opportunity to get his hands on Ian Machado Garry in March.
Dubliner Garry was expected to fight former Kill Cliff FC training partner Vicente Luque at last weekend’s UFC 296 card in Las Vegas but was forced to withdraw two days out from the contest after it was determined by UFC doctors that he had contracted pneumonia and would be physically incapable of performing.
While many expected the Luque fight to be racked up once more in the new year, Dana White told the media in the UFC 296 post-fight presser that Garry’s return will come against Neal at UFC 299 in Miami on March 9 and it is an opportunity that the 33-year-old American is relishing after their fight fell out several months ago.
Garry instead faced Neil Magny whom he comprehensively defeated by lopsided judges’ decision, though he faced criticism in the aftermath for comments made to the media regarding Magny’s personal life.
“I figured we would run it back after because I got sick and I couldn’t fight that last fight — well, just health issues — so I figured he would want to run it back,” Neal told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, as noted by MMA Fighting. “But then he was talking sh*t, ‘Well, I already beat him, so I don’t have to fight him.’ Weird sh*t. I’m glad we got a chance to run it back now. It was difficult, especially after all the sh*t he was talking and all the stuff going on. Pulling out of the fight, it just looks bad.”
The lead-in to postponed August fight between the two was characterised by an incident in which Garry had a t-shirt created bearing a mugshot of Neal on the front — something that Neal says did not affect him, even if he considered the move to beneath the character of two high level athletes.
“It wasn’t that bad, honestly, to me,” Neal explained. “It was in poor taste. It was some low-class sh*t. I accepted the fight and he messaged me on Instagram talking about, ‘Hey man, best of luck on the fight and thank you for accepting the fight,’ and all that, and then a week later he posts the mugshot tee of me. So it’s kind of weird, but you get what you get.
“It was just low class. I’m not too bent out of shape about it. I’m just going to punch him in the face when I see him. We’ve got a date, and March , I’m going to beat him up.”
He added: “I don’t like it personally but that’s just me. I just want to fight. I like doing violent sh*t. I’m a violent person. I specialise in violence. That’s all I do.”
And as for Garry’s hype?
“He deserves it,” Neal said. “But he also deserves an ass-whooping, so I’m going to give that to him.”