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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Matthew Wells

Geoff Neal not motivated by Ian Machado Garry’s past antics: UFC 298 ‘fight is about me’

IRVINE, Calif. – Despite his opponent’s past antics, Geoff Neal is solely focused on the task at hand, which will ultimately lead him closer to his career goal of becoming UFC champion.

After their first booking fell apart in August at UFC 292, Neal (15-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC) will meet Ian Machado Garry on the main card of UFC 298 at Honda Center in Anaheim. The first time around, Garry (13-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) wore a t-shirt with Neal’s mugshot, which rubbed some fans the wrong way. Despite Garry’s attempts to get under his skin, Neal doesn’t find any added motivation from the things his opponent has done in the past.

“It’s motivation no matter what,” Neal told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s media day. “Ian Garry aside, this fight is not about Ian Garry. This fight is about me. I want to win, I want to be a champ, and he’s just in the way. It’s just another body.”

“… During fight week, I’m cold. I don’t have any emotion right now. I’m just going to hop in that cage and do what I do.”

Just making it to the cage to continue his fighting career has been an impressive feat in itself. Neal was on death’s door after dealing with COVID-19 and a serious case of sepsis in 2020 that led to a stay in the ICU. Health issues have prompted issues in the training room from time to time since then, but heading into his sixth fight since being hospitalized, Neal says he has made more changes to ensure his career longevity.

“I had to really just dial in and focus on the little things, the little details like my diet, my sleep,” Neal said. “I used to not take supplements. I’ve been taking supplements now. I’ve just been doing everything the right way, not just doing it how I used to do it.”

Neal is looking to rebound from a Fight of the Night battle against Shavkat Rakhmonov 11 months ago at UFC 285. The submission loss halted Neal’s momentum of back-to-back wins against Santiago Ponzinibbio and Vicente Luque.

Now with another undefeated prospect in his path, he believes a win against Garry will put him in a great position to fight for the welterweight title by the end of 2024, which has been his career goal from the beginning.

“I don’t usually think too far ahead, but realistically, I win this fight in spectacular fashion, one or two more fights, and then the belt,” Neal said. “I could probably knock that out by the end of the year.

“… The main goal since the day I started and walked into the MMA gym with my coach, the goal was to be the UFC champ. I’m here, and I can smell it. I can taste it. That’s the goal.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 298.

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