Geoff Neal: Vicente Luque fight at UFC on ESPN 40 has been coming 'for a long ass time'
Neal (14-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Luque (21-8-1 MMA, 14-4 UFC) have gained a reputation as two of the top action fighters in the welterweight division. They’ll clash inside the octagon in a key matchup, which takes place at the UFC Apex and airs on ESPN.
“He’s a great opponent,” Neal told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN 41 media day. “He’s very skilled. What’s crazy about it is we have a lot of mutual opponents. We fought a lot of the same guys, so I’ve been watching him since I got in the UFC. I’ve studied a lot on him. He’s changed up his style a little bit, but Vicente is going to be Vicente. He’s going to throw those punches. He’s going to push forward. I’m really excited for it.”
Neal said Luque has been on his radar since he made his UFC debut in early 2018. He thinks their trajectories have been similar, especially with their number of common opponents.
He didn’t know when or where it would happen, but Neal’s gut instinct proved right, and now he’s just days away from it becoming a reality.
“(I’ve known I would fight him) for a long-ass time,” Neal said. “It’s one of those things – I knew I was going to fight him, I just didn’t know when. I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to pick my matchups and get different matchups.’ But I always knew Vicente was going to be one that would be willing to fight. If I couldn’t fight someone I knew, like, ‘Hey, Vicente’s always going to be right here.’ I wanted to fight Sean Brady and he didn’t respond to me. Then Vicente came up.”
Neal, No. 15 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie welterweight rankings, will have a chance to make a big leap in the division against No. 8 Luque. He wants to make the most of the opportunity, and with a win said he would like to fight at UFC 281 on Nov. 12 in New York.
“I’m just thinking about beating him,” Neal said. “We’ll see about all that after that. Right now, I’ve just got to get through him. He’s nobody to look past. He’s a dangerous dude. So once I get done with that, I’ll think about (what’s next).”
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