It wasn’t an easy lead-up to UFC Fight Night 183 for Geoff Neal, and once he stepped in the cage, it didn’t get any better.
Neal suffered his first promotional defeat in Saturday’s headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, falling to former welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson via unanimous decision. The Fortis MMA product was hospitalized with heart trouble earlier this year, an issue that forced him to withdraw from a proposed clash with Neil Magny on Aug. 29. And on Saturday, “Handz of Steel” was without his usual group of cornermen due to COVID-19. That included Fortis MMA head Sayif Saud.
“So much adversity dealing leading up to this fight,” Neal wrote on Instagram. “Sepsis, congestive heart failure, three of my corners testing positive for covid, with one of them being the General Sayif Saud, but I still made that walk and fought that fight.
“Couldn’t see out of my right eye for four rounds and still managed to hang in there with a guy who’s been kicking ass since I was, like, nine years old. I don’t know about y’all but I’m proud of me!”
Neal and Thompson clashed heads very early in the fight, which could have hindered the 30-year-old Texas resident’s vision from that point forward. Despite all that adversity, Neal still paid tribute to Thompson in defeat. Prior to Saturday night, Neal was unbeaten in five UFC appearances, with four finishes to his credit.
“Big shoutout to [Wonderboy],” Neal wrote. “True definition of a martial artist. Never stop being you my man. And tell your pops I said thanks for the water.
“P.S. This is not an excuse [Wonderboy] is good [as f—k].”