A graduate of Dana White’s Contender Series fighting out of Fortis MMA in Dallas, the 30-year-old Neal earned victories in each of his first five UFC appearances to establish himself as an emerging contender in the welterweight division.

Penciled in to face Magny last August, Neal was forced to withdraw from the contest after being hospitalized due to a non-COVID-19-related illness that caused sepsis and heart failure. After receiving a clean bill of health, he returned to action in the final fight of 2020, dropping a unanimous decision to Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.

“I’m a fan of his work, I like what he’s done in the UFC,” Mangy said of his opponent this weekend. “He’s only got one defeat in the UFC so far and it was a tough, gritty decision loss against Stephen Thompson.

Order UFC 262: Oliveira vs Chandler For The Undisputed Lightweight Title

“This is the kind of fight that motivates me, kind of like we were talking about with guys like Derek Brunson where they’re facing these up-and-comers,” he continued, name-checking the middleweight stalwart who halted Holland’s winning streak earlier this year and is frequently tasked with taking on the latest rising star in the 185-pound weight class.

“I feel like this is my new challenge — going up against a guy like Geoff Neal that doesn’t have a lot of fights in the UFC but is a great athlete that brings a lot of things to the table. I’m real excited to go out there and test myself against a guy like that.”

While some will look at Magny’s resume, see an athlete that has yet to experience championship success and dismiss the totality of what he’s accomplished because he’s not one of the dozen men to stand as the undisputed UFC welterweight champion, the Army veteran, proud husband and father, and workhorse of the 170-pound weight class knows that what he’s done and continues doing is something to be proud of.

“The title is the cherry on top,” said Magny. “It’s the one thing that will cement my accomplishments in the UFC, but I’m definitely grateful for the other things I’ve been able to accomplish in the UFC like the win streaks, the guys I’ve been able to fight, and the bonuses I’ve been able to earn.

“I’ve been in the Top 15 for the last seven or eight years now and to be able to hold that place year after year — to be able to compete with the best guys, the established guys and the up-and-comers — I definitely see honor in that.”