“He was able to keep focus for five rounds straight; he never lost focus but there were times in the cage where I was losing focus and having lapses,” Neal said about Thompson. “He never had one the whole fight. He showed me you have to be focused for the full 25 minutes or you’re not going to win.”
“He would do something, and I was like ‘Wow,’ and he hit, moved and hit me, then moved again, and in my mind I’m like, ‘Damn that was cool,’ and I’m like, ‘Why am I thinking this is cool? I should be mad he just punched me in my face.’ But it wasn’t registering like that,” Neal said before adding how he plans to address the issue. “You just got to focus on being focused. If you feel yourself starting to fade, you have to snap out of it. I’m still figuring that out.”
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Neal brings up an important point, as he’s still finding himself as a fighter. The bout with Thompson was his first career UFC main event and just his sixth UFC fight, overall. The loss gave him time to reevaluate a few things and it also gave him confidence in his body again.
He brings that reborn confidence into battle this weekend at UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson, as he takes on UFC veteran Neil Magny. Both fighters are hoping to jump back into the title picture after suffering a main event loss, and it’s the perfect opportunity for Neal (13-3) to get back on track. Heading into this weekend, he’s feeling relaxed and ready to test himself against the perennial 170-pound contender.
“[Magny] is someone that I trained for already, so it was pretty easy to jump right back in camp and get ready for him. He’s a tough opponent and he’s a test for me,” Neal said about the ninth-ranked Magny. “If I can’t handle his grappling and his pace, I need to reassess myself and figure out some things because I’m not going to be champion if I can’t handle his pace and his grind.”