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Geoff Neal: Head butt took vision, COVID-19 took cornermen at UFC Fight Night 183

Geoff Neal’s first UFC main event was not an ideal experience.

Neal (13-3 MMA, 5-1 UFC) suffered a unanimous decision loss to Stephen Thompson (16-4-1 MMA, 11-4-1 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 183 headliner, which took place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

It was an opportunity for Neal to break through into the upper echelon of the welterweight division after winning his first five octagon appearances. Unfortunately for him, nothing appeared to go right.

The health issues Neal endured earlier this year are well documented. He said he was on the verge of death while spending a week in the ICU, but managed to get through it and was able to resume his career.

The fight with “Wonderboy” was his first in a year, and as if that’s not a handful on its own, Neal lost three of his primary cornermen, including Fortis MMA head coach Sayif Saud, during fight week due to positive COVID-19 tests.

Still, though, Neal made the walk on fight night. Thompson presents a tough stylistic matchup for Neal even on his best night, but an accidental head butt in the second round made it even more challenging. Neal and Thompson were both cut from the clash, but Neal appeared to get the worst of it with his eyelid split open.

According to Neal, he was only able to see from one eye after the head butt, but he fought hard until the final bell. It was an experience that tested him, but as Neal recounted all his struggles, he said he’s proud of himself for putting in maximum effort under imperfect conditions (via Instagram):

I want to take the time to thank all my supporters and friends. I haven’t replied to everyone but just know I love y’all! Not the outcome I wanted but I had fun nonetheless. Some much adversity dealing leading up to this fight.. sepsis, congestive heart failure, 3 of my corners testing positive for covid, with one of them being the general @sayifsaud, but I still made that walk and fought that fight. Couldn’t see out of my right eye for 4 rounds and still managed to hang in there with a guy whose been kicking ass since I was like 9yrs old lol. I don’t know about y’all but I’m proud of me! Shoutout to my teammates and coaches who did everything to get me ready for this moment. And big shout out to @wonderboymma. 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 @wonderboymma is good af lol

The loss to Thompson snapped a seven-fight winning streak for Neal and marked the first time since January 2017 that he failed to get his hand raised in a fight.

Although he addressed much in his statement, Neal did not reveal a timeline for his return to action after the loss at UFC Fight Night 183.

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