Geoff Neal will look to end Shavkat Rakhmonov's unbeaten run when they collide in a welterweight clash next month. Two-time title challenger Stephen Thompson believes viewers are in for a "war" when the cage door closes behind them.
The 170-pound division has been heating up since Leon Edwards successfully ended Kamaru Usman's championship reign, and many contenders are now racing towards a title shot. Alongside Khamzat Chimaev, the aforementioned Rakhmonov is arguably the biggest prospect and threat to the belt in the weight class.
When questioned on his prediction for the upcoming welterweight bout during an interview with James Lynch, Stephen Thompson suggested that fans should be expecting a "standup war" as Neal's impressive takedown defense will force the affair to take place on their feet:
"I think that's a very interesting fight... I think this is gonna be a standup fight. I think Geoff Neal's takedown defense is gonna be on point. I think Shavkat at some point is going to try and take him down, Geoff Neal's gonna stuff it, he's gonna keep the fight standing, and we're gonna have a standup war, which is what I love to see... I'm anxious to see [the fight] and I think Geoff Neal can bring the best out of Shavkat, I really wanna see that this fight... I think it's gonna be tough, but I think Shavkat's got it."
'Handz of Steel' is on an impressive two-fight winning streak inside the octagon, beating Santiago Ponzinibbio by decision and scoring a beautiful knockout against Vicente Luque in the final minutes of their three-round brawl.
Check out what Stephen Thompson had to say about the forthcoming welterweight bout in the video below:
Shavkat Rakhmonov's dominant display's in the UFC
Entering the UFC as a 12-0 prospect from the European scene, Shavkat Rakhmonov quickly showed the world his intentions when he began bulldozing his way through the rankings.
Now 16-0 in the sport, 'Nomad' has a 100% finish rate with eight wins coming by knockout and eight by way of submission. Arguably one of the most well-rounded fighters in MMA today, the Kazakhstani is on the verge of his first UFC title shot and, at 28 years of age, he still isn't the finished product.
Last time out, Shavkat Rakhmonov earned a submission victory over the tough Neil Magny and cemented his name as one of the brightest rising stars in the promotion. The talent will face Geoff Neal in the co-headliner on the January 14 Fight Night card.