“It was a great win. I got to showcase a lot of the things we were working on,” Grant Neal said following a win over fellow light heavyweight prospect Christian Edwards at Bellator 278 on Friday.
The match-up was smart booking, with both prospects looking to rebound from the first loss of their respective careers. In the end, it was Neal (7-1) with his hand raised following a three round unanimous decision.
Despite coming in off a loss, however, Neal didn’t feel the sort of pressure you might expect. In fact, he said, there’s “Probably more pressure off of a win. The ebbs and flows in this game are really crazy. We’re in 4oz gloves, in 15 minutes anything can happen, and I’m not dumb to that fact. I think it’s really important especially after a win to re-hone yourself and not get too high on the mountaintops.”
While few fighters get to take the Khabib route and retire undefeated, a first loss was never an eventuality in Neal’s mind, he told Cageside Press following the bout in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“No, I never have the mindset going in and thinking I’m going to lose. I’m a champion, I’m a winner. That last fight, we just ran out of time. I don’t even think of it as a loss, I thought of it as learning,” Neal explained. “Win or lose, I win or learn. So I’m not even thinking about that going into the fight, I’m just going out to do my best. And my best is the best in the world, I really feel that.”
Neal wasn’t ready to call out any names on Friday, but he is interested in running it back with the lone man to defeat him, Alex Polizzi.
“Definitely. He was a great competitor, he’s had great fights. That would be an awesome start to hopefully a good rivalry and good battle,” said Neal. “I’d love to fight him obviously, and get that one back, maybe with some more tenacious attitude and will to finish that fight. Then I don’t have to let it go to the judges.”
Watch the full Bellator 278 post-fight press conference with Grant Neal above.