Josh Neer is no talker. He’s a fighter. But for one night in December of 2013, he put the two together as he fought Anthony Smith in a Victory Fighting Championship bout in Ralston, Nebraska.
“He’s a cocky guy and he kind of thinks he’s the man, so I just wanted to let him know that he’s not,” Neer said of the running conversation between he and Smith before “The Dentist” ended his opponent’s night via submission in the third round. “I wanted him to know that I’m gonna be there the whole night, and that’s the same way it’s gonna be this fight. I feel like after the first round he’s going to look at me and know ‘I’m gonna have to do this, I’m gonna have to keep fighting.’ I wanted to break him mentally.”
Neer and Smith meet again this Friday in the main event of the VFC 47 card that airs live on UFC FIGHT PASS, and while it’s certainly a win Smith would like to get to even the score, Neer didn’t think he was going to see the Nebraskan, a veteran of four Strikeforce and one UFC bouts, again. In fact, Smith was scheduled to face Elvis Mutapcic at Baxter Arena in Omaha before “The King” got called up to the UFC. Then fate intervened.
“The thing about this fight, I was already training because I’m always in the gym, and my teammate was the one that was supposed to fight him and he got called up to the UFC,” Neer said. “I knew they were going to need someone and Anthony put up a Facebook post and talked crap about my teammate, so I hit up the promoter and I was like ‘hey, if Anthony wants that rematch, I’d be more than welcome to give it to him.’ And that’s pretty much how I got the fight. He didn’t want it, and they tried to get a couple other people and that fell through, and I feel that he was basically forced into the fight.”
If anything epitomizes the fight game these days, it’s that it’s possible to actually make a fight through social media. When this is brought to Neer’s attention, he laughs, knowing that in his formative years in the fight game, that’s just not how it was done.
“Now it’s about Facebook and Twitter and everything else,” he said. “That’s how you get a fight. You want to get your name out there, just talk a whole bunch of crap on Facebook and Twitter.”
Neer clearly doesn’t approve of such things, but at the same time, if that’s the way of the world, he will adapt, especially if you want to open fire on a friend of his.
“I wasn’t even really into the fight to begin with, but if he’s going to talk crap about one of my teammates, then I guess we’re going to have to fight.”
Josh Neer has never needed much of an excuse to scrap. A fighter’s fighter, the Des Moines native may only be 32, but it seems like he’s been competing forever. A 15-fight UFC veteran, Neer made his Octagon debut in 2005, and after nearly three years away, he wants back in.
“I feel like I should have got back in there after I beat him (Smith) the first time,” he said. “The bad thing is, I won my last fight and got screwed over and they gave it to the other guy. I should be on a good winning streak.”
Following his last UFC bout, a decision loss to Court McGee in February of 2013, Neer used the Smith win to kick off a three-fight winning streak – all finishes – before two decision losses to Paul Bradley and Andre Santos. But there is no quit in Neer, no setback that he can’t rebound from. It’s an Iowa thing, and while other aspects of the MMA world may change, that won’t.
“I feel like it’s the same,” he said. “Whenever there’s an Iowa fighter, everyone knows there’s gonna be a real fight. With the guys that are in my gym, all of us train hard, and anytime someone fights one of my guys, they’re gonna have a tough fight. That’s guaranteed.”
Expect more of the same from Neer against Smith on Friday, and even though they’re fighting at middleweight, it’s not a place he plans on staying at. Then again, weight’s never been an issue for “The Dentist.”
“People trip too much about weight,” he said. “I feel like if I’m a better fighter, it doesn’t really matter how much you weigh.”
That’s vintage Josh Neer, and he hopes a second win over Smith will allow him to show what he’s got to a new set of UFC fans. But first things first.
“I’m not looking past this fight,” Neer said. “I’m trying to win this fight. But hopefully I get a call back up. I feel like I’m better than 90 percent of the guys in the UFC. I don’t understand why I wouldn’t be fighting there.”