Grant Neal is taking his Bellator MMA career one day at a time.
It’s a cliche used by many fighters, but Neal is following it to a tee. Undefeated at 3-0, including two-consecutive wins inside the Bellator cage, the 24-year-old is staying grounded.
Fighting out of the Genesis Training Academy in Colorado, Neal is following the message of his head coach, Jake Ramos.
“The way my head coach Jake explains it is, ‘Every fight is a stepping stone on my path to greatness,’” Neal said.
“I am just using every single fight, every opportunity to learn, to understand and gain knowledge that I didn’t previously have earlier in my career.”
Neal is unbeaten as a mixed martial artist, both at the amateur and professional ranks.
The former Tuff-N-Uff champion picked up a 46-second submission victory in the first round of his professional debut in February 2019. He then signed with Bellator in June later that year.
Neal cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Jimmy Lugo in his promotion debut at Bellator 233 on Nov. 8, 2019. The Colorado native followed up with a third-round technical knockout finish against Claude Wilcox at Bellator 239 on Feb. 21.
So far in his professional career, Neal’s faced opponent’s with similar records. He fought the same amount of professional fights as each of his opponents entering each bout.
Neal is one of six undefeated light-heavyweights currently on the Bellator roster. Luke Trainer and Christian Edwards even hold identical records to Neal.
There are plenty of UFC veterans and long-time Bellator veterans in the division, giving Neal plenty of options. Whether he faces off with an up-and-coming prospect or a 15-fight veteran, his approach is the same.
“I love the competition, every fight I’ve approached, I’ve gone there like I’m fighting the best fighter in the world,” Neal said. “That guy is prepared, he’s trained and he’s done everything to take the food off my table.”
As a two-time state champion high school wrestler in Colorado and a Division II football player for Colorado State University-Pueblo, Neal is no stranger to competition. Neal brings a similar approach to fighting as he does in the classroom as well.
He maintained a 3.67 GPA as a biology major, while being a student athlete at Colorado State. Neal is in a pre-med program at the University of Colorado-Denver, pursuing a career as an orthopedic surgeon.
“I’ve been in a lot of different realms and rings, so I’ve just taken little things from each sport I’ve been in,” Neal said. “I’m prepared for this, I was born to do this.”
Following the path
During his days as a collegiate football player, Neal worked closely with famed strength and conditioning coach Loren Landow. While training at Landow Performance in Denver, Neal mixed it up with the likes of UFC veterans Nate Marquardt and Brendan Schaub.
Landow and company mentioned to Neal he had potential as an MMA fighter. What started out as a joke at first, quickly made more sense.
Now, unbeaten in one of the biggest MMA organizations in the world, Neal’s future in MMA is very real.
“I always said, ‘I don’t know about that, I’m a football player,” Neal said. “I had the opportunity to really pursue it and since then, I’ve just embraced it.”
Connor Northrup once covered municipal meetings and promised himself never again. He is now combining his passion for Mixed Martial Arts and reporting all into one.