'Tis the season for shooting your shot in the welterweight division apparently, and both Mike Perry and Geoff Neal called theirs this week in an attempt to book big fights.
Both 170-pounders fought one another in December when Neal defeated Platinum in the first round. Neal hasn't fought since, but Perry got back on the winning track in a win over Mickey Gall on June 27, with just his girlfriend in his corner and without formally training with a team.
Perry now has his sights set on much bigger fare. He has made his name as an action fighter who isn't afraid to throw down and put on entertaining bouts. So he took the opportunity to make a case for a fighter with a similar reputation in Nate Diaz.
In an interview with Ariel Helwani of ESPN, the 28-year-old broke down a potential fight between him and one of Stockton's finest.
"I think he's a skinny, weak, little (expletive), like Mickey Gall,” Perry said (h/t Nolan King of MMA Junkie). "I respect what he's done in this sport. He plays the guard game, jiu-jitsu, and (expletive). He thinks he can box with (those) little weak-ass punches that he's got—little salt and pepper punches. He doesn’t stand a chance to hit me hard enough."
Platinum has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind, but actually getting booked for a fight against Diaz would be the biggest coup of his career. Perry's reputation has been built on his aggressive style and entertaining fights, but he's still just 3-5 in his last eight fights.
Diaz, 35, has been at least semi-retired for a while now. He has only fought twice since his loss to Conor McGregor in August 2016. He was reportedly paid $520,000 for his appearance against Jorge Masvidal in their "BMF" title fight in November.
The UFC would be unlikely to pay him that kind of money to fight someone of Perry's caliber. Diaz has only come out of "retirement" to fight the likes of Masvidal and Anthony Pettis. So while it's easy to dismiss the notion of this fight, you can't blame Perry for trying to make something happen.
Geoff Neal Wants Tyron Woodley
While Perry moved on from his loss to Neal and got a win, the man who won that fight is still without an opponent.
The 29-year-old is in one of those positions that can be difficult to navigate. At a perfect 5-0 in the UFC, he's beginning to prove himself against the lower tiers of the division and is dangerous, but there isn't much in it for the top names to book a fight against him.
He's No. 10 in the division but doesn't have the name recognition right now to be worth the risk for those ranked ahead of him. The situation is getting frustrating, and he had a few specific names in mind when he spoke to MMA Junkie Radio.
"I really just want to fight Chiesa because he's been ignoring me," Neal said, in reference to the No. 8-ranked Michael Chiesa. "Like, at first it was just I want to fight him just to fight him, but now I want to fight him because I feel like he's being a (expletive). I want that Chiesa fight just off personal (expletive) because he's acting like I'm invisible to him. I've been calling him out for (expletive) months."
Personal beef with Chiesa aside, Neal also called out a much bigger name: Tyron Woodley.
"Woodley said something that he's looking for a fight," he added. "I'm down. Hopefully he'll accept that."
The former champion is coming off back-to-back losses as Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns both deflated his stock in the division. For him, fighting someone like Neal would be a step down the rankings but also a step down in quality opponents.
For Neal, it would obviously be a huge opportunity but also a good test of his skills. He has yet to be taken down in the UFC and Woodley would put that streak to the test. He's far and away the best wrestler Neal would have seen.
A win over Woodley would launch him into the top tier of the division, so it's easy to see why he would throw his name out there when talking about his future.
Coach Excited About Potential Costa vs. Adesanya Ultimate Fighter
It's been nearly three years since we've seen a season of The Ultimate Fighter and that's probably for the best. After 28 seasons in 13 years, there was definitely TUF fatigue that necessitated some time off.
There's at least one person who is ready for the show's comeback, though. Paulo Costa's coach, Eric Albarracin, made an appearance on MMA Junkie Radio to talk about his fighter's potential role as a coach opposite Israel Adesanya for a new season of the show that would culminate in the two fighting for Adesanya's middleweight title.
"That's gonna be the greatest 'Ultimate Fighter' in history, if not the greatest middleweight title fight in history," Albarracin said.
Not only are both fighters elite middleweights at the top of their game but they have also taken some jabs at each other. Adesanya has become known for being especially quick-witted when it comes to his trash-talking game. All of which Albarracin believes will contribute to a great season of the show:
“He called him Ricky Martin in Australia and I always say, 'Yeah, he looks like Ricky Martin but he hits like Mike Tyson.' I can't wait to see these guys (coach) a whole season. Who's not gonna want to watch that? These guys at each other's throats. By the end of the season, it's gonna be a level-10 type of intensity between those guys."
If the promotion is going to attempt to revive the show, it would be hard-pressed to find a better pairing of coaches. While no announcement has been made that will be the case it's telling that the coach is already making the media rounds and hyping up the possibility.
Regardless of whether it comes to fruition, a Costa-Adesanya matchup is one of the best fights the UFC can make right now. A TUF buildup would only make that matchup even more tantalizing.