Sometimes it takes a while for a fighter to learn the difference between fighting to entertain and fighting to win. For Josh Neer it looked like his fourth stint in the UFC would wind up becoming much closer to Chris Lytle’s than his prior stints. Going into a fight with Duane Ludwig, Neer promised to stand with the holder of the UFC’s fastest knockout and engage in a violent brawl. Ludwig was apt to comply with Neer’s request for a violent and perhaps bloody brawl and something interesting happened en route to Neer’s first round submission victory: Neer fought to win and not to brawl for the sake of brawling.
It’s an interesting transition for the man nicknamed “The Dentist,” who seemingly was put on the main card because of the promise of a violent scrap with Ludwig. Neer fought to win, pulling off a beautiful guillotine choke in a fight expected to turn much more of a standup affair, and in doing so showed that his latest time spent outside the UFC showed him something he perhaps forgot in his first several times in the organization: Playing to your strengths is a good thing.
Neer has always possessed an underrated ground game and has an amateur wrestling background but has always liked using his standup game. Losing the standup game to Ludwig convincingly, as “Bang” looked really good on his feet in comparison to Neer, one expected Neer to continue to try and stand with Ludwig. It was kind of the premise of the pre fight hype; Neer wanted to spend 15 minutes slugging and Ludwig was more than willing to oblige him.
Neer taking the fight to the mat and seemingly using his game plan of working for a submission shows a major sign of maturity from the fighter. Considering the lack of talent outside the UFC allowing him to get enough of a winning streak to get back into the organization multiple times, Neer getting back into the Octagon is something remarkable in and of itself. He’s never going to be a top 10 fighter or a title contender, most likely, but he showed some maturity as a fighter against Ludwig.
Going back to his wrestling base and taking the fight away from Ludwig’s strength, trying for the win and not indulging Ludwig in a standup war, showed growth as a fighter that hasn’t been there in a while. Neer in a prior stint would’ve kept swinging with Ludwig until he most likely would’ve been stopped or lost in decisive fashion on the judges’ scorecards. Going for the takedown and taking advantage of a wide open guillotine showed that Neer might have a chance of sticking around longer than he has in his past several stints.
He won’t be challenging the winner of Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit anytime soon, but showing patience as a fighter against an opponent like Duane Ludwig shows maturity as a fighter that he hasn’t until this point.