[UPDATE] Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Geoff Neal Has New Date

UPDATE: Per ESPN, Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Geoff Neal has been rescheduled for March 4 at UFC 285.

[ORIGINAL STORY PUBLISHED DECEMBER 29, 2022, 8:46 AM EST]

Rising UFC welterweight contender Shavkat Rakhmonov has directed a shot at Geoff Neal following the cancellation of their fight.

While fans are no doubt eagerly awaiting the UFC’s return from its annual Christmas break, some disappointing news has emerged ahead of the new year. One of the most intriguing contests planned for UFC Vegas 67, the promotion’s opening 2023 card, pitted perennial contender Neal opposite surging Kazakhstani Rakhmonov.

Unfortunately, it was announced on Wednesday that “Handz of Steel” has been forced off the card. The disappointing revelation was first reported by MMA reporter Igor Lazorin.

For Neal, the bout offered the chance for him to continue the momentum he gained from victories over Santiago Ponzinibbio last December and Vicente Luque this past August by halting the charge of arguably the UFC’s fastest-rising prospect.

After going 12-0 and winning gold under the banner of Russia’s M-1 Global promotion, Rakhmonov joined the sport’s premier promotion, where he’s gone a perfect 4-0 since. “Nomad” recently shot towards contention by submitting welterweight veteran Neil Magny.

With the originally planned collision against Neal representing an opportunity for him to climb further up the divisional ladder, Rakhmonov seemingly isn’t pleased to have seen it fall through…

Rakhmonov Brands Neal “All Talk” After Withdrawal

Prior to confirmation that the bout had fallen through, Rakhmonov addressed his opponent in a pair of tweets.

In the first, the Kazakhstani 28-year-old reacted to a post showing a recent quote from Neal, who suggested that he’d get the better of Rakhmonov ‘easily’. The #10-ranked welterweight contender implored his rival to “show up then.”

In a subsequent post tagging Neal’s Twitter account, Rakhmonov branded the #7-ranked man in the division “all talk” after withdrawing following a number of confident remarks.

The initial report states that an injury is behind Neal’s withdrawal. It also notes that the UFC is searching for a replacement opponent in order to keep Rakhmonov on the UFC Vegas 67 card.

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