Sources: Neal, Rakhmonov agree to UFC bout


The UFC has added a key welterweight matchup between Geoff Neal and Shavkat Rakhmonov to an event on Jan. 14, sources told ESPN on Saturday.

Contracts have not been signed but both welterweights have agreed to the three-round contest, sources told ESPN. The UFC Fight Night event is expected to take place at the Apex in Las Vegas.

Both fighters hinted at the matchup this week. Rakhmonov called out Neal on Twitter, and Neal immediately responded. Neal and Rakhmonov are ranked Nos. 6 and 10, respectively, in the UFC’s 170-pound division.

Neal (15-4), who fights out of Fortis MMA in Dallas, is coming off a knockout win over Vicente Luque in August. The 32-year-old hit a rough patch in 2020 and 2021, when he suffered back-to-back losses to Stephen Thompson and Neil Magny, but has looked good since in quality wins over Luque and Santiago Ponzinibbio.

Rakhmonov (16-0) appears to be one of the toughest fights in the division. He has recorded a finish in all 16 of his professional bouts, including a submission win against Magny in June. He fights out of Kazakhstan.

A middleweight bout between Kelvin Gastelum and Nassourdine Imavov is slated to headline the UFC Fight Night.

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