Neer shows maturity in win over Ludwig
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, with the fighter looking more for blood than victories.
Going into his UFC on FX 1 co-main event fight with Duane Ludwig on Friday night, 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, bout, but something interesting happened en route to Neer's first-round submission victory. Neer fought to win and not to brawl just 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 won by pulling off a beautiful guillotine choke in a fight expected to be much more of a standup affair. The win showed that Neer's latest time spent outside the UFC taught him something he perhaps forgot in his first several attempts to stick around 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 preferred to fight on his feet. Early Friday, Ludwig took control of the bout as both fighters were trading big shots. Based on the pre-fight hype, with Neer saying he wanted to spend 15 minutes slugging and with Ludwig more than willing to oblige him, one expected Neer to continue to try to stand and punch with Ludwig.
But when Neer took fight to the mat and seemed to be working for a submission, it showed a major sign of maturity from the fighter. Getting back into the UFC for a fourth time is something remarkable in and of itself. Neer is never going to be a top-10 fighter or a title contender, most likely, but he showed some progression in his game 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, Neer showed growth as a fighter who hasn't been there in a while. Neer, in a prior UFC 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 Neer might have a chance of sticking around longer than he has in his past several stints.
Neer won't be challenging the winner of the upcoming welterweight title fight between Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit anytime soon, but showing patience as a fighter against an opponent like Ludwig shows maturity as a fighter he hadn't until this point.