Here is something I learned from talking with Niko Price: if you love what you do, half as much as he loves fighting, you’re doing something right.
Price is no stranger to getting into a bloody fight inside the hallowed UFC Octagon. In fact, that’s how he prefers it. The daily grind can help a person find their passion for a certain craft, and Price has found it in the full-time job of face-punching.
“The Hybrid” will be back in action this Saturday night when he takes on the surging Geoff Neal on the main card of UFC 240. The event will take place at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and will be headlined by a featherweight title fight between Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar.
Price looks at fighting like a meteorologist looks at weather. He is almost jovial in nature at the mere thought of getting into a cage and fighting another man, casting an ear-to-ear smile at the very mention of it. In terms of the task at hand and preparation for Saturday night, the vibrant Price is ready for battle.
“Everything has been going awesome. I’m ready to fight! I’m ready,” Price told The Body Lock.
Price is looking to continue his winning ways after picking up an opening-round TKO win over Tim Means at UFC on ESPN+ 4 in March. Price was coming off of a first-round TKO loss at the hands of Abdul Razak Alhassan at UFC 228 before getting back into the win column. That loss halted a two-fight winning streak that saw the Cape Coral, Florida native finish George Sullivan via submission in the second round and Randy Brown via strikes, from his back of all places.
Neal has been on a roll since over the last couple of years. After earning a UFC contract with a first-round TKO on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017, “Hands of Steel” has been victorious in all three of his Octagon appearances. Most recently, the Fortis MMA trained fighter picked up a unanimous decision win over Belal Muhammad at January’s UFC on ESPN+ 1 event in one of the most entertaining fights of the year to this point.
The rise of Neal is one that Price has been paying attention to and one that has him feeling the giddiness of a seven-year-old child that’s about to head to Chuck E. Cheese for a birthday party heading into the matchup.
“I love it,” Price said. “He trains hard, he’s a talented guy and he likes to throw down. He trains well and with a great team, so do I. So, let’s do it. I love it. He’s been impressive, but it doesn’t matter who it is. I’ll fight anybody. I just love to fight. That’s just the kind of guy I am. I get to fight for a living.”
Price is happy to wear the hat of the UFC welterweight division’s ultimate litmus test. If the organization feels a welterweight is on the rise, the 29-year-old is perfectly fine being the proving ground fighter for the division. From Brown, Alex Morono and Vicente Luque, Price has been the guy to see if these rising welterweights are ready to be part of the top-15 mix.
It’s a badge of honor for Price. Plus, it means he gets to get in the Octagon and punch people in the face. It’s a win-win every time.
“I guess if the UFC wants to see if someone is for real, they call me. That’s cool with me,” Price said. “If I’m that guy to be the test for these guys, right on! I just want to fight people. Send them my way.”
“It’s just habit (at this point),” Price continues. “I know what I’m able to do when I go out there. I’m not someone who is afraid to go through a war. I’ve been through a lot of wars! I’m going to go out there, punch him in the face and we’ll see what happens. I know what I’m gonna do when I fight. So you better bring a lot to that cage.”
There is no exact prediction for Price, especially when it comes to a sport as unpredictable as mixed martial arts. Fighting is fun. Fighting is something Price thrives on. He is well aware of Neal’s credentials.
The one promise Price will make for fans around the world who will attend or watch UFC 240 is simple: he’s going right after Geoff Neal. Win or lose, as the old cliche goes, if you enjoy what you do, it’s not really work. Price will be ready to punch in and let the entertaining chips fall where they may.
“It’s fighting, it’s a fight,” Price explained. “I know what can happen in there. I’m going to be locked in a cage with another guy and we’re gonna have fun doing it. When it’s time to go, it’s going to be me going balls to the wall.”
“I see a battle, just like all of my fights. We’re going to be there, we’re going to be throwing punches at each other. It’s going to be awesome (laughing). I’m just so excited. If it goes for 15 seconds or 15 minutes. I’m ready for another war. Let’s do it!”