Josh Neer: The Dentist is In

("The Dentist" attempts an extraction on Din Thomas. Courtesy Zuffa, LLC)
(“The Dentist” attempts an extraction on Din Thomas. Courtesy Zuffa, LLC)

By FIGHT! contributor Matt Burosh

“As an amateur, I knocked out two different guys’ teeth, two weeks in a row,” says Josh Neer. “The announcer said I was always knocking people’s teeth out, so he started calling me ‘The Dentist’ and it just kinda stuck.”

Those amateur fights in Des Moines, Iowa were a weekly ritual for Neer, a recently graduated high school wrestler. “I didn’t train before I started fighting,” admits Neer, but he claims to have racked up 90 wins against one loss over a two-year amateur career before deciding to get serious about MMA.

But the year was 2003 and fight gyms weren’t commonplace, leaving Neer to his own wits. “I’ve been self-taught [for much of my career],” says Neer. “Whoever I could learn from, I did. I learned jiu-jitsu from a guy named Curtis Brigham, and then I trained in Des Moines, IA before going to Miletich Fighting Systems in Bettendorf [Iowa].”

Neer is three fights into his third hitch with the UFC, suffering a single loss in 2005, going 2-2 in 2006, and winning two out of three since 2008 with appearances at regional shows in between. Now “The Dentist” has an appointment with Kurt Pellegrino at UFC 101 on August 8 in Philadelphia, Pa.

To prepare, Neer has made his way back to his hometown, training at Des Moines MMA with Anthony Porcelli. “It’s basically a gym that he and I started before I went to MFS,” Neer says.

“Kurt is a well rounded fighter,” he says, “[But] I read in an interview that he basically doesn’t even like fighting, that he does it for the money [and] if he could get paid to do jiu-jitsu he would do that. To me I think that is a weakness. To me he’s saying he’s not a fighter.” Neer takes this almost as a personal affront. “I love the feeling when my fist first meets the face of my opponent and it’s go time,” he says, “I love the one-on-one competition—that you basically have to make the other guy quit. That’s what I try to do in all of my fights.”

FIGHT! Fans: Do you think Neer’s powerful hands give him a definitive advantage over Kurt Pellegrino?

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