Over the course of 15 months, Neil Magny had himself a career.
We’re talking seven fights and seven wins, including four finishes on four different continents, all inside the Octagon. Most fighters will never even experience seven UFC fights, let alone seven wins, and for them to be consecutive is a pipe dream. Not to mention, Magny has earned back-to-back Performance of the Night bonuses in his most recent outings.
As wildly impressive as all of that is, that is what The Ultimate Fighter 16 semifinalist has already accomplished, and Magny sees his streak as the foundation he will build upon when he cracks the top 10 rankings should he beat Demian Maia at UFC 190.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot,” Magny said. “Not just in the cage, but as a person overall. Every one of these fights has helped me grow in a different way. It shows my character too. A lot of people say they are willing to fight anyone, anywhere, anytime, but when it comes down to it, not many people are willing to do so. I think me traveling all around the world to fight whomever the UFC is putting in front of me just shows my attitude and my willingness to be one of the best welterweights in the sport. I’m just excited about it. It’s all come together to have me be where I’m at now. My confidence is sky-high going into this fight with Demian Maia. These fights have prepared me for this moment now.”
Neil Magny of the United States squares off with Hyun Gyu Lim of South Korea in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at the Mall of Asia Arena on May 16, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. (Photo by Mitch Viquez/Zuffa LLC)Obviously, the 27-year-old Brooklyn native is making strides each time inside the Octagon, with his stand-up delivering three striking stoppages and his ground game securing a rear naked choke. What these wins are really showing is Magny’s ability to overcome adversity in all its many shapes and sizes. Magny has won against Muay Thai strikers and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts; he’s won in hostile environments on the road and on short notice.
Magny is seizing victory under perfect and imperfect conditions alike, which is the hallmark of a truly dangerous fighter. Also, it’s something the UFC 190 main event star and current UFC women’s bantamweight champion – Ronda Rousey - has been known to preach.
“Some fights are at elevation, some fights you have food poisoning,” Magny said. “There’s always something that’s out of your control. It’s going to happen, but you have to find a way to push through and come out with a victory. Ronda Rousey is a big believer in it. When she coached The Ultimate Fighter she was constantly telling them, her goal is to be the best Ronda Rousey on her worst day and not the best Ronda Rousey on her best day. That’s one of those things I really picked up on. It’s great to go out there when everything is going in your favor - you’re fighting at home, you’re fighting in front of your friends, and you’re fighting when you feel comfortable. But what happens when all those things aren’t there and you have to go elsewhere and have to deal with adversity?”
Yes, Magny did say food poisoning, which he experienced before his most recent bout in the Philippines against the heavy-handed Hyun Gyu Lim in May. Only minutes prior to the bout that would improve his pro record to 15-4, Magny was throwing up in the dressing room from something he ate. The adversity didn’t stop there, as Magny also ate a few too many clean shots from the huge Lim in the first round. Nevertheless, Magny regained his footing in the first stanza to deliver offense of his own and, immediately dominated Lim after the break to force the stop from strikes less than 90 seconds into the second round.
“I thought the fight was good,” Magny said. “I was able to show I could overcome adversity, I could take a punch from a bigger guy and still stay on my feet and keep my composure and still find a way to win. I was pretty excited about how I performed. Of course, most people want to go into the fight and not get touched and get an easy victory, but being able to face some adversity and bounce back and come back with a win, I think it was a pretty good accomplishment for me. I’m looking to put pressure on these guys and impose my will on them, and because of that I’m getting into positions where I can end the fight.”
Up next, Magny is traveling to Rio for a tangle at UFC 190 against the current #6 ranked welterweight Demian Maia. Riding back-to-back decision wins in his native Brazil, the famed BJJ black belt owns a 20-6 pro record including a 5-2 UFC record since dropping down to 170 pounds. While a solid decade older than Magny, Maia is still one of the very best in the division, with unparalleled grappling expertise and having only tasted defeat at welterweight in a controversial split to Jake Shields and a Fight of the Night decision loss to Rory MacDonald.
“I was so excited,” Magny said about getting Maia as his next opponent. “My first reaction was, ‘Oh, heck yeah! I’m fighting a guy who is close to the top 5.’ Once the dust settled on that initial hype, it’s just another day at the office against another opponent in another country at another venue. It’s nothing different than what I’ve been doing in the past year. He’s definitely a tough opponent. He’s a veteran. He’s been around this sport for so long. I think this is a fight I need for people to consider me a contender. He fought for the title at middleweight and he’s been really close to fight for the title at welterweight. I just have to go out there and put on a show and, in the end, beat Demian Maia.”
Neil Magny punches William In preparation for Maia, Magny has been busy training in Denver, Colorado with the Elevation Fight Team. Sharpening his stand-up, Magny works with wunderkind striking coach Christian Allen. Keeping Magny both off the mat and honest on it is head/wrestling coach Leister Bowling and BJJ black belt and UFC vet Eliot Marshall. An additional feather in his cap is that this is Magny’s third rumble in Rio in the past two years, so the travel and the ambience will be nothing new as Magny tries for this statement-making win.
“I think this will be one of the most exciting fights on the card,” Magny said. “Just for the fact that Demian Maia is a tough veteran in this sport and he wants to show people he still has it and he’s still in the game. And I’m a young, hungry fighter who wants to come in and take over what he has. He’s already made a name for himself and he already has a huge legacy. I’m trying to come in and take over where he’s left off. He’s fighting to keep what he has and I’m fighting to take it from him. It’s a fight where both guys are not going to hold back and they’re going to leave it all in there.”
On August 1st at UFC 190 in Rio, Magny will aim to add Maia’s name to his ever-expanding streak and legacy.