Neil Magny returned from a 16-month layoff and managed to look better than ever at UFC 248 on Saturday night.
Showcasing a dynamic striking arsenal, world-class conditioning and a relentless pace that had Li Jingliang playing defense for almost every minute of every round, Magny ultimately scored a lopsided unanimous decision victory.
All three judges scored the fight 30-27 with Magny getting his first win since 2018.
The only time in the fight that Magny got rattled was courtesy of a right hand from Li during the first round that caught him by surprise as the fighters jockeyed for position in the clinch. Unfortunately, Li wasn’t able to do much to follow up on the punch, which then allowed Magny to not only recover but then comeback with a very effective mix of strikes that had the Chinese welterweight on his back foot.
With a long reach on his side, Magny began connecting with a lead jab that was snapping Li’s head back with successive shots as he continued pressing forward with a relentless volume of strikes.
As the second round was coming to an end, Magny unleashed a barrage of strikes that put Li in serious trouble in what was nearly a fight-ending combination.
Showing relentless pressure, @NeilMagny is on fire— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 8, 2020
Stream #UFC248 on ESPN+ ➡️ https://t.co/bgI1Songf8 pic.twitter.com/HVRcVO5Hpk
To his credit, Li seemed to recover well enough to come out firing with five minutes remaining but he just could not maintain the same kind of pace as Magny.
By the time the final horn sounded, Magny was still throwing with the same kind of power and accuracy that he had during the opening exchanges while Li was gasping for air.
After finally being cleared to return to action by USADA late last year, Magny made the most of his opportunity and now he’s looking to climb back up the ranks in the welterweight division with a top 10 opponent already in mind.
“This victory feels so great,” Magny said. “Over the last 16 months I was in a real low spot. I’m wasting no time. Michael Chiesa is the guy I’m looking to fight next.”