If there’s a UFC event with a welterweight fight on the card, there’s a good chance Neil Magny will get mentioned by somebody during the broadcast.
A stalwart in the top 15 rankings, Magny might just be the most called out fighter on the entire roster, and he has a good idea why. It’s not because anybody thinks he’s an easy fight or due to other fighters on the UFC roster just generally disliking him for some reason.
Magny understands all too well that it’s because he always says yes.
“This last week with the UFC card where Cory Sandhagen headlined, there was literally three separate fights where a guy tried calling me out or say something about my fighting style,” Magny told MMA Fighting. “Right now in the UFC, I’m the guy like ‘Neil will fight him’ but that’s also the understanding with a lot of managers and a lot of fighters that if they’re trying to find a fight [and] they’re trying to find a way to make it into the top 15 or top 10, let me call out Neil Magny, I know he won’t say no. It’s not a surprise that I get called out as often as I do.”
Prior to the latest list of welterweights asking to fight him, Magny heard his name mentioned by Ian Machado Garry several months ago after he flattened Daniel Rodriguez inside one round. During his call out, Garry referred to Magny as a “gatekeeper” to the top 10 rankings, which could be taken as either a compliment or an insult depending on the context.
Magny rarely gets offended by anything a potential opponent says about him whether it’s meant as a derogatory term or not but he also knows it’s his job to make Garry or anybody else think twice about that label in the future.
“At the end of the day, I’ll be my harshest critic so coming from Ian Garry, it’s up to him to say what he’s observed,” Magny said. “If I’m a guy that kind of falls short against top five competition and I can’t break away and make myself a contender and be a guy fighting for a title, can’t put together one of those seven-fight win streaks where it’s no doubt in my mind that I could be fighting for a title — if I can’t do that, subsequently I do turn into a gatekeeper.
“10 years from now looking back at that, would that be a bad thing? Nah, probably not. If you can find another guy that stayed in the top 10 in the UFC for 10 years straight, show me that guy, I want to fight him tomorrow. At the end of the day, my goal is to be UFC champion. I’m setting the bar as high as I can. I’m doing whatever it takes to get there.”
The matchup with Garry came together on less than two weeks’ notice after Geoff Neal was forced off UFC 292, which opened up the spot for Magny to accept the opportunity to make a quick return after last fighting in June.
The circumstances might make it seem like Magny is setting himself up for failure if he wasn’t already anticipated this exact kind of scenario.
“[My most recent] fight was a close one. A little too close for my liking,” Magny explained. “I didn’t even make it to the plane yet to leave Jacksonville and I was already texting my coaches ‘what could I have done better? What can I improve on? What can I do differently for the next fight?’
“Before we even landed in Denver, they already had my game plan for training for the next couple of weeks and I was already back in the gym on Monday working towards that game plan. There was literally no time off.”
Magny is also quick to point out before he got matched up with Phil Rowe as an opponent, he had already assumed he would be getting a call to fight Garry.
It didn’t exactly happen in the order he expected but Magny has been quietly getting ready for Garry in the back of his mind.
“I was eyeing this fight for quite a few months now,” Magny said. “I honestly thought I was going to get this fight before I got my last fight. So here we are a couple of months later and this is the fight that I wanted.”
With an undefeated record including a perfect 5-0 resume in the UFC with three knockouts along the way, Garry might be one of the most hyped prospect in the entire promotion.
That’s not lost on Magny, who comes into the fight with more than three times as much experience but not commanding the same level of attention as the rising Irish superstar that many have anointed as the next Conor McGregor.
None of that matters much to Magny as he seeks to take out another brash, up and coming welterweight trying to build their name off him and maybe silence a few of those call outs along the way.
“I have to go out there and make the next guy think twice about calling me out,” Magny said. “I feel like that’s the statement going into fight week — I’m nobody’s stepping stone. I’m going to go out there and prove just that. I’m nobody’s stepping stone, I’m a contender and I’m going to go out there and show why.”