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Ian Machado Garry ‘annoyed’ by Geoff Neal UFC 292 withdrawal, revels in mocking Neal mugshot

Ian Machado Garry already feels like he’s won against Geoff Neal, even though they won’t be fighting Saturday.

Machado Garry and Neal were scheduled to compete in a welterweight bout at UFC 292 in Boston, but Neal withdrew for undisclosed reasons and was subsequently replaced by Neil Magny. The late-notice replacement keeps Machado Garry on the card—which, according to him is a blessing to the UFC—and in line to continue his undefeated run in the promotion.

That said, Machado Garry isn’t completely satisfied with the change of plans.

“Upset,” Machado Garry said on The MMA Hour when asked about the Neal situation. “Because I had planned so much beauty around that finish that I was going to go in there and perform for the fans. I was annoyed because beating No. 8 in the world was going to be so, so beautiful. I promise you it was going to be magnificent. So I feel robbed of that opportunity.

“At the end of the day, now I’m looking at Neil Magny. Big shoutout to Neil for stepping up, but I just don’t think either of the guys are going to be good enough to beat me. So I’m annoyed, but I have to go in there and do a job.”

When Machado Garry announced that Neal was out, he didn’t mince words, calling Neal “a b****” for not making it to fight night. That was in line with personal build to the feud, which has seen the Irishman take aim at Neal’s past by way of a t-shirt featuring a mugshot of Neal. Neal was arrested under suspicion of drunk driving and a weapons charge in November 2021.

As far as Machado Garry is concerned, if that information is out there, it’s fair game when it comes to fight promotion and mental warfare.

“If you’re one of the best guys in the world and you have a mugshot and I can take advantage of the immediate goal that a mugshot can bring and the merch game and the excitement and the banter and the slight jabs that it is, selling it on my Instagram, it’s phenomenal and it’s clearly played on his mind,” Machado Garry said. “I know it has. I’ve seen him sending his dad or his coach a message saying, ‘He’s dead.’

“I have him so emotionally invested in the fight mentally that now that he has dropped out, pulled out of the fight, you cannot sit there and tell me that that’s not a win for me.”

Machado Garry doesn’t have any beef with Neal personally, but one reason he appears to be so offended by his UFC 292 fight being changed is that he suspected all along that Neal might not show.

Neal is coming off of a submission loss to welterweight contender Shavkat Rakhmonov, and Machado Garry thinks that the prospect of losing to another undefeated fighter was too overwhelming for his would-be opponent.

“I had a feeling that he was going to pull out a long time before he did because I believe that when you are fighting a young prospect and you’ve just come off a loss, it can be scary,” Machado Garry said. “It can get into your head, it can play mind games. He lost to Shavkat and now he’s coming up against one of the other future prospects, future champions that everyone’s ranting and raving about. If you sign that contract, you have to show up in my mind, especially when you’re fighting a younger guy. You have to show up. And the fact that he didn’t and the fact that I had that feeling that I knew he was [going to pull out] it sucks.

“I believe I got in his head with the mugshot tee that we did. I believe in the mind games in this fight and he was in his head so much that it ended up forcing him to pull out. Look, I’ve heard from different people different reasons why he’s pulled out. I haven’t heard one clear answer. If I told you, ‘I’m out, I broke my hand.’ And someone else says, ‘I broke my hand’ and ‘I broke my hand,’ it’s quite clear I broke my hand. I’ve been told three different reasons why he’s pulled out of the fight, so I just can’t sit here and believe what I’m being told.”

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