It’s easy for a fighter to think that he or she has all the answers. Though fighters are open to instruction from their coaches and teammates, it’s rare that a fighter will seek out a recent opponent in order to refine his or her skills. Especially an opponent who recently defeated them.
But for the UFC’s Neil Magny (18-4), his loss to Demian Maia at UFC 190 last year did not present a moment to despair. Rather, it presented an opportunity to learn. Magny sought Maia out after their fight during a UFC-sponsored seminar and received some pointers from the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.
“It was a pretty cool experience,” Magny said. “I have a good coach in Eliot Marshall at Elevation Fight Team. But when I heard Maia was in town, I jumped at the chance. [Maia] was really cool and showed me some things. I’ve gone against some of the best jiu-jitsu guys in the world, so it’s all about, ‘How can I get better?’”
Magny’s athletic career started in high school, when he played football, ran track and wrestled. His journey into mixed martial arts began when he walked into a martial arts gym by accident. “From my first experience, I was hooked,” Magny said. “It opened my eyes to a whole new style.”
Magny brought his lessons from Maia into the Octagon against Hector Lombard in March, but all those lessons were nearly for naught was Magny appeared to be rocked early by Lombard’s strikes, and it seemed the referee was very close to stopping the fight.
“I took too many shots, but I never lost consciousness,” Magny said. “I tried to regain my composure, and I know Hector is known for swarming his opponent once he’s hurt. I tried to posture up, and I got into half-guard and used that to get back on my feet and take control of the fight.”
Magny completed a remarkable comeback against Lombard with a TKO finish in the third round, and now turns his attention to Lorenz Larkin. The two will face off in the featured UFC Fight Pass preliminary bout prior to UFC 202 on Saturday, Aug. 20.
Describing himself as “one of the toughest welterweights in the UFC,” Magny plans to use his reach against Larkin (17-5) and push the pace when they meet for the first time. “I’m going to pick him apart,” Magny said.
Magny recently relocated to the Elevation Fight Team in Colorado after spending the first part of his career training in Chicago. He called his big move “the best decision I ever made.”
“Branching out to Colorado took me out of my comfort zone,” Magny said. “I have different coaches now for every aspect of fighting, and I have Nate Marquardt as a mentor to break down tape with. I’m constantly growing in every aspect of MMA.”
The welterweights have been heavily featured in the latter stages of the summer for the UFC, as Tyron Woodley dethroned Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 last month to win the welterweight title and UFC 202 – which Magny is a part of – boasts the rematch of Nate Diaz and UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor in a welterweight bout. Since Woodley became welterweight champion, he’s been vocal about his desire for a “superfight” against either Nick Diaz or former welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. It’s a sentiment Magny can’t entirely fault Woodley for having.
“Tyron needs to focus on taking care of his family and making the most money possible,” Magny said. “But it’s also a little bit frustrating, because we’re all waiting for a title shot.”
When it comes to the big-money rematch between Diaz and McGregor at UFC 202, Magny doesn’t see a second opportunity for McGregor going much better than his first one.
“Going up against a big lightweight like Nate isn’t to his advantage,” Magny said. “The longer the fight goes, the better it is for Nate. If Conor can’t knock him out for the first round or two, he can’t go five rounds with Nate.”
Magny made a note to thank MusclePharm for its support during his training. Follow Magny on Twitter at @NeilMagny.
Photo Credit: Esther Lin