Pasar al contenido principal
Neil Magny punches Phil Rowe in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena on June 24, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Athletes

Neil Magny Finds Himself In Familiar Territory

Welterweight Veteran Discusses Another Road Game Against An Ascending Talent Ahead of UFC 297 Clash With Mike Malott

Neil Magny was so certain that his UFC career was over following his loss to Seth Baczynski that a few days after he returned from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the welterweight hopeful walked into the Denver Civic Center and took the Denver police exam.

A cast member on Season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter, Magny was bounced in the semifinals of the in-house tournament by Mike Ricci, but won his bronze medal match with Jon Manley to begin his UFC tenure with a victory. But after losing to Sergio Moraes in Brazil and Baczynski three months later back Stateside, he strolled into the gym with his head down and working out a strategy for transitioning to the next phase of his life.

Please enable Javascript to view this content

That’s when Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone offered him some sage advice that turned out to be a Sliding Doors moment in his professional career.

“I took the written exam and later that week, I walked into training with my head down, and Cowboy was like, ‘You might as well text the UFC and ask for another fight,’” recalled Magny, who faces off with hometown favorite Mike Malott in the middle bout of Saturday’s UFC 297 pay-per-view main card. “‘Worst-case scenario they say, ‘No’ and you don’t get another fight. or they say, ‘Here’s another fight.’ Either way, you get your answer.’

Order UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis

“I asked (then UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva for another fight, told him I was eager to get back in there as soon as possible, would take whoever they wanted to put me against, go wherever they needed me to go; I just wanted another opportunity to compete.”

Magny was offered a spot at UFC 169 against streaking Russian newcomer Gasan Umalatov, and won the fight by unanimous decision, kicking off a seven-fight winning streak that not only cemented his position on the roster, but elevated him into the Top 15 in the 170-pound weight class.

Neil Magny poses on the scale during the UFC 292 ceremonial weigh-in at TD Garden on August 18, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Rutherford/Zuffa LLC)
Neil Magny poses on the scale during the UFC 292 ceremonial weigh-in at TD Garden on August 18, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Rutherford/Zuffa LLC)

A decade later, the 36-year-old remains a permanent resident in the rankings, as well as the owner of the most wins and appearances in the history of the welterweight division.

“It’s definitely surreal at times to see how far I’ve come in my UFC career, given how it started,” he said with a smile. “Not many guys start off going 1-2 and 12 years later are still part of the organization.

“To have those fights play out the way they did, I didn’t foresee coming this far at all.”

How To Watch UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis

This weekend in Toronto, Magny finds himself in an all-too-familiar position, lined up opposite an ascending name in need of a litmus test.

As we discussed Saturday’s pairing with Malott, I joked that it feels like the 57th time he’s been put in this spot — tabbed to take on the up-and-comer that has shown promise, but not yet punched their ticket into the Top 10 or Top 15.

Each of his last two outings — a win over Phil Rowe and a loss to Ian Machado Garry — fall into that category, as do seven or eight others earlier in his career.

Top Finishes | Neil Magny
fight pass logo
Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

This video is not available in your country

There was a problem while loading content. Please try again.

Top Finishes | Neil Magny
/

“It’s one of those things where I can’t necessarily fault anybody else for the position I find myself in or say it’s a situation the UFC is creating for me; it just happens to be the way my career has played out,” offered Magny, breaking down how he continually lands in this spot. “I’ve been on the verge of putting win streaks together where it’s ‘Oh, Neil Magny is making is break’ and then at one point of another, I slip up and drop the ball when it matters most, and have to work my way back up. The best way for me to do that is for me to face some of these up-and-coming guys in the UFC.

“'They have steam behind them, they’re undefeated — let’s put them against a tough test like Neil Magny and see how they do,’” he continued, speaking as a theoretical UFC representative, paraphrasing a conversation that has likely taken place dozens of times among the UFC braintrust. “It forces me to ask myself, ‘Do you want to work towards being a contender or do you want to settle in and be a gatekeeper? The choice is yours to make.’

RELATED: Inside The Main Event Numbers | Strickland vs Du Plessis Countdown

“For me, I’m ready to go out there and prove I’m a contender, work my way up to where I want to be. I’m always open to these opportunities and to go out there and make the best of it.”

This weekend, that means venturing to Toronto and facing off with Malott, who grew up roughly an hour down the road and has registered three straight stoppage wins to begin his UFC tenure.

Not surprisingly, this too is a familiar scenario for the Denver-based divisional stalwart.

Neil Magny poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session on August 16, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Neil Magny poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session on August 16, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

“I’ve fought all over the world, in front of the best fans, the worst fans, getting things thrown at me,” Magny said with a laugh. “I don’t anticipate I’ll get things thrown at me, but every time I’ve found myself in hostile territory, I left the arena with more fans than I had going in.

“Fighting Mike Malott, with him being the ‘hometown hero,’ I see it being no different. I’m going to go out there and do my best to be victorious and have more fans than I did going in. It’s nothing I haven’t done before: I’ve fought Brazilians in Brazil, Argentinians in Argentina; the best of the best on their home turf.

Preview Every Fight On UFC 297

“Going to Canada isn’t going to faze me at all.”

While he doesn’t yet see the finish line for his career on the horizon, Magny does recognize that if he wants to have more control over how this next chapter of things plays out for him, he needs to step into the Octagon this weekend and break a bunch of Canadian hearts by spoiling Malott’s homecoming.

Order UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis

“This is what I need to start out the year right and to close out my career the way I want to. I know everyone has these New Year’s resolutions, but for me going into this fight, it’s like ‘How do I want my career to look going forward and what am I going to do to achieve that?’ and this fight is Step One.

“On January 20, I need to go out there, make a statement, beat Mike Malott and move to the next step,” he added. “That’s what I’m focused on at this point. I know what I’m capable of, and I know there is nothing keeping me from getting it done.”

UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis took place live from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on January 20, 2024. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass