After back-to-back wins over dangerous opponents, it is clear The Ultimate Fighter alum Neil Magny (10-3) has turned a corner.
After being ousted in the semifinals of Team Carwin vs Team Nelson, Magny went an uninspiring 1-2 in his first three UFC outings, dropping consecutive bouts to Sergio Moraes and Seth Baczynski in the process.
The 6-foot-3 former U.S. Army Combative champion didn’t look comfortable on the sport’s biggest stage following his stint on the promotion’s reality series, and coming into his fourth Octagon appearance at UFC 169 it was likely that he was fighting to keep his place on the 170-pound roster.
Magny’s next opponent, highly touted Russian prospect Gasan Umalatov, was coming into the fight riding momentum in the opposite direction. The UFC newcomer Umalatov, like many of his fellow Russian imports, was looking to make a splash in his debut at the expense of the Magny, but the TUF veteran was having none of it.
Magny employed a stiff jab, straight punches and excellent footwork to keep the powerful Umalatov at bay and peppered him with hard shots from bell to bell. Magny was able to weather the early storm, and when taken down he popped right back up to his feet to continue his assault. He picked apart the feared UFC newcomer for three rounds in route to a dominating decision victory.
This past weekend at UFC Fight Night 40: Brown vs Silva from Cincinnati, Magny returned to the Octagon against dangerous veteran Tim Means, and the rangy Elevation MMA export continued to look like a new man inside the cage.
After a short feeling out process, Magny appeared to find his range midway through the first round and was able to floor the durable “Dirty Bird” Means near the end of the stanza after scoring an early take down and evading most of Means’ offense. In the second, Magny continued to frustrate the ever aggressive Means, beautifully slipping shots and using his incredible 81-inch reach and ever improving footwork to dictate the distance. For such a long welterweight, Magny’s use of level changes and mixing in take-downs to keep his opponent guessing was an impressive addition to his arsenal as he scored a powerful take down near the end of the round, showing that his improvements to his MMA game weren’t only on the feet.
In the final stanza, Magny didn’t let off the gas, evading more powerful shots from Means to land stinging right hands of his own before the fight again hit the mat. Here Magny showed his grappling prowess as he outworked Means and was able to maintain top control in the majority of the scrambles. He even secured a body triangle from the back mount before Means was able to escape and the horn sounded. All three judges scored the fight for Magny, improving his UFC ledger to 3-2 and giving the veteran an impressive two-fight winning streak.
For a fighter who was a relatively unheralded prospect, Magny has truly come alive in his last two outings. While it was not enough to catapult him toward the top of the division, it is clear that the talented fighter is improving with each outing. He may not crack the top ten in the stacked welterweight division anytime soon, but at only 26 years of age, do not be surprised to see Magny quietly put together a winning streak and become a relevant threat at 170 pounds.