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Neil Magny, UFC Fight Night 66's 'Fighter to watch' today in Manila

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) serves up breakfast in bed for the second time in a month as the fight promotion brings a thrilling UFC Fight Night 66 card to Manila, Philippines, this morning (Sat., May 16, 2014).

Headlining the early morning festivities is a five-round featherweight battle between former mixed martial arts (MMA) champions Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber. Before the ultra-talented duo slug it out, Top 15-ranked middleweights clash when former Strikeforce 185-pound titleholder Gegard Mousasi tangles with the returning Costa Philippou.

Filling out the rest of the line up from Southeast Asia are bouts that feature struggling middleweights Mark Munoz and Luke Barnatt, as well as a scrap between huge welterweights Hyun Gyu Lim and Neil Magny.

Magny might be the most underrated fighter on UFC's roster. The 27-year-old New York native put together as a successful year as any fighter had inside the Octagon in 2014.

The burgeoning welterweight contender heads into his tilt with the South Korean striking tactician Lim a winner of six-straight fights. Magny found a finish in three of those six outings, but Lim, who is coming off of a loss to Tarec Saffiedine, will undoubtedly be his toughest test yet.

He began his MMA career on the eve of his 23rd birthday against Nolan Norwood in Oklahoma. Magny showcased the foundation that would be the key to his success just four years later. Despite spending early portions of the fight on his back, Magny rebounded via his wrestling defense, accurate strikes and top game to secure a victory by kimura in the second round.

He then went on to defeat Nate Pratt by unanimous decision. Two weeks later, in Nov. 2010, Magny tossed around Lawrence Dunning rather easily. Once again, he imposed his will with his unmatched grappling skills, before earning the technical-knockout stoppage in round 2.

Magny would make it two-straight stoppages with his dismissal of Darion Terry, again, just two weeks later. He would take some time off between fights after four outings in the span of little more than three months.

When Magny returned, he faced Quartus Stitt and put on a jiu-jitsu clinic in May 2011. The 6'3" lanky ground expert took advantage of his build in the clinch -- where his bread is buttered -- and stifled the attack of Stitt. Coming out of the gates in round 2, Magny was taken down, but not out of his element, locking up the triangle choke for his sixth-straight "W."

Nobody was safe in the clutches of Magny. No one could figure out how to stop his takedowns. His length and speed worked a great deal in his favor, enabling him to establish his dominance, while he would meticulously plot his finish. When he was in top position, fighters were helpless. Magny stuck to them like glue.

But every man must have his day, and the upstart welterweight was humbled in the seventh fight of his professional MMA career. Andrew Trace tapped Magny as he looked for a takedown in their Jul. 2011 scrap.

Looking to distance himself from his first career loss, Magny fought over six months later against Daniel Sandmann. In this tussle, he kept the fight standing and picked apart his opponent with an abundance of jabs, right crosses and knees in the clinch, picking up the unanimous-decision win in the process. Bloodied and bruised was his opponent, while Magny continued his improvement at a rapid pace.

Pace was also a factor that didn't affect the way he fought. Whether striking, or grappling, Magny brought forth the energy and looked just as fresh in the third round of fights, as he did in the first. His well-rounded skill-set would prove attractive enough for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) producers to select him as a contestant on season 16 of the reality show.

Magny blazed a trail during his time on TUF, earning decision victories in each of his first three fights. One of his major wins came against former International Fight League and Strikeforce veteran Bristol Marunde.

Next on his docket would be former Bellator competitor Mike Ricci. What had the makings of a close fight initially, quick took a turn in the opposite direction when Magny was tagged with a straight left, followed by a demonstrative elbow strike.

I mean, that was a thing of beauty!

Visibly upset and distraught, the athletically-gifted, but raw, Magny left the TUF house in the semifinal round. However, he wouldn't fight for any other organization. Magny would make his Octagon debut at UFC 157 in Feb. 2013.

The Grudge Training Center representative made the most of his opportunity, serving up a one-sided drubbing of Jon Manley for fight fans in attendance inside the Honda Center. Looking to capitalize on his momentum, Magny squared off with Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Sergio Moraes at UFC 163.

After a good start on the feet, a clinch ensued, and although he had success there in the past -- not to mention he was facing a drastically smaller fighter -- Magny made an ill-advised mistake that cost him. The Brazilian weaved through his guard and cinched up the triangle choke in the first round. Like one of his coaches said on TUF 16, famed MMA trainer Trevor Wittman, Magny was green.

He suffered his second loss in a row when he took on "The Polish Pistola" Seth Baczynski in Nov. 2013. In what was an underwhelming fight, Magny failed to capitalize on his reach advantage and was rendered powerless in the clinch.

Facing the dreaded UFC chopping block now, he had to turn things around, or risk being cut. Magny used his forward pressure to take a unanimous decision over Russian grappler Gasan Umalatov, which marked the beginning of his torrid 2014 run.

Following the Umalatov win, he engaged in a much closer affair with Tim "Dirty Bird" Means last May, notching a unanimous-decision victory for his all-around attack. Then, Magny recorded his first Octagon finish, after a disappointing opening round, blitzing ground ace Rodrigo de Lima in the second.

What was interesting about the De Lima win was Magny's composure and ability to flip the switch. Once he landed a couple of good right hands on the former in round two, he pounced on him.

Over his next three Octagon ventures, Magny displayed a refined, more patient game plan, tallying wins over Alex Garcia, William Macario and Kiichi Kunimoto. His next opponent, Lim, poises a serious threat to his advancement up the 170-pound ladder.

With two UFC knockouts, and 10 career knockouts overall, it would be all too fitting if we had ourselves an ol' fashioned slobber knocker in the Philippines. The 30-year-old Lim also nearly matches Magny in height and reach.

Will Magny be taken out of his comfort zone by the equally-talented power puncher Lim, or will he choose to establish his dominance on the ground and close the distance?

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