Having patience can either make or break a fighter's chance at a successful outcome in the cage. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight contender Neil Magny plays both sides of that coin.
Magny is a winner of seven straight fights and faces his most difficult test in former Middleweight title challenger Demian Maia at UFC 190 this weekend (Sat., Aug. 1, 2015) inside HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (more the card here).
The 27-year-old's ascent into the 170-pound rankings is the culmination of years honing his mixed martial arts (MMA) skills through the guidance of men like former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Bantamweight champion Miguel Torres, UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes and head coach of Elevation Fight Team Leister Bowling.
"I was able to train four or five years or so before I took my first professional fight," Magny told MMAmania. "By the time I took my first fight, I was well-trained and well-prepared for it, rather than just rushing -- doing it for the thrill or to jump on the biggest show."
Magny's MMA career started long before his professional debut in Aug. 2010.
A New Yorker for the first 12 years of his life, his family moved to Chicago, Ill., before the new millennium, where he started hanging with the wrong crowd. Magny became involved with gangs -- a dark subculture that has long plagued the "Windy City."
In fact, Chicago has been among the top three cities in the United States with the most murders since 1985, according to Pew Research Center.
Magny was athletically gifted and found his refuge in high school sports, two of which were football and wrestling. He attended high school in nearby Thornwood, with his mind focused on bettering himself.
As a talented adolescent, Magny looked not only at ways he could improve his situation now, but also later.
"Growing up, I had a lot of people count me out as a childish kid or whatever," recalled Magny. "I knew when it came down to college, I was either going to try go to a Division-III school and try to wrestle my way through and earn a scholarship that way or join the army and have so many more possibilities open up as far as furthering my education and career options."
Magny sought out the military to improve his character and career options, but before he ever set foot on foreign soil, the martial arts seed was planted his senior year of high school. Though he excelled in football and wrestling, he still had not reached his full potential in competition.
"It was the summer before my senior year of high school," Magny said. "That summer, my football coach got us all a membership to go to the gym. I was there to lift weights and stay in shape for football. I happened to see Miguel Torres and his guys training in the back of the gym. Miguel Torres' academy was a little studio in the back of a World's Gym in Highland, Indiana.
I walked over and started talking to them for a bit and asked if I could try a class. From that point on, it was instant."
Torres taught Magny the art of ground fighting, but before he started to get serious, he left home and went into the Army. It was there where he would be exposed to a whole other side of combat and mental training.
Magny was deployed overseas and spent seven years in the Army, where he was a National Guard Sergeant. While in the Army, and unbeknownst to Magny, he would dabble in a form of hand-to-hand fighting.
As part of combatives training, he mastered the art of unarmed, close-quarters combat. It eventually lead to Magny and his fellow soldiers testing their skills against each other off of the battlefield.
"Some soldiers got together and used it as a competition as well. I was actually able to learn self defense, unarmed combat and compete against other soldiers during combatives," Magny said.
He left out the part where he became very successful at it, too. According to his UFC profile, Magny was an All-Army and All-Guard combatives champion.
Magny also grew in those seven years not only as a fighter, but also as a person. During the time he spent serving his country, the Army helped lay the groundwork for a successful future as a fighter.
"There are some comparisons that are applicable. There's a lot of sacrifice, as far as being away from people you care about and things you want to engage in. You have to focus on the goal or task at hand," emphasizes Magny. "That's something that transfers over from the military to training. You're in training camp for six days a week; away from friends and family. You're not eating things you enjoy, just kind of having that discipline and courage to sacrifice for that goal."