Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight veterans Neil Magny and Li Jingliang will battle this Saturday (March 7, 2020) from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Back in 2014 and 2015, Magny was able to climb the Welterweight ranks by fighting at a really impressive pace, seemingly every other month. He was able to put together a pretty major win streak, but unfortunately, the 32-year-old has recently slipped from the rankings altogether and enters this contest following a knockout loss. Alternatively, Jingliang has won three straight and seven of his previous eight bouts, looking better than ever in recent appearances. Jingliang has a lot of momentum here, as he actually enters as the favorite against his more established foe.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Kelvin Gastelum (UFC Fight Night 78), Johny Hendricks (UFC 207), Hector Lombard (UFC Fight Night 85), Carlos Condit (UFC 219)
Key Losses: Santiago Ponzinibbio (UFC Fight Night 140), Demian Maia (UFC 190), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC 215), Lorenz Larkins (UFC 202)
Keys to Victory: Magny is an exceptionally tall and rangy Welterweight, but he actually really excels in the clinch. More than anything else, Magny operates at a furious pace, often taking over at about the midway point in the fight as his foe simply cannot keep up.
Jingliang’s most recent loss came to Jake Matthews, a fighter who has otherwise not accomplished as much as the Chinese athlete. In that bout, however, Matthews capitalized on Jingliang’s straight-forward lunges and stalking with big bursts of his own and reactive takedowns, which thoroughly flummoxed “The Leech.”
Magny does not have the athletic blast double of Matthews, but he should look to frustrate him in similar fashion. If Magny can avoid the brawl on the outside, his long jabs and kicks should allow him to out-point Jingliang. When his foe comes forward swinging, Magny can back off completely or look to engage in the clinch, where he historically wins fights.
Key Wins: Elizeu Zaleski (UFC Fight Night 157), David Zawada (UFC Fight Night 141), Dhiego Lima (UFC Fight Night 66), Bobby Nash (UFC on FOX 23), Frank Camacho (UFC Fight Night 111)
Key Losses: Jake Matthews (UFC 221), Keita Nakamura (UFC Fight Night 75), Nordine Taleb (UFC Fight Night 54)
Keys to Victory: Prior to Weili Zhang’s sudden rise to championship gold, Jingliang was the most successful UFC athlete in China. “The Leech” is really a bruiser, a man who comes forward and throws power at his opponent from the first bell.
It’s worth-noting, however, that his boxing looked much sharper than usual last time out.
If Jingliang does not wind up on his back or jammed into the fence, it’s really clear how he wins this fight. There’s just a huge power differential: Jingliang’s punches and kicks land with tremendous impact, the type that changes fights and makes an impression on the judges. Magny is quite skilled, but he’s never been the most dangerous offensive fighter.
As such, Jingliang’s most important key here is to avoid giving Magny easy openings to grapple. Basically, don’t lunge in too much or throw naked kicks from too close! If Jingliang can restrain himself to throwing big punches when it’s appropriate and chopping at the lead leg when Magny circles off, he’ll likely take control quickly.
It’s a potential changing of the guard moment.
Magny needs this victory. He has to deny a proven tough up-and-comer like Jingliang to prove that he still has a place in the upper echelon of the Welterweight division. It’s simply been too long since Magny has beaten a relevant Welterweight, so a consecutive loss really runs the risk of erasing much of his past work in terms of where he stands at 170 pounds.
As for Jingliang, he recently scored a win over a ranked opponent in Zaleski, but that number did not transfer to his name completely. As such, another win opposite a more well-known opponent — though which man is more dangerous is certainly arguable — is precisely what’s required to really move “The Leech” up the divisional ladder.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 248 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the Fight Pass/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 248: “Adesanya vs. Romero” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
At UFC 248, Neil Magny and Li Jingliang will face off. Which man will have his hand raised?