Last night (Sat. Aug., 19, 2023), Ian Garry proved himself one of the best young Welterweights on the planet, destroying Neil Magny on UFC 292’s pay-per-view (PPV) main card from inside TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. He improved his professional record to 13-0 and then called out Stephen Thompson (watch it).
And it the dynamic strikers ever trade leather (it’s not looking good at the moment), Garry would probably enter the cage favored to defeat “Wonderboy” in a kickboxing battle.
Nevertheless, if it feels like Garry appeared as a contender suddenly, it’s because he did! Sure, he’s been on the roster since 2021, but he didn’t at first appear to be so special. Truthfully, Garry was just one of the many former Cage Warriors champions to join UFC’s roster. One turned out to be Conor McGregor, but most of the rest have failed to achieve significant success inside the Octagon.
Garry’s early performances just weren’t that great. Top contenders don’t usually get hurt by fighters like Jordan Williams or Gabriel Green, particularly when they’re allegedly striking aces. Garry didn’t look like a bad fighter per say, but nor did he look at all ready for a run at the rankings. The constant McGregor quotes didn’t help him generate hype, either.
It’s easy to pinpoint the exact moment that perception changed. On May 13, 2023 — three months and one week ago — Garry smoked Daniel Rodriguez, a hardened Welterweight bruiser (watch highlights). It wasn’t just that Garry won — it was how. Opposite the Southpaw counter puncher, Garry feinted his foe to sleep then perfectly hid a high kick behind a cross, becoming the first man to knockout “D-Rod.”
The fighting world sat up and took notice. Li Jingliang couldn’t stop Rodriguez, nor could Mike Perry or Tim Means.
Last night’s performance was a continuation of that excellence. Neil Magny is a good fighter. He gets blown away by elite talent every once in awhile, but it wasn’t terribly long ago that he shut down Geoff Neal. He’s tricky, a trap fighter who has derailed plenty of prospects.
Garry didn’t fall into any of it. He broke Magny’s lead leg apart with, what, three low kicks? Almost immediately, Magny was wobbling around, a sitting duck for Garry’s combinations and further low kicks. It was precise and brutal, about as dominant as a non-finish can be. As a result, Garry can expect to be ranked inside the Top 10 early next week.
It’s really been interesting to watch Garry come into his own so suddenly. He doesn’t feel like a wannabe McGregor anymore. Now, the performances and trash talk are starting to line up, and Garry really feels like “The Future.”
What changed from his early struggles to current success? It all comes down to distance management and execution. Garry has always wanted to be a striker who performs technically. Sometimes, those good intentions backfire when faced with an opponent who just wants to swing.
Before, Garry did have the composure and experience to mitigate aggression off the bat. A couple years worth of training with the animals at Kill Cliff and traveling around the world for elite training partners will help that journey, as will simple age. It may seem to same to those 30 and above, but in the cage, 23 and 25 years of age are two rather different situations.
Garry also deserves credit for fighting smart. Against “D-Rod,” he game planned that high kick, taking note of the open stance engagement and his foe’s low hand position. Versus Magny, he took the kick downstairs and targeted his lanky foe’s skinny legs, a strategy Lorenz Larkin proved worked well against Magny ... in 2016!
It’s smart, efficient work combined with exceptional growth and elite training. Another year of it, and UFC just might have a championship calibre fighter on its hands.
For complete UFC 292 results, coverage and highlights, click HERE.