Neil Magny – Ready for UFC Fight for the Troops 3 and Seth Baczynski
By Christopher Jester
Young, humble, and extremely hungry – Neil Magny is a motivated fighter who is looking to test and challenge himself in and out of the Octagon. Next Wednesday at the UFC’s third Fight for the Troops event, Magny will face Seth Baczynski in his third UFC bout. In this interview Magny discusses how his experience in the National Guard affected his mixed martial arts career, how changing his mentality towards fighting should produce better results in the cage, and what are some of his goals as a fighter. In this exclusive interview with PunchDrunkGamer, The Ultimate Fighter veteran gives you an insight into the mindset of a fighter aiming for the top!
PDG: On November 6th you enter the Octagon once again, how well do you feel like you match up with Seth Baszynski? What advantages do you think you have?
Neil Magny: I think we match up pretty well. He has a lot more fights than I do but we both stand 6’3”. Though, I have longer reach than him. I believe I am a lot faster than he is also. He’s making the cut down to 170. So I definitely see the advantage in my speed and my cardio going into this fight over him.
PDG: What sort of extra pressures are there for you now, especially since other members of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson have been released from the UFC?
Neil Magny: Honestly, I don’t think the other guys getting cut adds any pressure next Wednesday at all. I have been evaluating myself over my last couple of fights, whether I won or I lost, and its been a while since I fought the way that I need to fight. Like, I was so focused on fighting the way coaches or teammates wanted me to fight, instead of fighting the way that I fight or the way my fans like to see me fight. So, going into this fight it is all about fighting the way that I feel that I can fight and doing my best in that fight. Just adding the pace and putting the pressure on, just showing everybody the kind of fighter Neil Magny actually is.
PDG: You are 1-1, since officially joining the UFC, is this where you thought you would be and what adjustments did you have to make since your last fight?
Neil Magny: Since my last loss, most of the adjustments were all mental. Like I said earlier, I had gotten to a point where I was fighting how coaches wanted me to, how training partners wanted me to. I just wasn’t doing my own thing and I was putting too much pressure on myself to fight a certain way people wanted me to fight. So, a lot of the adjustments for this fight were all mental. I just have to go out there and perform the way I know I can and the way I want to perform.
PDG: And what were those things that helped you mentally. Like, Donald Cerrone had to go see a sports psychologist. What sort of things did you do to help you mentally?
Neil Magny: Before I got ready for a fight, I used to say, “I am going to go in there and this is what I am going to do.” And I wouldn’t necessary care about my opponent strengths, or I wouldn’t care about his size, his techniques, or what he does best. I wouldn’t care about any of that stuff. But then it got to a point where people would say, “You’re about to go up against a great grappler, you should avoid doing this or avoid doing that. You should watch out for this.” And I put so much pressure on doing those certain things that once I got myself in a position where that was happening, I kind of freaked out myself and kind of panicked in that moment. So, just treating it like every day – whether it’s training camps or if it’s just another day. Because it has nothing to do with him, but everything to do with me. I have to get out there and show the world what I can do and what I am made of.
PDG: What lessons did you learn from your time in the TUF house and how did that translate into the Octagon?
Neil Magny: The biggest lesson that I learned from TUF was to appreciate what I have. Being separated from your family, your friends, and all the things you care about for so long it actually makes you appreciate the time that you have with them. The sacrifices that you make in order to live a better life and for the people you care about.
PDG: Where do you think you would be if you had not gotten the opportunity to participate on TUF?
Neil Magny: Whether, I would have gotten to the UFC with a couple more fights or a couple more years, I still envision that I would be where I am now, competing for the UFC. It was just a matter of timing. The UFC is where I wanted to be and where I need to be. I wasn’t going to stop until I got to where I am now. Now I am just resetting my goals further my career as a fighter and a mixed martial artist.
PDG: Ok, so then what inspired you to become a mixed martial arts fighter?
Neil Magny: I just started training when I was in high school. I walked into a gym and saw Miguel Torres in there training. I was like, “Man this is pretty cool. I want to check it out.” I went in and took one class and then saw what Miguel was about outside of fighting. This kind of motivated me to do the same. Even though he is a public enemy, he is all about doing things for people. Like his whole program is geared towards giving kids enough to do to occupy their time other than hanging out on the street corners, or hanging out with the wrong group of people. He gives them a positive thing to do. And for him, it was mixed martial arts and I thought I could do the same for a lot of people. I feel like there are kids that can look up to me and say, “Wow, this guy never did anything to set him back. Whether it was family issues, social issues, or whatever. He just kept reaching towards his goals.” And if I can be that role model for a kid, then that is what I want to do and that’s who I want to be. So here I am!
PDG: Who are some of your training partners and which of those partners do you believe helps you the most as a fighter and/or as a person?
Neil Magny: I typically train with Donald Cerrone, Nate Marquadt, Tony Donovan, Jared Hamman and Brandon Thatch. I have a lot of training partners that help me on a daily basis but one of the biggest training partners that I have right now is Marquadt. When I made the move to Denver last year, I spent a lot of time in the gym and outside of the gym to see the kind of man he is for his family and for the people around him. It is just motivating me to be better, not just in mixed martial arts but in life in general.
PDG: When you are not training, what are some ways that you take off the edge? Do you play any video games or have a favorite drink?
Neil Magny: No, I am not a big drinker at all. I have probably drunk about four or five times my entire life. Outside of drinking, I just like hanging out with family and friends. I do a lot of paint-balling and rock climbing. A lot of outdoor activities. I spend a lot of time hanging with my dog and working on training her. I just enjoy being with friends and family outside of training camp and the cage.
PDG: Are you still an active National Guardsman?
Neil Magny: No, my contract was up earlier this year in January. I served seven years in the National Guard. I did one tour in 2007. But my contract ended this year.
PDG: And when you were a National Guardsman, how do you find time to train and serve? Did that affect your schedule as far as fights?
Neil Magny: Yeah there was definitely times where one affected the other. I remember there were certain days having to wake up at 6 in the morning to drill and then leave drills an hour early to drive to make it to a fight on time. So, there were definitely times where it conflicted with each other but overall I think being a mixed martial artist helped me through a lot of times in the military. I remember being overseas, and looking forward to after duty hours because I could train with some of the other guys who were into jiu-jitsu, wrestling and striking. We would do our missions during the day, but at night we would all meet up at the gym and train with each other for about two or three hours. It helped make the time pass by.
PDG: And how did that discipline assist your training as a mixed martial artist and vice versa?
Neil Magny: They both go hand-in-hand with one another. Being in the army, there are certain things you have to accept and certain ways you have to carry yourself. In mixed martial arts, it’s all just about the same way. It is just working hard and staying focus on my plans my goals. It is one of things the military helped me do transition into MMA.
PDG: Considering your background in the National Guard, what will it mean to you to fight in front of other soldiers and military veterans at the “Fight for the Troops” event?
Neil Magny: It definitely means a lot to me. Over the last couple of months serving the military, I kind felt like that was all I had. It was a part of my life for the past seven years. So, walking away from it, I kind of felt like I was turning my back on some of the soldiers I served with and some of the guys that support me. So, being able to go out there and perform for those guys, helping to give those guys something else to focus on or think about from missing their families or missing their friends. It means a lot to give back to them in the way that I can by competing.
PDG: Still young, only 26 years old, what do you hope to accomplish before your career is over?
Neil Magny: My main goal is to make it to the top just like every other fighter. I want to be the best fighter that I can be. If that means training my butt off the next couple of years to get to a UFC title, then that is something I am going to do. But in the meantime, as long as I am happy and my family is progressing and being better off, then that will make me happy. But beyond my personal life my goal is to be UFC champion someday, which is why I have spent so much time dedicated to the sport.
PDG: What do you think it will take for you to reach that goal? Or to crack the top 10 at welterweight?
Neil Magny: Honestly, I am not sure how many fights it takes. Guys like Matt Brown are on a 6-fight winning streak and he is still struggling to get into the top 10. Then there are guys like Rory MacDonald who win a couple of fights and are in the top 10 automatically. So, I am not exactly sure how many fights it is going to take or how many years it is going to take. I just know, God willing, as long as I am healthy and showing up for training that I won’t stop till I reach that goal.
PDG: As a member of the UFC’s welterweight division, who do you have in the UFC Welterweight Championship bout with GSP vs. Johnny Hendricks at UFC 167 and why?
Neil Magny: I have Georges St. Pierre, he just seems to be a lot more disciplined than Hendricks. Hendricks is a great fighter but I just think Georges St. Pierre has a lot more tools to win that fight than Hendricks does.
PDG: Is there anyone in the welterweight division that you want to test yourself against, just to see how you would measure up in your performance?
Neil Magny: Not really. It is not a particular fighter that can show what I can do or necessary demonstrate what I can do. I feel like it is all on me. It’s how I perform. So, it’ll be like the Neil I saw tonight is the Neil I want to go up against and so-and-so. I just think my performance per fight is going to dictate who I fight next. I don’t have one guy or another I am wanting or waiting to fight.
PDG: Is there anything else you want to say to your sponsors, or fans?
Neil Magny: Yes, thanks to Vertx for helping me a lot and for backing me for a while. Thanks to my all my fans who have been giving me support over the past couple of years and don’t miss the fight next Wednesday night.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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