Neil Magny has known for years that he would be a difficult challenge for Robbie Lawler but he didn’t get to prove that until UFC Vegas 8 on Saturday night.
Over three rounds, Magny dominated Lawler on the feet and on the ground to ultimately win a lopsided decision. As great as the victory was for Magny as he added a third former UFC welterweight champion to his resume, it was also tough to beat a fighter he respected so much.
In fact, Magny explained prior to the fight that training sessions with Lawler while he was still in college ultimately led him to pursue mixed martial arts as a career.
“It’s like a bittersweet moment,” Magny said about beating Lawler at the UFC Vegas 8 post-fight press conference. “The legacy Robbie Lawler carries in this sport, it feels amazing. The respect that I have for him is kind of disappointing beating your hero, so to speak, but at the end of the day, I’m happy with the performance. I’m excited to see what this does for my career.”
Back in 2015, Magny was riding a seven-fight win streak with a pair of Performance of the Night awards under his belt and it appeared he was moving closer and closer to title contention. At that time, Lawler was champion but Magny never got the opportunity to face him.
Five years later, Magny’s win was also Lawler’s fourth consecutive loss in a row, which is why “The Haitian Sensation” can’t help but believe the work he did in the fight might somehow be overlooked.
“That’s kind of the frustrating thing going into this fight,” Magny explained. “Robbie Lawler’s a guy that was on my radar for years. It popped on my Facebook a couple weeks ago when he was the champion. I was one of the guys that was in a group to potentially fight him. It was me, Demian Maia and Carlos Condit at the time. I knew I was capable against a guy like Robbie Lawler. It was just frustrating that it took this long to finally get that fight.
“Now everyone wants to say well he’s past his prime, he fought too late, he fought bad. No, I fought well. I went out there and did what I knew I could do against a guy like Robbie Lawler whether it was tonight or it was five years ago.”
After he was forced to take a year and a half off before he was ultimately exonerated by the United States Anti-Doping Agency over a drug testing issue, Magny returned with a new fire that has led to three straight victories in 2020.
According to Magny, it was that extended break that allowed him to gain a new perspective on his career, which in turn led to the dominant performances he’s had lately.
“The biggest thing for me is just the attitude going into the cage,” Magny said. “Before it was like I’m going to try to win the fight. I’m going to try to get this done. Right now, I just took that excuse away. I’m not going to go out there and try.
“I’m going to go out there and get it done. If I come up short, screw it, I’ll get back to the drawing board and I’ll figure it out. But my attitude going into the cage now is getting it done. It’s not just trying and attempting. It’s actually getting it done and getting my hand raised.”
With the three-fight win streak on his record capped off with a dominant decision over Lawler, Magny hopes that his next fight will come against a higher ranked opponent but he’s not calling out anybody by name just yet.
“I definitely think this is a top-10 performance, to get me a top-10 opponent before the year is over and keep moving forward towards the title shot going into 2021,” Magny said. “This is one of those weird things in MMA right now where everyone feels entitled to fight certain people and that kind of thing.
“But I honestly do not care. If I have to fight No. 1 through 10 in order to get a title shot, I’m ready and willing to do that. Just line them up, I’m ready to go.”