Neil Magny’s length aides a dangerous ground game. (Photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
Neil Magny headlines his second Ultimate Fighting Championship card Saturday when he takes on surging contender and dangerous striker Santiago Ponzinibbio in the main event of UFC Fight Night 140. Magny is 14-5 since joining the UFC in 2013 and a win over No. 10-ranked Ponzinibbio would propel him into the shortlist of title contenders.
Magny is one of the lengthiest welterweights in the UFC, standing at 6’3 with an 80-inch reach. To put that in perspective, the average UFC heavyweight stands at 6’2 with a 77-inch reach, making Magny taller and longer than most heavyweights. Over his five years with the UFC, Magny has become an expert at using his height and reach to his advantage. He uses slick defensive footwork and a long jab to keep opponents at bay and set up exchanges at his pace. Magny isn’t a flashy striker, but he doesn't need to be. Instead he relies on the basics of boxing and his ability to use his length for offense and defense to slowly pick apart his opponents, all while dictating the range and pace. Oddly, Magny doesn't throw many kicks other than teeps, which severely limits his striking. Any variety of kicks can be a long fighters best friend (see Semmy Schilt) and Magny should work on incorporating more into his game.
Long fighters generally excel at distance fighting, but a height and reach advantage can also help when up close in the clinch. In the clinch, Magny’s knees have a shorter distance to travel than most and his long arms make it easier to achieve the double collar tie or plum clinch, where he can fire off sharp knees to the body. Something interesting about Magny’s clinch striking is how he will tie up and fake a takedown before coming back up with a knee; all while the opponent is focused on the takedown.
Although Magny can be a brilliant distance striker, he often relies on his grappling to get things done despite him not having any experience before starting MMA. Since Magny likes to strike in the clinch, most of his takedowns come from trips and throws against the cage which he can use to set up his clinch striking and vice versa.
Similar to his striking approach, Magny employs a patient but consistent ground-and-pound attack that slowly drains opponents. He doesn't offer much of a submission threat, winning only three fights by sub, but he is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Miguel Torres/Andre Leite and his long limbs can make certain submissions easier to lock up, like triangles and kimuras.