By Raphael Garcia
The term “Iron Man” is often used in sports. Cal Ripken Jr. earned the title in baseball for playing in 2,632 straight MLB games and Brett Favre was given the title after starting 297 games in a row in the NFL. The nature of the UFC is such that fighters can't string together similar streaks, but this weekend at UFC Fight Night 78, when Neil Magny faces Kelvin Gastelum, he'll put his own Iron Man bona fides on display. Magny may not get the respect he deserves from pundits and fans, but his activity is well worth admiring.
This Saturday will mark Magny’s tenth fight since 2014. He’s put together an impressive 8-1 win-loss record over those nine fights, with his only loss to Demian Maia at UFC 190. He’s facing Gastelum, who’s returning to the division after being banished to middleweight for missing weight. This is a fight he’s taking on short notice, as Gastelum was originally slotted to face Matt Brown, and since he has yet to reestablish himself in the weight class, it’s clearly a lose-lose situation for the Grudge Training Center fighter Magny. Yet that hasn’t stopped him at any point before.
What will Magny have to do in order to earn the respect that comes with winning this many fights in a short span of time? He’s won as much as many of the titleholders currently on the UFC roster. Matt Brown went on a similar run from 2012-2014 where he defeated seven men who were of a similar caliber to those that Magny has defeated. However, Brown’s run created much more hype, and it nearly led to him getting a shot at the welterweight title. Magny, on the other hand, was never close to a title shot, even before the loss to Maia, and even with his rebound victory over Erick Silva at UFC Fight Night 74, he's still on the outside of the title picture, looking in.
UFC Fight Night 78 is coming on the heels of UFC 193, which may end up being the most important event for the promotion this year. Whether or not that translates directly into viewership shouldn’t be Neil Magny’s concern. He has the opportunity to earn a win in his first main event appearance. And the pressure is truly on, because if he can't deliver when the lights shine brightest, he'll only be the UFC’s Iron Man; he'll never get a chance at gold.
UFC Fight Night 78: Magny vs. Gastelum (formerly UFC Fight Night 78: Brown vs. Gastelum) takes place on November 21, 2015 at Arena Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico.