UFC welterweight Neil Magny plans to be back in the octagon this February, just weeks after the birth of his child.
Washington, D.C. — Weterweight Neil Magny was one of several fighters not competing on the UFC DC card over the weekend who were out in D.C. promoting the show. A former military man himself, Magny spent time at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and met both the Chief of Staff and Secretary of the U.S. Army.
Magny was also in town in supporting Elevation Fight Team teammate Alistair Overeem, who appeared in the main event of the ESPN show Saturday. Ahead of that, he stopped by backstage to speak with media outlets including Cageside Press, about a time table for his return, and the USADA issues that are now behind him.
Magny (21-7) has a child due in January, which has complicated his return to the octagon just a little. “At first I was kind of worried I was going to be fighting in January. The only two dates in January as of now are January 18 and January 25,” he said. “We have a due date of January 20. So knowing I’m fighting in February as opposed to January was a little bit relieving for me. Now I’m just super excited.”
Of course even fighting in February will be difficult with a bay due just prior to his return. But Magny has a few tricks up his sleeve. “I’ve actually learned how to sleep with headphones in. My wife’s going to step up and run the home while I finish off my last two weeks of training camp, whatever it may be. I just have to make sure I’m well-rested and able to go out there and perform my best.”
“Right now,” he added, “it’s just one of those things where I’ll need her as much as she needs me to go out there and make it happen.”
When he does get back to work, it will be for the first time since November of 2018. Magny was supposed to fight Vincente Luque at UFC Rochester back in May, but was suddenly pulled from the card just days out. Turns out, a failed drug test was to blame — one that showed critically low levels of a banned substance. That led to a rather costly round of supplement testing, but the upside was that in the end, Magny’s case prompted changes of the UFC’s Anti-Doping Policy by USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency). The same changes that led to the quick resolution of the Nate Diaz case ahead of UFC 244.
“The work that I put in the five months prior to the Nate Diaz situation is why Nate Diaz was able to get cleared within a couple days,” Magny said Saturday at the Capital One Arena. “By the time Nate Diaz’s situation happened, the rule set was already in place and changes already being made. I was actually happy for him, because what I went through and a couple athletes went through, the changes had already been put in place, and he was able to go out there and continue his career. It wasn’t sidetracked or pulled back at all.”
His own case, however, wasn’t that smooth. And it put him in a difficult situation. Magny’s failed drug test came after a change to the rules in doping violations, where the UFC and USADA no longer announce positive tests until after the adjudication process is complete. Falling just days before he was scheduled for UFC Rochester against Luque, questions about his absence from the card were bound to arise.
“It put me in a weird position. It put me in a position where I was just five days out from a fight and it was like ‘hey Neil’s not fighting anymore,'” he noted. “It kind of put me in a position where, do I lie to the fans, do I lie to the media, do I lie to people around me and say I’m injured when I’m not injured? Or do I just come out and face the facts? And that’s what I chose to do.”
Fortunately, he explained, he received a lot of support from the fans and media during the process. Which led to a desire from the general public to know what was really going on. The message Magny got, he said, was that “we’re with you, we’re ready to find out what happened.’ So I was grateful for those guys who stayed with me through the entire 13 months I’ve been out now.”
From the looks of things, however, the top welterweight won’t be out much longer. Though he didn’t have an opponent to announce Saturday, he at least has a time frame, and that’s a step in the right direction.
Watch the full UFC DC media scrum with Neil Magny above!