Q&A: UFC welterweight Neil Magny, AKA ‘August Champion’

Neil Magny is a 30-year-old UFC welterweight from New York who boasts wins over Johny Hendricks, Kelvin Gastelum, Hector Lombard and Erick Silva. His next fight, against Rafael dos Anjos, takes place on Saturday (September 9) at UFC 215.

Before that, though, Magny took some time out of preparation to answer the questions of Fighters Only contributor Tony Reid.


Question: You are known as a very compassionate guy. Is that a negative in the hurt business?

Neil Magny: One of my best traits is my compassion. It’s one of the things I learned how to manage in fighting. Compassion can actually cost you a fight. I’m a compassionate person. Sometimes it gets the best of me. Sometimes it gets the worst of me. That’s just how it goes.

Clearly that compassion is beneficial in other aspects of life.

It goes so far. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for someone else reaching out to me, loving me and helping me get to where I wanted to go. Every chance I get I try to become a better fighter and person.

After The Ultimate Fighter it’s like, where am I going to train now? I couldn’t stay in Chicago because I didn’t have jiu-jitsu coaches. People were saying go to California, go to Florida. So the opportunity in Colorado that I have is amazing. Having a guy like Nate Marquardt reach out to me and tell me to come to Colorado… I didn’t have a job… he said I could move out here and start with him.

Q: You played football all through your formative years. Do you wish you would have pursued combat sports sooner?

NM: I wish I would have quit football and started kickboxing earlier. I played football all thorough high school and I definitely enjoyed it but I started striking later on and I think I would be much further in my career (if I’d started MMA sooner). I wonder where I would be had I started striking much earlier.

Q: You have a pretty unique look. Do you get any odd celebrity comparisons?

NM: The funniest one was after my one UFC fight (UFC 179) someone tweeted a picture of me and my opponent (William Macario) at weigh-in and the title underneath read ‘Usher vs. Sisqo.’ I was Usher and my opponent was Sisqo with the blonde hair. I thought that was pretty funny. Usher won the fight, by the way.

Q: Cutting weight is always a tough part of the sport. How do you curb your love of pizza?

NM: Oh pizza! I can’t get rid of it. I love pizza. I will even run an extra mile in training camp during the week just so I can enjoy pizza on the weekends.

Q: You go by the name Neil but your actual first name is very unique. Can you talk about the origin of it?

NM: My name, Aoutneil, has a French origin. Recently I found out the real meaning and origin and they actually named me ‘August Champion’. How crazy would it be if I would win the title some year in the month of August?

Q: Who inspires you most?

NM: My grandmother. She came to this country with nothing and worked her way up. She helped all her kids get through college. She helped all her kids get homes. She is a hero to me. She came here with nothing and she just worked hard. It got her pretty far in life. She is definitely one of my heroes.

Q: Who are your favorite fighters to watch and why?

NM: I was a big fan of Miguel Torres, who first introduced me to MMA. In high school Matt Hughes was guy I followed a lot. Later on I watched Nate Marquardt. Everybody I looked up to as an aspiring MMA fighter I ended up training with at one time or another.

Q: What was it like training with the legend Matt Hughes?

NM: I remember working with Matt and Robbie Lawler early on. I took my beatings at the time but it was really cool.

Q: If you could pick a fight with anybody in the world, who would you want to fight?

NM: It would be interesting to fight Mike Tyson. That guy was an animal. He’s mean. He’s crazy. I wonder what it would be like standing across from a beast like that. Holy crap, Mike Tyson is standing five feet away and in about two seconds the bell is going to ring and nobody is going to stop us from doing whatever. I wonder what it would feel like in that moment. Most people would shit their pants standing across from him. Tyson is probably the scariest athlete of all-time.