Ian Machado Garry defends trash talk aimed at Geoff Neal and Neil Magny: ‘I haven’t overstepped any boundaries yet’

Ian Machado Garry may be carving out his own path in the UFC, but the similarities he shares with fellow Irishman Conor McGregor have been undeniable.

From his brash demeanor outside the cage to the swagger he displays in fights, the 26-year-old welterweight has never hidden his adoration for McGregor, who perfected the art of mental warfare with opponents. McGregor’s trash talk had fighters seething with anger before ever setting foot in the octagon.

Machado Garry, who faces former teammate Vicente Luque at UFC 296, has emulated that formula in his own career. In the lead-up to his most recent fight, against Geoff Neal, he made and sold a t-shirt with a mugshot featuring the welterweight vet, who’d earlier been arrested on suspicion of DUI.

After Neal fell out of their fight, Machado Garry turned his attention toward his replacement, Neil Magny, especially once Magny said he planned on handing Machado Garry an “ass whooping,” and “being a father, I’ve become quite accustomed to that kind of whooping now.”

An ugly back-and-forth took place at the UFC 296 press conference and bled over into the fight, with Magny, who lost a lopsided decision, shouting at Machado Garry during the action.

Magny said Machado Garry’s words had real-world implications, telling SportsKeeda that his words were brought into a custody battle amid divorce proceedings with his wife, and “the way he chose to blow it out of proportion has some pretty significant consequences for me, and it was a lot bigger than selling a pay-per-view, selling a fight … it was literally my children’s relationship was at stake at that point. It wasn’t cool.”

As much as it angered Magny to be painted as an abuser, Machado Garry doesn’t regret anything, because he was just turning his opponent’s words against him.

“How do I turn the nice guy into the bad guy? I don’t believe I turned the nice guy into anything,” Machado Garry told MMA Fighting. “I think I exposed him for what he is. Neil said the words he said in that press conference. The words that I used as ammunition came out of his own mouth.

“His words were, ‘I’m a father, and I’ve been accustomed to giving out beatings, and I’m going to give Ian Garry the same beating.’ You don’t say something like that. I’ve just had a boy. I’m a father. I’m a protector now. I have a life that I need to look after and care for, for the rest of my existence.

“When I hear a grown man sit there and say he’s gotten accustomed to whooping that ass, or that kind of ass-whooping, and he’s got a 3-year-old at home, Neil you’ve just done yourself in. I’m absolutely going to sit there and hound you about that. Because it’s your words, your actions. I’m just putting them out there for the world in a different way.”

On Neal’s arrest, Machado Garry doesn’t feel like he did anything wrong because it was in the public record, much like the mugshot he used for the t-shirt.

“Geoff Neal, there is no f****** argument Geoff Neal f***** up in his lifetime and got a mugshot,” Machado Garry said. “Absolutely I’m going to use and abuse that if I’m your opponent. Absolutely. Geoff Neal pulled out because of mind games, because of a f****** t-shirt that I made and sold on Instagram.

“I got so deep in that man’s mind that he didn’t even make it to the fight, he was so pissed off. But he has nobody else to blame other than himself. That’s it.”

While Machado Garry defended his trash talk, he also acknowledged there are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed — unless an opponent does first. McGregor, for instance, verbally attacked Dustin Poirier’s wife in the lead-up to their trilogy in 2021. As much as he idolizes the former two-division champ, he understood how it could be perceived as over the line.

“I haven’t overstepped any boundaries yet when it comes to trash talk,” Machado Garry said. “If anything, I’ve been perfect. I’ve been perfectly underneath that line that you’re speaking about, and I don’t see any need to cross that right now until somebody else crosses it.

“Look, let’s put it this way — there was a line I could have crossed in the buildup to this fight [with Neil Magny], but I didn’t. I knew it, and I didn’t say it. I’m not going to get into it, but there’s a line there. Now to your point, there’s a line in trash talk, you go beyond it, and it’s not conceived the same way by people.

“I understand what you mean with the, ‘Your wife is in my DMs,’ the Conor thing with Dustin, I get that. Conor’s a very intelligent man, and the way he built up fights and the way he got people emotionally invested with building up a storyline was building up animosity that was there or wasn’t there.”

The way Machado Garry sees it, however, is that McGregor follows a similar script to NBA legend Michael Jordan, who is widely considered as the greatest basketball player in history and perhaps one of the most vicious trash talkers to ever compete in professional athletics.

In a the documentary The Last Dance, Jordan revealed he made up a slight from an opposing player, which led to him torching the opponent the next time they played. Even an innocuous encounter at a restaurant, where an opposing coach walked by him without saying hello, incensed Jordan so much that he used that as motivation when their teams squared off in the NBA Finals.

“When we saw Michael Jordan compete as one of the best competitors we’ve ever seen compete, he manifested and manipulated his own mind to think someone had said something about him in the past so he could go out there with a competitive hunger, a competitive edge,” Machado Garry said.

“When you look at the greats, they have something that separates them from the rest of the pack, and it’s a will to compete and they will do anything possible to go out there and win.

“I have not stepped over single boundary yet. Neil Magny said the words he said. I just said them on a bigger platform to a bigger stage and repeated his own words to him. The only person he has to blame for those words is himself.”

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