On The MMA Hour, Garry explained the logic around his matchup choices and why this particular sequence is the one he feels makes the most sense for his career. Sidelined from UFC 296 by a bout of pneumonia, he is already scheduled to return to the cage at UFC 298 against Neal, whom he was scheduled to fight at UFC 292.
The first booking, of course, is the easiest for Garry to explain, and it’s mostly for competitive reasons that he wants to take out Neal.
“Geoff Neal is a very, a very good body for me to showcase to the world just how elite I am and how good I am at what I do,” Garry said.
The next two, Covington and Strickland, are more personal than anything else. The trash-talking welterweight and middleweight champ have both taken aim at Garry and his wife Layla Machado Garry, parroting unsubstantiated rumors about their relationship.
“He’s talked about me,” Garry said of Covington. “He’s mentioned my wife. He obviously lost the fight against [Edwards]. Colby is someone who wants those big fights, someone who’s gonna chat s***, someone who’s gonna entertain the fans, someone who’s gonna bring a lot of hype to the event.
“I am going to box the ears off Colby Covington for the things he’s said, and there isn’t gonna be anybody in that world or in this octagon who’s going to be able to save, save him. I promise you now, I’ll finish him, and I’ll do it in three rounds. I don’t need five rounds to finish it. I’ll do it in two, I’ll do it in one. Colby Covington is going to be slapped, and I hope I hit him so hard that he’s never able to speak again. And I feel like a lot of people on this planet would be very happy that he never gets to speak on a mic again. So that’s what I’d like with Colby.”
On paper, Covington is the more logical example considering he fights in the welterweight division. Strickland is the titleholder at 185 pounds, and, in theory, is obligated to fight the most logical contenders. But Garry is convinced that will change soon.
“I’d love Sean Strickland, because any man, or any person who ever talks or mentions me, my wife and my family in that way, I’m gonna get my hands on them,” Garry said. “And in an ideal world, toward the end of the year, I don’t think Sean’s going to be world champion any more, and I believe there’s absolutely an opportunity for me to step up to middleweight and give him a hiding, and maybe I’ll beat him so bad that he’ll forget all that trauma from his childhood and he can thank me.”
Garry fired back at Strickland after the champ’s emotional interview about childhood abuse, calling him out on the hypocrisy of drawing a line at trash talk while attacking others’ families.
Assuming Garry gets close to fulfilling his list, there’s the question of his main goal: the UFC welterweight title. On that, he has a few more scenarios in his head.
“I think this year [UFC welterweight champ] Leon [Edwards] will probably fight twice,” he said. “I don’t believe I’ll get a title shot toward the end of the year. I have work to be done right now. I think there’s guys above me still. I think there’s Belal who should be next, and then there’s someone like Shavkhat knocking at the door. How can they not be the next two contenders that deserve a shot the title?
“So it’s from a point of view of … I do believe I’ll get Colby. If I don’t get a Sean Strickland vibe, I wouldn’t mind taking out Kamaru Usman as well. I wouldn’t mind taking out two of the baddest men on the planet in this division for so long, and then earning my title shot for next year.”