Ian Garry cannot lose to Geoff Neal at UFC 298: Here’s why

Ian Garry (left) cannot afford to lose to Geoff Neal (right) at UFC 298 [Image Courtesy: @UFCEurope via X/Twitter and @ufc via X/Twitter]

At UFC 298, Ian Garry will face Geoff Neal in what promises to be the Irishman's toughest test. That is, at least, on paper. The Irishman only recently cracked the top 10, while 'Handz of Steel' currently occupies the #8 spot in the welterweight rankings. A win may very well propel him to within touching distance of the top five.

However, the bout is more than just an opportunity to climb the rankings in a bid to eventually conquer the division. The strategic and tactical elements of the matchup between Garry and Neal have been largely overshadowed by the enmity both men feel for each other.

Not only are they feuding, but Garry hasn't ingratiated himself with anyone in the welterweight division or even a sizable portion of the MMA fanbase. The controversy surrounding his wife, Layla Machado, has led to a vicious onslaught of mockery. Come UFC 298, he has no choice but to win.

Ian Garry and the art of making things personal with his opponents

Ian Garry and Geoff Neal were first scheduled to face each other at UFC 292. Ahead of the bout, 'The Future' made a tasteless attempt at promoting their fight by selling t-shirts with Neal's mugshot on the front. He sought to use his foe's lowest point as a marketing tool, and it drew negative reactions from fans.

Nevertheless, the Irishman stood by his actions. When his opponent was forced to withdraw from UFC 292 due to an undisclosed medical issue (recently implied by Garry to have been COVID-related), Garry took credit, claiming to have broken Neal psychologically.

Thereafter, 'Handz of Steel' was replaced by Neil Magny, a welterweight veteran with whom Garry had no prior history. Unfortunately, the pair's bout quickly became personal after Garry deliberately took Magny's words out of context. At a media day event before their fight, Magny offered his prediction.

By likening the young and brash Garry to a child, Magny promised to discipline the Irishman like a father does to his son. In response, 'The Future,' who confessed that Magny had given him priceless ammunition, lambasted his opponent as an abusive father and frequently talked over him at the pre-fight press conference.

In fact, Garry denied Magny the opportunity to answer any questions altogether by instructing the journalists in attendance not to ask Magny any questions. While the casual MMA fanbase generally loves trash talkers, Garry won himself a few fans with his conduct.

He was regarded as a bully, especially after Magny, who lost the bout via lopsided decision, revealed that he had suffered custody-related consequences due to Garry's rhetoric. Trash talkers draw significant attention and are often polarizing. They are both loved and hated with a passion reserved for few.

At the UFC 297 pre-fight presser, Magny said:

"My ability to actually be the father I wanna be and be the parent I wanna be is actually at stake now based of what someone perceived I was saying or whatever, or how they chose to spin it in the media."

Check out Neil Magny talk about Ian Garry's comments (6:43):


Thus, ahead of UFC 298, many are tuning in to either continue their ride on the Garry hype train or watch him get his comeuppance. This is especially the case given that his foe will be Neal, who was regarded as an innocent target of Garry's personal trash talk.

If he loses, not only would he join the likes of Colby Covington in the many 'when trash talk goes wrong' discussions, but it would also rob him of one of his two biggest selling points: his undefeated record. Furthermore, Garry is a self-styled future UFC champion who is dismissive of the skills of actual champions.

If he, after unapologetically taking things as far as he has, loses to the #8 ranked Neal in his first bout against a true top 10 fighter, his hype train will be derailed in a tremendous way.

Ian Garry and the WAG scandal

In late 2023, Ian Garry came under fire for his marriage to Layla Machado, a woman 14 years his senior. While the age discrepancy between the pair has raised eyebrows before, other revelations brought increased scrutiny to their relationship. First, there was Machado's book, 'How to be a WAG.'

The book, an 11-page instructional on how to seduce athletes, was first published back in 2012. However, it resurfaced in popularity in late 2023 when many deduced that it was written by Garry's wife. Most notably, it caught the attention of former UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland.

Along with the book came other points of interest. Machado's ex-husband, Richard Cullen, was revealed to be the Irishman's nutritionist, which led to the spread of an unsubstantiated rumor that he lived with the couple. Fans also noticed that Machado was Garry's manager.

This led to many observers branding Machado as controlling and predatory, especially Strickland. While she defended herself, first by debunking the rumor of Cullen living with her and second by claiming that 'How to be a WAG' was a satirical piece, it wasn't enough to silence the MMA fandom.

Strickland labeled her a s*xual predator. Meanwhile, controversial trash-talker Colby Covington frequently referred to 'The Future' as a cuckold. This was also when Leon Edwards' team had barred the Irishman from training with them while reports of him being knocked out by Shavkat Rakhmonov in training circulated.

In response to the mass online trolling and vitriol he received, Garry made his social media accounts private and criticized everyone for attacking his personal life. But this just invited more vitriol, as Garry had been perfectly content weaponizing the personal lives of Geoff Neal and Neil Magny.

He was branded a hypocrite. At the time, he was set to face Vicente Luque at UFC 297, and fans were eager to see the Brazilian flatten him with a knockout. To make matters worse, Covington, Edwards, and Rakhmonov would all be present at the UFC 296 pre-fight press conference.

Many predicted that Garry would be annihilated in a trash-talking group effort, but the moment never occurred, as the Irishman never turned up for the press conference. He had fallen ill and had no choice but to withdraw from his bout. But the fans saw it differently.

Garry was painted as a thin-skinned coward who shied away from the heat he enjoys subjecting others to, even though his reason for pulling out of UFC 296 was legitimate. Now, he is in a must-win position. He has talked about defending his wife's honor by facing Strickland in a middleweight bout in the future.

He has refused to apologize to Magny for taking his words out of context despite now knowing what it is like to have one's personal life dragged into the limelight. To lose at UFC 298 would be a massive blow to his reputation. Controversy and poorly received trash talk are ignored so long as the fighter continues winning.

A loss, especially with so many eager to watch Garry fail, would only cause his detractors to feel right about branding him weak-minded and soft. More than ever, he must win now. Otherwise, all anyone will remember him for is what his doubters echo. No other outcome is tolerable.

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Edited by Jigyanshushri Mahanta