After originally being scheduled against Geoff Neal, Neil Magny is now facing ex-champion Robbie Lawler. This change of opponent could be a disaster or an opportunity for the perennial top-10 contender to finally make the Welterweight division take notice. Here’s our Magny vs Lawler breakdown.
Since returning from a nearly 2-year layoff, Magny has returned looking better than ever. The style of fighting is still similar, however, with more focus towards the clinch. Since his devastating loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio, there was a long layoff for Magny. The break is something that looks to have solidified up his already impressive clinch game and even develop more power in punches.
Whilst 4-2 in his last 6, the record doesn’t tell the tale of Neil Magny as well as it seems. A man that has terrific ability and an even better gas-tank, it’s the consistency that has faltered Magny a little too often. Such as a 7-fight winning streak, ended by the legend Damien Maia. Then he went on a 3-fight win streak, losing to Lorenz Larkin. Both fighters that Magny is considerably better-rounded in MMA than.
Magny seems to struggle with specialists. Such as immaculate strikers, or Damien Maia-level grapplers. Magny is good on the ground and good on the feet. Maia, exceptional on the ground, not good on the feet. Larkin, the exact opposite, great on the feet but not on the ground. Both men are fights Magny had a chance to win. In fact, he was considerably better than both in a certain aspect, but couldn’t stop the specialist imposing their style. With wins over the likes of Hendricks, Lombard, Gastelum, Condit and Tim Means, it goes to show just how good Magny could be, and it should be an indicator to how good Neil Magny vs Robbie Lawler will be on Saturday night.
‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler
Robbie Lawler is a man revered in the MMA community for his ‘never say die’ style, and the guarantee of a Fight of the Night whenever he fights. Along with the fact that he is an ex-champion, it all carries significant prestige amongst the MMA community.
Whilst Magny has a winning streak coming into the fight, the fan-favourite, Robbie Lawler, is on his first 3-fight skid in his whole career. Losing to Rafael Dos Anjos in a cracking fight, Lawler’s next outing was a controversial one. Fighting the ever-mouthy Ben Askren, the fight was 3 minutes and 20 seconds of carnage. After a scramble, Lawler slammed the Olympic wrestler onto his head. The controversy came when there’s a possibility of Ben Askren being KO’d and waking back-up. To make it worse, Askren then sunk in a Bulldog choke, and whilst flexing his neck to fight the choke, the referee called the fight, thinking Lawler was out.
Next up for Lawler was Colby Covington. Another brash, loud-mouthed American, similar to Askren. Colby is a lot more willing to trade on the feet with Lawler, however. He stood with Lawler for the best part of 5 rounds and pretty much stunned him with volume. ‘Ruthless’ Robbie wasn’t as ruthless with a relentless Covington across from him. Whether that be age, leaving his prime, or even just an unfortunate run of losses, Saturday is a great fight for Lawler to win one back.
Neil Magny vs Robbie Lawlor Breakdown
He tends to fight with 2 main aspects. Boxing and Clinch.
Magny has a beautifully adapted style for MMA. Whilst not someone with significant power, Magny has a solid chin, great timing but it’s the pressure. He will hand fight until there’s an opening. Against De Lima, we seen the craftsmanship on full display.
Magny often uses his hand fighting as a distraction rather than to gauge distance. Here, vs De Lima, he prods the jab hand out 2-3 times, with an open fist. Purely just to let his opponent see it. Then, he sneaks a straight right down the middle.
The same fight, very next sequence, the exact same open hand with the right hand down the middle. It’s effective because as well as a beautiful straight right, Magny has a crisp jab. So whilst his opponent is trying to figure out how to slip the jab/counter or not, Magny can land the straight right every time.
The most fascinating part of Magny’s hand fighting is how he uses it to angle into his opponent out of an exchange. Here, he sees De Lima attempt to slip the jab by dipping to the left, so he steps his right leg outside De Lima, to the left, same side as the head slip, and flurries him into the cage. This is something he will look to utilize against Robbie Lawler. Lawler has great boxing and head movement, but Magny has the pressure and persistence to make it pay-off.
Magny is ever impressive in the clinch. He has long arms and legs so can sneak the knees up the centre or elbows.
Against Craig White, Magny reversed position and postured Craig into his right knee, ending the fight.
Robbie Lawler Breakdown
For long enough, the myth around Robbie Lawler has been that he is purely a brawler. Whilst maybe a vague term, and in some instances, can be true, Lawler is much more. He’s a calculated killer in the cage. Every movement is set up with feints, or false entries into the pocket.
One thing Lawler loves doing is waiting for his opponent to try to counter his jab. He will wait, feint it over and over until he gets the reaction he wants, such as Jake Ellenberger.
Here Lawler feints the Jab and draws a lazy knee from Ellenberger. Ellenberger, also experienced, knew he would need to mix it up next time, as Lawler had seen the counter-knee and would be aware of it. As Robbie feints his next shot, it gets an even bigger reaction, the exact one he wanted.
Instead of the knee, this time Ellenberger attempts to duck the jab, which Lawler also anticipates. Instead, he follows through on the feint, fully extending and using his full momentum to land a knee, which the downward motion of Ellenberger’s attempted jab slip takes him clean into Lawler’s knee, essentially ending the fight.
The Rory MacDonald #2 fight is one that Lawler will be remembered for. It’s widely considered one of the most enthralling matches in MMA history. The legend of ‘5th round Robbie Lawler’ was on full display. Knowing he was down on points, needing the finish and MacDonald had a broken nose, Lawler took full advantage. Starting the 5th and final round, Lawler threw 11 strikes inside a minute. 9 of them straights, clean onto the nose of his foe.
They were jabs, straights, and only 2 hooks. The most impressive part of it all is despite losing the previous round and most of the fight, Lawler can smell blood.
After a laboured front kick, MacDonald doesn’t get the second to rest he hoped. Lawler pounces on him with another 1-2, right onto the nose.
10 seconds later, a straight left land and MacDonald can take no more.
The Boxing of Lawler is a joy to behold. On Saturday night, we saw Dillian Whyte get knocked out by a beautiful slip-jab lead uppercut. Lawler still has the most beautiful variation of that combination. Instead of stopping after the jab, Lawler followed up with a left hook that skimmed the chin and an overhand right to finish it off.
One thing that we can promise is that Neil Magny vs Robbie Lawler will be a fight of the night contender!
I think Neil Magny vs Robbie Lawler ends by Lawler decision. He’s recently stated he wants to be fighting for a while, and to be able to do that at the top level, he needs a win this weekend. I think his superior standup and his ability to impose himself on opponents will pay dividends.
Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!