Ian Machado Garry expects to send a message to his haters this Saturday with his performance, not with his words.
At UFC 298 in Anaheim, Calif., Garry faces his stiffest test yet when he takes on top-10 welterweight contender Geoff Neal. A win puts Garry one step closer to a title fight, while a loss would give his detractors even more ammunition with which to verbally attack him.
Garry spoke with TNT Sports ahead of Saturday’s fight and when asked if he was looking forward to silence his doubters, he explained that there’s nothing he can do — or they can do — to change their dynamic.
“I don’t believe any performance that I can go out there and put on is going to silence people,” Garry said. “There will always be haters. The more success you have, the more haters there are, that’s just unfortunately the way the online community is right now and it’s ridiculous. But am I going to use that fuel to go out there and put on a performance, to maybe rile them up and [expletive] them off a little more then, yeah? Why not? Why not get under their skin a little bit more and get my hand raised? Why not go out there and body Geoff Neal and stand over his body and just look at everyone around the stadium and see people’s faces? And I just go out there and I just stand there, ‘This is what I do. This is what I do best.’
“The truth is the MMA community should be thankful because everybody’s videos that were posted, that had my name on it, got much more traction, more views. … Everyone posted about it, everyone talked about it, and the truth is, I guarantee you go back and look at your videos, those videos at that time got the most views. And you had people talking about me, talking out their ass, not fact checking, not doing anything. The truth is, I’m still going to show up to do my job this time. I’m going to get my hand raised. I’m going up to 14-0 and if anyone has a problem or anyone has anything to say, I couldn’t care less.”
Garry was supposed to fight Vicente Luque at UFC 296 this past November, but a bout of pneumonia forced him out of that contest. The timing couldn’t have been worse for Garry, as he was one of the most talked-about fighters on the card, not only due to his brash persona and perfect record, but the social media gossip that had emerged surrounding he and his wife, Layla.
Not one to shy away from utilizing personal details to insult his opponents, Garry feels that lines were crossed when it came to his family getting tangled up in all of the drama.
“When I sign up to fight, I’m putting myself in that firing range,” Garry said. “I have that target on my back. My wife doesn’t, my son doesn’t, my team doesn’t. Fire at me all you want, that’s OK — I’m in this, I get to go in and punch someone in the face and get rid of it. I get to go in and I can call you out and I can fight you and we can do this. But to attack people’s loved ones and people’s family, I feel, is real low. I mean, my wife got called a pedophile. No one in the world who isn’t that deserves to be called that.
“So all of the [expletive] that’s been said absolutely has an effect on me and my loved ones, and it’s hurtful and it’s upsetting and it was difficult to deal with at the time, but we’ve learned from it. Somehow through all that negativity we’ve learned to pull the people around us closer. If you don’t eat at my table, I don’t care for your opinion.”
According to Garry, the public discourse is made much more palatable by the fact that his in-person interactions with fans have been universally positive. He’s learned to become grateful for the support, while blocking out the negativity.
Will that change on fight night if he beats Neal and is handed a live mic, with which he can address fans who have been not-so-kind to him?
“I’m not going to sit down and berate people in a stadium whether they’re booing or not,” Garry said. “If that’s their opinion, fine. What I will do is I’ll bury Geoff Neal into the ground, I’ll stand over his body, I’ll do a 360 and I’ll look and I’ll assess every single person who I make eye contact with, and when I get on that mic, I’ll use that mic to do what it’s best for — I’ll call out who’s next and I’ll line up what I want next, who I want next, where I want next, and I’ll get what I want because that’s how much power I have now. That’s the power I have. It’s in my hands now.
“You could argue that fight week, Leon and Colby or me, what was talked about more? Who had more traction going into that fight week? The champion and the No. 1 contender in my division, or me, the guy No. 10 in the world? So I have that power now, I have that traction, I have that publicity, I have people talking about me. I’ll go out there and I’ll use that for the right things, not to berate people. I’ll use it for the right things and I’ll stay true to myself.”