Ian Garry on UFC 273, Khamzat Chimaev and Conor McGregor



“If f***ing Khamzat Chimaev walked by this door now and said something to me, me and him would go,” Ian Garry insists.

“I’m not afraid of anyone. I’ll punch him out if he wants to go, no problem. I don’t think anyone’s unbeatable.”

Chimaev, who faces Garry’s teammate Gilbert Burns at UFC 273 this weekend, is the most-hyped prospect in mixed martial arts right now, having gone 4-0 in the UFC with four stoppage wins and just one significant strike absorbed. If he beats former welterweight title challenger Burns on Saturday, he will almost certainly fight for the belt next in one of the fastest rises in UFC history.

Garry is also one of the top prospects in the company, unbeaten at 8-0 at just 24 years old, and is preparing for his second UFC bout after winning his promotional debut via first-round knockout in November – just as he said he would . The Irishman, however, has been adamant since signing with the UFC last year that he is in no rush to climb the welterweight rankings, making clear his plan to adequately hone his skills every step of the way while also building the best possible brand outside of the Octagon.

“What I do so well is figure out ways to win,” he says. “I find that victory and I make it look easy, then I go in and rock that mic better than anyone else. That makes me just that little bit better, the cream of the crop. I believe I’m going to be the best in the world. I’m on a rocket ship to the moon.

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“I do things differently, I do things smarter. I’m in no rush to be the best, it’s inevitable that I’m gonna get to that point. It’s inevitable that I’m gonna be that good. But the longer it takes me to build up my skill-set, my arsenal, and have everything locked and loaded and ready to go, it’s only gonna make me more dangerous.”

Irish welterweight Garry, 24, is unbeaten at 8-0

(USA TODAY Sports)

Garry takes on Darian Weeks at UFC 273 in Jacksonville, Florida, the state in which the Irishman has been living while training at Sanford MMA. He has not visited his home country since December, but says there is a good reason for that.

“Obviously I love Ireland and I miss Ireland, but there’s sacrifices to be made if you want to be the best in the world. For me, Sanford is the place where I need to be. It’s too f***ing good, I just have to be here.

“I’ve actually been off my phone a lot, too. I changed my number recently, I think there’s about 20 people maximum who have my number. I’m putting my head down, because I don’t want any distractions. Down the line I’ll open up more… or maybe I’ll close the door more! Maybe I’ll decide I don’t need 20 numbers, I only need three.”

Garry became Cage Warriors welterweight champion before leaving the promotion to join the UFC last year, following in the footsteps of compatriot and former dual-weight Cage Warriors title holder Conor McGregor.

McGregor, who went on to hold two UFC belts simultaneously as well, sent Garry an enthusiastic and considered message after “The Future”’s victory over Jordan Williams in November.

“It was thoughtful, it wasn’t a message like: ‘Congrats, Ian, well done,’” Garry says. “It was a message where he sat there and meant it. That’s unreal, because I’m still that kid who grew up watching Conor fight. I would absolutely love to train with Conor, I cannot wait to find out when he’s back, because when he is there’s obviously every reason under the sun why the UFC would put us on the same card.”

Former featherweight and lightweight champion McGregor has thrice fought at welterweight in the UFC and has mentioned a potential return to Garry’s division later this year, with his sights set on champion Kamaru Usman.

Garry won his UFC debut with one second left in the first round

(USA TODAY Sports)

“It would be tough, the toughest fight of his career without a doubt,” Garry says somewhat reluctantly, “but I can also see him doing it, if he goes in there and does what he does best. If that man puts his mind to it, I’m not gonna doubt him.”

While two title fights top the bill at UFC 273, many fans are most excited about Chimaev’s clash with Burns, a bout that could decide the next contender at 170lbs – potentially scuppering McGregor’s plans. Although Burns has already failed to dethrone friend and former teammate Usman, he bounced back with a win against Stephen Thompson and would receive immense credit for winning this weekend against a man seen by many as champion-in-waiting.

Contrasting Chimaev’s rapid rise to his own more measured run, Garry says: “If he wants to go that fast, let him go that fast. If I was to say, ‘F*** this, let’s change it all up, I’m going for the belt tomorrow, I’m gonna fight everyone I can to get to the belt,’ then I’m gonna do it .

“But I think [Chimaev] is in the mindset that he can be champion right now and wants to go for it. We don’t know what’s happening in his life, but he’s gonna take it now, and if that’s the feeling he’s getting, [he should] absolutely run with it.

“But for me, I’m young, I’m 24, there’s no rush. If I’m in his position when I’m 28, then I’ve done my job right. When I go for that belt, there will be no doubt that I’m the best fighter in the UFC – not in the division, but in the UFC.

“Then I’ll fight at middleweight, too. Then I’ll do light heavyweight if I can get big enough. It’ll be a skill-set where everyone on the planet will be like: ‘F***, how are we gonna figure out this puzzle?’ That’s the way I want to be.

“Just to be clear, a lot of people are rushed, but I’m not a pawn; I’m af***ing king, and I’ll own it and do what I want.”

The next step on Garry’s path to the top will see him fight American Weeks (5-1) on Saturday, and “The Future” is as confident in his chances as ever, also taking exception to his opponent’s suggestion that the Irishman is “beatable ”.

“I’m gonna do what I do every single time,” Garry says nonchalantly. “That guy can think I’m beatable, but he’s got to go out there and do it. The last fight, he stepped in on short notice and lost; I didn’t. So, it sounds like a lot of talk from a guy who didn’t back it up in his last performance.

“He has to have the mentality that I’m beatable, because he knows what he’s coming into. But really, really deep down, I know he knows it’s gonna be the f***ing toughest fight he’s had. I know he knows there’s a very slight chance he wins. But he has to try.

“Come in and do your best, and your best will still not be good enough.”

Watch Ian Garry take on Darian Weeks at UFC ® 273: VOLKANOVSKI vs. THE KOREAN ZOMBIE on Saturday 9 April, live on BT Sport 1 from 1am BST Sunday 10 April, with early prelims on UFC FIGHT PASS starting at 11pm.


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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