Ian Garry: The Story So Far

Graphic: @peartvisuals

November 6th, 2021: UFC 268

“It literally can’t get bigger than this. I’m 23 years of age and I’m debuting for the UFC at MSG. It’s written.”


NEW YORK, NY – Nearly five years to the date since Conor McGregor became the first simultaneous two-division UFC champion, another Irishman was given the opportunity to light up the world’s most famous arena.

Ian was on a tear coming into his UFC debut. 7-0, 3 wins in the calendar year, and fresh off of a Cage Warriors welterweight title victory less than five months prior. Not only did Ian win the welterweight title, he had done so with a make-shift corner. Garry was forced to scramble at the last minute to find suitable cornermen for the biggest fight of his life due to an issue at his long-time home gym, Team KF. Team KF would release a statement after Garry’s victory describing him as “uncoachable”, and that he was no longer welcome at the gym. The drama forced Ian to take sanctuary in South Florida where he linked up with coach Henri Hooft at Kill Cliff FC. Hooft’s first assignment as Ian Garry’s head coach: Jordan Williams.

Jordan Williams made his way to the UFC after earning a contract on his second attempt on Dana White’s Contender Series. He was unfortunate enough to face Nassourdine Imavov in his debut and ended up on a two-fight skid before taking on the debuting Ian Garry in his third UFC fight. 

Ian Garry knocks out Jordan Williams at 4:59 of the first round (Chris Unger / ZUFFA LLC)

As far as Ian’s performance inside the cage is concerned, he had some adversity to overcome. Garry did not come hot out the gate, many alluded to him having “UFC jitters” and perhaps being a prisoner of the moment. Ian was hit cleanly on multiple occasions in this fight, something he isn’t known for. He would later tell the MMA Hour that he didn’t feel overwhelmed until, “I got into the cage and I’m stood there and Bruce Buffer is just about to announce the fight. And I look left, and I see .. ‘UFC 268’ and it just has my name in big writing.”

Despite the distractions and an allegedly more-slippery-than-usual UFC canvas, Ian came up big in his debut. At 4:59 of the first round, Garry was able to capitalize on an over-extending Williams and sent him to the floor with a swift combination. With a buzzer-beater first-round knockout at Madison Square Garden, Ian Garry had arrived in the UFC.

Ian was glowing after the contest, talking about his future successes and his vision for an Irish “takeover part two” in the UFC. He also wore a suit with a collection of words that he felt befitted him. Included was “uncoachable” which Ian added, “I was called uncoachable before, which I find is fucking hilarious.”

April 9th, 2022: UFC 273

“It’s my second fight and the UFC know how good I am. They know the potential, they’re milking this now and they know what they’ve got… I know what the UFC are gonna do with me, I know their plan (is to) build me up. And they should, because I’m a fucking superstar.”

Severe MMA

JACKSONVILLE, FL – Fast-forward five months and we see Ian gearing up for his second UFC fight in his new home state of Florida. His most recent knockout has the whole space talking, and now everyone wants to see what this Dubliner is made of. The McGregor comparisons were inevitable for a brash striker from the Emerald Isle and sure enough, Ian quickly found himself expected by the masses to fill Conor’s python-skinned loafers. The spotlight grew even brighter as Ian’s bout was elevated to headline the preliminary card just days before the event. You would never know that Darian Weeks was the opponent, as nearly all the media attention was directed at Ian throughout fight week. 

Darian Weeks is another product of Dana White’s Contender Series, although he never got to compete on the show due to a positive COVID test ahead of his bout against Josh Quinlan in late 2021. Weekes would go on to lose his first UFC fight via unanimous decision to Bryan Barberena just a month after Ian’s debut.

Ian Garry defeats Darian Weeks via unanimous decision (Jeff Bottari / ZUFFA LLC)

Some Irish flags were scattered among the Jacksonville crowd, a reminder of prophesied fruitions as Ian Garry made his walk to the cage. The air was thick with anticipation, not typical for a preliminary card fight. The contest was a successful one for Garry, as he won a comfortable decision over Weeks. The fight itself lacked the action that Ian usually brings to the table, but he controlled the whole bout and took zero damage. As he was being interviewed in the cage, Ian revealed to the world that his wife was pregnant and he’d become a father in short time. While he was happy with his performance, he wasn’t totally satisfied. Ian has high expectations for himself, much like the greats that came before him. “I can’t be mad at 15 minutes of clean fighting, I didn’t really get touched. Was it as eventful as I really wanted it to be? No, but it’s a fight and it’s awkward at times and he had good defense.”

Luckily for Ian, his lack of damage absorbed allowed him to have a quick turnaround for International Fight Week in Las Vegas.

July 7th, 2022: UFC 276

“I’ve showed you’s once again how fucking good I am, how fast I am, how powerful I am, and it just keeps going up from here.”

UFC 276 Post-fight Press Conference

LAS VEGAS, NV – Coming off of his last performance, Ian had something to prove. Just like the build-up to his second UFC fight, Ian kept bringing up his desire for a finish. He made it a point to let everyone know his intentions, which Gabe Green was made aware of.

Gabe Green debuted in the UFC with a decision loss to Daniel Rodriguez in 2020. He then beat Phil Rowe by decision and finished Yohan Lainesse in the second round before his fight with Ian. Green without a doubt represented a step up in competition for Garry, and one he was chomping at the bit for.

Ian Machado Garry defeats Gabe Green via unanimous decision (Stephen R. Sylvanie / USA TODAY Sports)

While Ian didn’t earn the finish he was looking for in this bout, he did win a decisive victory that had more action than his last fight. He put combinations together that hurt Green and generally pushed the action a lot more than he had three months prior. “I want more of this” would become Ian’s mantra going forward as he would post videos of himself landing combinations with that quote captioned. Up to this fight, Garry had accrued over half an hour of UFC cage time and earned himself some much-needed time off. With his first-born child arriving shortly, Ian took a step away.

March 4th, 2023: UFC 285

“I’ve told you’s this many many times, I’m searching for perfection and I was an idiot and I got caught with a shot that I shouldn’t have got caught with because I made a little error and that’s okay.”

UFC 285 Post-fight Press Conference

LAS VEGAS, NV – With a fresh reset and a booming young family, Ian was ready to clock back into the office in early March, just in time for the return of the greatest MMA fighter to ever walk the planet. Another massive card, another chance for the UFC to promote Ian Garry to mainstream MMA fans, and another test for Ian that he’s expected to pass with flying colors. Although he wanted to see Bryan Barberena across the cage from him, Garry was assigned Song Kenan.

Song Kenan has been in the UFC for five years now, and fighting professionally for almost a decade. He held a 4-2 record with the promotion leading into this fight yet hadn’t competed since March of 2021, where he fell to Max Griffin. 

Ian Machado Garry finishes Song Kenan late in the final round (Jeff Bottari / ZUFFA LLC)

Ian controlled the entire fight, except for one moment. In the first round, Garry stayed in range just a hair too long and paid the price for it. Song landed flush on Ian and dropped the Irishman for the first time in his career. He was able to get back to his feet and recover, but we were that close to seeing Garry’s undefeated record endure a blemish. The rest of the fight was completely opposite of that sequence, with Ian essentially dominating the exchanges. This culminated in a knockout finish for him late in the third round.

Garry announced in his post-fight presser that he had signed a new multi-fight deal with the UFC. Typically when that happens for fighters after their initial contests with the UFC, they’re rewarded with a significant step up in competition. While Ian has experienced that previously, he was now destined to be exclusively fighting the elite of the elite. Despite getting dropped, Ian was able to return two months later for what was by far the most significant increase in competition thus far for Garry: Daniel Rodriguez

(he also made some time to do an impromptu meet & greet for a fan post-fight)

May 13th, 2023: UFC on ABC 4

“Right high kick – if I knock him out with anything else, I didn’t mean it”

The Craic

CHARLOTTE, NC – The first fight on his new deal, the first fight on a non-PPV card, the first fight with a chance to be ranked in the top 15 afterward. A win here would alter the trajectory of Ian’s UFC career and he knows it. Everything changes when fighters become ranked; the purses get healthier, the stages get bigger, the sacrifices are greater, and the opposition becomes even more dangerous. Daniel Rodriguez is no exception to that rule.

Daniel Rodriguez is by far the most experienced UFC fighter Ian has ever faced. He had nine UFC fights with a record of 7-2 and was never finished with strikes in his ten-year career heading into this matchup. Rodriguez was coming off of a 6-month layoff following a defeat to Neil Magny back in November of 2022.  “He ain’t really fought nobody – I’m here to humble him”.

Ian Machado Garry finishes Daniel Rodriguez with a head kick (Jeff Bottari / ZUFFA LLC)

The perfection that Ian Garry was after for so long finally materialized in the form of a first-round right high kick knockout. A picture-perfect strike on the feet was followed by some ground and pound shots until Dan Miragliotta was forced to stop the fight. Ian Garry has arrived, and in a big way. The fanfare online is raving that Ian may be the fighter that he claims he is, people are starting to wonder what the future may hold with Ian; will there be a wave of Irish fighters getting signed to the big promotion? Is the UFC going to host a show in Dublin soon? How quickly will Garry rise the ranks?

When speaking to TalkSport, Ian laid out a six-fight plan to get a title shot once he becomes a ranked welterweight, “I want to fight six guys in the top 15. I want to do two between ten and 15. I want to do two between five and ten. And I want to do two between one and five before I get the title shot. That’s six fights against the elite of the elite to prove myself to the fans, to the organization, to anyone who has any doubts that I am good enough to do what I say I want to do.”

In honor of becoming a ranked welterweight, Ian got himself a new tattoo on his right leg – a small “15” on the shin where he connected on the knockout blow in the same font as Rodriguez’s “1986” tattoo. It also signifies a new chapter in Garry’s UFC career, becoming a top contender. In less than two years he’s racked up over 50 minutes of cage time, scored three knockouts, gotten married, changed his last name to ‘Machado Garry’, and had his first child.

Going back to the McGregor comparisons, people always romanticize Conor’s early run in the UFC – as they should. Fans typically reminisce on the early journey of superstars and that’ll be the case with Ian Machado Garry as well. It’s important to have this perspective so you can appreciate the story we’re watching unfold here in real time.

Enjoy watching Ian’s path to a title shot now because although there are still plenty of electrifying moments to come, you’re going to miss this.

Massachusetts native currently writing for Severe MMA. Former writer for Neutral Zone LLC. Follow me on Twitter @lander_theo, LinkedIn and Youtube @ Theo Lander for articles and event coverage.

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