The Severe Spotlight: Ian Garry

UFC 273 is stitched into the very fibres of what MMA means. MMA, in its philosophical essence is an attempt at the purest expression of combat sports. The limited ruleset promotes competitors to bring a palette rich of vibrant paints to the canvas and use their body as a brush. These people, often, are some of the grittiest, hard nosed and dogmatic of our humanity. Alexander Volkanovski defended his title against Chang Sun Jung at the top of the bill. The Aussie stamped his dogma into the mat with the same ferocity that felt like a herd of elephants. He dominated TKZ from opening bell, to the moment referee Herb Dean stepped in and smartly stopped the fight.

Aljamain Sterling showed his grappling dominance to unify the bantamweight title picture. He was able to right the wrongs of the first encounter, taking Yan down multiple times, and controlling him from the back for large portions of the fight. Petr Yan will rue the mistakes made in this fight. Although the 135lb division is ultra competitive, do not be shocked to see Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling share the breadth of 25 minutes again.

In a cruel way, the two title fights were overshadowed by a wolf and a juggernaut. Khamzat Chimaev vs Gilbert Burns was one of the greatest fights that this sport has ever seen. The storylines leading into the fight, the jeopardy, the unrelenting will, and belief that both men carried into the bout. All of that collided, in fifteen minutes of pure, visceral entertainment. The soul of both men left seeping out of their freshly enlarged lacerated pores, a crimson haze of all that we love about this sport. In MMA there is often an adage of “what fight do you show your friend who isn’t interested in MMA”, this is right up there.

Nestled in the build up to the three-tiered apex of UFC 273, the card itself grew. Creaking link by link like a wooden rollercoaster. For the Irish at home, and in attendance, a young 24-year old’s performance was just as important as any of the main three headliners. Ian Garry is the biggest prospect to wrap the tricolour around his shoulders in 2022. A flawless run in Cage Warriors, saw him enter the UFC with a lot of fervour. After dealing with some adversity in the opening two minutes of his debut, Ian Garry removed Jordan Williams from his faculties with his signature pull back right hand, the arena erupted.

He spoke with Sean Sheehan of Severe MMA prior to his outing against Darian Weeks, of being self-aware, cognisant of his current limitations, so putting himself in the best room possible to elevate himself to where he believes he can be; the very top. That showed in spades on Saturday night.

Darian Weeks offered the right test, a good athlete, strong, tough with diversity to his game. Three tertiary variables shone in the performance for Ian Garry:

  • Patience
  • Adjustment
  • Coachability

Round one Weeks pressured Garry well. Forcing the Irishman to strafe the outer quadrant of the cage. Garry landed well with what the output he offered, but the impressive element was the defensive grappling. Weeks stepped into the clinch, Garry split his stance, looked for an underhook that wasn’t there. He centred his base, posting well on the right leg of Weeks to limit the damage from any knees incoming. Weeks moved to a back body lock and Garry immediately addressed the hands, pressing as much of his frame into the cage to limit the back exposure, he kept his posture high and after splitting said hands, circled right back into the clinch, posting again on the right leg. Patiently, he waited for his time to pummel and underhook, and when he did, reversed Weeks without hesitation. Fantastic.

With 40 seconds left, Weeks entered the clinch again, with the same routine in far less time. Garry found the underhook early, clasped his hands and began to reverse. Weeks muscled him back, but Garry moved right into bicep and then wrist control, disrupting the offensive hands diligently, Weeks slightly overreached his base to his right, Garry landed a high knee, and ducked out to his own right-hand side. Mature, patient defensive grappling.

In between rounds his corner team asked him if he was having a hard time find the reads, Garry was honest and admitted he was. But this was a calm, collected conversation between fighter and corner. The gameplan was reaffirmed with an additional line of instruction. Garry was attentive, acknowledging the words of his corner, reviewing the words with a careful nature.

That advice was to just touch his opponent, glove, or face. 27 seconds in Garry snaps Weeks’ head back with a piston jab. The second piece of advice was to take the centre of the cage more, inside a minute he was doing his best to circle back into the middle and contest the centre with Weeks. He found himself in the Weeks clinch again in the second round, Garry made the right choices at the right times and circled himself back to the centre. Offensively he grew into the fight, and the smartest defensive grappling was in that second round.

Weeks, again entered the clinch and again worked to the back bodylock. Garry, who initially had a whizzer, noticed that Weeks had split the gravity underneath his base by stepping his left leg deep between the legs of Garry, this meant he could elevate him, and the whizzer wasn’t worth while holding. Weeks began to elevate Garry looking to dump him, who intelligently hooked his feet into the limbs of Weeks, allowing him to clamp his weight. Weeks did return him to the mat in a four-point position. Garry began to get to his feet fighting the hands at once, using his hips to strip the grip and again leg entanglements to ride the proceeding mat return. The clever part came as soon as Garry’s hands touched the mat, he felt that Weeks has transitioned to his hip, meaning there was no obstruction behind him. With Weeks’ weight committed forward due to the mat return attempt, he ducked out the back door and back to pushing his man back.

In the third Garry was in his groove and the shots started to flow, leg kicks, no sell high kicks, and his patented straight shot combos landed well for him. The most significant strikes of the fight for him, the left high kick, and the right hand that wobbled Weeks both landed in this round.

Overall, a fight that should give Ian Garry a lot of confidence. He went in and showed that he is much more than a fighter that must get it done early at the higher levels. He can keep himself off the mat, he can adjust his gameplan mid fight, he can vary his striking until he finds a way through. The greatest thing that seemed apparent from that performance, is that he felt he belonged in there.