Neil Magny was afraid.

He was afraid that he wasn’t good enough. He was afraid that even when he was good enough, was it still really enough?

Magny was coming off back-to-back losses to Sergio Moraes and Seth Baczynski when he finally had enough. The fear and stress was far more than the UFC welterweight ever hoped for and he was more than willing to turn the page. What was there to lose? A third consecutive loss would have been the last straw for the Colorado-based fighter.

So Magny decided to change everything. First it was his attitude, then his thought process. And before long, Magny was a completely different fighter mentally, and it started to show inside the Octagon.

“My whole thought process has changed,” Magny told The MMA Corner. “I was so focused on the things that didn’t really matter in relation to my actual fights. I was thinking about things before my fight like if I had a bad performance, would I get cut or not? After the fight, I was thinking about whether or not my performance was good enough and would I still have my job? I just started letting go of those thoughts and the things I couldn’t control. I started to relax and just focus on what was actually important and not the negative thoughts that held me back.”

“At first, it was a lot of nerves,” Magny admitted. “I couldn’t even sleep the night before my fights. But now I’ve found my comfort zone. It’s a calm place that I’ve found and I’m starting to act like I’ve been there before. I’m at the point now where I can finally get home after weigh ins and get a good night of sleep in. I’m feeling refreshed the morning of the fight, energized, and ready to go. I feel as if I’m a completely different person and fighter.”

Magny would go on to win back-to-back fights via decision over the likes of Gasan Umalatov and Tim Means. Less than two months after outlasting Means, Magny sent Rodrigo de Lima packing with a second round TKO in front of a New Zealand crowd. Two months passed and Magny found himself standing across the Octagon from Alex Garcia in Tulsa, OK. A decision victory over Garcia led to a TKO finish over William Macario in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to cap off an unlikely 2014. Magny tied the UFC record for the most wins in a calendar year with five, but more importantly, his career was back on steady ground.

(Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

(Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

“2014 was an awesome year for me,” Magny said. “It was a huge blessing for me not only to fight as many times as I did, but to stay healthy the whole year. I thought I would fight and be on the shelf for a few months, but that wasn’t the case. The fights kept rolling in fight after fight and I was always prepared to take them. The thing that I’ve found to be beneficial is that when you fight so often, you don’t allow time for the nerves to build up and you don’t allow your mind to wonder into those negative thoughts. You also don’t have time to fall out of shape or get overweight. You stay ready and stay healthy the entire year.”

Magny admitted fighting on a regular basis was more refreshing than it was extracting. And if presented the same opportunity in 2015, Magny wouldn’t flinch.

“I definitely think I’ll be able to keep the pace that I had last year,” Magny said. “With the UFC hosting so many events in a calendar year, it really benefits guys like me who want to stay active and fight five or six times a year. That’s a lot for some guys, but for me, it’s normal. I don’t want to get washed away with the others. I want to stay active and be recognized as one of the guys that’s willing to step up when called on. Those are the guys people look up to, and that’s the guy I want to be.”

Just less than two months into 2015, Magny will make his first appearance when he meets Kiichi Kunimoto on Feb. 14 at UFC Fight Night 60 in Broomfield, Colo. Magny was paired with Kunimoto after he was initially slated to meet Josh Koscheck at UFC 184. While a win over Kunimoto won’t necessarily catapult Magny into title contention, it’s another step up the welterweight division’s steep ladder.

[pullquote]”I want to improve myself so I get to the point where I’m consistently fighting guys in the top 10. I won’t be satisfied until I get there.”[/pullquote]

“A part of me really wanted to see how I matched up against a fighter like Koscheck,” Magny admitted. “He’s been around the sport for a long time and has fought some of the best in the world. But the other part of me is excited for the opponent I get to fight now. It goes back to maintaining that strong mindset and worrying about the things that I can control. Fighting Koscheck is not one of them, so I’m more concerned with getting better as a fighter and preparing for this fight. I want to improve myself so I get to the point where I’m consistently fighting guys in the top 10,” Magny said. “I won’t be satisfied until I get there.”

“He’s [Kunimoto] a reputable opponent,” said Magny. “If you take a look at his resume, he’s won seven straight fights. That’s a difficult thing for anyone to do. But I really do like my style and matchup in this fight. I would say my conditioning will be a big factor in this one. The longer the fight goes on, the better it is for me. I’m definitely looking for the finish, whether that be by submission or knockout, I’m going for it. But at the same time, you need to be realistic and understand those things don’t always come. So in a sense, I’m also preparing for a dog fight if this one goes the distance.”

A win for Magny would be his sixth consecutive victory, the longest of any active welterweight under the Zuffa banner. So what’s next for Magny if he can outedge Kunimoto, you may ask. Not so fast. Magny isn’t interested in looking that far ahead, and neither should you.

“There’s so much discipline that goes into this sport that I’m not interested in looking ahead. A lot of times you want things that you can’t have, so you have to make the sacrifices in life to obtain those things. My fight with Kunimoto is my priority and I’m making those sacrifices for that fight and nothing else at the moment. I’m not going to scream for a title shot or anything like that if I win,” said Magny. “I’m not one of those guys who’s interested in calling other guys out.”

“I believe the right guy will fall in my path, and when that happens, I’ll be up for the challenge. But first, I need to take care of business.”

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