As Neil Magny pounded away on a virtually helpless Hector Lombard during the second round of their welterweight co-main event bout at UFC Fight Night Brisbane on Saturday night, he gave referee Steve Perceval a look that seemed to say, “Enough is enough.”
All told, Magny landed 142 total strikes on his opponent during the tide-turning second frame, the third-highest figure by a fighter in a UFC bout in any weight class. Despite that dominance, Perceval allowed Lombard to stick around until the final horn, much to the disbelief of Magny and pretty much anyone else watching the fight.
“As much as we’re in this sport to win or whatever, it’s hard to sit there and put that kind of damage on a guy and not have it stopped,” Magny said at the post-fight press conference. “The ref is in there to protect the fighter, and he wasn’t in a position to protect himself at all. The ref should have stepped in earlier, I thought, but that’s not my job. I guess I just keep fighting. I don’t know.”
Tom Wright, the UFC’s Managing Director for Operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, was seated cageside and agreed with Magny’s sentiments.
“We were a lot concerned,” Wright said. “I think Neil said it best: The referee’s job is to make sure a fight is stopped if the athlete can’t protect himself or herself. I’m sitting not quite as close as the referee was, but I thought that fight should’ve been stopped and it should’ve been stopped a long time before.”
Mercifully, Magny put an end to the contest quickly in round three, as he took an exhausted Lombard down at the outset of the frame, secured a mounted triangle and landed a few ground strikes before Perceval waved off the contest 46 seconds into the period.
It was a remarkable turnaround for Magny, who won for the 11th time since 2013, a figure that ranks No. 1 in the promotion during that time. The Colorado-based welterweight appeared headed for a short night when he was dropped by Lombard early in round one. Somehow, he survived Lombard’s ensuing assault. The powerfully-built Cuban was spent after that effort, which led to Magny seizing momentum the rest of the way.
“I was definitely hurt [in] the first round. Once I got down to the mat, I just got into a position to protect myself, found a way to get back to the feet and then recover,” Magny said. “I thought I was doing so by trying to protect my chin against the cage, but then I started eating shots to the back of the head, so I just had to switch it up and try something different because that defense wasn’t working. I just had to find a way to dig deep and drive on.”
Because of his ability to persevere through adversity, Magny is set to make a serious run in the welterweight division over the course of the rest of 2016. With wins over Lombard, Kelvin Gastelum and Erick Silva in his last three outings, Magny is ready to aim higher.
“If I had my way, I guess I’d wait for a Top 5 opponent and eventually make a title run before the year is over,” he said. “That’s my goal.”