As the first military member fighting in front of the troops on Wednesday's UFC card, Neil Magny was looking to get back on track in front of the perfect audience.
But Seth Baczynski used a takedown-heavy attack to keep Magny at bay for the first 10 minutes, then survived Magny's late barrage to win a unanimous decision.
The fight was part of the preliminary card of the UFC's third "Fight for the Troops" show, which took place on the base at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Magny, a sergeant in the Army National Guard, is an All-Army Combatives champion and All-Guard Combatives champion in the service.
Magny, a former headliner for Valparaiso-based Hoosier Fight Club who trained in his early career in Hammond with Miguel Torres, took the center of the cage early and tried to put his six-inch reach advantage to work. But 30 seconds in, he ate a right hand down the middle. The two tied up 45 seconds into the fight and jockeyed for position along the fence, which would become a common theme in the fight.
After a stalemate, referee John McCarthy separated them, and back in the center, Baczynski again landed a right hand. Again, the two tied up, and McCarthy warned them to pick up the pace – which Magny did with some knees to the body and a short uppercut. But again, McCarthy put them back in the middle.
Once there, Baczynski quickly shot for a takedown, hoisted Magny up and put him on the canvas. Magny went to work off his back and was able to land a solid punch. Baczynski postured up and tried to land punches from up top, and he was able to transition to full mount with 30 seconds left. But Magny got through the round.
The second round, though, was much the same. Magny's best offense came when the two tied up, landing knees and short punches. But the frame again featured McCarthy needing to break them apart multiple times, looking for more activity. Baczynski looked to be tiring midway through the round, but he was able to win the round, as he did in the first, on all three judges' scorecards.
Magny landed a right hand in the third, then got inside for a pair of short shots. Those forced Baczynski to tie things up looking to take the fight to the ground. Magny fended that off, then finally broke out of Baczynski's clinch. But soon after, he again found himself defending the takedown.
Magny landed a takedown of his own late in the round and went to work with punches before slamming Baczynski for a second time. Although Baczynski got back to his feet, Magny poured on the punches in a major way in the closing seconds.
But it proved too little, too late. Magny took the round with all three judges, but winning the first two frames was enough for Baczynski to get the win – despite being cut open and Magny showing no real signs of damage.
"I felt I had won at the end of the fight," Baczynski said. "He's a tough guy to fight because he's so long and is hard to break away from. I thought I might have had him when I landed that one shot and buckled his knees in the first round. I consider this a great win for myself."
Magny (8-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC), who got into the UFC through his performances on Season 16 of "The Ultimate Fighter," now has lost for the second straight time. Baczynski (19-10 MMA, 5-3 UFC) got a much-needed win in the welterweight division after back-to-back losses.