Octagon Oracles: Ian Garry

Drew Beaupre

Grade: B+

Fresh off winning the Cage Warriors welterweight title in June and just a few weeks’ shy of his 24th birthday, Ireland’s Ian Garry will debut make his UFC debut on Saturday at UFC 268.

Anyone nicknamed “The Future” had better be able to back up that moniker inside the cage, and so far Ian Garry has done just that by going 7-0 as a pro in Cage Warriors with five wins by stoppage.

While he only has one submission victory on his record, Garry is a capable grappler and will threaten submissions to advance position and set up his strikes on the ground. On the feet his jab and outside low kick are his go to weapons, with his low kicks capable of knocking opponents off balance even within the opening moments of his fights.

One of the things that stands out about Garry are the improvements he’s been able to make from fight to fight in his short time as a pro. In his earlier fights he tended to stay on the feet unless his opponents tried to get to the ground, but by the time he faced Lawrence Tracey he was willing to shoot for takedowns straight from the opening bell. Jack Grant was by far his most experienced opponent thus far, and in their bout he was able to comfortably grapple and strike as dictated by the flow of the fight.

Aside from his success in the cage, Garry’s most striking aspect has to be his sheer confidence. As a brash Irishman and former Cage Warriors champion, there’s no doubt the UFC will look to make some Conor McGregor comparisons on Saturday. Garry is at his best when he’s able to bully his opponents; as his confidence grows during a fight he’ll start to increase his pressure and output (often adding high kicks when opponents really start to struggle) in order to overwhelm fighters and get the finish.

While his confidence is a valuable trait, it also stands out to me as one of the biggest question marks for his career in the UFC. Jack Grant was able to keep Garry largely on the back foot in their fight but didn’t throw anywhere near enough to really break Garry’s confidence. I’d love to see him tested by someone that will not only back Garry up but also pressure with volume striking and try to negate the Irishman’s ability to control the fight.

This bout with Jordan Williams is a reasonable debut; if Garry is overconfident Williams has shown enough in his previous two UFC bouts to trouble him, but he also lost both of those fights and tends to overextend himself on the feet. I expect “The Future” to earn another stoppage and announce his arrival in the UFC, but until we see how he develops in the next few years it’s tough to predict where his ceiling is in a stacked welterweight division.

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James Colwell

Grade: A-

At just 23 years old and 7-0, Garry is very young to be getting signed to the UFC, but every time he’s fought for Cage Warriors he’s jumped off the screen as a “wow that guy’s way better than everyone else I’ve seen tonight” talent. He’s incredibly tall for the division at 6’3″ but still packs quite a bit of muscle onto his frame, so I assume he has to cut a lot of weight to make 170 pounds.

Garry has spent his entire professional career with top European promotion Cage Warriors, most recently winning their welterweight belt in a grueling 25-minute clash against high-level gatekeeper Jack Grant (17-6). He’s shown high level striking in all of his fights; he has great hand speed and a nose-popping jab, a couple of his wins have been set up by head kicks, and he has a knack for landing nasty knees and elbows from the clinch with his long limbs. Grappling is not his primary gameplan but he does a good job getting low to prevent takedowns and using his long arms to dig underhooks and also has a submission on his record over Mateusz Figlak, who is another incredibly dangerous striking prospect.

Switching to a grappling gameplan against Figlak was undoubtedly the easiest path to a win, and the fact that Garry was able to do so early in his career while very young highlights his fight IQ and overall mental ability, which I believe is one of his greatest strengths. Garry is composed but can turn on the killer instinct when he sees a chance to finish, is always looking to get himself into an advantageous position regardless of what that may be, and is totally confident in his talent without being dismissive of potential threats or taking unnecessary risks.

I think Garry has a winnable first UFC matchup against Jordan Williams, and the fight should give us an idea of where he is in his progress as a prospect. If he’s able to dominate for a quick finish it may be time to fire up the hype-train in earnest, but if Garry struggles somewhat against the more experienced and creative Williams in could be an indicator that he still needs a little more time to develop before he’s ready for the big-time spotlight. I think his long-term potential is very high due to his well-rounded skillset and physical/mental gifts, but it’s just a question of how much further he has to go to realize that potential.

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