Not a Kid Anymore; McGillivray Fights for Title
It has not been an easy road for Ryan McGillivray. A competitor on Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter, his UFC career did not go quite as planned. Although he initially saw success on the show, beating Len Bentley to secure a spot in the tournament, he lost his quarterfinal bout to Tony Ferguson. From there, he was given an additional opportunity to fight in the UFC, but was outpointed by his cast mate Shamar Bailey. Following this loss, McGillivray was released from the UFC, which was not unsurprisingly a disappointment for the Welterweight.
“It was obviously disappointing but everything happens for a reason. If, at that time, I wasn’t ready to stay there for a long time, then that’s the way it was and it just meant that I had to get a little bit of work done to get back. At the same time, it was really rewarding to even have been there. Not a lot of people have had that chance to fight on the big show. I was really happy I was there, but, at the time, really disappointed that I wasn’t able to stay,” he said.
Things didn’t exactly get easier following his release. When he returned to training, he suffered a severely broken nose that required surgery. The injury wasn’t as bad as it looked however, according to the Edmonton fighter. In fact, it didn’t keep him from training.
“When it first happened it actually wasn’t that bad. It kind of happened so quickly that it didn’t really get that bad right away. What was rough was the next couple days with all the swelling, and then also the flight home to get my surgery because it wasn’t fixed and my face was pretty swollen. I think the flight home was probably the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in my life, but at the time [of the break] it wasn’t too bad. It was just a little bit of swelling and a little bit of discomfort more than anything,” McGillivray said.
“I never really took any time off of training. I was in the gym all the way up until my surgery. I flew home after surgery and I think I might have taken like a day off. I was going for a light run and doing some pads and it obviously was modified training, but I kept it going. I’m not very good at taking complete time off. That’s probably the hardest part for me, just taking 100% time off,” he continued.
With his exit from the UFC and his injury now behind him, ‘The Kid’ is now back on the winning track. At MFC 32, in January of this year, he submitted Diego Bautista with a third round arm bar, and is grateful to be back in the swing of things.
“It feels really good to be in there again and have that purpose,” he said. Now, with a win in his wake, McGillivray will take on Coy for the Maximum Fighting Championship’s Welterweight belt on May 4th at MFC 33, a challenge for which he feels amply prepared.
“I feel really good. The fight is already won and lost at this point. Everything’s been done in the gym that needs to be done and come Friday night, it’s just going to be a highlight of all the work that Nathan and I have done over the last couple months to get ready for this fight. I’ve put all the work in and now’s the time to relax and just enjoy the process and have fun on Friday night.”
The fight against Coy will be one of the biggest of McGillivray’s career. With the Welterweight belt on the line, the stakes are certainly high. Despite that, McGillivray does not feel any added pressure leading up to this fight.
“I think with any fight there’s always pressure if you want to look for it. For me, I just think about the process of what it takes to get to that end goal. I’m always thinking about that end goal; that win, that title. With all the pressure that comes along with fighting, it’s pretty overwhelming, but if you just think about the day-in-and-day-out grind of making sure that each training session is good, and each weight cut and every meal is good, and if you break it down to all those little things that lead up to a win, it’s a lot less stressful and it’s a lot more attainable.”
McGillivray’s focus on each individual aspect of his training has led to what he believes has been a fruitful buildup to this fight. Even with the daunting task of adapting to a five-round fight on his plate, he says his training camp has been excellent.
“It’s been fantastic. At the very least I’d say I was skeptical about how the transition into five rounds was going to be, leading up to this fight. Especially after the first week, it was pretty grueling to have to adjust to that. But I adjusted much better than I thought I was going to, and it’s been about seven weeks now that I’ve been doing five rounds strong; feeling good it and not struggling through five rounds at all. Other than that, everything else has been pretty status quo, just doing what I always do.”
In Nathan Coy, McGillivray will face a well-rounded fighter with wins by knockout, submission, and decision under his belt. Despite this, McGillivray believes he has done enough to prepare for his opponent’s extensive arsenal.
“[I’ve prepared for this] just as I would for any fight. I don’t want to take into account too much what my opponent is about or what he’s going to do, because those are the things I can’t control. What I have to do is control what I can. That’s my preparation and my training; trying to be as well-rounded as I can, and to be prepared for this fight to be a stand-up fight, a ground fight, a grind, or a quick fight.”
On the flip side, McGillivray feels that his hands are something Coy will need to be cautious of.
“I think definitely my hands. My boxing is coming along well and my confidence in it has also come a long way as well. I think it’s no secret that I like being on the ground so him being a wrestler will make it a battle of styles. If he takes me down, and can stay away from my submissions, it’s going to be a long night for me, but if he takes me down and my jiu jitsu game is on point, it’s going to be a short night for him.”
In Coy, McGillivray will face an American vying for the championship in MFC, a Canadian promotion. Given this, it would be nice to keep the MFC belt in Canada, McGillivray said. If he manages to capture the Welterweight title, he will be the first Canadian to do so in MFC’s promotional history.
“I think it would be a great honor to be able to do that, and obviously with the fact that no Canadian has ever held the Welterweight belt, it would be great. Any time you can be the first to do anything is an honor, especially when other great Canadian fighters have tried and haven’t been successful.”
Come fight night, McGillivray will not only be fighting in his home country, but also his home town of Edmonton, and was quick to give credit to Edmonton’s MMA fans.
“We have amazing fans here. They’re very intelligent fans and are very supportive. I haven’t been all over the world, but I think we do have some of the best fans in the world, and to have them on your team when you’re going out there is always an advantage.”
MFC feels like home for now for the Canadian Welterweight, but he admits that his end goal is still a return to the UFC.
“People in this business only really look at your last fight, so I need to come out on top in this one, and then I can evaluate from there. I think obviously my main goal is to get back to the UFC, but until that time, I’m very happy where I am.”
When fight night rolls around, McGillivray expects his fight with Coy will be rich in action and fast paced.
“My plan for this fight is probably going to the ground and looking for submissions. I think it’s going to be a very grinding fight and it’s going to be a good pace. It’s going to be a tough one for both of us; you’re going to see a lot of heart from both fighters. I think Nathan and I both have a history of not giving up and pushing through a lot, so I think it’s going to be a great fight.”
*** All photos by Jason Bouwmeester|tko photography