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Ian Machado Garry dismisses rumors about his personal life, believes in his marketing ahead of UFC 298

Your mileage will vary with Ian Machado Garry’s brand of self-promotion but you cannot deny the effort. Garry gets more attention than most rising contenders, sharing headlines with current and former UFC champions like Leon Edwards and Sean Strickland.

Garry’s ability to generate interest and spark debates is not by accident. It’s a deliberate approach designed by his team — which includes his wife, accomplished English television presenter Layla Garry (a.k.a. Layla Anna-Lee). Highlighting Garry’s family is a part of the strategy. In a sport that often demands selfishness, Garry aims to prove that MMA and family time can co-exist.

“You don’t have to do it on your own for me, that’s important,” Garry told CBS Sports. “I don’t need to wake up and have negativity or see negativity. I just need to be present with my team and my family and enjoy the process.”

A heated rivalry with Strickland intensified the focus on his personal life. Two persisting rumors are that Garry’s wife is still involved with her ex-husband and that Garry took his wife’s ex-husband’s last name, “Machado.” Those rumors, whether intentionally in bad faith or spread by misinformation, were amplified by Strickland. 

Machado is his wife’s maiden name from her mother’s side of the family and there is a reason Garry incorporates it.

“The truth is I only did it because I wanted my son and my stepson to really feel connected,” Garry said. “I didn’t want them going through life with two separate surnames. I feel like there is a little bit of a disconnect. If you guys want to be brothers, I want to make sure you guys have that same connection.”

Layla Machado Garry’s ex-husband serves as his nutritionist, leading to jokes and speculation about their relationship. Garry says the decision to travel with his stepson’s father was practical and personal.

“He’s an elite performance nutritionist and he’s really f—ing good at what he does. To the point which we’ve done every single weight cut for the UFC and they’ve been easier every single time,” Garry said. “We’ve worked phenomenally together and I’m very proud of the work we’ve done.

“He’s also the father of my wife’s son. I never want to be a wedge between a father and a son. I never want that on my conscience. I know that we’re going on this adventure to travel the world. ‘Hey dude, want to travel the world, be my nutritionist and we can all do this together? You can come and see your son whenever you want.’ The two of them went to Disney this morning.”

Garry’s willingness to insult opponents and trade barbs in the media invites attention in undesirable ways. But despite the increased focus on his personal life, Garry wouldn’t change a thing about how he has approached the fight game.

“Not in a million years,” Garry said. “I’m No. 10 in the world. I haven’t even touched the potential of where I know I’m going to get there. I haven’t touched the limelight of what I know is possible for my career. Yet I’m the most talked about fighter on this fight card. I was the most talked about fighter on the last fight card.

“I’m doing everything right in my way. There is nothing that went wrong other than people flipping the truth into lies and bullshit and running with it. The whole world right now is playing a game of Chinese whispers where they don’t actually know the f—ing truth.”

People will debate the effectiveness and authenticity of Garry’s presentation. But look at the emphasis UFC puts on Strickland, Colby Covington and Dricus du Plessis and you’ll see that any effort to drum up emotional interest is rewarded. To that end, there is no doubt that Garry is doing the legwork.

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