UFC 298’s Ian Garry has no time for online haters and keyboard warriors: ‘I’m gonna live my life and do the way I want’

Ian Garry

Despite all the hateful messages he receives online, Ian Garry has yet to meet a single fight fan in person who had anything negative to say about him.

On Saturday night, February 17, ‘The Future’ will return to the Octagon for a rescheduled showdown with fellow top-10 welterweight contender Geoff Neal after their first meeting at UFC 292 in August fell through. Leading up to their previously scheduled scrap, Garry drew the ire of fans and fighters alike after he was spotted sporting and selling t-shirts with Neal’s mugshot stemming from a 2021 arrest screen printed on the front.

Things seemed to snowball from there, particularly after former middleweight champion Sean Strickland targeted Garry’s 40-year-old wife — Layla Anna-Lee — after discovering that she had once written a book for older women hoping to date young athletes and celebrities. Anna-Lee is 14 years older than Garry. That revelation prompted Strickland to call in a “predator” and a “succubus” in a series of scathing rants.

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Fighters including Leon Edwards, Colby Covington, and even Michael Chandler continued to pour it on Garry, revealing the constant struggles of trying to work alongside the up-and-comer in the gym.

A quick social media search and a scan of recent headlines will immediately give you the impression that Ian Garry is one of the most hated men in all of MMA. But speaking with ESPN’s Marc Raimondi, ‘The Future’ revealed that the love and support he’s received from fight fans around the world has never been stronger.

“On Instagram and all of this stuff in the comments on Twitter,” Garry said. “All the negativity and all the hate, it’s only online. I’ve not met a single fan in person that has said one thing of hate. Not one. I’ve gone to Brazil. Different continents. I’ve gone to Europe. I’ve gone to America. South America. I’ve been recognized more than ever. I’ve been given the warmest welcomes more than ever. I can’t go down the street in the countryside in England in the middle of nowhere without someone going, ‘Holy sh*t!’

“We drove down California, there’s people here jumping out of cars trying to get a photo with me. This is nuts! I’m getting more recognized and more love in person than I ever have. It’s only online and it’s a small minority of people that hate and hate with such aggression. And the truth is, they’re all the Sean Strickland fans. They’re all the people that, truth is, they have a f*ck ton of trauma and nowhere else to spread it except online behind a laptop because they hate their life and they hate their past.

“I have no time for that. I love my life. I love what I’m surrounded by. I love the people I get to meet every day and that’s it. That’s what’s important to me. I’m gonna live my life and do the way I want to and have fun.”