LIVERPOOL, England Craig White thinks he fights better when he’s up against better fighters, and likes being the underdog when he gets in the cage.
He’ll certainly be an underdog Sunday when he makes his UFC debut on short notice against welterweight standout Neil Magny and in the UFC Fight Night 130 co-main event, no less. No pressure.
“I love going in there to prove a point,” White told MMAjunkie. “I perform better against better fighters.”
England’s White (14-7 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meets Magny (20-6 MMA, 13-5 UFC) in the co-feature at Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
White got the call when Magny’s original opponent, Gunnar Nelson, dropped out. Magny’s stellar resume, combined with White being a UFC debutant on short notice, all contributed to the oddsmakers making Magny as much as a 7-1 favorite the biggest favorite on the card.
But White said that’s not a big deal to him.
“I’ve gone throughout the whole last 15 months being the underdog,” White said. “My last fight was the only fight where I’ve been the favorite for the fight. I (came in against) Tom Robertsen, and he was a huge prospect. I hadn’t fought for almost a year, and I was moving back to welterweight. … I took on Hakon Foss, and he was a big European prospect. I then took on U.K. MMA legend Matt Inman, and put him away in the first round, as well.
“So after that, people started to take me a bit more seriously and to be honest, I took myself a bit more seriously. I underestimated and underrated myself quite a lot. I think that’s what’s helped me be successful, besides being humble just getting on with it and doing the job. But I love being the underdog, as well.”
With a four-fight winning streak, all finishes under the Cage Warriors banner, White could put that underdog talk aside in the future if he upsets Magny.
But instead of taking his promotional debut as a no-lose situation, given most people expect him to lose and he saved Magny’s spot on the card by stepping up late, White wants to just stay workmanlike. It’s paid off for him so far.
“At the end of the day, it’s what I’m here to do,” he said. “I’m excited, but I’m just there to do it.”
For more from White, check out the video above. And for more on UFC Fight Night 130, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.