One week ago, Devon Neis was preparing for the holiday season. Now, he’s preparing for a title fight.
Neis (6-5) will challenge Steven Mac Donald (2-0) for the recently-vacated XFFC light heavyweight title at XFFC 20 in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Friday night.
Mac Donald was originally supposed to face Todd Stoute for the title, but Stoute pulled out due to injury, which led to him being stripped of the title.
Neis, 34, said when he heard of the opportunity, he immediately looked up footage of Mac Donald. He said he wasn’t impressed.
“I watched his fights right away, and couldn’t believe he was up for a title fight,” said Neis in an interview.
“It seems like an easier title fight than any other one I’ve been offered. I don’t feel threatened by him at all.”
Neis’ last two fights have been at heavyweight, most recently a first round TKO victory over Josh Heinz at Havoc FC 13.
After watching Mac Donald’s fights and having taken heavy shots from bigger guys, Neis said he doesn’t feel Mac Donald has the power to do any significant damage.
“He might tag me a few times, but I don’t think he has the power to do any damage to me,” said Neis
“He’s going to be like a small animal trying to get a grizzly bear off him.”
While Neis, fighting out of Red Deer, Alta., has competed at light heavyweight before, he said heavyweight is a better fit for him these days.
But he said as long as he can get down to 205 pounds for this one, being the bigger fighter could work to his advantage.
“I’ve been training with guys that are 50 pounds heavier than what he’s fighting at,” said Neis.
“I’ve been fighting guys that are bigger, stronger and faster. I believe that gives me an advantage.”
Mac Donald Looking to Make Statement
At one point a week ago, Mac Donald, fighting out of Kelowna, B.C., thought he’d have to wait for his chance to become champion. Enter Neis.
Mac Donald, 25, said while he’s thankful Neis stepped to the plate and saved the fight, he believes this is his time and doesn’t feel threatened by his opposition.
“I’m going to have the same mental respect I have for everybody. Everybody’s got a puncher’s chance. But I think that’s the only chance he’s got,” said Mac Donald in an interview.
“He’s not a very well-rounded fighter, from what I can see. He’s got a bit of knockout power, but he’s lacking in the grappling department for sure.”
In his professional debut earlier this year, Mac Donald impressed with a first round knockout of Kyle Francotti at XFFC 17, followed by a unanimous decision win over Jeff Porter at XFFC 18.
Mac Donald said he’s thrilled to have earned a title shot so early in his career, and he attributes it to the training and mentorship he receives at Toshido MMA.
“Everyone knows you’re not going to get a lemon out of Toshido. Everyone comes to fight,” said Mac Donald.
“David Lea just has such a strong mind for MMA.”
Although just 2-0, Mac Donald believes he’s already among the elite in Canada’s light heavyweight division.
He said winning the title Friday night will not only make him a champion, but it will make his name known throughout the division.
“I just want to cement my position in the light heavyweight division. I want people to know who I am,” said Mac Donald.
“I know I’m a young guy coming up and talking a lot of s$!#, but it’s for good reason.”
“I’d like to thank my wife for not beating my ass for taking this fight, and my sponsors: Red Deer Motors, Red Stag Barbershop, Bulletproof IT, Lapp Realty, and Choice Mechanical Ltd.”
Mac Donald’s Shoutouts
“I want to give a shoutout to my whole team, Matt Dwyer, Justin Doege and David Lea.”