Comfort in combat – Seery on his first impressions of UFC, Pickett, Preparation, Media and July’s Dublin card


After the Irish MMA community’s infamous rally on social media sites that helped Neil “2Tap” Seery to a short notice UFC debut in London this Saturday, the former Cage Warriors flyweight world champion spoke to PETER CARROLL ahead of squaring off with hometown favourite, Brad “One Punch” Pickett.

Finally, it’s going to happen.

Neil “2Tap” Seery’s name is one that had been tossed about in circles for the last year in regard to his chances of getting a fair crack in the UFC’s Octagon. Pundits conversed to the point of exhaustion, coaches promoted and guaranteed his skills and team mates testified, almost awe struck, about the heart and toughness of their stable mate.

It happened suddenly. But then how could a company built on the strength of social media, not recognise the power of it? Again, the wishes of the Irish were granted and despite the volume of individuals that campaigned and pushed the Dubliner on to UFC Fight Night 38’s main card, on Saturday the onus falls to one man.

“It’s unbelievable, the set-up they have here is blowing me away,” said Seery from a location far more intimidating to him than the enclosed steel he will be locked into days from now, the event’s designated media room. “It’s a massive step up, they’ve got people here to bring you everywhere you have to go and they’ve got guys handing you phones to do interviews.”

His disdain for interviews, cameras and self-promotion is a thing of legend. As told by Andrew McGahon, Severe MMA once arrived in Baldoyle, the home of Team Ryano, to film a feature on Seery only to have their subject disappear out the back door on their arrival.

“I don’t like all this media stuff, but once it’s over I’ll be fine. I’m used to just going to the weigh in and then fighting – that’s what I like! I understand this has to be done though. It’s a massive deal to be fighting on the main card for my debut against a hometown favourite. It’s a surreal feeling,” he said.

Three months ago Seery was getting ready to weigh in for his first title defence since being crowned Cage Warriors’ flyweight king, a fight with a UFC veteran Ulysses Gomez in which a victory was speculated to project him on to Dana White’s roster. When Gomez was deemed unfit to fight the Dubliner’s world crumbled around him as he was forced to acknowledge a dream unrecognised after much toil and effort.

However, never a stranger to rigorous training regime under Andy Ryan, with just over two weeks to get ready for hometown favourite, Brad Pickett, Seery sounded surprised to find himself in a condition similar to where he was for his December defence with only sixteen days to fully prepare.

“Honestly, I don’t feel that far off the shape I was in for Gomez. I keep myself busy. Even today I’m after eating breakfast and all and I’m only eight pounds off, that’s good going. Everything should be fine on Friday,” he chimed confidently on Tuesday afternoon.

Seery’s renaissance at 125lbs has been camouflaged by a battle scared record, 13-9, but the Finglas native has been bested just once in six outings in his new weight division. Even at this classification he has never been big in stature compared to his counterparts. With Pickett set for his first outing in the division the Ryano man spoke of what he is expecting from an opponent he greatly admires.

“Usually there is a feeling out period the first time you compete at a new weight division, but Brad is obviously very confident. He wanted a top ten opponent coming into this and he’s aiming for the title. Personally, I think he’s capable of that.

“As far as if he’s big at this weight or not, I don’t care about that. If it was a bodybuilding competition that might count, but fortunately for me, it isn’t,” he recited a phrase his coach Ryan has been known to utter. “When I fought Silander for the Cage Warriors flyweight title I couldn’t believe the size of him – he had muscles on his muscles!

“Brad trains at ATT and I’m sure he had a great diet plan, but I’m still going to go straight for him the same way I did with Silander. He can bang and so can I, so let’s see what happens on Saturday.”

There are fans of MMA that have not been blown away by the flyweight division. Rightly or wrongly, they have cited a lack of finishes as one of the reasons for their exasperation. For them, this encounter could prove to be the perfect tonic.

Seery battles wherever the fight goes. Almost like he has been wound up by his corner before he comes out – from his back, inside his opponent’s clinch, sitting in the pocket – he doesn’t stop until his hand is raised, the bell rings or he’s forced to finish.

Brad Pickett is similar in that sense. He throws his patented overhand right unafraid of any consequences, a nightmare for most. At the risk of sounding cliche about a contest that has yet to happen, and as many have already noted, the pairing screams ‘Fight of the Night’.

“Guys get to the UFC and they wear the t-shirt, they have their picture taken and they talk on the phone to guys like you and then they don’t deliver when it comes time to fight,” he became animated when the conversation turned to combat. “All I want to do is fight, I’m not here to look good. We’re going to stand in front of each other and someone is going to go down. I’d rather lose an exciting fight than win a boring one, but don’t get me wrong I’m going in there to beat him.”

An interesting stand up contest has been widely forecasted and Seery made sure his tools have been sharpened by making the journey to Celtic Warrior in Blanchardstown where Paschal Collins, brother of Steve, has experience in dealing with his kind having helped Conor McGregor and Cathal Pendred prepare for battles in the past.

“I’ve been down training with Paschal Collins and Stephen Ormond. If I can stay in there with professional boxing champions like Ormond, I’m very confident that I can stay in there with Brad. The difference is when I spar them guys we’re wearing 16oz gloves and on Saturday we’ll be wearing 4oz gloves and throwing big bombs. I just hope it doesn’t disappoint,” said Seery.

Even on the verge of an enormous personal milestone, a dream for millions, Seery still wasn’t at ease talking about the impact of Saturday on himself, instead he switched the topic to the implications his debut might have on the club where he hones his craft.

“It’s huge for Team Ryano, I hope the UFC guys recognise that we’re a serious gym so we can get a few more guys in when their times come. Andy has produced world champions in MMA and European grappling champions and I know he can do great things with fighters in the UFC. Hopefully people will see me and we’ll get more numbers down, we’re always looking for more bodies,” he said.

Although he doesn’t like talking about himself there is one thing that appeals to the selfish nature of the Irishman, if that side of him exists at all.

“I’d put everything on hold if I got on that Dublin card. That would mean the world to me. Put it this way, Brad Pickett could knock me out on Saturday and if the UFC asked me to fight him the next day in Dublin I’d do it at the drop of a hat.”

By Peter Carroll – @PetesyCarroll

Photo: CageWarriors

Ireland's leading MMA media outlet. Home of Severe MMA Podcast. Producers of 'Notorious,' 'The Fighting Irish' & other MMA docus

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.