"A lot of people put it out there that this road goes on forever. It
doesn’t, so I’m lapping up everything I can about it because I really do
love the sport." - Neil Seery
Neil Seery is not a millionaire. Just putting that out there since some guessed that he was after one fight in the UFC, or at least assumed that he put aside his longtime day job at an electrical company after his hard-fought decision loss to Brad Pickett in March.
“Everybody thinks you’re a millionaire,” laughed the 34-year-old Dubliner, a hard-working father of three who never bought into the idea that fighting was going to last forever – or even lead him to the big stage of the UFC – so he planned accordingly.
“I think some people are just delusional the way they look at life,” said the nine-year pro. “What about after all of this stuff? They don’t look ahead, they only look at now. Everybody knows how hard it is to get into the UFC, so you have to have that work mentality. If you’re willing to stick to your 9 to 5 job, and then go to training, there’s that work ethic straight away. I know there are some people who like sitting on the sidelines and they train in the morning, then train in the afternoon. What are they doing the rest of the day? That’s just not my style. I would rather work, make my own money, and then anything after that is a bonus.”
Define that as doing this for the love of the game, and that’s what Seery is all about. Sure, the 13-10 record isn’t the prettiest, and at 34 he has to strike now or not strike at all, but while he’s here in the UFC, he’s going to not just make the most of every opportunity, but he’s going to enjoy those opportunities when they come.
“Everybody knows you take every fight as it comes,” he said. “No one knows what happens after that, so I’m lapping this up as much as I can before it’s over. A lot of people put it out there that this road goes on forever. It doesn’t, so I’m lapping up everything I can about it because I really do love the sport.”
It was difficult for him to find that love last December though, when a big fight against UFC vet Ulysses Gomez in Europe’s Cage Warriors promotion fell apart after Gomez collapsed while cutting weight and was taken to the hospital.
“It was a disappointment to not get the fight, and I went through December and it didn’t look like anybody was coming out to fight,” said Seery, who didn’t exactly experience a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
2014 brought some better news though, and when Ian McCall was forced out of his March 8 bout against Pickett in London, Seery got the call in February. Short notice? No problem. In fact, if the flyweight veteran was asked to fight heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, he would have taken that as well.
“Yeah, a 110 percent,” he laughs. “If they ring me tomorrow and say you’re fighting (UFC flyweight champ) Demetrious Johnson on the weekend, it’s no problem. It’s the mentality that a lot of fighters need, just to get in there and fight. It’s the fight game, not the hating game. You just get in there and give it your all.”
He did just that against Pickett. He didn’t win, but every UFC fan that saw him in the Octagon that night wanted to see him again, and while a victory would have been nice, proving that he belonged in the UFC was a decent consolation prize.
“I was happy to get in there and fight with Brad and show everybody that I could mix with the top level guys, not just in Europe, but around the world,” said Seery. “It opened a lot of eyes to the way I can fight, so I was delighted to get another shot in the UFC.”
Seery didn’t just get another shot, he got one this Saturday in the UFC’s return to Dublin, and he’s getting it against a man who decisioned him in 2010, Phil Harris. That’s quite a double for the Irishman, who sat in the stands at the O2 in 2009 to watch the UFC’s first event in Dublin.
“Never in a million years did I picture being in the UFC here,” he said. “Five years ago I was sitting in the stands watching Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson fight and I was looking down there, going ‘maybe one day,’ but I’d never thought it would come.”
It did, and while he admits that a rematch with Harris was another thing he thought he’d never see, that too is just around the corner, and he’s just as happy about that turn of fate.
“I really hoped to get back in there with him again,” said Seery. “It would be nice to get in and get a bit of closure on it and see who really is the best.”
Once that’s over, it’s back to work next week. Just the way Neil Seery likes it.
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