Andy Ryan: “Neil is only two or three wins away from a title fight”

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There is a lot on the line for Neil “2 Tap” Seery as he aims to avenge his 2010 loss to Phil Harris on July 19th in The O2, Dublin.

The Irishman impressed in his UFC debut against Brad Pickett on March 8, but a victory is a must if he is to become a permanent fixture in the UFC’s flyweight division.

As a Twitter campaign bombarded the UFC’s hierarchy to see the Team Ryano man on the UFC Fight Night – Gustafsson vs Manuwa card, his coach Andy Ryan spoke about how some people mistakenly think the social media assault was the sole reason for Seery’s call-up.

“It was great to see everybody getting behind Neil on social media sites, but it’s annoying when we hear some people saying that Neil only got into the UFC because of a social media campaign,” he said.

“Neil’s a world level fighter, he’s a world champion. It doesn’t matter who they put against him they’re always saying he’s gonna get beaten. Before he fought Silander all we were hearing was that (Silander) was going to be signed by the UFC. We heard he was one of the best flyweights in Europe. Silander had only lost to Bagautinov at that point and he’s fought for the UFC’s 125 lbs title now.

“Neil went in there and he beat Silander and he won the Cage Warriors title. Yeah, the Twitter campaign was a big help, but they’re not just gonna do a Twitter campaign and get someone with no credentials into the UFC. It was good old fashioned hard work that got him in there.”

Ryan also discussed his belief that a win against Harris could be the beginning of a run at the 125lbs title for the Dubliner. Paul Redmond, a top European lightweight and team mate of Seery’s, is another man that the Irish fans wanted to see make his debut on the Dublin card and Ryan is sure that it won’t be long until he joins the former Cage Warriors flyweight champ on the UFC roster.

“I think Neil’s only two or three wins away from a title fight. Neil can go a long way at this weight. If he gets a win out of this fight and then gets matched with some good guys after that, I think he can do something special.

“I think Paul Redmond is very close to getting a call-up, I’d be happy to just have him and Neil in the UFC. The UFC have told me that they know who he is but they aren’t looking for a 70kg fighter at the moment.

“The more I look at it, the more I think it’s about being in the right place at the right time. There’s a lot of guys at his weight floating around that are looking at a spot in the UFC. I think Paul would have to leave work if he was going to make a run at it.

“If we get John Donnelly out of retirement he could make a run at a place in the UFC, and then further down the line we have John Redmond and Ayo Daly. Konrad Iwanowski is on tear at the moment too, four wins at pro is not to be sniffed at,” insisted Ryan.

One of the more intriguing aspects of Seery’s story is the fact that he still works full time on top of both coaching and training. Ryan discussed why his fighter is in no position to quit his job and focus fully on training.

“I don’t think he’s in a position to leave his job, Neil’s got a mortgage,” he said. “It’s a different thing for the likes of Conor. He’s young and no matter what happens he’s always got the backup of his parents. Neil has his own kids to look after.”

As far as his preparation is concerned, Ryan is adamant that the Finglas native is in peak condition ahead of his crucial bout in front of his hometown crowd.

Ryan said: “He looks great, I think he knows that this fight could be the be-all and end-all, he knows he needs to get this win. You can see it in him in the gym, he’s looking really strong and fit. He’s relaxed too and that’s very important.

“Sometimes I have to say to him, ‘Neil you’re a UFC fighter, you were the Cage Warriors champion’, but he’s never been one to brag or shout. He’s like us at this gym, we don’t really make big deals of things.”

Ryan also revealed that despite the whole nation’s delight at Seery’s performance in his debut, both the team and man himself were not bowled over by the result.

“Everybody was telling us how great it was that Neil got to the UFC. Everybody was telling us after the Pickett fight how brilliant he was and they were asking us why were unhappy. We lost, we wanted to win. If he had a proper camp I think he would’ve beaten Pickett,” he revealed.

“Neil has good wrestling and good jiu jitsu. That last fight, we had two weeks to get ready for it. We spent three days doing medicals and then we were on the plane, there was no time for training. He got three days of boxing in and then we had to start cutting weight.

“In his mind all he wanted to do was strike, he thought Pickett would do the same. When he was taken down he was trying to neutralize everything on the ground to get it back on the feet, but that 15 minutes went in the blink of an eye.”

With Brad Pickett claiming the victory due to his ability to take Seery to the ground, it would seem that his team mate Harris will use similar tactics to see his hand raised on July 19th.

However, Ryan claimed that his man will be ready for wherever the fight will take place.

“We don’t mind going to the ground, if you look at Neil’s record half of his wins have come by submission, he’s got good jiu jitsu, judo and wrestling. No one has really seen it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

“There was nothing in that fight. He was on medication to get him through that fight and for the first two rounds it was like he wasn’t in there at all, he came out and fought in the third.

“That’s not to take anything away from Phil, I think him and Neil are a lot like each other. For me, Neil has evolved a lot more over the last four years than Phil has,” he said.

As for the Team Ryano man’s prediction, he’s keeping his cards close to his chest:

“I have a prediction but I’m not going to tell you, I wrote it down.”

@PetesyCarroll

Segments of this article originally appeared in the Irish Daily Mirror on 10/7/14

Photo: Cage Warriors

Peter Carroll is Severe MMA's lead feature writer. He has been featured in many top publications and some rubbish ones too. He also writes for the Irish Daily Mirror and Vice's Fightland.