With new contract inked, Neil Seery ready to finish Louis Smolka at UFC 189

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Unlike his beloved Liverpool FC, Neil Seery has had a pretty good week. Not only was he matched with Louis Smolka for UFC 189, but the Dublin flyweight also penned a new four fight deal with the Zuffa promotion.

News that he would be fighting on what may yet prove the biggest card of 2015, was made all the more sweeter given Seery was under the impression that the ship had sailed on the opportunity to fight in Las Vegas on July 11th. The new contract was the icing on the cake.

“I signed a new contract last week; a new four-fight deal with the UFC,” Seery told Severe MMA. “My old contract got ripped up and thrown in the bin, and I start a new contract…. I was delighted with that. It just goes to show that I’ve been impressing somebody. Everybody knows that I’m there to fight, that I’m there to win, and that I give everything I’ve got.

“I actually didn’t think it was going to happen at all (UFC 189), to be honest. There was rumours that I might get put on the Scotland card (UFC Fight Night 72 in Glasgow) and I was more or less set for that, and then this came around; it’s brilliant.

“I wanted to fight in America, but this is even better for me. I get to go over to fight, then watch Conor hopefully take the title off Aldo, so it’s a special night for me and him,” he said

Interestingly, especially when considering the hordes of Irish fans expected to descend on Las Vegas, until Seery’s inclusion, Irish fighters – adopted son Gunnar Nelson notwithstanding – were conspicuous in their absence from UFC 189, which made him all the more eager to be involved.

“With so many people coming to support Conor, I was sort of campaigning and saying that if there’s an Irish fighter on the undercard or even on Fight Pass, the Irish crowd will come in and the place will be rocking from the start.”

Now safe in the knowledge that he’ll be competing at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Seery has turned his focus to Smolka, with preparations at Team Ryano already moving up a notch.

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Like Seery, the 23-year-old Hawaiian is 2-1 in his UFC career to date, and it was he who stepped in on short notice to replace the Dubliner, when he was forced to pull out of his bout with Richie Vaculik at UFC Fight Night 55 in Sydney last November.

Smolka endured a tough two rounds before knocking out Vaculik in the third via head-kick, which earned him a Performance of the Night bonus. Watching at home, Seery was suitably impressed and, despite their brief spat on Twitter, has nothing but respect for his forthcoming opponent.

“I know there was a bit of shite back and forth on Twitter, but that means nothing to me now. We have the fight matched up everybody wanted to see, it’s just basically who’s going to turn up on the night and deliver. We’re going to go out and have a cracker of a fight and we’ll see who breaks who.

“I think I’ve fought more dangerous fighters throughout my career than he has. The strongest flyweight I ever faced was Mikael Silander; I was blown away by how strong that lad was. Chris Beal was strong in parts of the fight but he seemed do die out because he was so big. But Smolka is more settled as a flyweight and I’m definitely not going to overlook him. He showed in his last fight that he’s dangerous to the end,” he said.

Even with his career unquestionably moving in the right direction, Seery remains frustrated that he is yet to win a fight inside the distance since joining the UFC’s ranks just over a year ago. While finishes seemed afoot against Phil Harris and his most recent bout against Chris Beal at January’s UFC on Fox 14 in Stockholm, Sweden, that killer touch has eluded him.

“I don’t really care how I win at this stage, but I must be the bleedin’ decision king. I have had three fights in the UFC and three decisions, and it’s starting to weigh on me a little bit – I need to start trying to finish people.

“Phil Harris was on the back foot 24/7 and he was hard to catch, even with Chris Beal I think I had two opportunities to finish him. One was a guillotine and he got out of it, and props to him because I thought his head was going to pop off. Then, in the third round, I caught him with a serious right hand which dazed him, but I let him off the hook so I need to start capitalising when I’m hitting these people,” he said.

At 35, and with a minimum of five UFC fights in front of him, Seery has taken steps to ensure he can compete at the highest levels for as long as possible. In training, he has increased the emphasis on his cardio, while streamlining his stand-up sparring. With the new deal secured, Seery says he can now plot a course for the remainder of his career, which will allow him to maintain his job and care for his family.

“I do have a full-time job, but they’ve given me a little bit of time off, I have four kids now, everything just seems to get on top (of you), when you put yourself underneath so much. But this gives me oxygen now to see what I really want to do and where I want to go, even at the age that I am. Because they keep putting those younger fighters in front of me and I keep taking them out.”

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Although Team SBG have taken already taken up residence in Las Vegas, Seery has no intentions of leaving Ireland unduly early for the most significant bout of his life, even for the sake of assimilating to a different climate and time zone.

“I’m heading out on the Monday, and that’s the plan that’s been set in stone at the minute. I have a family to look after here, and I know it’s a bit warmer over there, with a different type of air, but come fight night, nobody’s going to stop me for those 15 minutes. I’m going to make sure my gas tank is good; nobody’s going to outwork me, I’m going to break them.”

When asked about the controversial amendments to the UFC’s exclusive apparel deal with Reebok, which will be in effect by the time he sets foot on American soil, Seery, as you’d expect, was blunt as ever.

“Honestly, if I didn’t have a sponsorship, I wouldn’t care. The way I’m looking at it is somebody is paying me to wear their stuff – I’m happy with the pair of runners. I know people are whinging about money, but give me a pair of runners and I’ll fight,” he said.