Nose to the Grindstone: Neil Seery talks recovery, Stockholm, Beal, Pickett and Moraga


After a fractured rib ruled him out of his November bout with Richie Vaculik in Sydney, Neil “2 Tap” Seery is preparing to face unbeaten Chris Beal, who will make his flyweight debut against the Team Ryano stalwart on January 24 at UFC’s historic Stockholm date at the Tele2 Arena.

Well known for keeping his nose to the grindstone between work, coaching, family life and his own training, the injury completely took the former Cage Warriors flyweight champion out of his comfort zone, but now approaching a return to full sparring, Seery is in good spirits.

“It’s alright,” he said on the fractured rib that put him out of the Sydney date with Vaculik. “I haven’t sparred much to tell you the truth – I’ve done little bits but nothing too heavy yet. I just have to get the cardio back up and I should be good to go.”

Isolating the incident that led to the injury to a sparring session in Paschal Collins’ gym Celtic Warrior, known for producing world boxing champions like Stephen Ormond, Seery is adamant that he will be returning to the Dublin 15 facility for sparring before his January bout:

“I’m going back up there after Christmas. They’ve had a great year down there and they’ll be closing for the Christmas. Stephen Ormond is out injured at the moment, but most of them should be back after Christmas to help me finish out my camp.

“There’s fuck all you can really change. It’s just one of them things that happens. The rib injury happened two weeks out from a fight, I was flying out on the Saturday and I was sparring on the Thursday. My body fat is really low when we’re that far out, you have no cushion around your ribs – you’re nearly down at your weigh-in weight already.

“If you take a shot in sparring you have fuck all to protect your ribs. People can break their ribs if they sneeze, you know? From now on I’ll make sure it’s strapped up when I’m training but really there’s nothing that you can do. I’m healthy now, there’s no injury now, so I’m happy going into this fight.”

Given that Seery has yet to return to full sparring six weeks out from his contest with Beal, it would seem his time scale is quite tight. However, the Dubliner maintained that he is happy with the small window because longer preparation can heighten his chances of injury.

He explained: “The time is perfect, I’ll be 100 per cent by the time the fight comes around. On Thursday it will be eight weeks since I fractured that rib. I was back running four weeks after it so I’ve got my cardio back going. I’ve been back in Team Ryano for the last two weeks.

“It gives me plenty of time really. I always feel like the more I put in, the more injuries I seem to get – you know that kind of way? The longer the training camp goes, the more injuries seem to pop up. I’d rather a shorter camp to be honest with you.

“I started rolling after four weeks with the younger lads and some of the lighter guys – there were no problems. I was sparring last week, I didn’t take any body shots, but I’ve been wrestling with Redser and the whole lot last week. Everything seems to be holding up so I can’t complain. I’ll be good to go. It’s on the 24th, that’s six weeks from now so I think I have plenty of time.”

The Irish flyweight had a lot to organize in the lead up to his bout with Vaculik given the travel and the time he would need to acclimatize to the weather in Sydney. Now, eyeing a date in Stockholm, Seery insisted the shorter journey has taken a lot of pressure off and he is excited to fight alongside some of the biggest names in the sport at the historic stadium show.

“It helps a lot to be fighting in Europe. This time I don’t fly out until the 20th, that’s the Tuesday and then I fight on the Saturday, I think I’ll be home and all on the Sunday so everything is working out well at the moment.

“It’s one of them big ones, it’s a historic event for UFC. It’s their first stadium I think so it’s another thing I get to go on and say – I’m the first Irishman to fight in stadium for UFC.

“Look at the people who are on the card. Guys like Gustafsson, Dan Henderson is on the card too and Mousasi – these are huge names and to be a part of that is just unbelievable.”


Seery confessed that he didn’t know anything about Beal when he was initially offered the bout and is focusing on getting his cardio to an optimum level given the size advantage the American will command when they meet in the Octagon.

“As I’ve said before, if they threw Demetrious Johnson in there and said I had to fight him it wouldn’t matter to me. Chris Beal is a big bantamweight, I’ve looked at him and he seemed massive up there, so he’s going to be an even bigger flyweight.

“He has obviously performed well at bantamweight if he’s 10-0, but he’s coming down to flyweight and everyone in this division is dangerous now. I’m going to have to have my wits about me, he tends to be very explosive at the start of his fights but then he looks like he slows down later on, and that’s at bantamweight.

“Will that affect him at flyweight? Will he come flying out of the traps and try to get rid of me in the first round and then die a death in round two or three? Only time will tell. Obviously he’s very skilled if he’s gone 10-0, he’s 2-0 in UFC, so we’ll just see what happens. I’m game to give him a fight.

“I got a phone call weeks ago and I was asked did I want to fight Chris Beal. I knew nothing about him, Andy told me that he had been in The Ultimate Fighter house and when he showed me a picture of him I knew him. I hadn’t even watched his fights and I accepted it.

“We’ve seen the flying knee and all that but really, you don’t go 10-0 if you’re not good. You’re not in UFC if you’re no good and honestly, I don’t think there’s one bad fighter in the flyweight division. A fight is a fight; it’s whoever turns up on the night. Who has the best game plan? Who has the best gas tank?

“That’s what I’m working on at the minute, I want to get that gas tank as full as it can be. I’m getting older, when I do strength and conditioning it takes me two or three days to recover – so that’s out of the question for me. I don’t know what happens with my body, but it does seem to take a very long time to recover.

“Recovering from a fractured rib, I shouldn’t really be lifting heavy things anyway. At the moment I’m just swimming, running and getting my cardio as solid as I possibly can so I can get in there on the 24th and push this guy for 15 minutes if needs be,” he said.

Pushed for a prediction, the Ryano man was elusive as ever but made it clear that his quest to claim a UFC finish is very much on his mind.

He asked: “How many times have you interviewed me? How many times have you asked me about predictions? I’m here to fight and it doesn’t matter how it happens once I come away with the win.

“In saying that, I’ve had two fights in UFC and the two of them are decisions. Back when I was fighting with Cage Warriors, none of my fights really went to decision. I want to finish everyone, I’m not just here to go 15 minutes, I want to finish fighters and that’s what I’m aiming for.”

Pondering where a win over Beal would put him in the 125 lbs division, Seery spoke about his former opponent Brad Pickett’s move back up to bantamweight.

In an interview with the Telegraph Pickett claimed, “the match-ups in that weight class are just not that interesting to me. It’s not fun chasing a guy for 15 minutes in the hope he’ll fight you. I’m too old for that now. I want to be involved in good fights.”

Given that it was the Englishman who took Seery down after being beaten to the punch for the vast majority of their bout, the Andy Ryan product seems to have taken offence to his criticism of the division.

“Beal is undefeated, so a win over him should put my name out there. My name was out there after the Brad Pickett fight but for some strange reason he’s after saying that he was sick of the division because nobody wanted to fight him.
“The last time I saw me and him fighting, he was the one who was taking me down. I don’t know what he was trying to say – he was talking about flyweight not being exciting.

“I’m respectful of every fighter but when he came out talking bollocks about a division not being exciting and people running away from him for 15 minutes, and him not wanting to be playing games. He was taking me down, I just don’t get it.

“I hit hard, I’m dangerous, so as far as a prediction is concerned I’ll be looking for finish but the most important thing is a win. Where will a win put me? Honestly, I don’t know,” said Seery.

The Irish flyweight also spoke about how he feels a fight between him and John Moraga would be a guaranteed ‘Fight of the Night’ winning contest on the back of the Arizona native’s win over Willie Gates last weekend.

“I watched John Moraga’s fight from the weekend yesterday, and I think we are made to fight each other, I think it’s a guaranteed ‘Fight of the Night’. To get a fight with him would be amazing, but I’m well aware that I have a different opponent in front of me at the moment.

“At this stage I need to do something to get noticed. If I go out there and I put on a performance and get a win, then I can let me mouth run a little bit. As for now, I have a dangerous opponent in front of me. People might know him as a bit of a striker, but he’s a big, strong wrestler too.

“I need to concentrate on Chris Beal here and after that we’ll see what happens. I’m looking at a big 2015.”


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