Irish flyweight Neil Seery fights number five-ranked Japanese contender Kyoji Horiguchi this Sunday evening when the UFC makes its much-awaited premiere in the Netherlands.
Seery (16-11) enters the Saturday’s bout against Horiguchi (16-2) as a heavy underdog – a position he has found himself in on many occasions. Speaking on the Obviously Fight Talk podcast, he admitted that the offer caught him off guard a little.
“I was surprised I got offered the fight,” he said. “I thought Horiguchi would have been looking for a bigger name in the top 10. I’m not even in the rankings.”
Horiguchi will fight Seery almost exactly one year after challenging Demetrious Johnson for the UFC flyweight championship where he came up short in a valiant five round effort. Since then he’s bounced back from defeat with a dominant decision victory over Chico Camus.
Seery, who will be competing for the 6th time under the UFC banner, wonders if he was offered such a highly ranked opponent due to other fighters in the flyweight division not wanting to face the one-time title challenger.
“It’s probably the case, you know?” he stated. “Because he’s so elusive, he’s so quick on his feet, he’s a bad matchup for anybody.”
The Irishman has a history of accepting fights that don’t seem favourable, which is why he’s found himself on the wrong side of the betting lines for much of his career.
Seery signed for the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2014 on the back of a world title win in the Cage Warriors promotion. His first assignment was a late-notice invite to share the cage with Londoner Brad “One Punch” Pickett – a top-ranked veteran of the UFC.
Seery happily obliged.
The bout took place in Pickett’s back-garden at The O2 Arena in London, England. Seery opened as an almost 5/1 underdog, and although it was a losing effort his performance opened up many people’s eyes – something which Seery himself acknowledges.
“I was just delighted getting on a big card like that,” Seery said. “Who wouldn’t want to fight going out to the O2? I was just full of life that night. It worked out. Even though I lost that fight, I gained a lot of fans.”
Seery won three of his next four fights, which included an impressive victory over then-undefeated prospect Chris Beal and a battering of Phil Harris – avenging one of his past losses. He proved there’s still some life in his 36 year-old body.
All smiles: Neil Seery is already enjoying himself in the Netherlands.
Seery starting already Horiguchi manager pic.twitter.com/9uOY8lXpKx
— Keith Duffy (@KeithDuffyIre) May 4, 2016
However, Seery is under no illusions. He recognises that he has a very difficult task in front of him at UFC Fight Night: Rotterdam.
“I’m going to have to be at my best,” he said. “I’m gonna have to just get in there and just more or less make it an out-and-out brawl to make him come, and make him swing, make him miss – try make him pay – because he’s a very quick fighter, and he’s hard to hit.”
The Finglas flyweight says he doesn’t see many holes in Horiguchi’s skillset, explaining that the only time he has showed weaknesses was against one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world in Demetrious Johnson.
“When he fought against Demetrious Johnson he got taken down a couple of times,” he said. “He was put on his back and beaten up, but then he managed to get back up to his feet and back in and strike, so he doesn’t really have many holes in his game.”
Seery believes the key to beating Horiguchi on the night will be to force his style of fight and not allow Horiguchi to dictate the pace of the contest.
“I just gotta do what I always do. I always just constantly march forward and try finish people,” he said. “Whether it goes 15 minutes or I get an opportunity to finish him, or whatever happens in the fight, I’m constantly looking for a finish.”
A win over Horiguchi in Rotterdam would surely put Seery right into the title contention conversation, something which not many people would have predicted a few years ago. However, Seery admitted that that’s not something that he really thinks about.
He has other things to think about: juggling his regular job as a warehouse manager in Dublin, being a husband and father, and keeping on top of his travel arrangements – something which he seems to have trouble with.
The Team Ryano flyweight admitted that he only found out on Sunday that he was flying to Rotterdam on Tuesday, not Wednesday as he had originally planned.
“I was planning on going to the airport on Wednesday,” he laughed. “I had everything set for Wednesday, and someone says ‘no you’re going on Tuesday’, and then I checked everything back and I was like ‘oh, f*ck, I am going Tuesday’. It’s just as well I took bleedin’ Tuesday off work, isn’t it?”
Listen to the full interview from Obviously Fight Talk episode #16 below: