EXCLUSIVE: "The minute I stop fighting, I'll never spar again," Neil Seery on his decision to retire at UFC Belfast 6 years ago

EXCLUSIVE: "The minute I stop fighting, I'll never spar again," Neil Seery on his decision to retire at UFC Belfast

After over a decade in the sport, Irish MMA star Neil Seery will hang up his 4 oz gloves for good at UFC Belfast.

Seery's scheduled bout against Ian McCall in Belfast will be his 29th professional fight, his seventh in the UFC and the last time he makes the walk to the cage as a fighter.


When he first started out in the sport, flyweight divisions were non-existent, but being the little guy never fazed '2 Tap' and he worked his way through the ranks to become the inaugural Cage Warriors flyweight champion and eventually get that coveted call-up to the UFC.

He quickly became one of the most exciting 125 lb-ers in the world's biggest MMA promotion by stubbornly refusing to fight boring, but with his 38th birthday coming up in August, the Dubliner decided that it was the perfect time to announce his swansong bout.

"Im looking forward to walking away. Family came first. I wanted to spend more time with my family. It's been a tough couple of years. I've been signed with the UFC maybe two and a half years now, there's been some fantastic fights, I've been all over the world and I just think finishing in Northern Ireland where I'll get to finish my UFC career, why not?"

Neil Seery with Phil Harris 19/7/2014


Seery admitted that there are certain aspects of the being a professional mixed martial artist that he will miss, but he made it clear that win, lose or draw, once that final buzzer sounds in the Odyssey Arena, he is done with fighting for good.

"I'll miss it. I've ventured into a hell of a lot of gyms over the years. I ventured over to Paschal Collins gym with a load of professional boxers over there, Celtic Warriors. I met a lot of people over there, sparred with hundreds of people and that's exactly what I'm going to miss."

"I'm going to miss fight week leading up to the fight. I'm going to miss sparring different bodies, but that comes to an end. The minute I stop fighting, I'll never spar again. I just plan on doing jiu-jitsu and teaching a few people."

Neil Seery cage Warriors

When you consider everything that Seery has achieved in the last few years, it's strange to think that he almost walked away from the sport in 2012 following his loss to Artemij Sitenkov at Cage Warriors 44.


All of the Lithuanian's wins up until that fight had come by way of submission, including a first-round finish over Conor McGregor, and getting caught by his most obvious weapon had him seriously considering his future in the sport.

"I was so willing for people to come in and have a fight with me. I was after fighting a lad in Cage Warriors previous to that. I knocked Niko Gjoka out in the second round. It was a fantastic fight, they were the type of fights that I wanted. Then I went in against Sitenkov. I knew how dangerous he was. I knew he had one thing. I trained for that one thing and he still ended up catching me with that one thing."

"I was so frustrated when I fought Sitenkov in Ukraine. I trained so hard for this fight and I got beaten by a one-trick pony who beat me with the one trick he's got. He finished me rather quick. It was hard to take at the time."

Thankfully, Team Ryano head coach Andy Ryan came to the rescue and convinced him to keep fighting. If it wasn't for Ryan's intervention, Seery may have fallen into obscurity in the combat sports world, rather than developing into the fan-favourite he is today.

"So it was more out of anger to say that I had enough of this game. My coach Andy just said, 'Get your finger out and get back at it.' So I did and things just turned around since then. I became Cage Warriors champion and ended up getting signed by the UFC."


UFC Fight Night 99 will mark the promotion's first card in Northern Ireland since UFC 72 in 2007. Seery is ready to feed off the energy of a crowd who have been deprived of action from the world's largest MMA organisation for over nine years.

"It feels fantastic. They haven't been to Northern Ireland in a very long time. The Northern Ireland fans are always fantastic, so it's great to be a part of it."

"We'll get a lot from the Republic coming up, but the Belfast crowd always come out and support their own. They always fill out shows. Any show I've been up to in the last couple of years in the North has always been great craic. The crowd have been fantastic. They really do fill out arenas up there."

As for his opponent "Uncle Creepy," Seery is confident the fifth-ranked flyweight will turn up to scrap and make this a memorable retirement bout.


"I want to finish on a high. I plan on getting a win in the fight. Ian McCall's in my way, but it's going to be a fantastic contest."

Tickets for UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: MOUSASI vs. HALL II  will go on general sale on Friday, September 23 and are available via the SSE Arena box office and Ticketmaster.