Neil Seery: "A Lot of Fighters Are Living Beyond Their Means"

Fightland Blog

By Peter Carroll

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Neil ‘2 Tap’ Seery, Patrick Wixted and Jack Sheridan are working in a small Octagon that greets me as I enter Team Ryano’s premises in North Dublin. Seery cycles between throwing combinations into the pads that Sheridan holds, to fighting off the grappling advances of jiu-jitsu brown belt, Wixted.

At 36 years of age, Seery still isn’t missing a beat with the promising Dublin prospects. He looks as energetic as ever as he prepares for what is the biggest fight of his career against Kyogi Horiguchi, who he meets on May 8 in Rotterdam.

The UFC flyweight has given his life to combat sports, but famously, he still doesn’t designate all of his time to his fighting career. Remaining in the full-time employment that he had when he signed on the dotted line for UFC, Seery has no plans of leaving his job anytime soon.

Having waited five months to have his next opponent announced after his second round submission win over Jon Delos Reyes in Dublin last October, Seery believes there would be no way to provide for his family if he didn’t keep up his work outside of MMA.

“People think once you get to the UFC you’re made for life,” he tells me when the training session is over. “I’ve had five fights in the UFC, I’m about to have my sixth, but there’s not a chance in hell that I’d be able to pay my mortgage for the year and support my family off that.

“There are a lot of people that just shut themselves down, they think this is all they need. They think they’re set and that they’ll be doing fine in 10 or 15 years. Who even knows if the UFC is going to be around in ten years? There are no guarantees in the fight game.

“Providing that you hit the top, then maybe you can have plenty of money when your career is over. But even at that, I’ve seen millionaires go broke over night.

“People think I’m loaded because I got that bonus in the last fight. I cycled up here today on a pushbike. My car is in the garage getting fixed! I’ve got no interest in buying a load of new stuff. People ask me why don’t you buy this and that? It’s because I have no interest in that stuff.”

We see more and more fighters dressed up in suave suits and sporting designer sunglasses, which is far cry from MMA’s days gone by when a pair of jeans and an Affliction shirt were considered the height of style. While Seery believes that there are “a handful” of UFC fighters that can afford to live a lavish lifestyle, he is also sure that many fighters are “living beyond their means.”

“A lot of the fighters are living beyond their means and they haven’t seen the downside of it yet. When the money stops coming and the fights aren’t coming anymore, they won’t know what to do.

“What do you do, though? You can’t walk into a company at 30 years of age and tell them you want a job. You might have trained full time for ten years, but you’ve never worked. You might have worked in the gym, but that’s no going to give you experience to walk into any job outside of the fight game.

“There are only a handful of people that make enough money to live like a superstar all year long in MMA. They have the type of money where they can just decide to not fight anymore.

“There’s only a certain amount of shit you can buy before that life gets boring too. Look at Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, he’s got cars everywhere. He has all these cars and he brings them all out some night, but he’s only driving one car. What’s the point? It’s probably to keep the bank manager away from his money, but there has to come a time in his life when he’s just sick of that shit.”

Coming off one of the most iconic wins of his career in front of his hometown crowd at Dublin’s 02 Arena, Seery knows a thing or two about winning big. Yet, he is adamant that there are massive crashes that fighters feel after they experience the euphoria of a victory in the Octagon. According to the boxing standout, his job gives him something else to think about rather than feeling like “there is nothing else to look forward to.”

“You have to compete at the highest level to understand how it feels after a big win. You do that press conference and then the buzz is gone. Nobody knows how bad it can be when you come down off that massive adrenaline rush.

“To understand it you have to live through the buzz of fight week. It’s the buzz of the weigh ins, the buzz of the fight itself and then the buzz off the crowd when your name gets announced out as the winner. It’s the greatest feeling in the world, but there is a crash. The only way you can even come close to feeling that again is by watching it again, but it is still is nothing compared to the real thing.

“Throughout your preparation all you think about is the fight. You gear everything in your life towards that moment. Then when it’s over, it almost feels like there is nothing else to look forward to.

“A lot of people give me stick because I go back to work, but what else do they want me to do? You can’t try to keep that euphoria going for a year. You’d end up dead. Even if you go back to the gym on the Monday after a fight it’s not the same feeling.

“You’re doing everything half-arsed because you don’t have that target. You know it could be three or four months down the line before you get another fight. My work keeps me on an even keel. It gets me back to normal and it gives me something else to think about. That’s real life to me.”


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