"We are but warriors for the working day
Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch'd
With rainy marching in the painful field
There's not a piece of feather in our host"
-- Shakespeare, Henry V
Lost amid all the hype and hub-hub leading up to last weekend’s UFC Fight Night event in London—the return of Alexander Gustafsson, the retirement of Cyrille Diabaté, the true arrival of Swedish Rocky Balboa Ilir Latifi—was the story of Neil Seery, an Irish journeyman flyweight, who, after years of toiling in obscurity on the European regional scene, was called up on short notice to make his UFC debut against Brad “One Punch” Pickett. Seery was last seen fighting in Dublin for Cage Warriors, sitting on a rather middling record of 13-9, yet there he was on Saturday, giving Pickett everything he could handle in one of those fights that MMA fans love and UFC executives adore: a three-round bruisder that resembled a bare-knuckle brawl as much as a martial arts contest. Short of a victory (which he didn’t quite get) Seery couldn’t have asked for a better end to his fairy tale month.
Which made it all the more profound when the Irishman tweeted a photo of himself back at his day job early today, sweeping floors in what looks like a warehouse. Barely three days removed from the biggest stage in MMA and the grandest day of his career, Seery was back pushing a broom, with a smile on his face and apparently un-besmirched, despite all those shots he took and all those shots he gave. We’ve written about this before, but there’s always something poetic, something timeless about the fighter keeping jobs to make ends meet even after climbing to the heights of his profession. Though we long for the day when every professional mixed martial artist can devote all his time to training while swimming in a sea of enormous paychecks, we also silently dread it—secure for the moment in the knowledge that the very closeness of the experiences and the proximity of our favorite fighters to ourselves will keep them honest and us engaged. Warriors for the working day are athletes we can get behind, and their achievements, even in losses, are only magnified by the familiarity of their circumstances.
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