Andy Ryan urges Irish to rally for Seery UFC bid – discusses Redmond, Battle Zone, match making for Cage Warriors and new Team Ryano gym

After the most successful years in his club’s history, one of the most influential men in Irish MMA, Andy Ryan, caught up with PETER CARROLL to discuss why he thinks Neil Seery should already be in the UFC, when he will defend his flyweight title, Paul Redmond, Battle Zone Contender Fight Night, match making for Cage Warriors and Team Ryano’s new gym in Finglas.

Last year brought with it some massive milestones for Team Ryano, with the crowning moment being Irish veteran Neil Seery’s capture of the CWFC world flyweight championship. To add to that, Paul Redmond broke through as a lightweight championship contender and the Baldoyle club’s Brazilian jiu jitsu team shined on the international stage.

Already a month and change into the New Year, the ever-present anchor of the Irish MMA scene, Andy Ryan, forecasts even more success for Team Ryano with title defences, amateur cards, new gyms and breaking new ground all set in his crosshairs.

“Last year was a big one for everyone involved with the club,” Ryan acknowledged. “It’s a new year now and it should be huge again. We’ve got Neil Seery defending his world title, we’re going to get Paul Redmond back on a winning streak and Patrick Boylan and John Donnelly are looking at making returns to the sport.

“The BJJ team have a busy year ahead of them too and that starts at the BJJ League in Cork this weekend. We had a great showing at the European jiu jitsu championships too and we’ve got a few of the older guys that will be getting ready for the World Championships later on in the year.

One of the most fielded questions in relation to Ryan’s team at the moment is when world champion Neil Seery will return to the cage. Set to make his first defence of his flyweight title in December at Cage Warriors 62, minutes from weighing in the Dubliner was informed his opponent Ulysses Gomez had collapsed trying to make weight for the contest.

Although there has been no comment on a new date for his champion’s inaugural defence, Ryan revealed that an opponent and a date have been set for early summer.

“We know who the opponent is, I can’t say anything about it until Cage Warriors announce it, but Neil should be defending his title early in the summer. He runs a warehouse and December, January and February are his busiest months so he just can’t commit to a fight at this time. On top of that, he has three kids and he looks after his mother and mother in law, he’s a great guy but he’s just too busy.”

Conor McGregor became the latest name to publicly support Seery’s bid for a spot on the UFC’s Dublin card when the promotion returns in September, but as far as Ryan is concerned, the flyweight’s name should already be on the roster.

“In my opinion it’s not a case of him getting a few more wins – he should be in there already,” claimed the judo and jiu jitsu black belt. “I’m blue in the face saying it, but most of his losses came when he was fighting in crazy weight divisions for his size with absolutely no ground experience.

“He’s been in there with great guys like UFC fighter “Billy” Harris and he even went into that fight with an injured knee. He was on medication and it was like he was asleep in the cage. Usually I have to calm Neil down before a fight but for that one, we couldn’t get him going at all and he still fought him to a close decision.

“He’s a flyweight world champion that’s finishing his opponents. I don’t know why he hasn’t been signed and if he isn’t on that Dublin card it will be an awful shame. The UFC do know who he is, but his age and his record have always gone against him.

“Had Ulysses Gomez fought him in Newcastle, he would’ve won and he’d be there now. I’d never seen him in such good condition and he was at his most calm and confident in the build-up to it. It was a sure thing.

“That affected him, but even watching him in training the other night you know that he’ll be even better the next time out. He was in there with bigger guys like Myles and John and he’s taking them down –he’s a little terrier.”

Ryan urged Irish fans to get behind Seery in his attempts to get a fight under the world’s most celebrated MMA banner:  “I think all of the Irish people should get behind Neil and let the UFC know that they want him on that card.”

Paul “Redser” Redmond extended his Cage Warriors winning streak to five in 2013, cementing himself in the conversation for a title shot at 155. Famously a slow starter, Redmond banked one of his best first round performances on New Year’s Eve at Cage Warriors 63 before he was caught in an anaconda choke by talented Pole, Mateusz Teodorczuk. Refusing to tap, the Dubliner was rendered unconscious which signalled the end of the bout in round two.

Not one to dwell on the past, Ryan highlighted his belief that the young Ryano lightweight is destined for a shot at the division’s title and could even be in the thoughts of UFC match maker Joe Silva with another couple of wins.

“Another couple of wins and Paul will be ready to fight for the title shot, not only that, but I think with two more wins he might get a shot at the UFC. He’s different, he has awkward submissions and he always hangs in there – he wouldn’t tap that last time so he went out cold.

“He got caught with a dopey submission there, that particular choke is one of his own specialities as well. He knows himself, he just paused at the wrong time. If he gets a nice win in March he’ll be well on course for the UFC’s September show in Dublin as well.

“They’re saying Neil’s age and record are a problem, then Paul should be an ideal candidate for the UFC,” said Ryan.

An MMA Swiss army knife – coach, competitor, promoter and matchmaker – Ryan will focus on competitors looking to establish themselves in the ever competitive amateur ranks with his promotion “Battle Zone Contender Night”, set for February 22nd in the Trinity Sports and Leisure Centre in Donaghmeade.

“These Battle Zone Contender cards are really going to focus on the amateurs, especially the older teenagers to give them a good entry into the sport. We’re getting away from the hotels and stuff for the Contender nights, this will be an event tailor made for emerging amateurs.

“For the sport to grow in Ireland we need children, teenagers and girls to get involved and I hope that these events will provide the young fighters with an unintimidating atmosphere to compete in with the right rules, the right clubs and after receiving the right training.

“It’s going to be a great night of fights, there’s a lot on the line in the bouts at the top of the card, it should be great. We’re hoping to that this will be the first of many of these types of events,” he said.

Ryan went on to highlight the impact that Cage Warriors have had on the landscape of the sport in Ireland since Graham Boylan took the reins of the promotion in 2010. Now with Ryan in place as the amateur matchmaker for Europe’s biggest promotion, a clear path can be traced from the fledgling regional shows to the bright lights of the Octagon.

“It’s fantastic that young people can see the clear path to the UFC, they can go from a small amateur show to a big stage like Cage Warriors,” insisted Ryan. “Without Graham Boylan taking control of that promotion, an Irishman, I doubt the likes of Neil, Conor, Cathal and Chris would’ve got their shots.

“For years it was just guys from the UK and other European countries getting shots, we were always overlooked, but Graham knew the Irish lads were able to compete on that level. Look at how far this sport has come in a year over here, it’s crazy. The impact that Cage Warriors has had on Irish MMA has to be acknowledged.”

Ayo Daly became the first to make a public plea to Ryan to get onto a Cage Warriors card after defending his Ryoshin Fighting Championship title in early November, and the amateur matchmaker replied by putting the Lucan man on the promotion’s New Year’s Eve card.

However, Ryan explained that all fights aren’t as easily matched and highlighted some reoccurring issues that go along with his new post and the amateur status in general.

“What Ayo did was great and anyone that thinks they’re ready for a shot on the Cage Warriors prelims should give me a shout, that’s no problem. The reason I took the job with them was to guarantee that young Irish talent would be given a chance to compete on a big stage, but like with anyone and their job, I have some pet hates when it comes to match making.

“We’re having trouble with guys pulling out two weeks before fights, sometimes I get even less notice. I completely understand that people get injured, but sometimes it’s just obvious that they’re pulling their fighters out because they think they’re going to be beaten or they just haven’t committed properly to the training.

“I think there’s a misunderstanding when it comes to the amateur status. Fighters are meant to be experiencing every aspect of the sport. I don’t have any problem with putting my lads in against tough opponent, fighters that will make them dig deep to get the win. The amateurs need to experience that feeling of being up against someone that might be better than them.

“That’s another issue. A lot of these clubs want their fighters to go pro with clean amateur records, so they only take fights against people that they believe they can easily beat. That makes no sense from a coaching perspective, they’re learning nothing about their fighters and a clean amateur record means nothing once you go pro.”

Perhaps one of the most prominent signs of their success in 2013, Team Ryano have opened up a second gym in Finglas, with two of their most well known products taking the helm.

“World flyweight champion Neil Seery and absolute European BJJ brown belt champion Karl Roche will be the head coaches of the gym. It’s in a good location in Finglas, we’re sharing a space with the guys from Performance Martial Arts and both of the lads are living minutes away.

“I’ll be popping in now and again, but the coaches in charge are already at an elite level. Paul Redmond and Hughie O’Rourke will be in and out as well and I’d urge anyone in the area with even a slight interest in the sport to get down and give it a go – you’ll never know how far you’ll take it.

“There’s going to be beginner MMA classes, fitness classes, BJJ, kickboxing and boxing, there will be something for everyone and I’m sure the lads will make it a huge success,” he finished.

By Peter Carroll – @PetesyCarroll

Photo: Dolly Clew/Cage Warriors

Owner/Editor of Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.

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