Andy Ryan on his Neil Seery and Paul Redmond double shift in Stockholm

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There was little doubt that Paul Redmond would appear on UFC’s books this year.

When the Donaghmede man hadn’t been given any word by December, you couldn’t have blamed him for enjoying a rare Christmas that he didn’t have to diet for, as a perpetual name on the Cage Warriors New Year’s Eve cards in the past.

However, when Sean Shelby got in touch with Andy Ryan, head coach of Team Ryano, asking whether ‘Redser’ would be able to make his first trip to 145 lbs in two weeks, Ryan took a gamble. With Neil Seery already slated for action at the Stockholm date, the Team Ryano founder knew he didn’t have time to hesitate.

“I knew the weight would be the hard thing,” said Ryan. “To be honest, I rang John Kavanagh and asked him for advice because he’s been through this before. He told me to take anything UFC give us, so here we are.

“Realistically we would’ve liked about eight weeks, but Redser is feeling good about this and we think he matches up with this guy really well. It’s a tough two weeks, but I think he’ll be fine. Right up until the 70 kg mark it will be no problem, it will be a mental thing after that for the last three and a half kilos.

“I got the text off Sean Shelby asking how long it would take. I told him it would maybe be six or seven weeks. He said ‘that’s a pity, we have something in two weeks’, so I said ‘we’ll take it’, but I didn’t tell Redser,” he laughed.

“I would like a longer time to show what he’s really made of, but as I’ve said to the other lads, you still have to go out and perform. We still want him to put on a show out there.”

The talent and skillset of Redmond have been highlighted for years, but it seems in the last nine months the Irish MMA fan base have really rallied behind the Dubliner. Pondering whether he knew something big was coming for Redmond, Ryan spoke of how he has “tormented” UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby to keep his athlete in the running for a promotional spot.

“Your lads (SevereMMA.com) had told me that when they were in Vegas they had been talking to Sean Shelby and he had told them they were watching Redser and that they knew who he was. I got on to him myself then.

“I’ve been tormenting him – I’ve been emailing him, usually everyday. If I see a card coming up I always tell him to put Redser’s name on it – I do that kind of thing for Neil too.

“So I torment him with emails and he finally came back to me and said that although Paul Redmond was on their radar, they wanted him at featherweight. So our goal has been to get him down there ever since.

“We would’ve went in at featherweight had the Cage Warriors New Year’s Eve show gone ahead, and we were certainly looking to get down to 145 early in 2015. We were going to look for the cut and then campaign for a spot on the UFC card in Dublin,” revealed Ryan.

There have been many comments regarding Neil Seery’s placement on the card. A former Cage Warriors world champion, and with two entertaining fights under his belt for UFC, it seems strange that the flyweight would open the historic stadium show in Stockholm on Saturday.

Seery has no problem with his slotting – “a fight is a fight” – and although Ryan doesn’t seem to mind either, it is clear that the judo and jiu jitsu black belt knows his 125er should be further up the card.

“I don’t give two shits where he is on the card to tell you the truth. That’s the God honest truth. For me it’s get in, get out. Get the fight done. If it was in Dublin or had he a couple of more fights for them, maybe, but this is a big card with big names.

“If it was up to me he probably would be at the start of the main card, because it’s not like Neil or Chris Beal are two new MMA fighters – they’ve been around a long time, the other guy’s been in The Ultimate Fighter house and he’s fought a few times in the UFC.

“Neil was the Cage Warriors champion, so it think they’re a higher standard than a lot of the lads that are just coming in to the promotion. Maybe they should be around the middle of the card, but it doesn’t make a bit of difference. He still needs to get a win.”

With both Ryano men set for action against unbeaten prospects on the night, Seery will face Chris Beal while Redmond meets ATT’s Mirsad Bektic, Ryan discussed why their adversaries records are of little importance to him.

He said: “Every fight in UFC is a tough fight, I don’t get caught up in the records. It’s the same for Redser’s opponent, you look at him and he’s 8-0, he’s been in articles like ‘The Next Five US Athletes to Make it”, this and that, but Redser is the same.

“Redser is always in ‘Top 5 Submissions’ or ‘Top European Prospects’, he’s always being mentioned. I don’t get too caught up in the records or the statistics. I just watch the fights and if I’m happy enough with the match, there’s no problem.”

Further, Ryan spoke about Seery’s matchup with flyweight debutant Beal, who has previously competed as a featherweight:

“I think it’s a good matchup for Neil. Beal has said he’s going to come and trade with him, but Pickett said the same thing – he wouldn’t do it. Phil Harris tried to take him down for three rounds. He just wanted to take him down and jump on his back.

“Yeah, if he stands with him I’ll be happy, but I’ll be pretty happy if it goes to the ground as well. Look at Neil’s record – armbars, chokes and a lot of them.”

Ryan also discussed Redmond’s debut opponent, Mirsad Bektic, who trains in ATT – a team that ‘Redser’ has previously spent time with.

“Paul’s just got to go in there and do what he does in every fight,” insisted Ryan “He never worries about what the other guy is going to do. Bektic is coming in from a very good team, but Paul has trained with the same team in America before.

“He knows what the lads are like over there and he wasn’t intimidated by it in the slightest. If anything, it spurred him on a little bit. He’s fought high-level guys, he’s had one blip in the last two years.

“He fucked up, he fell asleep in a fight. He done things wrong in the preparation for that fight, but for the last two years he has been on target.”

Given Seery’s full time employment on top of his fighting career, Ryan spoke of the advantages that his latest UFC signee has over the former world champion.

“He left his job right away. For me, new lads coming up should stay in school, get a bit of education, get a job or get a trade – then do your MMA. If you get a break, yeah, take a little bit of a career break,” he said.

“Redser is a plumber, he can take that trade all over the world. If Redser wanted to go the America for a year he’d get a green card no problem. He has something to fall back on.

“Neil isn’t in that position. He has three kids and another kid on the way, he has a full time job and a mortgage. He would’ve loved to give it a go for a year or two, but he can’t. He has bills and stuff.

“I always thought someone would come in, a sponsor like, and say ‘we’ll give you two years to focus on this and we’ll cover your bills for you’. Nothing mad ya know? Neil doesn’t want anything crazy, but that stuff just doesn’t happen in Ireland.”

Seery takes his walk to the Octagon right before Redmond’s debut on Saturday night. The first Ryano man to break on to the English scene, the first to sign with Cage Warriors, the first to become a world champion and then the first to compete and win in UFC – he is the consummate ground breaker of the Finglas team.

When Seery shows his teammates that they can reach new levels, usually Redmond is the man to show them that it was no accident that a Ryano proponent made it to that stage by reaching the same milestones himself.

Given that, Ryan spoke of how Redmond’s experience of cornering Seery should be essential going in to his debut on Saturday night.

“I think it be easier for Redser because Seery has been over there, and it will be easier for him because he’s done Neil’s corner at the big shows, he knows what the crowd are going to be like.

“He knows when you get microphones put on you, he knows the layout, he knows what happens when he gets to the cage and he knows what it’s like to go back to your corner at the end of the round. There all little things they could distract people, but he’s already done it all,” said Ryan.

@PetesyCarroll

Photo: CageWarriors

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