Thursday 22 March 2018

UFC Belfast preview: Neil Seery has to reschedule his retirement party but show goes on

Neil Seery. Picture credit: Esther Lin / SPORTSFILE
Neil Seery. Picture credit: Esther Lin / SPORTSFILE
Fergus Ryan

Fergus Ryan

UFC Belfast goes down this weekend in the SSE Odessy Arena. Given all the excitement and historic achievements of Conor McGregor last weekend, this one has flown a little under the radar.

In a cruel twist of fate one of the ‘must see’ bouts has been removed from the card this morning.

Dubliner Neil Seery was due to battle Ian McCall. However, McCall has taken ill and withdrawn from the fight.

With the official weigh-in time having closed it is unlikely Seery will receive a replacement fight. With only one other flyweight fight on the card it is unlikely there will be another pull-out that would allow someone fill in for McCall.

Ironically, McCall has not fought since January 2015 due to injuries and two opponents pulling from his fights. Justin Scoggins withdrew two days prior to UFC 201 and Ray Borg withdrew three days prior to UFC 203. McCall trumps both of those with an unfortunate withdrawal the day before his scheduled fight with Seery.

At this point it is unclear whether Seery will seek another fight on a future card for his retirement bash or if he’ll call it day.

Regardless, the show will go on tomorrow night. There are still some intriguing bouts for fans to enjoy.

Middleweight: Gegard Mousasi vs Uriah Hall

Why: Title implications for Mousasi

A loss to Uriah Hall is the only blotch on Gegard Mousasi’s in his past 6 fights. Michael Bisping will defend his title against Yoel Romero next but a win could see Mousasi join the queue of contenders.

Gegard Mousasi – “I’ve trained for him before so this time I just made some little adjustments. I have a slightly different game plan and I’m ready to fight. This is nothing personal. He is a nice guy; I have nothing against him. I respect him for giving me the rematch. He won the first fight fair and square but now I can settle the score.”

Uriah Hall - “There are two reasons why Gegard picked me; one, he think it’s an easy fight, which he thought the first time. And two, he wants revenge. I’m a different breed. I’m dynamic, I’m patient and I’m articulate. I pick my shots. He’s trying to come in here and prove a point, and I’m saying no, that kick was real.”

Lightweight: Ross Pearson vs Stevie Ray

Why: Exciting fighters who both need a win.

Ross Pearson has been a UFC stalwart since winning The Ultimate Fighter back in 2009. Having found his ceiling in the upper echelons of the featherweight and lightweight divisions, Pearson has become committed to putting on entertaining fights for the fans. As cliché as that might sounds he has delivered value for money win, lose or draw.

Scotland’s Stevie Ray took a short notice fight (two weeks) and quickly ran out to 3-0 in the space of 6 months. After a loss in his next fight a win over Pearson will be his biggest scalp to date.

Ross Pearson – “I like being active, I like competing. It’s not the fighting that hurts so much; it’s the training camps. Once I turned 30, I started to realize that I couldn’t train like I was when I was 21 so my training camp has been a lot smarter, a lot more broken down; there’s a lot less sparring. There’s a lot more correct training and there is also a lot more thought behind the process of getting ready.”

Stevie Ray – “Ross is someone I’ve said before that I’d like to fight. He’s a big name so it’s a chance for me to show that he’s at the end of his career and that I’m just starting mine. Although this sport is about winning, it’s also a

Featherweight: Artem Lobov vs Teruto Ishihara

Why: If you blink, you could miss it.

These two heavy handed fighters with go forward styles on paper suggest we won’t need all three rounds for this one. The Russian-Irishman, Lobov ran through The Ultimate Fighter series 22 with three KO’s while in the house.

Japan’s Ishihara has nine wins with eight of them coming by KO.

Artem Lobov – “The preparation for this fight has been amazing. I did the camp with Conor McGregor. I was his sparring partner and he was mine. He is a two-weight world champion so that’s as good a preparation as you can get. My opponent likes to exchange and brings a southpaw stance but other than that, I don’t know much. He says he fancies the ladies but he should be more concerned with the Russian hammer who will be throwing some Celtic crosses.”

Teruto Ishihara - "I'm happy to have been given this fight. This is a huge opportunity for me and I'm just excited to be here, to be on this card and fighting in Ireland. The atmosphere in Belfast is amazing. Artem has two big, powerful hands but I also bring power. Whatever happens, there will be a finish. This is going to be a really exciting fight.”

Honourable Mentions

Flyweight: Kyoji Horiguchi vs Ali Bagautinov - will have title implications. Both men have previously challenged ‘pound for pound’ great Demetrious Johnson for his flyweight belt but came up short. A win in Belfast will take them a step closer in a division thin on genuine challengers.

Welterweight: Charlie Ward vs Abdul Razak Alhassan – Another SBG fighter is set to debut in the UFC. Ward who was involved in the tragic fight with Joao Carvalho was a surprise inclusion to the UFC roster.

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport