When Neil Seery fights for the ultimate time this Sunday towards Alexandre Pantoja, he’ll depart the game of combined martial arts whereas he nonetheless has one thing left to provide.

“To be trustworthy, I feel it’s the easiest way to go away, as an alternative of when individuals begin saying you need to have in all probability gone two or three fights in the past,” Seery stated. “I might be within the fitness center and say to myself, my coaching companions and everyone that may pay attention that as quickly because the lads begin to take over and I can’t compete with them anymore, I’m gonna begin strolling away. And it hasn’t occurred but. I’m nonetheless competing with the identical lads, I’m nonetheless there in power and conditioning, and I’d quite depart on prime than depart the place individuals actually need you to retire.”

At 37, Seery doesn’t have the mileage on him that the majority fighters that age do, a testomony to beginning late within the sport and having a full-time job that left him valuable little time to get out of practice or into hassle. And whereas he’s at present three-three within the UFC since making his debut in 2014, he’s by no means been stopped within the Octagon, and he’s been in each struggle he’s misplaced within the promotion. His final win additionally noticed him earn Efficiency of the Night time honors for a submission of Jon Delos Reyes in his hometown in 2015, but after his Might 2016 loss to Kyoji Horiguchi, he started to really feel that the time for him to go was right here.

“I feel I’ve simply put my physique by way of an excessive amount of during the last 14 years or so,” he stated. “I began late in MMA, and I’ve been a late finisher. (Laughs) The thoughts continues to be as sharp because it was once I began, however the physique begins slowing down. I needed to complete my profession on the prime degree, which is the UFC. There aren’t many fighters on the planet that get to complete there. I didn’t need to go to some other group if I received reduce, so I’d fairly end on prime.”

He had his probability to stroll away near house when he was matched up with Ian McCall for a bout in Belfast final November, however McCall fell unwell on weigh-in day and the bout was scrapped. It was rescheduled for UFC 208 in Brooklyn earlier this yr, however this time, Seery was pressured to withdraw when his mom-in-regulation handed away. It was as if the MMA Gods have been telling “2Tap” that it wasn’t his time to go away but, however in actuality, Seery noticed it as an indication that he was going to have the Horiguchi bout as his ultimate assertion within the Octagon.

“November in Belfast, it was so, so near that struggle after which it was taken from me and I couldn’t consider it,” he stated. “It was heartbreaking. I actually put rather a lot into that camp, and I needed to be on prime of my recreation to compete with Ian McCall, by no means thoughts beating him. And I used to be actually up there, actually wanting ahead to the battle after which it was taken from me. After which I used to be scheduled in February and it wasn’t the identical. I’d be mendacity to myself if I stated I used to be feeling the identical. It was very exhausting to encourage myself once more for that battle. And we misplaced my mom-in-regulation, and there was not an opportunity I used to be going to go away my spouse and journey.”

Heading into this Sunday’s matchup with Pantoja, although, Seery feels so good and so prepared that he’s virtually regretting his choice to retire.

“I’m feeling actually good on the minute,” he stated. “I’m truly disillusioned that I made my choice to stroll away. I’m actually gonna miss the excitement round preventing, however each man’s time comes, each fighter’s time comes, and I feel it’s the best time now to bow out.”

It’s not as if Seery may have nothing to do after the ultimate horn sounds on his profession. He’s all the time been a working man, and he and his spouse expect their fifth youngster, however he does admit that he’s thought concerning the subsequent chapter not having preventing in it.

“I used to be in mattress the opposite night time considering, ‘What am I going to do, how am I going to fill this void, what am I going to do to switch this?’ There’s nothing that may exchange that feeling, so I’m simply gonna need to cope with it and discover one thing else.”

And he’ll. But if these occasions do come when he misses the sport, he can fondly look again at a profession properly fought. Seery was all the time an trustworthy fighter who confirmed up together with his gloves and mouthpiece and received right down to enterprise. That enterprise wasn’t all the time a profitable one, particularly in his early days.

“I began my profession preventing in pubs, and that’s not outdoors pubs, that’s individuals placing up boxing rings in a pub and there are 50 individuals there and I’m preventing at seventy five kilos (one hundred sixty five kilos),” he laughs. “Now, I’m on the largest stage on the planet and I’m strolling away. I’ve made some implausible associates and met some unbelievable individuals.”

He was additionally a member of the Irish Invasion that hit its peak in 2014 when Seery, Conor McGregor, Paddy Holohan, Cathal Pendred and Norman Parke have been all victorious on the O2 in Dublin. Of that group, solely Seery and McGregor stay on the roster, and although he calls his 2015 win over the then-unbeaten Chris Beal as certainly one of his lasting reminiscences, Seery nonetheless has another probability to thrill the followers once more, and he’s going to benefit from it.

“It’s the right approach to go,” he stated. “For individuals to ring you up and say you’ve obtained lots to supply within the Octagon, you’ve nonetheless obtained loads of power left in you, I really like listening to stuff like that. I’m strolling forward with my head held excessive whether or not I win, lose or draw on Sunday.”