After months of speculation and guessing UFC officials finally gave European Irish MMA fans details of fight and ticket information for the July 19 event at Dublin’s The O2.
After average cards in Berlin and Abu Dhabi it is a case of managing expectations and not even the most optimistic Irish fan could hope for the calibre of card that the UFC put on the last time they visited these shores. However matchmakers Silva and Shelby have got off to a fantastic start; announcing five fantastic battles.
Irish fans will be treated to what is believed to be a title eliminator between exciting London brawler Brad Pickett and Ian McCall. This fight originally slated to take place in London however McCall was forced out injured allowing Dubliner Neil Seery to make an impressive UFC debut. Pickett was enamoured by the support shown for Seery and in the post fight press conference he stated his desire to fight in front of the Irish crowd. Uncle Creepy who has battled personal issues and injuries this year will be desperate to avoid his 3rd Octagon defeat.A victory for Pickett should be deemed enough to earn him a shot against Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Pickett defeated ‘Mighty Mouse’ at Bantamweight in 2010.
This wasn’t the only fight with implications in the divisions top ten, notably in granting adopted Irish man Gunnar Nelson his wish and putting him on the card. SBG standout Gunni faces off against Matt Serra and Ray Longo prospect Ryan LaFlare. Somebody’s 0 will have to go as these two undefeated fighters face off.
It is not normally UFC policy to pit two young prospects against each other however when they do it often means fireworks for the fans. This slightly echos the clash of two young lions Ryan Bader and Jon Jones in 2011. A fight which saw a decisive victory propel Jones towards his title shot and provided a stumbling block Bader has struggled to over come in relaunching his career. Could this be a similar story for these young men? Perhaps although bar the title shot talk. Gunni had hoped for a top 10 opponent although I’m sure he won’t be too discouraged with LaFlare. If you’ve followed Irish MMA for a long time you’ll be blue in the face with the question of ‘What happens when he faces a wrestler?”.
Now Gunni can showcase his skills against a state champion wrestler in LaFlare. While the former Lacrosse player LaFlare has ever improving stand up; he’s never finished a fight inside the Octagon. Gunni will feel he will have the advantage on the feet and perhaps in the submission game. However Matt Sera guys have suffered few and far between submission losses in their career.
However Irish fans will be granted their wish of seeing homegrown heroes on the card. After a terrific debut performance against headliner Brad Pickett; Neil Seery will return to the Octagon. UFC brass have listened to the fans who demanded his return after an exciting brawl which he took on two weeks notice. Now Seery will have the time to put in a full camp and no doubt head coach Andy Ryan will be developing a gameplan which allows Seery to control this fight on the feet. The two fought previously and Harris came out with a split decision loss. However Harris has struggled in the UFC and Seery has finally been granted the rematch he has pined for.
Full Fight Card:
Brad Pickett Vs. Ian McCall
Gunnar Nelson Vs. Ryan LaFlare
Neil Seery Vs. Phil Harris
Tom Lawlor Vs. Ilir Latifi
Cody Donovan Vs. Nikita Krylov