Dublin, Ireland, Feb. 23, 2012. A dejected Dubliner walks out of the cage. A cage where he had just succumbed to submission savvy Artemij Sitenkov in under a minute. Neil Seery’s career had been a series of “what-could-have-beens.” In his 30s, with a full-time job and a family to care for, the Team Ryano standout had but one thing on his mind: Was it time to retire?

Seery’s thoughts of retirement soon subsided, but at 32, with a record of 9-9, his prospects of being anything more than a gatekeeper were marginal, but Seery has always been one to persevere and attempt the unlikely.

In an age where true athletes dominate the upper echelons of combat sports, it’s easy to forget the unsung fighters. The guys that do it for the love of competition not for the acclaim. The guys who wake up at the crack of dawn to do road work in the lashings of rain. The same guys that will take any fight regardless of how short the notice or how heavy the opponent. Seery is one such fighter and although this trait is admirable, his penchant for taking short notice fights and fights outside of his natural weight class have been to his detriment.

From the outside, it’s easy to glance over Seery’s meager record and think he’s unremarkable, but for fight fans all across Europe, Seery has been a favorite for years, his fan-friendly style has enamoured all onlookers, but his record has always lead to him being overlooked for the big fights.

When people look at Seery’s career after the Sitenkov fight they think “how did he get so good?” The facts are simple: Seery was always this good, the cards had just never fallen into place for the warehouse worker come weekend warrior.