Pat Healy returned to the UFC with a vengeance on April 27. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Well-traveled lightweight Pat Healy defied the bookmakers at UFC 159 “Jones vs. Sonnen,” as he submitted highly regarded contemporary Jim Miller with a third-round rear-naked choke on April 27 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Though the victory marked the 30th career win for the 11-year pro, it nevertheless went down as Healy’s inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championship victory. “Bam Bam” made his first appearance with the promotion as a welterweight in 2006, tapping out to a first-round rear-naked choke from Anthony Torres. Following the defeat, the Oregonian competed for the International Fight League and won the Maximum Fighting Championship welterweight title before dropping to 155 pounds and signing with Strikeforce.
Now riding a seven-fight winning streak, Healy spoke to Sherdog.com about his triumph over Miller, his reputation for resilience, his journey back to the Octagon and his future plans.
Sherdog.com: You have 46 pro fights under your belt, you have been in this sport since 2001 and you just picked up your first UFC win. What has this road back to the Octagon been like for you personally?
Healy: It’s been a long road with many ups and downs. Even when I have had success outside the UFC, it never went how I thought it should. Regardless of all the trials and tribulations, though, I’ve had some great experiences. I’ve fought in just about every promotion that has come and gone, and I have been all over the U.S. and various parts of the world. There certainly is nowhere like the UFC, and I can tell you that from experiencing just about every other promotion.
Sherdog.com: Would you classify your win over Miller as the most important of your career?
Healy: Without a doubt. I have had some good wins in tough fights, but you’re nothing until you do it on the main stage that is the UFC. The fact that I had to overcome a little adversity at the end of the first round certainly adds to it, too. Also, I think it leaves me in great position for another high-profile fight.
Sherdog.com: The bookmakers and many members of the media picked against you in your bout with Miller. How did you manage to neutralize his speed and put him in bad spots on the floor?
Healy: I tried to use my size advantage on him. I wanted to get into spots, such as the clinch and grappling exchanges, where my size would take most effect. I think I was able to do that effectively and wear him down so I could further take advantage of those positions.
Sherdog.com: Describe the feeling when you noticed that Miller was unconscious and the referee was pulling you off of him. Was that the most gratifying moment you have had in fighting?
Healy: It was certainly the most gratifying and exciting moment of my career. It was really an unreal feeling, and I didn’t quite know what to do. I was kind of awestruck, really. I just remember seeing [NFL hall of famer] Michael Irvin and realizing how cool it was to fight in front of a childhood hero of mine. When Joe Rogan interviewed me, I could only excitedly blurt out whatever came to mind. The UFC crowds are like no other in size and energy. Even though they weren’t really rooting for me, it was really impressive to see an arena full of people get so into the fight.
Sherdog.com: You were slated to fight Gilbert Melendez for the Strikeforce title in September and January, but the fight was twice canceled when he withdrew with injuries. Was there ever a point where you were down on yourself and frustrated at these setbacks?
Healy: There definitely was a point when I was really frustrated. It was a crazy bunch of events with no one to blame for them happening. Injuries unfortunately happen in our sport. I tried to think that greener pastures would lie ahead, but at the time it sure didn’t feel that way.
Sherdog.com: I think many observers look at you as one of the more resilient fighters in all of MMA. Do you agree with that assessment, and if so, does that distinction bring you pride?
Healy: I definitely think I am as resilient as they come, and it certainly brings me pride. I have never been one of the most athletically gifted or flashy athletes. Hard work and mental toughness is something I’ve had to rely on heavily over the years. I think I react to adversity in fights and can often bounce back from losing rounds or exchanges.
Sherdog.com: You have lost just once since dropping to lightweight, submitting to Josh Thomson in June 2010. Since that time, you have won seven straight fights. Do you think a rematch with Thomson makes sense for your next fight or would you like to see somebody else in the cage?
Healy: I think a rematch with Thomson is something that we may eventually have no choice about, but there are some other fights I would prefer to have first. Josh and I have trained together and know each other’s games well now. We are both in this game to win a world championship, so if we are standing in each other’s way, it would be a fight that would certainly happen.
Sherdog.com: You picked up an extra $130,000 by winning “Fight of the Night” and “Submission of the Night” bonuses at UFC 159. What are you going to do with that bonus money and would you call such a paycheck life-changing?
Healy: I would definitely say the money is life-changing. If people knew how many years I survived below the poverty line they would be convinced I could easily live off this money for the rest of my life. I am a simple man, but I certainly want to use this money to secure my future. Maybe [I will buy] a few gifts for myself, too, though. I like guns, video games and shoes, so my collections of those might grow a little.
Sherdog.com: The only injury you sustained in the Miller fight was a facial laceration. How quickly do you want to get back in the Octagon?
Healy: I had a small cut requiring four stitches on my nose and a fat black eye. I am really itching to get back in the Octagon as soon as possible. I would love to have two more fights this year. I am going to try to be smart and wait for the right opponent, but to be honest, I will probably take the first fight the UFC offers me.
Sherdog.com: You are only 29 years old, but there are a lot of miles on your body from almost 12 years of fighting. To what do you attribute your longevity and would you say that this current version of Pat “Bam Bam” Healy is the best fighter you have ever been?
Healy: I think a major thing that has led to my longevity is consistency in training. I am not one of those guys who takes time off very often. I try to stay in the gym, because when you take long periods of time off and attempt to get back to hard training, that’s often when injuries happen. I am very rarely too far out of shape, so my body is always ready. I feel I am currently better than I have ever been mentally and physically, but I am certainly striving to get better every day. With the financial stability the UFC has helped provide, I am going to take advantage of it and seek out the highest level instructors while I have some down time to get better.