Few fighters in MMA exemplify the timeless saying in relation to judging a book by its cover more than Strikeforce lightweight Pat Healy. Though the Team Quest grappler only boasts an overall record of 24-16, further examination shows success against a number of well-known, larger opponents including stoppages against Dan Hardy, Paul Daley, and Carlos Condit. Digging even deeper also reveals a man behind the rough exterior who not only loves to test himself in the ring, but also spends time working with at-risk youth and has a great appreciation for the world around him.
Healy recently sat down with Five Ounces of Pain and peeled back some layers while sharing his thoughts on a number of topics including his upcoming fight this Friday night at Strikeforce Challengers 18 against Eric Wisely, who he’d like to fight next assuming things go as planned, his service with the No Limit Foundation, and much more.
Fans last saw Healy in action this past February when he handed Lyle Beerbohm the first loss of his career at Strikeforce Challengers 14 meaning this weekend’s match-up breaks a six-month drought of in-ring action. The break in competition isn’t lost on Healy who explained the situation as been, “Extremely frustrating. I’ve been sitting here pulling my hair out. In fact, while I was 27 years old I had one fight – the Beerbohm fight – that’s it.”
“I’m really happy that Zuffa came in because with the old Strikeforce we had no idea who to talk to, who was running it, who was setting up fights,” he continued. “I mean, I know Rich Chou was the matchmaker but he didn’t have much control. It was all coming from above, so since Zuffa’s come in it’s been completely different. As soon as they took over, since the Zuffa summit, we’ve had constant contact with (former WEC matchmaker) Sean Shelby. He let me know I’d be on a July or August card. He’s kept up informed the whole way. And I’m really hoping that’ll continue cause I need to stay active.”
In fact, as long as he exits his bout with Wisely injury-free, the former MFC welterweight champ has plans to compete at least one more time this year.
“Really, I’d like to fight right away barring no injuries or anything serious happening in this fight. I’d like to even maybe be on the Challengers show on September 25. I’d like to be right back on it. Shoot, man, I’d really like to have two more fights by the end of the year.”
“With me only having one fight, you know, financially it’s been a little strained for me,” he explained of the circumstances. “It’s put me in a bad spot. Unfortunately this fight is not gonna be enough other than get me even. So I need a fight and another one right away.”
No stranger to quick turnarounds considering a 2010 fight against Josh Thomson he took with a month to prepare, “Bam Bam” plans to put Wisely away as fast as possible for a few reasons.
“I’m gonna go after it right from the get go. I pretty much have the same style and gameplan going into every fight, so that never changes too much. I want to make sure I get on him from bell to bell and put him away. He hasn’t been finished in twenty two fights and I definitely want to be the first guy to do that,” Healy began before talk turned to another motivating factor in terms of performance.
“I’m definitely out to prove a point but with brother is getting married the next day…I mean I have to get on a flight early the next morning and I am his best man so I’ve gotta make sure I’m not beat up or anything. To put him away quick would be great,” the 28-year old playfully added.
While Healy has scouted Wisely through YouTube and feels comfortable in his knowledge of what his 17-5 opponent offers, he originally found himself under the impression he would be standing opposite of someone else based on their mutual success and name value.
“I thought for sure Jorge Gurgel when I saw he was fighting in August. I was like, ‘Sweet! That’s my fight. That’s who I’m fighting,’ so I was absolutely shocked when they announced Joe Duarte, especially when you look at his record. I mean more than half the guys he’s fought, their records are like 0-1. He’s won his last four but three of those guys are like 0-1, 2-4, and I don’t respect that at all. I don’t respect dudes who take fights like that. So honestly, (Duarte) is really fighting in my spot.”
Supporting his stance, three of the foes Duarte felled during his win streak have yet to notch a professional win in their careers. Still, rather than focus on either lightweight in the show’s main event, Healy has his sights set on a different 155-pound peer as long as Friday night unfolds as he expects it to.
“I’d even prefer a bigger name than (Gurgel). I think J.Z. Cavalcante is someone I’d like to fight.”
Another battle Healy wages on a regular basis doesn’t take place in a cage but in terms of combating the struggles disadvantaged kids often deal with alongside training partner and No Limit Foundation head Tomas Farias where students are not only helped from a fitness standpoint but also taught life-skills like how to manage a bank account and in general given hope they would not otherwise have.
“I’m lucky he involved me as one of his instructors,” Healy replied when asked about the organization. “I came from kind of a wild past and I wish I would have had some guidance or someone to help me through some hard times, so that’s what I try to be for those kids. And they’re all great kids. Some come from scary backgrounds…I just love working with them, it’s great to see them (grow). I’ve been doing it for almost two-and-a-half years now, so to see how far some of those kids have come…it’s really quite amazing to be part of it.”
“Tomas is the real hero,” he continued. “For example, maybe the parents have financial problems…he’s brought (the kids) Christmas presents, things like that. He’s a really good guy who himself came from a gang life. He was in prison for a long time and has completely turned his life around, so I think a lot of the kids can look at him and see that there is hope for them. That living that type of life is not the best and that with hard work and the right people they can turn their lives around.”
It’s a cause Healy is passionate about, even going so far as to mention one of his dreams would be to open a camp on the beach if he woke up tomorrow with Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg’s bank account.
“I’d probably get a sweet little vacation home on the beach. I love the beach, I love the water. I’d like to learn to surf. And I’d love to have like a MMA camp out there…to be able to bring kids out there, like a big compound on the beach where people could stay, train, and just enjoy the glories of nature.”
Never one to forget his roots or those who have helped him succeed, Healy also made sure to offer his gratitude towards a few of the people who’ve helped him prepare for his fight on Friday night.
“I want to thank Eric Hemphill with Nemesis BJJ. He’s really been helping my game overall and I think you’ll see that Friday night. And Troy Suddarth from Last Round Nutrition who did my diet this time around. It’s been the easiest weight cut. I’m eating more than I have in the past but it’s a lot better and the weight’s peeling off and it’s by far going to be my easiest cut ever. For sure it’s changed my life.”
Healy has finished nineteen of the twenty-four opponents he’s beaten including thirteen submissions and six TKOs. Fans can tune in to see his fight, plus the rest of the action from Strikeforce Challengers 18, starting at 11:00 PM EST on Showtime.
PHOTO CREDIT – FIVE OUNCES OF PAIN