BJPenn.Com Exclusive: Pat Healy on BJ Penn, Josh Thomson, Chael Sonnen and Strikeforce
Pat Healy joined us on BJPenn.Com Radio this past Sunday night to talk about his bout with Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez. Literally three hours after we spoke to Pat Strikeforce sent out a press release informing everyone that Melendez was injured and the card was going to be canceled.
The majority of our interview with Healy was centered on the Melendez fight, but we did speak about a variety of other topics. Here is a breakdown of what we discussed with the Team Quest lightweight.
Healy spent a lot of his time training for his bout with Melendez in Hawaii with BJ Penn and his team. Healy was there to help Penn get ready for his bout with Rory MacDonald at UFC 154 which was eventually moved to December on the UFC on Fox 5 card.
“As soon as my last fight in July was over I came to Hawaii and trained with BJ and the rest of his crew,” Healy told BJPenn.Com. “When his fight with MacDonald at UFC 154 fell through the focus of the camp was on helping me train for Melendez. BJ and all of the other guys really helped me out a lot. I came back to Oregon about three weeks ago to put the finishing touches on my camp. I also had an opportunity to work with George Sotiropolous as well.”
You’d be hard pressed to find many fans or journalists who were picking Healy to defeat Melendez, but that didn’t bother Healy much at all. In fact he believes he had everything to gain and Melendez was the one with a lot to lose.
“I don’t mind being the underdog too much,” said Healy. “It took a little bit of the pressure off, when you’re the guy who everyone expects to win all the time it can add a lot of pressure. I didn’t think I was going to be that big of an underdog, but I used it as motivation and it helped push me through my training sessions.”
While he was out in Hawaii Healy had an opportunity to train with someone very familiar with Melendez. Former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh Thomson was there as well. The two met back in June of 2010 with Thomson winning a hard fought fight via third round submission. Thomson was supposed to face Caros Fodor on Saturday night and they each realized that they could’ve fought again if they had both won their respective bouts.
“We were out in Hawaii at the same time and it was a huge advantage,” Healy admitted. “There are no two other fighters that know each other as well as Gil and Josh. They fought 15 hard rounds and all three fights were super close. I really picked Josh’s brain a lot and he gave me a lot of Gil’s tendencies. BJ, Josh and I all sat down and worked up a solid game plan.”
“Josh and I were joking about the possibility of having to fight another other again. We were staying together in what we called the Just Scrap house where guys were training together despite the fact they may have to face one another in the future. He’s a good guy and we’ve always gotten along, but this is a business and we both want to be the champion. I know part of the reason he helped me was because if I was to beat Melendez and he won his fight against Fodor he probably would’ve been next in line.”
John Smoltz is probably the first athlete to admit that he had used the services of a sports psychologist to help him prepare mentally. Since then many other athletes have taken advantage of the services these doctors provide including Georges St. Pierre and Pat Healy.
“I’ve been working with Dr. Steve for the past four or five fights,” offered Healy. “It’s a huge help he keeps in touch with me everyday via email and gives me a task for each day. It’s a lot of meditation, visualization, things along those lines. I try to get my mind focused on the fight and what I’m going to do. It helps eliminate all the distractions. Everything comes down to one night and that one night can make a huge difference in your career.”
Healy and his twin brother Ryan have both been referred to as being gritty fighters. While they admit they are both very tough they feel as though people are overlooking just how skilled they both are in all aspects of the sport.
“Everyone says my brother and I are tough guys, but in reality I’ve never really taken a lot of punishment,” Healy said. “I know I’m tough, but I don’t get into these fights where I let people beat on me. My fight with Ryan Ford was the one fight where I took a beating before I caught him. I like to surprise guys with my technique.”
We had asked Healy about the relationship between Strikeforce, Zuffa and Showtime. It seems as though people are just counting down the hours until Zuffa shuts Strikeforce down completely. Healy’s answer was very well thought out, but we have to wonder how much different it would’ve been had we asked him after his fight had been cancelled.
“I really have no idea, every time I say one thing it seems to go the opposite way,” Healy stated. “I know Strikeforce is making Showtime money and they are putting a couple of million in their pockets each time they broadcast our fights. Sometimes Zuffa and Showtime don’t seem like they are on the same page, but as long as they are both making money I believe Strikeforce will be around for awhile.”
Healy worked with a very motivated Penn which is great news for all MMA fans whether or not they like “The Prodigy” or not. Penn brings a lot of great attention to the sport and if he is focused MacDonald may be in for a long night when the two meet.
“I think he’s going to come out motivated and I plan on going back to Hawaii and helping him prepare for his fight in December,” said Healy. “He really doesn’t like the whole Canadian crew up there (Tri-Star); he really doesn’t like them at all. It is no act and I know Rory kind of pissed him and got under his skin a little bit. I might be taking some beatings out there because of it, but I really look forward to watching him fight. I know he’s going to look really good in that fight.”
Team Quest is a close knit group of fighters and Healy knows Chael Sonnen very well. He thinks Sonnen may face Jones a lot sooner than people think and doesn’t believe Forrest Griffin will offer Sonnen much of a test when the two face off at UFC 155. Healy has the old school mentality that a fighter fights who his boss tells him to and thinks Jon Jones made the wrong decision.
“I definitely feel Sonnen should get the next shot,” Healy said. “I don’t like the fact that you can turn a fight down like that. I think the champion has a certain responsibility to fight. If you’re the champ you should be willing to fight anyone at anytime. Especially a guy they bill as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. If I were in Jones shoes I would’ve stepped up and taken that fight.”
“I think Chael is going to run right through Griffin. He’s a different person than he used to be, he always had the talent, but now he’s put it all together. The last couple of fights Griffin hasn’t seemed that into it, almost like he’s checking out. That’s not a good place to be when you’re fighting Chael Sonnen.”