Saturday night's UFC will bring another Canadian card our way via UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson and with it, a reasonably entertaining supporting cast of fights. Of particular interest, to me at least, is the lightweight match-up between Pat Healy and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Both are on serious hot streaks and are genuine forces in their division.
Healy's last fight, a spectacular finish of Jim Miller, was marred by a positive test for marijuana metabolites, and resulted in the loss of $130,000 in bonuses and the win was turned into a no contest. Just three months after that devastating act of sports justice, the Nevada athletic commission, in it's infinite wisdom, decided to raise the threshold limit for a positive test by a staggering 300%. This would have made his test results well under the limit, and not cost him both a win and a sizable chunk of cash.
That's a tough pill to swallow, but Pat is tougher than any pill and doesn't let things he can't change weigh heavily on his mind. Instead, he's preparing himself for battle with a guy that hasn't been beaten in any of his 20 professional fights. Of those 20 fights, only six have gone the distance. Beating Nurmagomedov is a tall order, but 'Bam Bam' is confident he has what it takes to get the job done.
In a recent MMA Sentinel interview, Healy discussed the current trend of outlandish behavior to secure big fights, his thoughts on Khabib's fighting style, if the UFC brass has treated him any differently since his last fight, life after fighting and the commission's decision to raise the testing threshold for marijauna metabolites. Here's what he had to say:
On The UFC Treating Him Differently After The No Contest
I can't really say for sure, but I think they're kind of treating me the same as they were before the Miller fight was overturned. It kind of feels like it to me, because of the things that went on behind the scenes. I renegotiated my contract after the last fight and stuff like that. I feel like they're treating it as if I won, and the no contest didn't take too much from me. My new contract is for 4 fights, this will be my first one on it.
Fighters Acting Outlandish To Get Attention
I think a lot of people feel like they have to have a persona. It's the new thing that everybody feels like they've gotta do. A few years back everyone was dying their hair crazy and cutting stuff into their hair, now it's like people have to play up the tough guy, or find some niche to play off, but I'm not really into all that. I'm just going to be me, you know? This is what you get.
It's something that I've never been that great about doing. You've really got to prove your worth in some way, by showing the promoters you can get people in the seats. It's hard for me to be outlandish or whatever. It's hard for me not to be myself. I don't ride too many waves, I don't get too emotional. I'm pretty laid back and it's hard for me to step out of that.
Upcoming Fight Against Nurmagomedov
Khabib has a lot of steam around him, and he's really highly touted. I think a win over him would definitely move me up the rankings. I haven't done too much different as far as his different style of grappling, just because I feel that while he may have a sambo background, his grappling seems pretty wrestling heavy. I work with good wrestlers, guys who can out wrestle me, because I feel like that is similar enough.
I've certainly prepared for his habit of going for the back. In his last fight he was going to Abel Trujillo's back standing all the time, so I've worked a lot on catching submissions off of it, and defending and re-attacking from it.
Josh Thomson is one of those highly touted guys. I want to work my way towards that UFC gold and I think Josh is somebody who is definitely ahead of me right now. Fighting him after a victory here would definitely be another step towards that UFC gold.
The Gilbert Melendez fight is interesting too. Obviously the fight he had with Henderson was extremely, extremely close, and I actually thought he edged it out. I would love to get in there and mix it up with him because he's one of the top guys in the UFC.
Marijuana Metabolite Limits Being Raised
It would have been nice [if that had happened before my fight], man. It would have been nice for my pocketbook. I would have a few more toys in my front yard. It was ... I don't know, I try not to think about it too much, about what I missed out on, but it certainly would have been nice. Even under Nevada's old standards, I would have been below the threshold, it's just that New Jersey tests way, way down.
Life After Fighting
I think the UFC gyms that they have now, the bigger ones like the BJ Penn gym in Hawaii, and the one that used to be LA Boxing, they're calling them UFC satellite gyms or something now. I really think that's a good way to make money. My brother worked in the LA Boxing UFC gym, and it's a money maker, it brings in people. I don't want to be one of those guys who opens an MMA gym and they're a slave to it when it never makes money, and they end up taking their fight money and putting it back in. I really look at the UFC gym model as a future for me. My dad owns a service master, and that's a national franchise. He's always told me how a franchise has a good system in place and you have the national name to fall back on, so I'm sure that would make him very happy if I was able to follow through with the plan to get a UFC gym.
Just having a straight up MMA gym is a tough way to make a living. I've seen a lot of guys with big names try to do it, and it not work out. I think you've really got to start thinking about the future as you're fighting so you're not one of those guys who is fighting just for a pay check, a guy who is in there just taking a beating and getting paid off of his name. I also don't want to be one of those guys who finishes fighting and is like, "gee, now what am I going to do?" I'm trying to prepare for the future now so when it's all over I'm not standing out there without a chair.
You can follow Pat via his Twitter account, @BamBamHealy