The Score Fighting Series will hit the Hamilton Place Theatre in Ontario, Canada, on Friday, March 16, 2012, as it presents a hard-hitting event which will be headlined by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veteran John Alessio taking on Strikeforce and WEC alum, Ryan Healy.
One half of the main event, Healy has been in the mixed martial arts (MMA) game for almost a decade. In fact, when he steps into the cage this Friday night, it will be exactly 10 years to the day that he made his MMA debut way back in March of 2002.
Now, if you're thinking to yourself, "Didn't I just see a guy named Healy that looks just like him competing a few weeks ago at the Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey event?" Well, you're simply confusing him with his twin brother, current Strikeforce lightweight standout, Pat Healy.
Fighting since the age of 14, professionally since 18, Healy has put in the time and is now fighting his way to the top while out to prove he belongs in the big show.
"The Diamond" took the time to speak to MMAmania.com about his time in the fight game, training at Team Quest, his upcoming opponent and whether or not he would ever fight his twin brother.
Check it out:
"We started when we were 14, and we had a neighbor who was taking kickboxing and he wanted some people to spar. So I agreed to spar, and he actually knocked me out the first time we sparred. He kicked me right in the face. Afterwards I thought, wow, this is pretty cool."
That was his first taste at fighting, and he has been hooked ever since. With an aggressive push the pace style, "Diamond" recalls his youth, where that aggression was present early on.
"Me and my brother grew up playing sports, we kind of got in trouble a lot for our aggression and then we found boxing, kickboxing and jiu-jitsu we were just hooked," said Ryan. "We would go down to the basement, lock the door and scrap it out for like half an hour or 45 minutes until somebody won."
It wasn't long before he sought out to look to get himself a MMA fight in a local high school before he went off to college, an event that was being run by a certain trash-talking UFC middleweight. "I had my first fight when we were still in high school at an event that Chael Sonnen ran. So we fought for him as amateurs then my brother went to Southern Illinois to wrestle and I went to the University of Nevada to box. I won an amateur Championship in boxing and he did pretty good in wrestling. I knew I was boxing to get back into MMA."
After college, Healy found himself back in Oregon and reconnected with Sonnen at Team Quest. "We moved back to Oregon and hooked up with Team Quest. The atmosphere there is awesome, its electric, I love being there every day. Having guys there like Lindland, who has a Silver Medal in the Olympics, and Sonnen, guys that have been to the top pushing you is inspiring and it gives you something to work for."
From 2008 to 2009, Ryan hit a rough patch, suffering five consecutive losses. Though Healy says the fights were taken on short notice, he places all the blame solely on his shoulders. "It was pretty brutal going through that losing streak and I have no one to blame but myself. I took so many fights on short notice," said Ryan. "I think the most notice I got was when I fought Jorge Masvidal, it was like a month's notice. I fought Rick Story on like seven day's notice and it was a weight class up. I wasn't taking smart fights."
The streak, says Healy, was almost enough for him to rethink his career choice. "When you lose, it's a dark hole to get out of and it takes your confidence. I was ready to quit after the last loss, but my brother slapped some sense in to me."
After his five fight skid, Ryan quickly turned things around and went on a five fight win streak, taking seven of his last nine bouts overall. The former WEC vet now finds himself headlining Score Fighting Series against John Alessio, a bout that was originally set for December, but was scrapped due to a partially torn MCL Healy suffered while training.
"I think he's got good submissions. His ground game is his best attribute. Training with Robert Drysdale, he is one of the best Jiu-Jitsu guys in the world. So I think his submissions are his best attribute," said Healy in his assessment of Alessio. "He likes to fight a slow and controlled pitter-patter fight and looks for a submission. My strengths lie in fighting hard and pushing the pace and make him fight me. That will be my edge in the fight, is turning it into a scrap."
Now that he has the chance to train full time, Healy insists it will make a huge difference in his career moving forward. "I was the guy that was taking extra shifts and he (Pat) was the guy that was cutting out early to get to the gym. And I see how it has paid off for him and he deserves everything that he has because he works his ass off for it. So it makes be a little bit jealous because I want to be in that spot. But it is also inspiring to know if I do put in that work, I think I will get to that spot."
Of course, we had to touch on the subject if there would ever be a possibility of having a real life "Warrior" situation between he and his brother. "I think we probably would fight. We've said that if we can retire after the fight then we would. If it ever came to the point that we were both at the top and it made sense, I think we could put our brotherly love to the side and I think we could put on an entertaining fight."
A fight Ryan believes would be truly entertaining. "Just our sparring matches alone are quite entertaining for people to watch so if it came down to it, I think we would fight each other, but it would be very hard for my mom, she would definitely have a hard time with it."
When Ryan steps into the cage this Friday, it will mark the 10 year anniversary of his MMA debut. "People will see an accumulation of all the hard work I have put in over the years. You will see a great fight between two guys getting to the level to make the jump into the big time and they will see in your face and hard hitting action."
As Ryan looks for his third consecutive win, he also looks for an impressive enough performance to get a call from the UFC. "I'm in this sport to be a world champion. I know I have the tools to do it and I will put in the hard work to get the wins to get there."
The Score Fighting Series event will be streamed live on TheScore.com the website of leading Canadian sports TV network, The Score.
For all you need to know about the Score Fighting Series, click here.
Ryan would like to thank L.A. Boxing, Gamma Labs, Dirty Boxer, Float On, Deprivation Chambers, and Oregon Grown Design and all his teammates at Team Quest.