Trailblazer: Interview with Strikeforce lightweight contender Pat Healy

March 3, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Pat Healy celebrates his win over Caros Fodor during the Strikeforce Grand Prix final at Nationwide Arena. Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

Pat Healy is deservedly frustrated.

"Bam Bam" has been an absolute killer in Strikeforce, handily defeating tough opponent after tough opponent in impressive fashion, yet he is not getting the recognition he deserves.

The Team Quest fighter most recently took out both Maximo Blanco and Caros Fodor, stopping both prospects, yet he still hasn't been given a title shot. This all despite a four fight winning streak in a Strikeforce lightweight division that is absolutely begging for a challenger to champion Gilbert Melendez.

Next Saturday night (July 14, 2012), Healy will be fighting in his backyard of Portland, Oregon against top Japanese lightweight Mizuto Hirota at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy, but you won't be able to see it on regular Showtime.

That's because Healy still won't be featured on the main card.

The 43-fight veteran was recently a guest on Bloody Elbow Radio where he talked about fighting in his backyard, the frustration of not being given visibility and even his thoughts on his teammate Chael Sonnen's upcoming fight against Anderson Silva this weekend.

Check it out:

Matt Bishop: How happy are you to be fighting in Portland, Oregon, so close to home?

Pat Healy: For me, man, it couldn't be better. I started my career here. I have tons of support. They give me 150 tickets in a section and that sold out within a couple of weeks and I've got friends calling me about not being able to get in my section. It's nice to be able to sleep in my own bed before a fight.

Matt Bishop: What were you thinking when Sean Shelby called you and said, "We'd like to offer you Mizuto Hirota," because that came out of left field a little bit.

Pat Healy: Yeah, well I was slightly prepared for it because they told me, "For your next opponent, we're gonna bring somebody in," so I was kind of trying to scour all these different organizations and see who it might be. The anticipation was killing me. Hirota was someone I looked over and he's a tough opponent to get. He's a little Sengoku past champion, had some high profile fights over in Japan so I'm really excited to get him as an opponent but it did catch me a little off guard. That being said, he's definitely a formidable opponent.

Matt Bishop: What have you seen out of him in his last two fights in DEEP that makes him such a formidable opponent?

Pat Healy: He's got great footwork, quick hands and he showed in his last couple fights a lot more depth. Before, he looked like your average sprawl and brawl type of fighters but in his last fight, he was taking his opponent down and working his full game. I think he round out a lot of his holes especially after that loss to Aoki and he's gonna be a good test.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now Pat, one of the biggest stories for this fight is that you're a title contender, you're on a huge roll in the Strikeforce lightweight division. Is it frustrating that you're not on the main card of this show especially because you are the guy people are talking about as the next title challenger for Gilbert Melendez?

Pat Healy: Yeah man. I was pretty shocked about that. I really thought, especially being in my hometown and being right there in title contention, I thought it was a no-brainer that I was gonna be on the main card. In fact, the only two fights I've had on the main card are the two fights I took on short notice so I'm a little bit frustrated with that fact. You know what, I'm just gonna keep fighting hard, keep looking good and they're gonna have no choice. If it's a title fight with Gil in my next fight, then they've got no choice but to put me on the main card.

Matt Bishop: Is it even more frustrating because you're going out there and you're having good fights. You're not having boring fights. On top of that, you're finishing your fights. Does the fact that you're finishing the fights make this more frustrating as well?

Pat Healy: Yeah, a little bit, man. I almost feel like, who did I piss off to not be on the main card? I don't know if somebody in the organization is mad at me because I feel like my last couple performances have warranted a main card spot and like I said, the only two times I fought on the main card were the two fights I fought on short notice.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What did you think of Melendez's last two performances. A lot of people are saying he didn't look the same against either Jorge Masvidal or in the trilogy fight against Josh Thomson.

Pat Healy: I think he did what he had to do to win which is what you need to do in this sport if you're the champ. You just need to keep winning. He hasn't looked quite as dominant as his performance against Kawajiri or something but he controlled those fights and I definitely feel like I'm gonna be a true test for him more than anyone else he's fought after I win this fight. I still think he looks pretty damn solid.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): More focused on this fight here, one of the biggest drawbacks about Asian fighters is that they don't cut a lot of weight. They're not very big and you're one of the biggest lightweights in the world, having fought competitively at welterweight for a long time. Do you feel like you're almost gonna be in a different weight class than this guy when you step in that cage?

Pat Healy: Yeah, I think there's gonna be a huge size difference. I even heard through the mill that he is smaller than Maximo Blanco, who was absolutely tiny. I think that's something that the Japanese fighters might have to adjust to because when you're giving up a lot of weight and a lot of height, that can play a big role especially with my kind of style. I'm gonna make him carry my weight for as long as I can and that is really gonna wear somebody out. I think you'll see as the fight goes into the later rounds that that can play a really big difference.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Briefly about your last fight, I thought your performance against Caros Fodor was one of the better ones of your career. You came out and did exactly what you just talked about. You smothered him and made him wilt. Can you talk about your thoughts on your performance there?

Pat Healy: I thought the Fodor performance was a good, solid performance and for as solid of a win as it was, I kind off saw some things I could have improved upon in my training. I wasn't as explosive from the top position as I wanted to be and that's something I've really worked hard on in this fight, making sure I'm explosive and can come up with some dangerous ground and pound that can end the fight at any moment's notice or open up holes for a submission. I felt like it was a good performance, but I also felt I can improve upon it and I think I'll show that.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): After seeing what happened to Hirota against Shinya Aoki, are you having any hesitancy to even try a Kimura or something? Does that make you cringe or is it something you might even want to key on?

Pat Healy: Yeah, I mean I'm definitely gonna be, if I can get ahold of his arm, especially that bad arm, I'm definitely gonna be looking to take advantage of that. That's just part of the game. If a guy's got a hole or a weakness or whatever, and injury, you've got to take advantage of that and that was a pretty serious arm break he had and I'm definitely gonna be taking a look at that. I certainly don't expect him to tap out. That's one thing, all the Japanese fighters pride themselves on their heart. I have to make sure I don't sleep on him for a second and if it goes the distance, I have to make sure I'll be on him right until the very end.

Matt Bishop: With these last four wins, you've almost earned another nickname of being a "prospect killer" so to speak. They're feeding you these guys and you just keep mowing them down. Obviously, Hirota is not in that same fashion, but what do you think of them giving you these up-and-comers?

Pat Healy: I'm happy with it. I'd like to think that if you fight a prospect and beat them or finish them, then you can steal their momentum or become that prospect yourself. They treat me like I'm so old. Everybody in MMA thinks I'm 40 or something. I know I started young and I had a ton of fights but I'm on 28. I feel like I'm not even approaching my prime. A lot of the time it can be irritating people calling my opponents the prospect but I'm the same age as these guys. Why not call me a prospect too? What am I?

Matt Bishop: I'd be remiss, Pat, if I didn't ask you about a guy who you train with that has a big fight coming up this Saturday night, Chael Sonnen. I'd like to get your thoughts on that fight in general and what have you seen from Chael in training?

Pat Healy: Man, I think Chael is the most focused individual I have ever seen in my life right now. When he says in interviews that his lifelong goal has been to win a world championship, he's not lying. Literally, I've known him for about 10 years now and ever since I've known him, that has been his goal. That has been his driving force, a world championship. Especially after the last performance and losing it right at the end, he really, really is focused.

He did a lot of things in this camp that he didn't do in the last one like flying really high level guys in like Vinny Magalhaes on the ground and a couple strikers. He brought all those people in and he didn't do any of that for the last fight. For the last fight, he was just training with the guys we had at Team Quest and really, we didn't have a lot. He used me a lot in the last camp and I'm not a very good Anderson Silva. I'm not even close enough in size for him so it was awesome to see him do that and I really think it's gonna be a huge difference.

Matt Bishop: So what do you think happens on Saturday?

Pat Healy: Man I see Chael winning, either by decision or he could even catch him in a submission. I don't think he's gonna knock Anderson out and I don't think he wants to be on the feet. Anderson is such a scary striker and he can knock you out with anything at any moment so just think that his pressure and his game is just going to be too much for Anderson.

Matt Bishop: What is the biggest path to victory for you in the fight against Hirota?

Pat Healy: I've been really working hard on my clinch. I brought in some good Muay Thai guys that really worked hard on my knees and elbows and I think I could surprise him there with my striking. I see me finishing him in the second round with my pressure and I think I could stop him with an elbow or something.

Pat Healy would like to thank Team Quest and MMA Elite. You can follow him on twitter @BamBamHealy.

So what do you think, Maniacs?

Will Healy finally earn a title shot with a victory next Saturday night? Does he deserve more recognition than he's getting from the Strikeforce matchmakers?

Sound off!

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