How does one gameplan as a serious underdog?
There were many lopsided fights at UFC 159 according to the Vegas odds, none bigger than the main event between Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, but the opening bout of the main card, a lightweight contest between top five-ranked Jim Miller and Strikeforce standout Pat Healy was not expected to be very competitive on paper either.
Miller stepped into the Octagon as a -300 favorite, meaning the odds were 3 to 1 that he'd walk away as the victor.
The New Jersey native looked like he was well on his way to cashing in after a dominant first round, but that's where this story begins. Healy, expecting to come on strong late, stepped up and not only won the second round with his dominant wrestling, but he finished Miller in the final minute of the fight.
According to his coach and fight night cornerman, Phil Claud of Sports Lab in Oregon, it was all part of the plan.
Claud spoke to MMAmania.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission last night about Healy's performance, conditioning winning the day and the life-changing bonus for "Bam Bam" in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Pat Healy is known to be a slow starter and that happened on Saturday night dropping the first round to Jim Miller. Did you say anything to him in between rounds that really sparked him?
Phil Claud: It was part of the plan. We know Pat is a slow starter. We'd done some things in training leading up to the fight to kind of help him get going a bit quicker. We changed his warm-up dramatically. Even though Pat dropped the first round no doubt, he still had a better first round compared to some of his typical starts. We knew Miller would come out of the gates hot because that was his big opportunity. The advantage for us was that Pat was so well conditioned heading into the second and third rounds that with every passing second, the fight began to favor us more. We prepared for that quick start of Jim Miller and it was all about minimizing it. Even though we had a slow start after dropping the first round, we still felt we could wear him down and submit him in the third round. That's what we planned for all along. That was our goal and it worked perfectly.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): That being said, I still remember Pat walking back to his corner at the end of the first round pretty wobbly, his eye was nearly swollen shut and he looked like he might be in trouble.
Phil Claud: We're tough northwest logger stock up here. (laughs) Yeah, Pat took some damage and that's no good, but he's a tough human being. We were prepared, mentally prepared going into it that we were going to take damage in the first round. As a coach, I don't want to see my athlete take any damage but that's just not reality. The objective was not panicking after taking that damage, staying focused, sticking to the plan. He got hit with some big shots, he was definitely wobbled a bit but in our minds, we were expecting that. We cleared Pat's head, got him focused and stuck to our goal which was to grind Miller down, wear him out and submit him in the third round.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I think many people were impressed with the jump Healy made just from his last fight, a short notice win over undersized Kurt Holobaugh where he really got pushed and then this one, a battle against a consensus top five lightweight in Jim Miller for his UFC return.
Phil Claud: I think the Holobaugh fight was actually tougher for us as a team. Here's a kid that we don't have any film on, he's young and talented and he's in a situation where he's got nothing to lose and everything to gain. That was a fight that was much tougher to get ready for on top of the fact that we were given that fight with less than 10 days' notice. Pat had been in a holding pattern with Strikeforce and our management had been putting a lot of pressure on UFC to just let him go over but they kept saying they wanted him on the card. I think it was nine days away from the fight day when they dropped Kurt Holobaugh's name on us. It was tough to keep Pat ready and motivated through the holidays and take that fight on short notice. That was just a tough way to do it.
With Jim Miller, that's a guy we had a lot of film on and we had plenty of time to prepare for him. With what Healy showed on Saturday night, it proved what he's capable of with proper preparation and enough time to get a good camp in. We were ready to fight and we wanted to win. That's exactly what we did.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): It seemed Pat was disrespected in Strikeforce, constantly buried on the undercard despite his long winning streak and when he finally gets into the UFC again, they throw him against a top five guy in Miller and not only does he win, he takes home Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night for $130,000 in bonus money. I can't even imagine how good that must have felt as a team.
Phil Claud: For us, even now, the double bonus is a bit surreal. It's delayed, they don't hand you a giant oversized check right there on the spot. You went from the high of winning to the fight to an even bigger high of raking in that bonus. I think we were all a bit overwhelmed. Flying back to Oregon, we just kept all looking at each other and smiling. Again, we haven't had time to absorb it all and process it but that extra $130,000 is unbelievable and a life changer for Pat. It's a lot to wrap your mind around.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): With all the craziness that happened on that UFC 159 event, the injuries, the eye pokes, Bruce Buffer announcing the wrong winner, the huge mismatch in the main event, do you think Pat Healy was the feel-good story of the whole show?
Phil Claud: Yeah, we were all so amped that he made it onto the pay-per-view and I'll tell you this, people that understand MMA, they knew the fight with Jim Miller was going to be exciting. It was almost guaranteed that it was going to be the best fight. We just stayed focused and on point about beating Jim Miller. Whether it was first fight of the night or the main event, we were prepared to go out there and show the world how good Pat Healy really is.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How confident were you that Healy could outgrapple Miller?
Phil Claud: We weren't really afraid of the ground. We knew Pat's much bigger and just the guys he works with every day from out camp, on a wrestling stand-point, Healy's going in there against Mike Pierce and Dave Jansen and several other guys. We knew we could neutralize his wrestling and more importantly, we knew we could physically impose our will there as long as we could physically get a hold of him. Miller's striking was the only thing we were concerned with but then they went to the clinch and Pat's got a nasty clinch. If it went to the ground, Pat's wrestled and trained with guys on any given day that are, in my opinion, guys that are better on the ground than Jim Miller. We were pretty confident if it went to the ground that we'd be able to control the position with the superior size and strength to grind him and wear him down.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): In the second and third rounds, Healy actually held own on the feet with Miller. Sure, he isn't going to win any boxing matches any time soon, but he clipped Miller a few times. What did you make of that?
Phil Claud: Pat has been training with Sports Lab for six months now and this was one of his big changes overall as a fighter. He's been working a lot with our boxing coach Andy Metzger and he's gotten a lot better. They've been putting a lot of work in to improve his hand speed and overall speed. Pat's not known to be the quickest guy out there and I thought his hand speed looked tremendous. Once he started gaining confidence, it really paid dividends last night. It didn't allow Miller to have one area to just dominate in and keep the fight there.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Another thing that stood out to me was Healy was well on his way to winning a decision but he went for the finish and got it anyways. Can you give me any insight into what he was thinking there at the end of the bout?
Phil Claud: Well Pat had that opportunity in the UFC seven years ago and even he'll admit at the time he wasn't taking his career seriously enough. He went into that fight with Miller not just looking to win, but I think he wanted more than anything to have an exciting fight. That was even more important to him than winning. He really wanted to answer the critics of his fighting style. Pat just wanted to put on a show. He wanted to show the world that he's a legitimate contender and a world class fighter. He was going to do that or die trying. He didn't back off the throttle until the bell rang or the ref pulled him off. That's what set up the finish, the fact that he didn't stop going as hard as he could, throwing a high volume of ground strikes and just wearing Miller down until the fight was done.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Pat hasn't always been a guy who's been known for his conditioning, but he was going just as hard at the end of the third round as he was at the beginning of the fight. Can you give any insight into that, particularly with your specialty in strength and conditioning?
Phil Claud: I'm really proud of this on my own personal level. We hit that weight cut spot on. We nailed the weight cut. It was beautiful, it was clean, it was easy and he came through with great morale. Everything was great. I knew his conditioning was unbelievable. From my coaching perspective, one of the chinks in Jim Miller's armor is he seems to fade and even the Lauzon fight, towards the end of the fight he was pretty much done. With my background, I just looked at that as a huge opportunity. We just kept Pat on the grind with that work rate and we knew he would dismantle him. Pat Healy wasn't even tired after that fight. He could have fought a championship fight no problem or even three other fights that night. His conditioning was spot on and it was great to see that pay dividends.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Well with Healy just beating a top five guy, what do you think is next for him? Do you have a fight in mind or are you going to take the lead from Joe Silva?
Phil Claud: I think we'll take the lead from Joe Silva. They have their own vision on what they want us to do. For us, we'll fight anybody. I know there's a couple guys Pat would really like to fight again. Josh Thomson is one of them. I know he'd like to get that loss back. Even Anthony Pettis. There's a couple guys. At the end of the day, we'll get to the top no matter what. We're gonna have to fight all the top guys. If we want to fight for the UFC title, that's the toughest fight there is so we're just looking for every tough fight now. We want to fight the guys that will get us there the quickest and we're up for that challenge. If you're listening Joe Silva, give us who you got. We want to go to the top.