It might be hard to imagine that a fighter who has been in the game for more than a decade would still be finding new ways to evolve, but that’s the case for Strikeforce lightweight Pat “Bam Bam” Healy.

The grizzled veteran, at just 28 years old, has discovered a new way to expand his training: sports psychology. In addition to his usual training regimen, which consists of time at both Team Quest and Nemesis BJJ in Portland, Ore., Healy has been working with Dr. Steven Hannant to improve the mental aspects of his fight game.

“Dr. Steve has been a huge asset for me,” Healy told The MMA Corner. “I’ve never trained my mind for a fight before, and I feel even stronger going into this fight. You hear dominant athletes like Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods talk about the mental aspect of their sports and it made me realize that I need to be training that, as well as my body.”

After Healy’s last fight against Maximo Blanco, it is unlikely that you’d find anyone questioning Healy’s mental fortitude. Late in the first round of their September match-up, Blanco connected with an illegal kick that nearly ended the fight. Not only did Healy recover, he went on to submit the Venezuelan in the second round.

Healy recovers from an illegal kick (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

“(The kick) definitely had a little bit of an effect,” Healy said with a laugh. “Right after it happened, I knew I wanted to continue the fight, but the doctor was asking me where I was and for the life of me, I couldn’t think of where we were. I knew I was in a cage, fighting, but I had no idea what town we were in. He asked me that three or four times and I just sat there with a blank look on my face. I was pretty rocked, but it all came back to me. Afterwards, talking to the doctor, he said he was really close to stopping it.”

As if overcoming that adversity wasn’t enough, Healy had taken the fight on just a few weeks’ notice. Blanco was slated to face former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson, but an injury called Healy back into duty less than a month after defeating Eric Wisely.

“I was already in pretty good shape because I didn’t take any time off after the Wisely fight. I was right back in the gym,” Healy explained. “I thought I’d have to weather an early storm against Blanco, as he likes to get on his opponents quickly. I knew I would make him fight my fight and that would be the key to victory.”

With the victory, Healy has now won three straight fights under the Strikeforce banner and is an impressive 8-2 in his last 10 fights. Next on his plate will be rising talent Caros Fodor. The two lock horns at Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey on March 3 in Columbus, Ohio.

“Fodor is a tough guy with a lot of momentum, but I think I have that as well,” said Healy. “To win this fight I have to control the clinch and be first with any takedown attempts. I can’t sit back and let him dictate the pace.”

Healy (R) delivers a body shot (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

It’s likely that the winner will be one more victory from a shot at Gilbert Melendez’s 155-pound title, as the fight’s undercard billing indicates that the winner of the Josh Thomson-K.J. Noons clash will be next in line.

“I feel like they’ve slated that fight to be the No. 1 contender fight,” Healy acknowledged. “I plan to have a really good performance against Fodor and steal the spotlight from those guys. I’d be happy to fight the winner of that fight, to cement myself as the true No. 1 contender.”

Win or lose, Healy just wants to fight. Even with Strikeforce’s future seemingly more stable (due to a renewed Showtime contract), there are still less opportunities to fight than in the UFC, which is holding more than 30 events in 2012.

“I feel like with every Strikeforce card, every fighter in Strikeforce is trying to get on that card,” said Healy. “I’d really like to fight at least four times a year, but really five or six times would be ideal. That’s the drawback to Strikeforce, it’s not possible.”

Without the ability to fight as often as he’d like, not only is Healy’s mental training being put to the test, but also his financial planning.

“It can be stressful when you don’t know when the next fight is coming,” said Healy. “I feel like I have to stay ready and kind of hope for someone to drop off a card.”

By knocking off Fodor, Healy will not only ease the burden on his wallet, he will prove that he’s ready for the next step in the Strikeforce lightweight division.

Follow Pat on Twitter @BamBamHealy.

In addition to Dr. Steve with mentaltrainingprogram.com, Pat would like to thank Float On in Portland for the use of their isolation tank in preparation for his fight.

Top Photo: Pat Healy celebrates his win over Maximo Blanco (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

The MMA Corner Staff

Your home for all things MMA. News, Interviews, Event Coverage, Editorials. If it is MMA related, you will find it on The MMA Corner.

  • Wayne Peters

    HAVING A SPORT PSYCHOLOGIST IS THE KEY TO THE SUCCESS FOR ANY ATHLETE.

  • Pat “Bam Bam” Healy is a pleasure to work with, he is super focused and motivated. He is a great fighter and person. Pat has the spirit of a true warrior. Expect great things from him.

  • Claude Galloway

    Having a successful sport psychologist like Dr. Steve sounds like a huge asset to assist in mental training. Good decision to talk to Dr. Steve!