Is Pat Healy getting the short end of the stick in the Strikeforce lightweight division?

Initially, I would say of course, Strikeforce could better utilize and market his talents. But in a recent interview with The MMA Corner, Healy explained that he is right where he wants to be and confident in his position.

“I was the one pushing for another fight,” Healy explained in the interview. “[Strikeforce] gave me the option to wait for [Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez], but I’m a fighter. I want to be in the cage every time I can, especially in my hometown. I didn’t want to wait. It would’ve been a couple more months at least. I didn’t want to lose all the momentum that I’ve been building on, so I’m glad they gave it me.”

This was Healy’s decision after winning against Carlos Fodor at Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey. Healy’s answer here is a real head scratcher. Why would he give up the opportunity to face what many consider one of the top three lightweights in the world?

“If you don’t take that title fight and then go out there and lose, then you didn’t deserve it to begin with,” Healy said. “I don’t think [Hioki] would’ve done very well against [UFC champion Jose] Aldo after seeing his last fight. I think he knew that. I feel like I would be a great challenge for Melendez right now, but if I come out and lose this fight, then I wasn’t deserving.”

Healy is referencing UFC fighter Hatsu Hioki, who turned down a title shot against the company’s featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, because he felt that he wasn’t ready. The reasoning in Healy’s case is that he doesn’t want to slow down—he wants to continue fighting. He has done well, but a number of fans might have missed his last performance on the preliminary card of Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey. His next fight is against Mizuto Hirota at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy, and again, on the preliminary card.

His desire to keep fighting runs the risk of him being handed an all too possible loss from lesser-known competition. Not to mention, a loss could take away his chance at a title bid. Healy does feel like he “would be a great challenge for Melendez right now” but feels the need to win one more fight to solidify that claim. I find his logic here faulty because, why would a win over Hirota create any more of an argument to fight Melendez than the four other opponents Healy has beaten in succession?

Yet, that is Healy’s prerogative. Where he declined a title shot, an opportunity arose for Josh Thomson to get a third fight with Melendez. This was a match that fans weren’t particularly excited for, and it didn’t help that Thomson critically described his own performance that night as “sh-t” in the post-fight in-cage interview. Healy finished his opponent on the same card.

I believe Strikeforce is mismanaging Pat Healy’s talent. If the promotion was planning to offer him a title shot after a win that night, then why wouldn’t he be put on the main card for more fans to see? As Healy said, he declined, and here he is fighting on the undercard aired on Showtime Extreme to less exposure. Hirota is a decent opponent, but not widely known in the United States. The promotion should be giving Healy well-regarded names or former title challengers from within its own ranks to build his legitimacy for a title challenge as well as main-card treatment.

I respect Healy’s stance. It is admirable and humble, but he isn’t serving himself with the attention he needs. Often, fighters give the answer that they will fight whoever is placed in front of them, but his choice to just keep fighting is leaving him with less viewers. It wouldn’t hurt Healy to demand a title shot or at least ask for a big fight with a name opponent if he gets another win on Saturday. It could only serve to place him in the minds of Strikeforce matchmakers and the fans, who might pass his name up if he is content to just keep taking what he can get.

Melendez has cleaned out the top names in the division. He has also been given the opportunity to avenge the only two losses on his record, which he has done against Mitsuhiro Ishida in 2007 and Thomson in May of this year. Detractors of Strikeforce were quick to question Jorge Masvidal deserving an opportunity against the champion in 2011, and the reality is Strikeforce can’t provide Melendez with top lightweights. If the company is willing to give the up-and-comers in its own ranks a chance at the belt, then Healy is the best available choice.

Healy may not like to wait, but the benefits of taking a fight with someone of Melendez’s name and caliber outweigh taking on more opponents and typically being relegated to the undercard. If Healy feels he is not ready, fine, but what about his talk of not wanintg to lose all the momentum that he’s been building? Healy is being ambiguous about where exactly he wants to take that momentum.

Healy still needs to get through his next opponent, but his status needs addressing from Healy and from Strikeforce. It is time for Healy to shed his modesty and sound off for better competition and placing on cards. The future of Strikeforce is uncertain, but while the promotion is still around, a fighter like Pat “Bam Bam” Healy deserves more credit and attention than he is receiving. In this case, it’s a two-way street.

Photo: Pat Healy (R) battles Caros Fodor (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

About The Author

David Massey
Staff Writer

David Massey studied Humanities and Art History at the University of Central Oklahoma. He first found interest in MMA from the first TUF show and has been hooked ever since. He began posting on mmajunkie then submitting Sunday Junkie entries and that began his interest in writing about MMA. Through twitter David found other MMA enthusiasts and began contributing articles to marqueemma.com. He looks forward to growing as a writer and being a part of the sport he loves.