The last time that lightweight Ryan Healy stepped in the Score Fighting cage, he came up short against John Alessio. Soon after, Alessio was signed by the UFC. While Healy bounced back with a dominating performance in his next fight, the sting of the Alessio loss is still fresh in the Portland fighter’s mind.
“It was really disappointing losing to Alessio,” Healy told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “It was rough to see him sign with the UFC right after he beat me; I felt like that should have been me. There are a couple of things in that fight where I didn’t go out there and take it like I should have.”
Against Alessio, Healy fought a more tentative fight than he wanted to, and it cost him on the scorecards. But the defeat proved to be the kind of motivation he needed to get back on track against UFC veteran Paul Kelly less than a month later.
“Alessio was a big fight for me personally,” he declared. “In my career, I had a bad streak where I lost a bunch of fights against good guys. Then I rebuilt my career and won seven fights in a row to re-establish myself. I hadn’t fought anybody that good for a while. I think I gave him a little too much respect, but I feel like I learned a lot in the fight.
“That’s what motivated me in the next fight. I didn’t care who Paul Kelly was, I went out there to fight my fight and whoop his ass… and that’s what happened.”
Now, as he prepares to compete under the Score banner once more on Nov. 23 against Jesse Ronson, the veteran is hoping to create some momentum.
“The Kelly win gave me a lot of confidence,” he explained. “Everything in my training has been clicking. I’ve been going up against other guys that I used to battle, and now I’m beating them. I’m going with tough guys like my brother [Strikeforce No. 1 contender Pat Healy] and I’m doing really well.”
Further fueling Healy’s fire leading into the fight is that it appears the Canadian promotion may be relegating him to gatekeeper status, which is not something he’s ready to accept.
“I feel like Score used me for Alessio to beat and move on [to the UFC] and I think they’re thinking the same thing with Ronson,” he explained. “I don’t want to be that guy for them. I’m happy to play spoiler.”
The fight with the hard-hitting Ronson has another factor going against Healy: he’s fighting just an hour from his opponent’s hometown. But the grizzled veteran believes that having roughly three times as many fights as his Canadian foe will give him an advantage.
“He’s going to be all fired up with the crowd,” said Healy. “This is a big fight for him. It will motivate him, but I think I can use that against him.
“I think I match up with him pretty well. He does have good hands and throws hard, but I think I’m ready for that. I feel like this is a good fight everywhere.”
One big change from Healy’s previous bout with Score is the fact that his fight will be part of the AXS TV broadcast main card. The lightweight knows the added exposure is a great opportunity for something big.
“I know he’s a gamer, but I want to win impressively and this is a perfect stage to do it,” Healy stated. “This calls for a big, impressive win. I’m going to come out guns a’ blazing.”
After a six-month layoff due to various promotional scheduling conflicts, Healy is excited to be back in action. Unfortunately, he’ll have to bypass an American tradition in order to make weight on Thursday: stuffing himself full on Thanksgiving. Yet, after 35 fights, he can make light of the situation.
“It’s kind of a bummer,” he said with a laugh. “My wife promised that we’ll do Thanksgiving when I get back home on Sunday. So I’ll have to focus on eating on Sunday.
“The Canadians already celebrated Thanksgiving, so it doesn’t mean much for them. [On the bright side] because it’s the day after Thanksgiving, there’s not too many other fights going on. Score has been pretty good about not scheduling their fights when other promotions have events and competing with the UFC.
“More than anything, I’m just happy to be fighting.”
Top Photo: Ryan Healy (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)