Sometimes, athletes need to step away from action for a bit. Some step away for months, and some for years. In MMA, when a fighter steps away for more than six months, it can renew their body and spirit, or it can create a little ring rust. In the case of Ryan Healy, it sounds more like the former.

“Me and my wife had twin girls six months ago, so when I’m not training, I’m taking care of my little babies,” said Healy in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “That takes up pretty much all my time. It’s the ‘Healy Twins 2.0.’ They’re usually pretty good babies, but this morning I was getting ready to go to the gym and they were not happy.”

As any parent knows, kids have their ups and downs, but the Healy family seems to dish it out in double doses.

For those who don’t already know, the “2.0” refers to the fact that Healy’s daughters are a second generation of twins. Healy and his twin brother Pat combine for one of the most well-known brotherly combinations that grace the rings of professional MMA. Together, Ryan and Pat have had 83 professional fights, including 52 wins, over the course of 12 years. That’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears for over a decade, so even though Ryan took 10 months off from competition, ring rust is certainly not a factor.

Healy (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Ryan’s time off is a story of body, skill and spirit renewal. His last fight took place when his wife was about halfway through her pregnancy. He had been in the same stale training mode, and it didn’t turn out exactly as he wanted.

In November 2012, Healy faced Jesse Ronson in his second appearance for Score Fighting Series in Canada. After three rounds of action, it went to the judges’ scorecards, and Healy lost by unanimous decision. It was after this fight that he decided it was time for a change.

“I come from a boxing background—I was a national champion in college—but I haven’t had any real striking coach since I was boxing,” Healy explained. “The biggest thing that I took away is surrounding myself with the right people, specifically a striking coach—a boxing coach—to refine my techniques and keep me progressing.”

So, that’s exactly what he did. After the fight, Healy and his brother, who have always trained together, made the jump to Sports Lab, home to UFC vet Mike Pierce and now Dave Jansen. With the move came most of the tools Healy needed to improve his game going forward.

“My boxing coach now is Andy Minsker,” stated Healy. “He was a pro boxer, you know, won the Olympic trials in the 80s and was the youngest boxing coach for the U.S. national team.”

So, for the first time in a long time, Healy has a great striking coach behind him to guide him in the right direction. In addition, Jansen proved to be of some assistance too.

On Sept. 9, it was announced that Rob Sinclair, who was scheduled to fight in the quarterfinals of the lightweight tournament at Bellator 101, got injured. Through some shuffling around, Healy entered the tournament. His first fight is against perennial Bellator standout Marcin Held.

Held, who is only 21 years old, is a Polish Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu superstar. Earning gold, silver and bronze medals through top organizations like ADCC, IBJJF and FILA, Held has been able to transition his BJJ skills into the MMA arena quite effectively. With a pro record of 15-3 (4-2 in Bellator action), Held has done a ton of damage in his five-year career.

“Dave [Jansen]’s given me some great insight.” Healy revealed. “He’s the last person to have beaten Marcin, so he’s given me some very good insights into the fight itself, and Marcin’s style and what I can expect.

“I feel like it’s a great match-up for me. Obviously, he has a specific set of skills. His leg locks are world-class, and I think he’s shown that he can submit anybody in the world with his leg locks. I think style-wise we match up pretty well—wrestling and my stand-up and everything. I think it’ll be an exciting one for the fans.”

The leg locks that Healy speaks of have been dangerous weapons for Held. In fact, Held’s last four submission wins were by leg-related joint locks, so Healy, a striker by nature, had to adjust his regimen accordingly. He knew he had to add a special brand of BJJ to the mix. Luckily, Portland, Ore., had just the right guy.

Healy (R) connects with a left hand (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

“I’ve been working with Renzo Gracie Portland, which is run by Aaron Milam, who is a leg-lock specialist,” Healy said.

Milam earned his black belt under Renzo Gracie’s John Danaher. He has competed in grappling arts all over the world and is a great addition to Healy’s coaching team.

With his new world-class coaches and some new and old world-class training partners, Healy is ready to do battle on Friday night, live from none other than Rose Garden in his hometown of Portland, which makes for a nice, Healy-friendly crowd. Ryan does not aim to disappoint.

“I see myself putting my hands on him and making him hurt,” Healy explained. “Whether we’re on the ground or standing up, I want to hit this guy hard and make him feel every punch that I throw, and break him down.

“I’ve had lots of fights, and I’ve never had a boring fight. I always come to fight, I train hard, and I’m going to put on a show. Sit back and enjoy the show.”

After a 1-2 run in his last three fights, Healy is ready to make a big splash so that the Bellator brass understands that he is all business.

“I signed a three-fight deal with Bellator, so it’s given me a good opportunity to rise up and maybe get into one of the tournaments and work my way up the Bellator rankings,” expressed Healy. “I want to make a statement at this fight and work my way to a title shot.”

Held is no slouch, and Healy fully understands that this will be a battle for the ages. However, he has big plans for his future, and he’s not about to slow down. In fact, it seems more like he has a “just getting started” type of attitude. Healy has new twin girls to renew his spirit and a new team to renew his body and skill set. There will be no ring rust come Friday night, as fans will see the best Ryan Healy they have yet to experience.

Healy would like to thank all of the guys at Sportslab and Renzo Gracie Portland, and his sponsors: Pound Out Fight Gear, C2O Coconut Water, Training Mask and ForUnutrition. He would also like to thank all of his family and friends who have stood behind him throughout his career. Follow Ryan on Twitter: @DiamondRyan1

Top Photo: Ryan Healy (L) deliver a punch (Charles Penner/Combat Captured)

About The Author

Dan Kuhl
Interview Coordinator