Even after more than forty fights, lightweight Pat “Bam Bam” Healy is still out to prove he’s worthy of the biggest stage.

The UFC, WEC, IFL and Strikeforce veteran has won four of his last five fights, but was snubbed by the previous Strikeforce regime, who originally promised the Team Quest fighter an April bout with Japanese superstar Shinya Aoki.

“I don’t really know what the deal was with the Aoki fight.  It boggled my mind,” Healy said.  “Strikeforce told me that I had that fight, so I prepared for it for a week and a half.  Then they told me they were going to give it to Lyle (Beerbohm).  It really upset me and put a chip on my shoulder.  I don’t know why they would do that.”

Healy’s bewilderment is easy to understand, as he handed Beerbohm the first loss of his career in February.  Beerbohm was quickly submitted in the fight against Aoki, adding fuel to Healy’s fire.

Speaking with The MMA Corner, Healy expressed his excitement with the newly-purchased promotion and is eager to get into the cage on Friday at Strikeforce Challengers 18 from Las Vegas.

“Now with Forza (Zuffa) running the show, I don’t mind proving myself all over again,” said the Portland-based fighter.  “If they want me to start on these Challengers cards with Jorge Gurgel and Joe Duarte, I’ll be happy to work my way up from the bottom to build a rapport with them.  Even though I think I could beat both of those guys.”

Healy’s latest foe, Eric Wisely, will be making his Strikeforce debut, but holds wins over UFC veterans Hermes Franca and Matt Veach.  Wisely’s lack of big show experience is something that Healy has used to his advantage preparing for the fight.

“I’ve seen a bunch of his fights on YouTube.  With him fighting on smaller shows, I’ve had great access to his footage, which you don’t always get,” Healy admitted.  “I feel like I know him pretty well.  He’s fairly well-rounded, and not glaringly good in any one area.”

With such an intimate knowledge of his opponent, Healy isn’t afraid to share his perspective on what will take place on Friday night, “I think his style matches up great with mine.  During the fight I think I’m going to be able to control things from the outside, control the clinch and close the distance to get takedowns at will.  I’m going to dominate from the top position and put a ground-and-pound beating on him.”

The confidence that Healy exhibits stems from his significant experience advantage.  Although he plans to finish his career at lightweight, Healy formerly competed at welterweight and holds notable wins over UFC veterans Carlos Condit, Dan Hardy and Paul Daley.  It’s his experience on the highest level that he believes will give him an upper hand against Wisely.

Pat Healy (R) works in the clinch (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

“Anyone who doesn’t think that fighting on a big stage won’t affect them a little bit the first time, obviously hasn’t fought on the big stage.  It does,” Healy adamantly stated.  “(There’s) Lights, cameras, it’s on Showtime and being shown to hundreds of thousands of people.  It’s more pressure.  I’m very happy to welcome him to the big show.”

While Healy has the luxury of a camp like Team Quest at his disposal, it’s another aspect of his life that may give him a unique advantage over other professional mixed martial artists.  Pat’s twin brother, Ryan, is also an accomplished fighter, with appearances in the WEC and Strikeforce on his resume.

Pat explained how the two got into the sport, “We got into it pretty young.  We had a buddy up the street who did Muay Thai.  He coaxed us into the gym and he used to beat the crap out of us, like punching bags (laughing).  We were both hard-nosed guys and always getting into fights, so it seemed like the natural thing to do.”

In addition to having a brother as a teammate, Healy also shares a gym with a lightning rod of controversy, Chael Sonnen.  After Sonnen was suspended due to elevated testosterone levels, it was natural that the gym would have to discuss the subject.

“We didn’t talk about it too much, but it’s not a taboo topic,” explained Healy.  “Chael is a pretty open guy, so we’ll joke about it.  Personally, I think it’s bogus.  I think they should outlaw it completely.  It’s on the athletic commissions to step up.  Nevada or California need to do it because if they ban it, everyone else will follow suit.”

Even with Team Quest as his base camp, Healy has expanded his training to incorporate more Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.  Trips to train with BJ Penn and George Sotiropoulos have filled his schedule, but he gives Eric Hemphill at Nemesis BJJ all the credit for improving his game.

“(Eric) Asks for nothing and works his butt off for me.  It’s going to make a big difference in my fight.  I’m going to be a lot more technical,” Healy declared.

It’s that technical skill that Healy hopes will make a lasting impression on the new owners of Strikeforce.  And whether it is a second stint in the UFC, or a run at current Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez, Healy is out to make his mark.  That all starts on Aug. 12 against Eric Wisely.

Top Photo: Pat Healy celebrates his win over Lyle Beerbohm (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

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