Even before Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez faced Josh Thomson for a third time, a large faction of the MMA community considered Oregon’s Pat “Bam Bam” Healy the promotion’s true No. 1 contender.

So when Melendez dispatched of Thomson to claim their trilogy, it seemed only natural that Healy would be next for the champion. However, the Team Quest product grew tired of the waiting game and instead will face former Sengoku champion Mizuto Hirota on July 14 in Portland, Ore.

“I was the one pushing for another fight,” Healy told The MMA Corner. “They gave me the option to wait for Gil, 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.”

Healy (L) presses his opponent against the cage (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

The momentum that Healy referred to comes in the form of a four-fight winning streak, including two straight submission wins over highly-touted prospects Caros Fodor and Maximo Blanco. And although his recent success has led to a feeling of confidence, Healy realizes the potential consequences of passing on a title shot after watching UFC featherweight Hatsu Hioki falter under similar circumstances.

“If you don’t take that title fight and then go out there and lose, then you didn’t deserve it to begin with,” declared Healy. “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.”

One of the biggest factors in Healy’s ride to the top of the division has been his work with sports psychologist Dr. Steve Hannant. He’s helped Healy focus on his goals with daily interaction.

“Working with Dr. Steve makes a big difference,” explained Healy. “He knows a lot about combat sports and how to cater to the combat athlete. I was so confident going into the Fodor fight. I feel like I’m ready for anything. I’m ready if things go bad, if things go perfect, if I have a bad performance. I’m mentally ready to handle anything that comes at me. I feel like everything is working. The sky’s the limit.”

With a handle on the mental side of the sport, Healy has turned his attention to his current opponent. Hirota is one of the few Japanese fighters that prefers to stand and trade, rather than grapple with his opponents. That’s something Healy believes he can handle.

“He’s got good footwork and quick hands, so I have been working a ton of stand-up,” revealed Healy. “Not necessarily to stand and bang with him—that’s his game and I don’t want to play that. I want my strikes to be more effective so takedowns are easier.”

One aspect of the match-up that Healy hopes to take advantage of is his size. The former welterweight is also looking to capitalize on Hirota’s lack of experience fighting stateside.

Healy works for a takedown (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

“I’ve got a lot of things working for me. I look at [Hirota] as another guy that I’m going to be sending down to 145 [pounds],” stated Healy. “He’s beat a lot of guys over in Japan, but I see myself being able to implement my game plan. It’s pretty much the same as always: wear him down, make him feel my size, put him on his back and beat him up.”

Although Healy is expecting to rain down punches from the top position, more than half of his 27 career victories have come by way of submission. It just so happens that his current foe was on the wrong end of one of the most gruesome injuries in recent memory—a broken right arm courtesy of Dream champion Shinya Aoki.

“If I get him in something and he’s not going to tap out, I’ll break it, I’ll put him to sleep, whatever I have to do,” Healy admitted. “He’s got a pretty big scar on his arm and he probably had a serious surgery or two. I can’t imagine his arm is 100 percent after that. I don’t think it’s a very smart way for a fighter to go about their career. It might score you some tough points, but it puts you out of the game for a long time.”

Brimming with confidence heading into Saturday night, Healy has the added bonus of fighting at home. The lightweight can’t wait to perform in front of his family and friends.

“It’s a huge motivation,” said the fighter. “I grew up fighting in Portland. It’s always been a big fight community. I’ve fought in the Rose Garden probably six or seven times. I consider it my home away from home. I have a ton of people coming and I’m really excited.”

If he can dispatch of Hirota, he may have something else to be excited about: a title shot. That is, if he’s willing to wait.

Pat would like to thank MMA Elite for welcoming him to the family, No Soldier Left Behind and Float On. He also wants to give a special shout out to Team Quest amateur fighter Cody Isaacson for helping him prepare for the fight.

Top Photo: Pat Healy (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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The MMA Corner Staff

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  • Pat BamBam Healy is on another level than most athletes ~ Warrior Mind & Blood ~ Get ready for #BamBamWIN

  • Edith Galloway

    The article was very inspiring and I would like more information on how to contact Dr. Hannant. He sounds very motivating, professional, committed, hard working and a fantastic Dr.