Veteran lightweight ready to make his mark
The seeds for Pat Healy’s fight career were planted at fourteen years old, when he and twin brother Ryan were growing up in Salem, Oregon.
A neighborhood friend was into the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He’d been learning muay thai and needed sparring partners, and the Healy brothers decided that it sounded like fun. They didn’t know anything about muay thai or any other facet of mixed martial arts, but they did it anyway.
They were the only ones dumb enough to volunteer, and it was evident when the neighborhood friend knocked out Ryan with a head kick during his first sparring session.
This kind of disastrous result would dissuade most kids from ever attempting something like this again, but the Healy boys were different. They were instantly hooked on a fledgling sport that was struggling to gain acceptance in the United States.
“We used to rent all of the old UFC’s at Hollywood Video on VHS,” Healy says. “We never lost our love for it.”
The boys continued watching UFC tapes and practicing. Oregon was a hot bed for amateur fighting, and Team Quest regularly ran a series of amateur events. They signed up while still in high school, and just like in the old neighborhood days, Ryan was the first to get in the ring. Unlike the old days, however, Ryan won his first amateur fight.
Pat and Ryan continued training and fighting wherever they could. It felt natural. They moved to the midwest, to Reno and a score of other places, always looking to perfect their craft. They eventually settled in back home at the place it all started, with Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen and countless other great wrestlers at Team Quest.
Pat started making a name for himself in the old World Extreme Cagefighting promotion, back before Zuffa swooped in and purchased the promotion almost solely for the rights to Urijah Faber’s contract. He made his debut at WEC 15, losing a split decision to future UFC star Chris Lytle.
Those WEC days at Tachi Palace in Lemoore, California provide some of the fondest memories of Healy’s career.
“That is still one of my all time favorite places to fight. It used to be the craziest crowds. They had a big Native American crowd and the natives would fight. They would come out doing war dances. The fans were all so rowdy,” Healy recalls.”It was the beginning. I remember seeing the Tapout guys peddling stuff out of their fan. It was one of the coolest places to fight. It was an amazing experience.”
Healy fought wherever he could, against the best competition he could find. He beat future UFC superstars Dan Hardy, Paul Daley and Carlos Condit on indie shows around the country. He’s now in the number two mixed martial arts promotion in the world, but the old days on the fighting circuit hold a special place in his heart.
“It was fun. There was such camaraderie. Everyone was still trying to make it. Money wasn’t very good, but it was just fun to see everybody come together and how far it has evolved since then.”
Despite holding wins over future UFC contenders, Healy believes his last fight was the one that put him on the map. He defeated Lyle Beerbohm at a Strikeforce Challengers show in February, and the win was especially gratifying. Beerbohm and Healy have a bit of history together, and Pat says he was glad to be the guy that derailed the Beerbohm hype train.
“He’s not well-liked by people in the organization because of his attitude. He’s super cocky and said a ton of negative stuff about me. And he’s a local guy from up in Washington. So it was really satisfying getting that done. I couldn’t take having to see him around at the littler shows, where he walks around like he’s the king. I wouldn’t have been able to go to any shows or support my teammates if I had lost.”
Team Quest teammate Chael Sonnen is the master of pre-fight trash talk, a manipulator who has proven to be just as skilled in building interest in a fight as he is in the actual cage. I ask Healy if he thinks Beerbohm was taking a page from Sonnen’s playbook, but he says that’s not the case.
“I think it’s who he is. Even after the fight, which I clearly won, he still goes around telling people that Strikeforce said he won the fight,” he says. “Every time I hear him give an interview he has a different take on the fight. One time he was dehydrated. I’ve heard every excuse out of that dude’s mouth.”