Strikeforce lightweight contender Pat Healy steps into the cage tomorrow night to fight Mizuto Hirota in front of a hometown crowd in Portland, Oregon.
The fight takes place during Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy and will air on Showtime—and will be Healy's seventh performance in the Strikeforce cage.
There is a lot on the line for the Oregon native, as he could propel his way to a Strikeforce lightweight title shot against Gilbert Melendez. He also is dealing with the added pressure of fighting in front of a hometown crowd that expects an impressive performance from him.
Healy recently spoke with Bleacher Report about the lightweight scrap tomorrow, and his expectations in the fight.
Healy first discussed the benefits of fighting at home:
“For me, it’s super exciting. I love fighting here in Portland. I have a ton of support, they gave me a section of 150 tickets, and the event sold out a couple weeks ago. There will be tons of friends and family cheering for me. I grew up fighting here, so it really helps. It’s also great to sleep in my own bed, eat regular foods, and not have to make a big adjustment.”
“I think it helps to come from a strong camp. I don’t have to bring other people in. Everything I need is at home; all of my training partners and support. When you really begin to rapport with training partners, it helps—everyone at the gym and I train with have my back. We train the right way.”
It’s not uncommon to hear fighters bring in specific fighters or training partners to help during camp, though Healy benefited from a separate training adjustment, which he explained.
“The only difference for this fight, we had a few guys spend time in Thailand, then come back and help me with my clinch game. I won’t ever be a striker out at range trying to look slick; I like to fight with my hands on the guy, using my weight, but it’s great to get the training experience.”
Healy has an idea of what Hirota will likely try and do inside the cage, but the Team Quest fighter expects to be able to impose his game plan on the smaller Japanese fighter:
“I expect him to keep his distance from me. He has good, quick hands and good movement. He won’t want to make it a grappling match. He’ll try to move away and use his striking. I’ll be sure to turn this into the type of fight I want it to be.”
To be more specific of what’s expected, Healy discussed how he’s found success in the cage, forcing opponents to try and adapt.
“I don’t tend to change my game plan (for anyone). I want to put my will on him. I watch tape, I plan for things he might do…but my ultimate goal always is to make my opponent fight my fight.”
Healy will look to try and wear down Hirota, whether it takes a minute or two or the entire 15 minutes, and keep the Japanese fighter on his back. If the fight is standing, Healy can find success by getting into the clinch and ensuring Hirota doesn't have space to better prepare his striking.
If successful, there is only one option Healy will accept:
"I expect a title shot with a win after I beat Hirota on Saturday night. No one has the win streak I have at lightweight right now, and I (paid my dues)."