Surprising defender

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

The last time around, Pat Healy had 10 days' notice.

Having been left out in the cold by the International Fight League, the native of Portland, Oregon was looking for work, and fortunately Mark Pavelich came calling.

The owner and president of the Maximum Fighting Championship was in need of an emergency replacement to take on his welterweight star in Ryan Ford.

"When the IFL crumbled, they kind of left all us fighters and cut our pay without telling us," Healy said. "So I was kind of scrambling for fights. I wasn't getting anything good, and then when the opportunity came to fight here, I jumped at it. It was a great opportunity and obviously it worked out great."

Healy defeated Ford for the MFC welterweight title.

He's back in Edmonton to defend his belt against Ford in tonight's main event at MFC 20: Destined for Greatness at The Venue at the River Cree Resort and Casino.

"Taking that last fight probably wasn't the smartest move," Healy said. "I wasn't in very good shape. But I kind of was broke and needed to make that move, so it worked out well.

"I'm always around the gym, I'm always training, so I was in decent shape. But not in the fight shape that I wanted to be for a title fight."

Regardless, Healy was able to pull off the upset, getting Ford to submit after locking him up in an armbar. This came after Ford had dominated the first two rounds of the fight.

"I'm known for my toughness. That's always one thing that I've really had going for me," Healy said. "So it wasn't a surprise to me that I won. I never go into a fight thinking I'm going to lose. When I signed my name on the contract I came to win.

"He was winning the fight before I arm-barred him in the third round. I had a couple of close submissions before that.

"My cornerman, Ed Herman, really motivated me between the second and third round. He kind of slapped me around and got me fired up and I went in there looking for the submission and that's what I got."

"I didn't think it was a surprise at all that Healy won," Pavelich said.

"I don't know why everybody keeps saying that because I've known Pat Healy for a long time and I know the camp he trains with ... so maybe it wasn't all that much of a surprise."

The loss was Ford's first as a professional. He's won a pair of bouts since, setting himself up for the much anticipated rematch.

"I think it will be tougher to defend the title," Healy said. "He knows more about me now that he's fought once. He knows what I like to do. Obviously that will be the same for me. I'm looking forward to it. We're on an equal ground this time, we've both had equal time to train and cardio won't be a problem for me this time."

Much like last time, Healy will also be going up against a hostile crowd.

Despite losing his title, Ford is still the fan favourite the sold-out crowd will be rooting for.

"I love that role," Healy said. "For most of my fight career, I've been the bad guy, coming into other people's territory. I just like the energy, I feed off the energy of the crowd even if they're booing me or cheering the other guy.

"Having been here once will help me a lot, I know what to expect this time.

"The first time I was a little wide-eyed hearing all the things that were coming out of people's mouths. People do get all get fired up during the fight, but they were very respectful after."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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