Pat Healy wasn’t the original opponent for Maximo Blanco, but he expected a spot on tonight’s Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov card.
Healy will face Blanco live on Showtime when the card begins at 10:30 p.m. (E/T). Healy (27-17) replaces Josh Thomson in the Blanco (7-1) match up.
For Healy, he saw Thomson’s past injury history as a way for him to secure a spot even before Thomson pulled out.
“I just had this feeling looking at this fight card and seeing this fight that there could be a good possibility that one of these guys pulls out,” Healy said. “Josh has been plagued with injuries his whole career, and Maximo…with everything that’s gone on in Japan over the last year, I thought, ‘Man, I really need to be ready for this fight.’
“I might have found out about it two weeks ago, but I was preparing for it before that. I’m always around the gym anyway. I don’t have too much else going on. I always try to stay in the gym. These are great opportunities for a guy like me to get on the main card of a big show and get a lot of eyes on me and really show people what I can do.”
Healy-Blanco will open the show, which features the semifinals of the heavyweight grand prix. Blanco is making his Strikeforce debut.
“What I can’t let him do is fight his pace,” Healy said. “I think he flurries hard and then he lays back and then he flurries hard again and lays back.
“He gets kind of crazy and wild, and I think there’s a lot of openings at that time. If I stay tight, keep a good defense and keep in his face, I think he’ll eventually make a mistake that ends the fight.”
Healy has won five of his last six fights, and knows that with all the rumors of more Strikeforce fighters signing with the UFC, every chance he gets inside the cage to impress is important.
“It does definitely seem kind of like they’re dismantling things (at Strikeforce), but I think it adds a little bit more pressure to each fight because we don’t know what’s going to happen over the next couple of months,” Healy said. “I think you’ve really got to make sure every wins counts, every performance counts. I think even if you go out there and have a bad performance and get a real boring win, it’s just as bad as a loss…Everybody wants to be in the UFC.
“If you’re not shooting for the UFC, I don’t know what you’re doing in this sport.”
Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov is set for Saturday night. FightLine.com will have you covered throughout the day with up-to-the-minute live reports, including ongoing coverage of the event.