Pat Healy learned a valuable lesson from former UFC champion B.J. Penn.
Healy, who replaced an injured Josh Thomson and defeated Maximo Blanco at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov recently, trained with Penn, Martin Kampmann and George Sotiropoulos in preparation for the Blanco fight.
What Healy (26-16) found out that just sparring hard in camp might not be the best approach to find success come fight night.
“I think I learned a lot from some other guys like B.J. Penn, getting out and training with him,” said Healy, on “The Savage Dog Show” recently. “I was always so focused on, ‘Hey man, let’s spar. Hey, we need to get that sparring in. We need to go hard. We need to just bang it out.’ I don’t think that’s always the best approach.
“You’ve got to have that, absolutely, but you’ve got to take time and work on your technique, and I think that was one thing I was lacking. When I slowed down with those top guys, I really noticed a lack in my technique.”
Healy, just 28 years old, is a veteran of the fight game for over 10 years now, as he made his debut in August of 2001. He has won six of his last seven fights, including a 4-1 mark in Strikeforce. The lone loss was to Thomson in 2010.
“I have been, especially over the last year, I’ve really been focusing on my technique. I’ve done a lot of jiu-jitsu, just kind of slowed some things down. I never used to hit pads and work on my stand-up technique,” Healy said. “I’ve really brought that into my training. I think that’s what has made the most difference for me. When you slow it down, you can actually get better. When you’re sparring hard all the time, it’s tough to implement new techniques.”
Healy put his new-found approach on full display against Blanco, picking him apart before securing a rear-naked choke in the second round. Fourteen of his 26 career wins now have come via some form of submission.