From mmajunkie.com by Steven Marrocco on Sep 18, 2012
Pat Healy (28-16 MMA, 6-1 SF) is open to any advantage he can get in a fight against champ and betting favorite Gilbert Melendez (21-2 MMA, 11-1 SF).
The Strikeforce lightweight title challenger said today that he’s working with a sports psychologist to help him deliver a pitch-perfect performance at “Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Healy,” which takes place Sept. 29 at Power Balance Pavillion in Sacramento, Calif., and airs live on Showtime and Showtime Extreme.
“I was a little wary to begin it, but the guy, Dr. Steve, is a great fit,” Healy said. “When you hear guys like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods talking about how they train the mental game, I think you’ve got to do it.”
The choice apparently is paying off. Healy hasn’t lost a fight since he began working with the performance coach around one year ago and has won his past five outings. The two practice visualization and meditation among other techniques.
“Everything to mentally prepare you for a fight,” Healy said. “Our sport boils down to one night; we put in lots of work for one night, so you’ve got to have everything clicking, and I think training the mental side definitely helps it.”
Observers say he needs all the help he can get. He is as high as a 13-to-1 underdog to Melendez in betting lines. The champ, who’s beat his past seven opponents and boasts four straight title defense, even acknowledged Healy is being underrated and isn’t underestimating the challenge ahead.
Healy, who also prepared for the Sept. 29 fight with B.J. Penn and three-time Melendez opponent and former Strikeforce champ Josh Thomson, said he’s given up trying to convince fans and media that he’s a competent opponent.
“It’s not really a big deal to me anymore,” he said. “I think I’ve been an underdog in pretty much every fight I’ve ever had, with the exclusion of maybe the last one.”
If there was any block that Healy would concede, it’s his tendency to be a slow starter. In his most recent appearance, he was outworked by Japanese import Mizuto Hirota before taking control in later rounds.
Against Melendez, he’s imagining a scenario where he’s quick out of the gate.
“I’m pretty big, and if I can get my weight on him early, I think that will make a big difference in later rounds,” Healy said.
For more on “Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Healy,” visit www.strikeforce.com
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