Francis Healy (7-4) will take on Frank Buenafuente (7-4) on the undercard this Friday, November 3rd for Bellator MMA at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa. Healy, who is coming off a main event win in August, will be fighting in a venue in which he has coached wrestling. Healy trains at the Mat Factory in Pittsburgh, under head coaches Isaac Greeley and Bedo Jones, while also working full time as an engineer for Rolls-Royce. Fighting Stance spoke with “Mad Dog” about his recent win, preparations for this fight, his opportunity to fight for a national MMA organization and how his work as an engineer impacts him as a fighter.
Congratulations on winning your XCC main event featherweight bout in August. What worked the best for you during that fight? When you first put on the fight ending choke did you know that was it?
My plan was to control the action, and the pace. To wear Roberts down, I knew that I would catch him in something, all I needed was patience. The moment the guillotine choke slipped in, I knew it was the game ender. It was in so tight, I honestly thought that he would pass out before he got to tap.
Regarding your last fight-was there any adjustments you needed to make during the fight? If so what?
Actually yes, there were a few major adjustments in my last fight. My team and I didn’t find much video on Roberts, so we didn’t quite know what we were dealing with. I found out that he was a southpaw when I stood across from him in the cage. I remember thinking, “S**t! He’s a Southpaw, no one told me that!” I train with a lot of southpaw strikers in Pittsburgh, so I made the proper adjustments. He was throwing a big left hand a lot in the fight, and at the end of the 2nd I was able to time a shot that dropped him and almost ended the fight.
How does that win help you headed into your fight against Frank Buenafuente at Bellator 186?
Every fight is different, and every fighter is different. My last fight was a big win, and the improvements I made in that camp carried forward to this one. I am better than I was last fight, and I will be better tomorrow than I am today. If anything is true about MMA, it’s that momentum is real. Once the train gets rolling, good luck stopping it.
Do you have the same mindset in preparing that you always have or is there a difference due to the increased pressure of performing in the Bellator circle?
It’s a FIGHT. Whether it’s happening in the Bellator circle, or it’s happening in a back alley somewhere, it’s a fight. To treat a fight like it’s a sport or a competition, is a mistake. The consequences for failure are bigger than a lost paycheck, or a loss on your record. You’re in there essentially risking your life, and the risks are very real. I’m preparing for this fight, just like I always do. Stay smart, stay safe, and destroy my opposition, before he can destroy me. A lot of people let outside pressure affect them in big fights, but most of those pressures are intangible. The only thing that is real is the fight, to keep it exciting and to get the job done. That is where my focus rests. Fighting for Bellator is a huge opportunity for me. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to shine on a national stage for Bellator, at an epic venue like the Bryce Jordan Center. I’ve coached there on multiple occasions, as head coach for Penn State New Kensington, and I can’t wait to put on a show.
How soon after your August win were you contacted by Bellator?
The opportunity came up after my XCC main event win. I had some other big opportunities come up as well, but Bellator was my first choice. This card, this venue, this night, will be INSANE. I don’t do this because I need the money; I’m a full time Nuclear Engineer. I don’t do this for glory; I’ve had more than enough glory in my life. I do this, because deep down I know who I am, and I know what lights my heart on fire.
Bellator has a strong featherweight division currently ruled by Patricio Freire. Now that you are on the Bellator roster where do you see yourself in relation to the rest of the division?
Bellator has a solid featherweight division. They will have to make room for some new blood, come Friday night.
What’s it like for you being a design engineer for Rolls-Royce and a professional fighter? Is there a correlation between the two?
I’m currently the only Nuclear Engineer/Professional Fighter in the world. They are very different worlds, but once again I pride myself on being well rounded. It isn’t easy balancing both lifestyles, they are both so rewarding in their own way. I definitely feel that both careers feed off of each other. Fighting has taught me to lay pride and ego aside, which is essential for learning in both atmospheres. Also, a hard work ethic is the best attribute you can have in any world, MMA and engineering included.
Do you approach fighting from an engineer mindset? Or is it completely different?
This might sound odd, but often it tends to be the opposite. I approach engineering with a fighter’s mindset. I like to attack problems head on, and apply relentless attention to detail. The things that make you a successful man in life are the same in any career and lifestyle. If you keep your nose to the grindstone, work hard every day, have patience, and believe in yourself, you can do anything in the world. And I truly believe that.