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Interview: Top Prospect Austin Springer and Veteran Fighter Pat Healy Share a Similar Goal

By David Golden

Reaching the highest levels of success in a sport as physically demanding as mixed martial arts can leave an athlete battered and bruised. Often fighters make it to the UFC only to leave defeated both physically and mentally. Many of these fighters disappear into obscurity never to be heard from again, serving as little more than ill warnings to young prospects of the sport.

But every so often a fighter who has been cut from the UFC shows great determination and drive as they work their way back onto the active roster. A return trip to the UFC is something usually reserved for those fighters who have great potential or those who have built up impressive win streaks in smaller promotions showcasing their skills. These are the fighters who often serve as the best examples for young upstarts. Determined and driven fighters like these can make excellent teammates and mentors to fighters who are trying to break through and find their way to the big show.

In Portland, Oregon there is a fighter many people believe will make his third trip to the UFC sooner rather than later. That fighter is mixed martial arts veteran Pat “Bam Bam” Healy. At 31 years old, Healy is a veteran of over 50 fights, and that experience will be something he leans on as he continues his journey back to the UFC. Since being released by the UFC in the summer of 2014, Healy has gone 2-0 and has won the Titan FC Lightweight Championship. Having recently changed his training up a bit since the release — splitting his time between Donald Cerrone’s BMF Ranch and Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico — Healy has added new wrinkles to his game and showing growth as a veteran fighter, which is sometimes hard to do.

Healy has spent extended periods of time at all levels of the sport, and a fighter with a well as deep as Healy’s will always be on the radar of UFC matchmakers looking for late replacement or veteran fighters for testing young talent. If an opportunity like that is presented to Healy, it will obviously be the foot in the door he is looking for. This journey back to the top will certainly be challenging, but a veteran like Healy understands the adversity that he will likely be facing. While Healy is pushing forward with his goal to reach the UFC for a third time he is standing side by side with a one of the sports hottest up and coming fighters, Austin Springer, who is looking for his first shot inside the Octagon.

Austin Springer is a prospect that seems to fit the mold of future UFC fighter perfectly. At 23 years old, Springer is 8-0 and is showing no signs of slowing down. Springer has fought for titles in three of his last four fights, and in those matchups, secured bantamweight, featherweight, and lightweight championships. Being able to adapt to the challenges of competing in multiple weight classes is nothing that Springer finds too stressful. At 23 years old, Springer is married with two sons, owns his own gym (Gladiator MMA in Vancouver, WA), and trains full time for his chance to punch his ticket to the big show. The pressures that come with being a father, fighter, and businessman might be a challenge for most, but Austin Springer believes that he performs best under pressure.

“Being labeled a top prospect does not add any additional pressure for me. I love being viewed as a top tier pro. I thrive and excel under the brightest lights. If it’s 4th down and we need a big play, I want the damn ball,” said Springer.

After a good bit of success early on in his professional career, Springer got the call from Bellator MMA to fight for their promotion. Springer jumped at the chance and won a unanimous decision over Zach Skinner at Bellator 101 in a fight that he controlled from start to finish. The opportunity didn’t last long, howeverm as Bellator decided not to move forward with the undefeated fighter. Springer has responded to the release by working harder and finishing every fight he has had since the release. For his part, in all this Springer believes in what he is doing and expects to break through in the near future.

“I believe I have absolutely proven that I am ready to compete with the very best fighters in the world…I don’t think there’s anything more that needs to be done to prove I’m at that level. I will however continue to beat top ranked guys, I will continue to pound on the UFC’s front door until they open up and invite me in!”

Clearly the paths of the veteran and the rookie have become parallel. While Springer competes to make his debut with the UFC, Healy looks to be make an elusive third stint with the promotion. With the drive and determination that these two fighters share it seems that little will hold either back from their goal.

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