If Pat Healy knew what smoking a little weed at his friend's birthday party was going to cause, he never would have done it.
"I wish I could go back in time and slap myself," Healy said. "It was a dumb thing to do."
On Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Healy broke his silence on his recent suspension for marijuana use, which kicked off a storm of controversy.
"It was about three and a half, four weeks out," Healy said. "I was at a friend's birthday party, just hanging out. To be honest I didn't even think it would be an issue, you know? It was a huge mistake and I just didn't even think."
The Team Quest fighter had a breakthrough performance at UFC 159, as he earned Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night bonuses totaling $130,000 after defeating Miller in Newark. When the New Jersey Athletic Control Board post-fight drug tests showed marijuana in his system, though, Miller's win was overturned to a no-contest and he was stripped of his bonuses.
Healy broke the news of the test failure and the reason for it on his own, looking to keep bad information from getting out.
"I felt like it was going to come out regardless," Healy said. "If they weren't going to announce what it was for, and then it was going to come out that, you know, I failed a drug test for an unknown substance, then I'd rather be honest about it than have a bunch of false information or wrong information get out there and make it look even worse."
The Salem, Oregon native couldn't have anticipated the snowball effect the news had. First, Bryan Caraway was given Healy's Submission of the Night bonus, and alienated MMA fans by taking a sanctimonious attitude toward Healy's pot smoking. Then Nate Diaz took offense, with a now-infamous tweet that defend Healy and used an offensive word to describe Caraway, which caused Diaz to be suspended.
"I feel bad that my poor choices spawned more trouble for anybody, for Caraway and Nate," Healy said.
Healy hasn't spoken to Diaz since the incident, but says he talked to Caraway and things are cool between the two.
"Bryan's a good guy," Healy said. "Sometimes, I think, you know, he got into some trouble with comments about Ronda Rousey in that past. Sometimes I think when he talks to the media he just doesn't think about what he's saying 100 percent through. I think it was a poor choice of words by him, but I know he's a good guy and didn't mean anything toward me personally. "
Healy, who said he indulged in marijuana about 7-8 times per year, but won't do so going forward, was heartened by the overwhelming support he got from all corners of the MMA world. From fans to media to fellow fighters, there was a strong consensus that Healy was wronged by a terrible rule.
"I was watching the whole time, and you know, it feels really good to have that support," Healy said. "Even if it's not for the most positive things, regardless, having people in your corner. There were some sad days there for me for awhile. Putting the money aside man, losing the win was the biggest thing, you know, having it changed to a no-contest, I still don't have a win in the UFC now. That was a big moment for me, so to have that tainted makes me kind of angry with myself and my decisions."
So it's back to work for Healy, once he finishes the 90-day suspension for his infraction. He hasn't gotten an indication from the UFC whether the suspension will drop him in the lightweight division pecking order, although his performance against Miller seems to demand a fight against a top-tier fighter.
"I don't know where I stand, if it's going to drop me quite a bit," Healy said. "I just want to get back there as soon as I can, if it's the middle of the pack, it is what it is, I'm happy to work my way up and put in a performance that gets people to forget about this fiasco."
One thing Healy won't do is blame others, or the system, for his actions.
"When you mess up, all you can do is step up and own it," he said. "I wish I could blame someone else, but it's my own fault. It's my own bad choices. So, I gotta be a man about this. It sucks and it's embarrassing and it's not something I want my name involved with it, but it is what it is now and I have to be a man about it."