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Fightweets: Pat Healy moves on from UFC 159, still wants Gilbert Melendez

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

By this point, Pat Healy's more or less had his fill of talking about the aftermath of his UFC 159 fight with Jim Miller.

The Salem, Ore. native put on an eye-opening performance on April 27 in Newark, N.J., battering the ultra-tough Miller before finishing him in the third round. But then came a positive test for marijuana metabolites, changing his win to a no-contest and forfeiting a$130,000 worth of bonuses for Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night.

The only way Healy knew how to get past it was to get back to work.

"You know, it only took me a few days to get over it," Healy said in a phone chat with from his Toronto hotel room. "All I had to do was get back into the gym and start doing my thing and getting back into my routine again, you know? No different than any other roadblock you face."

Healy (29-16, 1 NC) returns to action Saturday night when he meets Khabib Nurmagomedov (20-0) in the main-card opener at Toronto's Air Canada Centre. The opportunity for a fresh start after the UFC 159 controversy is just one reason why he'll be motivated entering the Octagon. The fact he's an underdog on most sportsbooks heading into the fight is another.

"I'm not going to lie," Healy said. "I've got a little bit of a chip on my shoulder about being made the underdog in this fight. It's like people didn't even see the Jim Miller fight."

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Nurmagomedov set a record for takedowns in a UFC fight in his unanimous decision win over Abel Trujillo at UFC 160 with 21. A former wrestler at Southern Illinois, Healy sees this as a challenge.

"This isn't just going to be a wrestling match, but yeah, with everything that's been said about Khabib's takedowns, I do feel like I have a little bit of something to prove," Healy said.

Healy, meanwhile, comes into UFC 165 with a new gym affiliation. Healy, like Chael Sonnen earlier this year, left Portland's Team Quest. And while he doesn't want to talk about the reasons for the switch on the record, you can read between the lines when he talks about his new camp, Portland's Sports Lab.

"We've got guys there like Mike Pearce and Ian Loveland and it's just a great, positive team vibe like I haven't felt in a long time," Healy said. "It's been a great camp."

A win over Nurmagomedov would give Healy seven wins in a row in official fights -- and let's face it, few people out there besides maybe Bryan Caraway, who ended up with Healy's Submission of the Night bonus, really count Healy's NC with Miller as anything other than a Healy win, so in the reality-based community, it would be eight -- would give him renewed momentum in the lightweight division. And while he doesn't want to get ahead of himself, Healy still has an eye on a fight with Gilbert Melendez, which was scheduled for a 2012 Strikeforce card which got canceled.

"I've got nothing personal against Gil, he's one of the best fighters out there and one of the top guys in the UFC," said Healy. "If I beat Khabib, then that's a fight I'd still like to have, a top fighter that would help me get a step closer to my goal."

With that, on to another edition of Fightweets.

End-of-year blockbusters

@Dpop2: With so many sick fight cards coming up which one are u looking forward to the most?

Isn't this kind of like picking your favorite child? That said, while all of the major events from UFC 166 through the rest of the year look killer on paper, for some reason, the one I keep fixating on is UFC on FOX 9 on Dec. 14.

Maybe's its because I'm nostalgic for the WEC, and this one almost seems designed to be a WEC reunion show. Each of the top three fights at UFC on FOX 9 features a former WEC champion: Anthony Pettis (lightweight), Urijah Faber (featherweight), and Carlos Condit (welterweight). Chad Mendes, Scott Jorgensen, Danny Castillo, who are all on the card, were WEC mainstays before going over to the UFC.

And the card's happening in Sacramento, where most of the biggest moments in WEC history took place. The building formerly known as Arco Arena, a.k.a. The House Faber Built, is where everything from Faber's big main events to Miguel Torres vs. Yoshiro Maeda to the legendary first Chan Sung Jung-Leonard Garcia fight occurred. Really, all that will be missing on Dec. 14 is the smaller cage and ring announcer Joe Martinez.

What's next?

@be_rag24: with all of these great fights being booked for the rest of the year, is the ufc taking the 1st qtr of 2014 off?

Ha, no. But that said, I've never been one to get too worried when the schedule hits a dry spell. It's the nature of fight promotion. For most of 2012, we saw pretty much a worst-case scenario in terms of injuries and fight fallouts. If ever it seemed like things might fall apart once and for all, that was it. But then it was like the light switched back on, starting in November, with Georges St-Pierre vs. Carlos Condit, pretty much through April with UFC on FOX 7. Two months later? We have UFC 161 and that kicked off a summer-long gripefest about the schedule, all the way up to what on paper looks to be the best stretch we've ever had. There's a pattern here.

It's not like this is anything new, by the way. Back in 2006, everyone was fretting that the UFC was going to be done once Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, and Matt Hughes all ran their course. Back then, they ran far fewer events and the thought the UFC would be a network television property was considered absurd.

So yeah, at the moment, it seems like we'll flip the page to 2014 and the big fights will suddenly run out. But give it time. Maybe Jones' next big fight comes up on Super Bowl weekend. Maybe Silva-Weidman 2 goes down in a manner which demands a trilogy fight. Maybe we get the Cain Velasquez-Junior dos Santos winner against Fabricio Werdum (the current plan) or the Josh Barnett-Travis Browne winner (which would be better). Maybe we'll get stuck with another Evans-Henderson type event along the way, and when we do, the usual suspects will chime in and declare MMA's run to be all done. But something will pop up. It always does.

Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown

@JarredX: Are we all mentally and physiologically prepared for Condit-Brown?

Great question. Can you really prepare mentally for this UFC on FOX 9 fight, beyond rubbing your hands together in gleeful anticipation and/or salivating like Pavlov's dog? Is there a fighter around who better exemplifies everything we love about mixed martial arts more than Condit? He's super skilled, yet he's not afraid to brawl when the situation calls for it. He'll try to sub you on the ground, then if you get out, he'll follow you and try to finish you standing. He only seems to get stronger as time goes on. (I think all of the above describes last month's Martin Kampmann fight). Oh, and he's never backed down from a challenge. That includes a red-hot Brown, who has been waiting on an opportunity like this for a long, long time. If you're not excited for this fight, are you really an MMA fan?

@Zlpaschal: Condit deserves a better fight than that

Sigh. One in every crowd. Look at it this way. Say you're Condit. You want to stay busy. You've lost to GSP and Johny Hendricks, and sure, of course you want another shot at them, but they're fighting in November and won't be available again for awhile. You're game to rematch Rory McDonald, but he's already slated to fight Robbie Lawler. Nick Diaz hasn't spent all his UFC 158 money yet, so he's still "retired." So sometimes circumstances dictate you take on the best guy available.

Sure, Condit on paper seems to have more to lose than gain in taking on Brown. But it's a big, consequential fight, and Condit's never shied away from those before, so why would he start now?

TUF trashing Ronda?

@iceonthedune: Do you think the UFC is manipulating Rousey because they know she's leaving for Hollywood in like six minutes?

Interesting. I don't know if I'd go that far. Even if Rousey's destined to become the next Gina Carano, the UFC will still get a huge PPV or two out of her before she bolts for Hollywood. So it's in their interest not to make her look too bad.

I think what we've seen in the first few episodes of TUF are glimpses of the worst moments of Rousey's real personality expertly edited for full effect. If you consider how Rousey complained about how she'd be portrayed before she ever got to see the finished product, you get the sense she knows it, too. Rousey's a perfectionist. So watching her first fight pick backfire, and having her No. 1 pick lose, followed by another loss, well, she handled it about as well as you might expect.

And hey, I don't know about you, but so far this season, when each episode ends, I'm already anticipating the next one. I haven't felt that way since about season five (Which featured B.J. Penn. Hmmm). So they're doing something right.

Old school

@Real_BoydBurton: Who would you rather see compete one more time in the UFC. Keith Hackney, Harold Howard or Emanuel Yarborough?

Oh man, please give me Hackney-Yarborough 2. Between finding out how Hackney adjusts to life in the Octagon without groin strikes or dozens of uncontested blows to the back of the skull, and Yarborough trying to make weight, this could be the most entertaining matchup of all-time.

Oh yeah, Saturday's fight

@AaronLackey: Alexander's recipe for success?

Pray that Jon Jones' toe actually comes off this time.

Got a question for a future Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and drop me a line.