pat-healy-11.jpgFor just a split-second, Pat Healy (30-16 MMA, 1-1 UFC) admits he had to second guess his concept of reality. After all, it felt like he had just submitted Jim Miller, but that’s not what longtime UFC announcer Bruce Buffer was saying.

“My heart definitely did just jump,” Healy admitted to MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “After the fight, you’re kind of in a whirlwind, you know? It hit me for a second like, ‘Whoa. Did that just happen?”

Healy and Miller met on the main card of this past weekend’s UFC 159 event in Newark, N.J. Healy survived a difficult opening round and came back to control the action for the remaining two frames before locking in a third-round rear-naked choke. But when the two lined up for the official result, it was Miller’s name who was called.

Fortunately for Healy, Buffer simply made an extremely rare flub and quickly corrected himself.

“There definitely were some tense moments in there,” Healy said. “You never want to leave it to the judges. I felt confident that I was kind of controlling the fight in the second and third rounds enough to get the decision if it went that way, but I was certainly happy to get the finish.”

For the 29-year-old Healy, earning his first UFC win was a dream years in the making. He had a chance once before, losing by submission to Anthony Torres at UFC Fight Night 6 in 2006. Coming that close to the big time offered a lesson he’s never forgotten.

“Seven years ago when I lost in the UFC, I promised myself I would never waste an opportunity like that,” Healy said. “I would do everything possible. I look back at the first fight I had in Strikeforce against Bryan Travers. I had that same mentality when I was training. Training for the [Gilbert Melendez] fight that never happened, I felt like I had that, and then definitely for this fight.

“You’re only as good as your last fight in the UFC, so I’ve got to keep that mentality the whole way through.”

Of course, more than just fulfilling a dream, Healy also filled his bank account by netting $130,000 in performance bonuses for scoring the evening’s “Fight of the Night” and “Submission of the Night” honors.

“It takes off a huge pressure financially,” Healy said. “Just being able to know that I don’t have to be tight on those bills for a while, for a long time, is a huge relief to me. Strikeforce always paid well, but we had long breaks in between. Now if something bad happens where I get injured or something like that, I’ll have financial security. It’s a huge relief.”

Healy said he doesn’t have any special purchases planned with his windfall just yet. In fact his first order of business will be to clear up an old tax debt before also making sure he gets in a payment on his massive bonus.

“When I was in the IFL, that was like the first year I ever made money,” Healy recalled. “They paid us pretty well, and my parents were trying to tell me, ‘You’ve got to put away a lot of money for taxes,’ and I was like, ‘No, if you fight you have to make more than $10,000 to pay taxes.’ I was making just under that, and I don’t know where I got that, but that certainly is not true, so at the end of the year, I owed a lot of money. It’s about $5,000 left right now, but I’m paying that off.

“I can’t wait to just actually send off my taxes. I’m going to immediately send it off for this fight because having that much money and thinking about how much I have to pay in taxes makes me nervous. So I’m going to get that done and not worry about that government on my back.”

Once those glamorous activities are completed, Healy can again focus on a budding career that has seen him win seven consecutive fights and rack up a 10-1 mark in his past 11 fights. His latest win was enough to see him skyrocket to the No. 8 spot in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com lightweight rankings, and there appears to be big things looming on the horizon. “Bam Bam” isn’t sure what comes next, but he’s looking forward to another stiff challenge.

“I haven’t really picked one particular person, but I certainly want to just fight another one of those top-5 guys,” Healy said. “We’ve got to see where the chips are going to fall with T.J. Grant and Gray Maynard and then (Anthony) Pettis dropping to 145.

“It’s some interesting goings on in the top 8-10 in the UFC right now. Any of those guys would be good.”

For complete coverage of UFC 159, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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