There’s no denying that middleweight Ian Heinisch had the best year of his career to date in 2018.
Following a title win in the LFA, Heinisch was able to earn a UFC contract with a win in Dana White Contender Series before stepping in last minute to face Cezar Ferreira at UFC Fight Night 140 and picking up a unanimous decision to close out his year.
“I was hoping for a finish (against Ferreira, but I felt like I had a dominating performance,” Heinisch told MMAWeekly.com. “It was one of the best years of my life for sure.
“I was really hoping to make my debut in Denver, but it didn’t work out. I was getting a little discouraged, but I was still training hard, and got the call for the Argentina card, and got to skip all those lower level guys and fight a guy who’s a vet in the UFC, and had beaten some guys and was in the Top 20. I felt like it was God’s timing, and what I got was where I was meant to be.”
According to Heinisch, it was the sole loss of his career to close out 2017 that helped set the table for his break out year in 2018
“After the loss to Markus Perez, I just kind of looked back and found my love for MMA again and started having fun with it,” said Heinisch. “I remembered why I started and why I do what I do, and I went on a three-knockout tear from there, and now I’m ranked in the Top 20 in the UFC.”
On Saturday in London, England, Heinisch (12-1) will look to keep his winning ways going when he faces Tom Breese (11-1) in a preliminary card 185-pound bout at UFC on ESPN+ 5.
“I think I just need to put pressure on him, take the fight to him, make it ugly, get in his face and not let him get into his zone,” said Heinisch of facing Breese. “I believe I’m better everywhere, so I’ve just got to take the fight to him, trust my instincts and have fun out there.”
Looking ahead to the remainder of 2019, Heinisch has his sights set on some specific targets in his climb up the middleweight ranks.
“I was supposed to fight David Branch in Brooklyn in January, and that was kind of the plan after the Argentina fight, but he turned me down,” said Heinisch. “I would like to fight Elias Theodore. I would like to fight (Derek) Brunson. I’d like to fight Branch.
“I can definitely call people out, but whether the UFC gives it to me or not, we’ll see how that works out. But I need to take care of this fight first. I’m looking to get a spectacular finish – a highlight reel finish – and then we can move on from there.”