by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At times during his career Pat Healy has looked like he could be a dangerous force in the 170-pound weight class, at other times he’s looked like a journeyman, serviceable fighter.

Convincing wins over the likes of Paul Daley, Tiki Ghosen and Carlos Condit have been offset by bouts of inconsistency, which has nearly evened his record after more than 30 fights. So to find the stable footing he has always wanted, Healy joined the International Fight League last year and Ken Shamrock’s Lion’s Den team.

After winning two of three fights in 2007, Healy returns from injury looking to find the consistency that has eluded him, as he steps into the ring this Friday at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas against up-and-comer Jake Ellenberger of Team Quest in a welterweight showdown.

“I had a pretty good year last year,” said Healy. “I was 2-1, and the fight with Rory Markham I was kind of controlling most of the fight and got caught at the end. So it was a good year, but I’d definitely like to have this year go undefeated, and obviously have a lot more fights.”

Due to injury, he missed the second half of 2007. He is now 100% healthy and he feels the time off allowed him to take a step back and work on his overall game.

“It’s been almost nine months since my last fight because I dislocated my elbow,” commented Healy. It was kind of a long, long break, but I think I’ve done everything to get myself ready as far as sparring a lot and getting used to having punches come at me again.

“I had to use it to my benefit. I worked through a lot on my Brazilian jiu-jitsu, really trying to tighten my game a lot.”

The first test of his improved game will be Ellenberger, a tough youngster who is coming off an impressive nine-second knockout victory over mixed martial arts veteran Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons in November.

“I think he’s a lot like me in his fighting style,” stated Healy. “He’s pretty well-rounded; he comes to fight every time and brings the hard pace.

“I think it will be fast-paced from start to finish and I think it will be really good for the fans. I think I’m a little stronger in some areas that will benefit and pay off for me.”

Now that the IFL has shifted emphasis to individual fights and championships, the winner of his fight with Ellenberger could find himself in line for a shot at Jay Hieron’s welterweight title.

And while Healy would love a title shot, he’s more focused on being active after the longest layoff of his career.

“They’ve mentioned that it might be the No. 1 contender’s fight, and really I’d like to fight for a title, but I’d like to be right back in there fighting again soon,” he said.

“I know they don’t have an opponent yet for Delson Heleno on the next show and I’d like that fight. I’m pretty sure that everybody at 170 wants to fight Jay Hieron, but I love to fight and when I’m not fighting I’m not happy, so I want to be right back in there.”

Healy knows this could very well be a make or break year for him if he wants to take the step up towards title contention.

“This is a big year for me,” he exclaimed. “Last year I got to train full time, so this is going to be the year that makes me a full-time fighter or one of those guys who is just hanging on, fighting just for the love of it.

“My goal is definitely to be the champ. If you’re in this sport and you don’t want to be a world champion, then I don’t know what you’re in it for.”

To take those steps needed to achieve his goals, he must first start off 2008 on a positive note Friday night at the Orleans Arena and maintain a consistency that has eluded him at times during his career.

“I’d like to thank Fairtex and all my other sponsors,” concluded Healy. “I want people to know that I’m going to put on a show for them, the show I should have put on last year in Chicago.

“It’s going to be an action-packed fight; it’s going to go hard until the finish. I got Fight of the Night the last two times I fought and I feel this fight has already put me in the running for a third time.”