As the Hurricane Fades, Conor Heun Finds Peace in a Happy Ending; Turns the Page on His Career

Conor Heun - Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Posted on  by Damon Martin

“I believe I’ve passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage. I’ve found that just surviving was a noble fight.”

~ Billy Joel – “The Angry Young Man”

It’s always nice to hear about a happy ending to what started out as a very sad, tragic story.

Former Strikeforce lightweight Conor Heun was dealt a crushing hand over the last year of his professional life that would have sent the strongest fighters to the mat, ready to tap out and give up on the sport altogether.

Heun’s entire adult life has been about MMA, but after his 2012 loss to Ryan Couture, he was fighting for his future outside of the cage.

Following that fight in Strikeforce, Heun was forced into hip surgery to repair damage done during the bout, but to prevent further suffering down the road, his doctor recommended and performed preventative surgery to keep him from going through the same thing over and over again.

Unfortunately at the time, Heun was advised by the insurance company that covered him under his contract with Zuffa (parent company of the UFC and Strikeforce) that they would not pay for preventative surgery, and he was going to have to foot part of the bill himself. At the time, Zuffa had paid a substantial part of the bill, but Heun was stuck with a $40,000 debt for surgeries already performed, and he was at the bottom of a blackened well, looking up and seeing very little by way of sunlight.

They say the night is darkest just before the dawn, and Heun soon saw a ray of sunshine after what could only be described as a grim, downtrodden journey seemed to be coming to an end.

“The UFC was calling to try to get in touch with my doctor, I guess the insurance company doctor was having problems getting in touch with my doctor to discuss my case, and when I was talking to Briana (Mattison) from the UFC, she said, ‘Why did you think the final surgery was $40,000?’ I was like, those are just the bills that I already have for $40,000, and she said the surgeries were actually $120,000, and she said, ‘We’re going to cover it; we’re going to take care of the surgeries for you.’ I just said wow,” Heun revealed to MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday.

Following a lengthy battle between insurance, doctors, patient and provider, Zuffa ultimately opted to pay Heun’s entire surgical bill and the physical therapy and rehab he needed up until the New Year. Heun will still be responsible for his rehabilitation from this point forward, which will still take about another four months. Prior to the decision that Zuffa made to cover the medical costs, Heun had worked with Fund-A-Fighter to help offset some of the tremendous expense involved, but now he will be able to use that money to assist him with his rehabilitation costs instead. Those bills will still be around $10,000.

A relieved Heun could only exhale after figuratively holding his breath for the better part of the last month, wondering how he could ever amass the money to even make a dent in the medical bill that loomed overhead like a dark cloud.

“It was a big load off my mind, but more than that it was sort of just reaffirming some beliefs of mine that everything’s going to be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end. If you walk the path with heart and you walk with integrity, things are going to take care of themselves. The stress I was feeling from it was something that I couldn’t bear, the weight of it, of those surgeries, the stress of that financial burden especially after already using my ‘get out of jail free card’ with the bankruptcy with my ACL surgery,” said Heun.

“I just had to have faith that it was going to work out. At that point in my life, taking on another $120,000 in debt would be something that was going to be very crippling.”

Heun believes that once the executives at Zuffa and the UFC realized what was happening, they wanted to step up and support a fighter that battled for them for much of his career, and help his body recover, while relieving the financial burden that was about to saddle him for several years to come.

At the time the medical bills were mounting, Heun told MMAWeekly.com that between his surgeries, the cost incurred, and the possibility of returning to the local circuit of shows, battling for pennies compared to what he once earned, he would probably walk away from the sport forever. His body and mind had seen enough. His last fight in Strikeforce was probably his last fight period.

Now that the medical costs have been taken care of for the most part, has Heun changed his mind? Will he heal up and find that fire again?

“To tell you the truth, I think my days of fighting are behind me,” Heun stated. “When I got into this sport, I got into it because it was frightening, it was something that scared me, the idea of training for a couple of months to have a guy train for me to try and kick my ass. It brought me back to Spanish class in high school and when the bell rang, I was meeting some kid at the flagpole to throw down, it was just a horrible feeling in my stomach, and over the course of my career I overcame that, I don’t have that fear anymore.”

Throughout his career, Heun was known for his exciting style and never say die attitude in the cage or ring, but it also took it’s toll on his body, mind and spirit. Now at 33 years of age, Heun is a different man with a much different outlook on mixed martial arts.

His new goal is to become the best martial artist he can be, studying many different disciplines and not focusing on training for just one opponent anymore.

“The lessons that can be learned through professional fighting, I’ve already learned those lessons. I’ve already proven everything I need to prove. The (Magno) Almeida fight, I probably should have walked away after that fight. I feel like after that fight, I proved what I needed to prove and there wasn’t much left for me in the sport as far as the evolution of my soul,” said Heun.

The angry version of Conor Heun is dead and buried at this point, but that doesn’t mean he’s completely done with MMA. He’s still going to train and teach, and once he heals, there’s no telling that the fire to compete won’t be reignited. The only difference will be if Conor Heun ever steps back into a cage or ring again, it won’t be as the angry, scared kid looking to prove himself on the playground.

It will be a more mature, passionate Conor Heun that just wants to fight because he loves it.

“I never thought of this as sport fighting; I went out there to kill the guy. I don’t want that part of me with me anymore. I’ve sort of moved to a place where that frightened little kid waiting to get beat up at the flagpole doesn’t run the show anymore,” said Heun.

“The one asterisk you can put next to my name when talking retirement is you’re definitely not going to see Conor ‘Hurricane’ Heun in the cage anymore. You may see this body in the cage in a few years down the road after I’ve healed and after I’ve grown, but angry, rage filled, hyper aggressive fighter that’s going out there to smash some guy because he’s frightened, that guy’s retired.”

To support Conor Heun via Fund-A-Fighter visit his page here –>Conor Heun – Fund-A-Fighter 

Conor Heun Documents the Grim Story That May Lead to the End of His Fighting Career

Conor Heun - Thursday, December 27, 2012
Posted on  by Damon Martin

The last 9 months have been anything but kind to Strikeforce fighter Conor Heun, who now sits on the precipice of a possible retirement and mountain of debt all because he dreamed of being a fighter.

The story of Conor Heun goes much further back than the recent news he Tweeted that he was going to be released from his contract with Strikeforce after he was unable to take a Jan 12 fight against Pat Healy.

No, Heun’s struggles actually started more than two years ago when he battled Jorge Gurgel in Strikeforce prior to the company being purchased by Zuffa.

Heun lost the fight to Gurgel, but the two lightweights put on an exciting battle that thrilled the fans, but left the 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu fighter with virtually a broken body when it was over. The worst of his injuries was a knee that required surgery, and even though Strikeforce didn’t have the same kind of “out of competition” insurance that Zuffa does today, they still had fight night coverage to help out any fighters injured while competing on their cards.

Heun found out the hard way however that insurance doesn’t always mean “full coverage” unfortunately.

“When I was fighting for Strikeforce before Zuffa bought them I needed my ACL repaired after my fight with (Jorge) Gurgel, and I assumed everything was cool because we had the insurance coverage, but the coverage was only up to $50,000 and the surgery ended up being way more than that,” Heun explained when speaking to MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday.

When the final bill was tallied, Heun ended up owing his surgeons and doctors an additional $20,000 that was not covered by insurance, and it forced him into an extremely tough situation financially that eventually led to him filing for bankruptcy.

“I ended up going into bankruptcy right before Zuffa purchased Strikeforce to get rid of the medical debt that I had following that fight and operation. I’m in a pretty difficult spot financially,” Heun revealed.

Heun’s problems were only compounded recently when he had to undergo three different surgeries to repair injuries following a loss to Ryan Couture in 2012. The fighter suffered torn labrums in both hips, and upon further review his doctor believed there was an underlying cause at least in one of his hips that could create a duplicate situation down the road if it wasn’t repaired.

So Heun’s doctor opted to not only repair the torn labrums in his hips, but he also decided to fix the underlying issue that could put him back on the surgeon’s table again after his next fight if they didn’t take care of the problem.

“I had torn labrums and I had what’s called an avulsion fracture, where my hip flexor was too tight so it pulled part of the pelvis where it attaches, it pulled like a chunk of the bone off. So the doctor went in and said well we’ll repair the labrum, but here on the right side you’ve got a mild case of hip dysplasia and it predisposes you to hip injuries, you know having the labrums tear when you’re grappling. So the left side it tore but he said it doesn’t look like it’s going to be susceptible to re-injury,” Heun explained.

“The plan was go to in on the right side, they were going to repair the labrum, and do some stuff in there and then do this PAO (Periacetabular Osteotomy) where they basically change the way the femur fits in the pelvis to avoid contact between the ball of the femur and the labrum moving forward with martial arts.”

Knowing that he was getting his injuries fixed once and for all made Heun a happy man, but it didn’t take long for a dark cloud to once again circle overhead when he found out that Zuffa’s medical insurance would not cover the preventative surgery.

“The problem is the UFC’s insurance basically said that doing the PAO was to prevent a future injury or was based on a pre-existing condition, and that wasn’t necessary. Of course they don’t tell the doctor that before he does the surgery because he could have just gone in and repaired the labrum, and when it tears the next fight we’ll repair it again,” said Heun.

“It was basically the doctor trying to get me back as fast as possible and the best shape as possible to be able to continue in this sport.”

According to Heun, Zuffa paid out over $198,000 for his first two surgeries but when the final one came about, they finally had to back out and leave him to deal with the last trip to the doctor on his own. With three screws already implanted in his hip, Heun had no choice but to go through with the surgery knowing that the end result might land him back in financial hot water.

“They basically said the insurance company denied it, we covered the first two (surgeries), but that’s it you’re on your own,” Heun stated.

“Zuffa says I’m done with it and I’m stuck with the bill. (My surgeon) had a conference with a doctor from Zuffa’s insurance company a couple of weeks ago, I spoke with Briana Mattison at the UFC following that, she said that they’re going to have another doctor talk to him, but as it stands, the claim has still been denied.”

With the claim denied, Heun now sits with another huge medical bill looming overhead, and with him being out of action since March, he has little to no way to pay for it.

“It looks like right now I’m sitting on like $40,000 in bills, and maybe more coming, don’t really know what the deal is,” said Heun.

As if $40,000 in debt due to medical costs wasn’t bad enough, Heun was already not sure what his future in fighting would be after battling back from 3 hip surgeries, one of which landed him in the hospital for 8 days after complications arose and he required blood transfusions. Heun remained on crutches waiting for his hips to heal, but he received a call from Zuffa on Wednesday asking him to step up on short notice to take a fight on Jan 12.

What happened next, Heun couldn’t imagine in his worst nightmares.

“They offered me a fight with (Pat) Healy on the 12th cause I guessSean Shelby (Strikeforce matchmaker) didn’t know I was injured. So he called me and offered me the fight with Healy and I said “I’ll take the fight because I’m $40,000 in debt right now, I’m on crutches for another week and haven’t trained since March but I’ll take the fight if you’re offering it to me”. He said well never mind, we’re not going to offer you the fight based on that information,” Heun stated.

“I said well are you guys going to bring me over in January? He said if you won the fight with Healy, then yeah we’d bring you over, but since you’re not going to fight him, since you’re injured, no we’re not, expect your walking papers in January.”

On top of his medical debt, hips that are still healing, Heun now faces a very uncertain future without a contract in Strikeforce or the UFC.

Remarkably, Heun isn’t upset about his release because he knows it didn’t happen due to his injuries or inability to take a fight on short notice. It still stings no matter how you cut it however.

“Life isn’t fair, you take what you get, and you play the hand you’re dealt. I’m not here to whine about getting dropped. I’m 1-3 in my last 4 fights, that’s not spectacular. I understand that. You’re releasing me, I’m 1-3 in my last 4 fights, you’ve never seen me fight at featherweight, they don’t want to bring me over at 155. I don’t see it as them releasing me for not taking the fight, I see it more as they are cutting me because Strikeforce is dead and I’m 1-3 in my last 4 fights. That’s understandable,” said Heun.
Conor Heun

Heun began fighting MMA back in 2006 after studying jiu-jitsu under legendary trainer Eddie Bravo, and he says fighting has been his life ever since. He’s literally given his body to the sport, and now with his body struggling to recover, Heun admits it’s been tough to seen the underbelly of MMA chew him up and spit him out.

“There’s definitely some of it that sours me to the sport, part of it is you have to take responsibility for yourself. This is the life I chose, this is the profession I chose. I really can’t complain about the injuries that come along with the choices that I’ve made. That being said, after I fought Magno Almeida at Strikeforce in Dallas, my arm dislocated in the second round, broke my arm, tore my MCL in my left knee, and coming out of that fight I got $8000 for it. I didn’t need surgery, but months and months of rehab. So after that fight I was kind of questioning what am I doing?” said Heun.

“I love fighting but it has always been my goal, outside of being a champion, and outside of fighting in the UFC, was always to open a gym and train my own athletes and give back. That’s my end goal.”

Despite a potential legal battle coming over his medical expenses and insurance, Heun still dreams of one day competing in the UFC, but he’s not sure it will ever happen. It’s been 9 months since he was able to step foot in a gym to train, and the prospects of going back to the regional circuit isn’t what Heun can get motivated for anymore.

This path has led Heun to a very tough decision, and that could mean the end of his fighting career.

“To fight for the UFC that is something I’m interested in. To go down and fight at the Western Star Complex in front of 2000 people in order to get that win off television, that’s tough. This most likely means my retirement, I don’t really see myself going back to the small shows,” Heun stated.

“Especially coming off these injuries and what I’m dealing with, that’s Zuffa kind of forcing my hand in that matter. If they had said “hey come on through” I was going to fight at 145 and try to get a title shot there, but as things stand with them saying you’re getting your walking papers, that’s probably it.”

Whether Heun’s fighting career is over or not, he’s still dealing with the debt incurred from his last surgery, so the company Fund-A-Fighter has stepped in to allow anyone interested to donate to help the former Strikeforce fighter with his medical bills. The effort is ongoing and more information can be found at Conor Heun’s Fund-a-Fighter page.

The final chapter in Conor Heun’s career may not necessarily be written, but right now his story is looking grim for a fighter who literally gave his mind, body and soul to the sport of mixed martial arts.

Conor Heun - Not Your Typical Prizefighter

Conor Heun - Thursday, March 01, 2012
"I don’t have any ill will towards Ryan. It’s just the place that he’s put himself, and that’s in front of me and in front of my dream. I can’t stand for that." - Conor Heun
Strikeforce lightweight Conor HeunStrikeforce lightweight Conor Heun
Conor Heun’s father Jim had a picture hanging on the wall of his office that wasn’t the usual shot of a bowl of fruit or the Colorado mountains. Instead, it was a pretty notable cartoon of a stork holding a frog in his mouth while the frog wrapped its hands around the stork’s neck. The caption? “Never Give Up.”

“That stuck with me and it’s something that resonates with me,” said the younger Heun, who took that adage to heart and brought it into his mixed martial arts career, most notably in a bout with Magno Almeida last September that saw him caught in a tight armbar in the second round.

“Magno’s a submission wiz and I’m a wrestler,” Heun recalled. “It’s the classic matchup back in the 90’s. What happens if you take a jiu-jitsu guy down? You get armbarred. Well, that’s what happened. But he didn’t realize that I was willing to sacrifice that for the win.”

What Heun sacrificed was his health, or at least the health of his right arm, as he refused to tap to Almeida, even when it was clear that his arm was being taken to places it wasn’t meant to see. Eventually, Heun got free, dislocated elbow and all, and he not only made it through the second round, but he won the third and the fight.

Never give up.

“Tapping out to me is giving up,” said Heun, who improved to 9-4 with the win. “If you knock me out, I’m out, that’s it, that’s my body saying it’s done, and if you choke me out, I’m out. But other than that, I have a real hard time giving up, and that’s what tapping out is.”

So he didn’t do it. As simple as that sounds, it’s much more complex than that, but in the Reader’s Digest version, Heun’s stay in Strikeforce hadn’t been the most successful entering the Almeida bout. He had dropped back-to-back decisions to Jorge Gurgel and KJ Noons, and a third consecutive loss might have earned him his walking papers, and he knew it.

“Yeah, I’d be out of a job,” he said. “I knew that going in. And I knew he was gonna catch me, as #$%$ up as that sounds. But I knew what I was getting myself into. I’m a pretty intuitive person, and I knew that that fight was gonna be a rough fight. But I knew I was gonna come out victorious.”

Now for the more complicated part. Conor Heun doesn’t see things the way most professional fighters do. For them, MMA is a sport, a competition. They will shake hands with their opponent before the bout, and do the same afterward. Heun will do the hand shaking part, but when it comes to everything else, this isn’t just a sport for him, something he made clear with a nearly 1,500 word blog that could best be described as the Heun manifesto.

“MMA is a sport but “fighting” is not,” he wrote. “Boxing is a sport. Wrestling is a sport. Jiu Jitsu is a sport. These sports have scoring systems in place designed to determine the winner and the object is to score more points than your opponent. Fighting is not a sport. In fighting, the winner is the guy who walks away able to return to his family with his freedoms intact. In the defense of one’s freedoms and one’s family, the total destruction of one’s enemy is justified. MMA is a sport but it is based on fighting, because of this it is a brutal and savage sport.”

Heun’s piece shot through the MMA world in the past week, leading up to his Strikeforce bout against Ryan Couture this Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, and with good reason, as it touched on many aspects of fighting and his place in the fight world that don’t get discussed too much, at least on the record. But Heun bravely bared his soul for the world to see.

“I’m a deeply emotional person, and writing is a way for me to express some of those feelings in a productive manner and sort of step back and take a look at my own dysfunction sometimes,” he chuckles. “But I think it speaks to some people. People can tell that it’s real, people can tell that it’s from my heart. I posted it on the Underground (Forum) and it’s got something like 16,000 views. But I’m not sure if people really know what to think about it.”

Of course, the bullet point was Heun’s comment that “On March 3rd in Columbus Ohio I will fight Ryan Couture and I will use everything in my power to destroy him,” but as the Colorado native makes clear, “I don’t have any ill will towards Ryan. It’s just the place that he’s put himself, and that’s in front of me and in front of my dream. I can’t stand for that. And that’s what he wants. He wants a great fight, I want a great fight, and we’re gonna go out and throw down. But understand where I’m coming from. I’m going to war and I’m willing to die.”

It’s a blunt and harsh statement, and while there are dangers inherent in any contact sport, you never want to see anyone leave the field of play forever changed by the act of competition. Heun has left forever changed though. The refusal to tap in the Almeida bout wasn’t a spur of the moment decision, and going in, he knew what the repercussions could be. But he’s dealt with them, even if some don’t realize what they were.

“I think informed fans understand the repercussions and I actually feel that I may have done a disservice to the fans a little bit by the video I posted a couple weeks after the Almeida fight, saying ‘hey, I’m fine,’” he said. “It was a long and arduous recovery, a lot of physical therapy, my arm doesn’t go straight the way it used to anymore, but I wouldn’t take that back. I wouldn’t have gone back and done it any different.”

And if you wonder what Jim Heun thinks of his son’s fighting philosophy, you need not look any further than his corner on the night of the Almeida fight, as he was there, remaining as his son describes him, “my biggest fan.”

Heun remembers the weekends growing up when the Friday night before a wrestling tournament involved a trip to Blockbuster Video to rent old UFC tapes and watch them with his dad, who was also his coach. But his father’s influence went way deeper than that.

“When I was a little kid, I had bunk beds in my room and my dad was my wrestling coach,” recalled Heun. “That top bunk always had a kid in it from his team that was struggling with his family, had abusive parents, or an alcoholic father, and he was always opening our home to other young men to give them a respite. And he taught people double leg takedowns and arm drags, but he also taught young boys how to be men. And I believe that’s gonna be my highest calling.”

In fact, that’s a big reason why he does what he does. It’s not for fame or glory, but simply to provide a better life for himself, everyone around him, and maybe even some people he hasn’t even met yet.

“I’m fighting because eventually I want to open a gym, I want to have a place that I can call home, I want to have a place for me and my girlfriend where we can live and raise a family that no one can take away from me, whether it’s an apartment or a house,” he said. “I want to own a place where I can live and then I want to start teaching. I started fighting professionally in 2006, but I was a very small, very angry young kid growing up and I was in a lot of fights where there weren’t contracts and where there weren’t refs and judges, where people were trying to beat me down and take my freedom and marginalize me. And that’s where my fighting started. And I believe I’ve got some karmic debt that needs to be repaid for things that I’ve done back then, for guys I met in the street that didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. And I feel that the way I’m gonna be able to do that is by living a life of honor and integrity and acting as a role model for young boys. And I feel like in our society there are so many kids who don’t have positive male role models in their life. They don’t have anyone teaching them what it means to live with integrity and how to be a man.”

Yet all those dreams will have to be put on hold if he loses to Ryan Couture this Saturday night. Maybe now you’ll see why he thinks the way he does.

“Hopefully, I can take care of Ryan and get him out of the fight quickly with minimal injury to him or myself, collect that win bonus, and move on to the next fight,” he said. “If I can finish four guys this year, and that’s my goal, I think that puts me in line for a title shot.”

That would be some year. Heun knows it too, and he wants the world to follow him on that journey.

“I hope it inspires people to chase their dreams because that’s what I’m doing – I’m chasing my dream.”

And he’ll never give up.

Quitting is not an option for Conor Heun

Conor Heun - Thursday, March 01, 2012

Quitting is not an option for Conor Heun

Photo courtesy of Esther Lin

When a fighter says they’ll leave it all in the cage, it’s so cliché that it barely merits attention.  But when Conor Heun says it, he is stating a fact.  Less than 2 minutes into his fight with Marlon Matias, Heun suffered a broken jaw via a knee to face.  In his most recent bout, the 10th Planet jujitsu brown belt, had his elbow completely dislocated.  Conor not only fought through the pain, he triumphed in spite of it, winning both bouts by unanimous decision.  With less than a week before he gets back into the cage to face Ryan Couture, “Hurricane” checked in with TapOut Radio to render his thoughts going into this fight.

Strengths and weaknesses

“Ryan and I both come from a wrestling background.  I wrestled in college, I don’t think he did. From what I’ve seen in his game, he likes to clinch, he tries to take the back, he likes to slip under punches with the duck under and get to the back standing and take the fight to the ground.  As for striking, he seems to be real smart, staying on the outside and using his foot work, his jab. He doesn’t seem to usually get dragged into slugfests.  He’s definitely a tough kid. He’s well rounded and of obviously, he’s been working hard.  I’d imagine with his last name, he’s got trainers lining up to work with him.  I’m sure he makes huge improvements from fight to fight.  It should be an interesting time next Saturday night.”

The importance of this fight

“I don’t think that really matters to him.  It’s not like he’s coming off two losses in a row like I was my last fight.  Coming off of two losses in a row, you better win.  Maybe not if your last name is Couture, but if your last name is Heun, I think they send you home and give you your walking papers if you pick up three in a row.”

Fighting is not a sport

“I get really upset and emotional about fighting.  When I started out fighting, it wasn’t in front of fans, and it wasn’t for money.  I was fighting because some kid was trying to punk me, trying to marginalize me, trying to make fun of me.  I’ve been blessed with the physical attributes and mental toughness to compete in this game, or I should say in this sport, at the highest level, because that’s really what it is.  A fight’s not over till I say it’s over.  A fight doesn’t have judges.  A fight has a winner and a loser, and the winner is the one who walks away with his pride intact.  The loser is the guy lying broken on the concrete when the cops show up.  I know that Ryan likes to play the game and likes to compete, but I know the sport doesn’t mean to him what it means to me.  I’m going to try to drag him into a fight, and the fact that there’s people watching it and judges scoring it, that’s great.  It’s awesome that I get a check instead of a ticket or a jail sentence afterwards.  I’m going to go out there and try to kill him, try to put him to sleep and try to smash him.  When he steps in front of me he’s disrespecting me.  I’ve been training to break other men’s souls, spirits and bodies since I was five years old, and I’m not about to stop yet.”

Commercialism of MMA

“Fighting, to me, is an art.  Whenever art becomes popular, people try to profit from it.  There’s a business, and the business is all fun and games, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.  But when I fight, I’m not thinking about judges, I’m not thinking about anything.  I’m just trying to flow, and show where I’m at in my evolution.  The money behind it all, the judges, to me, take away from it.  I’d be happy to fight Ryan in an alley with nobody watching, no time limit, no refs, nobody to pull me off of him when he’s unconscious.”

Strikeforce’s Marketing

“I think women’s MMA needs a push.  This is a great fight.  Both of those girls are extremely talented.  There’s a U.S. Olympic medalist fighting. I think that’s phenomenal and they deserve all the press they can get.”

Weight Cut

“I don’t really cut weight anymore.  I eliminated all artificial flavors, preservatives and colors from my diet just before the KJ Noons fight.  Since then, the weight has just fallen off.  I walk around at about 4% body fat and 162 lbs.  I wake up on the morning of the fight and put on my plastics and do an hour of yoga and I’ll be on weight.”

Worries About Health

“I don’t worry about that, perhaps I should.  I’ve got a mom, a girlfriend, dad and a sh*tload of loved ones that worry about that enough for everybody.  I worry about winning, putting food on the table, inflicting more damage on my opponent than he inflicts on me.  Ryan Couture has never knocked anybody out and he’s not going to knock me out. A tough chin isn’t a muscle you can develop; your chin is your will.  You refuse to go down.”

With a ‘go for broke’ attitude, and the talent to back it up, it’s no wonder that Conor is such a huge crowd favorite. Heun faces off against Ryan Couture this Saturday, March 3, in what is certain to be a fight for the ages. You can catch his fight on Showtime Extreme.

Follow Conor via his Twitter @ConorHeun

Listen to the audio from this interview at TapouT Radio

What I'm Fighting For

Conor Heun - Sunday, February 19, 2012

I do not believe in breaking and beating down another man strictly for the entertainment of others. Fighting is about defending what is yours from those who attempt to oppress you.  Fighting is a means for defending the freedoms and inalienable human rights that other’s may attempt to take from you.  Engaging in combat with someone to test each other’s will and test each other’s skill so that you both may grow and evolve is what the “sport” of MMA is about.  Mixed Martial Arts is path towards physical and spiritual growth through controlled, regulated and judged hand-to-hand combat. MMA is a sport but “fighting” is not.  Boxing is a sport.  Wrestling is a sport.  Jiu Jitsu is a sport.  These sports have scoring systems in place designed to determine the winner and the object is to score more points than your opponent. 

 

Fighting is not a sport.  In fighting, the winner is the guy who walks away able to return to his family with his freedoms intact. In the defense of ones freedoms and ones family, the total destruction of ones enemy is justified. MMA is a sport but it is based on fighting, because of this it is a brutal and savage sport.

 

On March 3rd I will step into the Strikeforce cage across from Ryan Couture because he has agreed to compete against me in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.  On March 3rd in Columbus Ohio I will fight Ryan Couture and I will use everything in my power to destroy him.  I will be justified in doing so because I am in a place where he is an oppressor attempting to take my freedom and take the food out of my loved one’s mouths. 

 

I put myself in this place with the decisions that I have made.  People tell me, “You’re 33 years old, why don’t you get a job?  Why don’t you get an apartment?  Why don’t you get married and have kids?” I want to do these things but I am a fighter.  Becoming a fighter was not a choice, I was born this way, it is in my blood.  MMA is my calling and for this season of war it is the path I’ve chosen to walk.  When you sign the bout agreement you are placing yourself in harms way as you are attempting to hinder my ability to provide for my family. 

 

My happiness and my ability to live the life I want depends on winning in this brutal game we call Mixed Martial Arts. I have put myself here. I have backed myself into a corner where I am truly fighting for my life. If I don’t win I don’t get my check and If I don’t get my check, I won’t be able to put food on the table for myself and my loved ones.  I have created a situation through my choices, where I am fighting a life or death battle.  I know inside that the creation of this life or death situation is why I have made the choices I’ve made.  I have created this environment to motivate myself, to force myself into a place where I am free to do anything to win the fight, to take any chance and make any sacrifice.  I have built a reality where I feel justified allowing an opponent to break my arm in rout to victory so that I can collect my check and provide food and shelter for the people that I love and care about. 

 

Sure, I have a college education and I could presumably do other things yet no one’s knocking on my door offering me a job but people are calling me on the phone telling me that I have to fight on March 3rd if I want to be able to eat for the next few months.  They also tell me that if I lose, I’ll get half the money and that I might not get that call again.

 

I step into the cage with one thing on my mind and that is to kill the man standing across from me.  He is the man trying to take what I need to survive. At this point it is no longer a game. At this point it is real fucking serious.  People tell me I should have tapped out in my last fight and lost.  If I told you that I was going to take your job away from you unless you let me break your arm I bet you’d let me break your arm. You’d have to.  What would you do?  What would you be willing to do so that you wouldn’t have to tell your wife that you’re going to lose the house?  What would you do to avoid telling your kids that they aren’t ever going to be able to graduate high school and go to college because they need to start working if they want to eat?  If you wouldn’t let me break your arm to save your family from those hardships then you are a fucking coward and you have no right to call yourself a man.

 

I try to elevate myself above the commercialism that is the “game” of modern MMA.  I try to justify the destruction of my opponent by telling myself that it is consensual violence and that we’ve both agreed to battle to test each other.  Well the fact of the matter is, unless you are willing to die in that cage then you are at a supreme disadvantage because I’ve put myself into a situation where winning the fight IS a life or death matter.  I have made my bed but I’m not willing to lie in it.  I’m not laying down for anyone.  If you don’t need to win this fight, if it’s just a hobby for you, something you do to impress your friends or for the “love of competition” then when you face me, a man who has created a reality in which I must win in order to live, you are at a HUGE disadvantage. 

 

There are documented stories of women lifting cars off of their babies and saving their lives.  There are documented stories of people trapped under boulders in the wild cutting off their limbs to free themselves.  There are countless tales of mortals performing superhuman feats in order to save their own lives or the lives of their loved ones when faced with insurmountable obstacles.  I am not facing an insurmountable obstacle; I am facing Ryan Couture.

 

I have created a reality for myself in which winning in the cage on March 3rd is a life or death situation. Good fucking luck trying to stop me from doing so.  I struggle to come to peace with the destruction that I will bring upon you but I tell myself that you agreed to the rules, you agreed to fight me and that no one forced you to try and ruin my life and crush my dreams.  You choose to do it out of arrogance and disrespect for the warrior that I am.  If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last 6 years you know that I am capable of overcoming ANY physical obstacle in the pursuit of my dreams and my dream is to strap the Strikeforce belt around my waist.  This is really just a means to an end for me.  The belt is just a symbol that I have reached a place where my talent has been recognized and that by walking this path I have earned the right to own my own home and to provide for my loved ones. 

 

I have created a reality where doing this depends on my obliteration of anyone who stands before me in that Strikeforce cage and Ryan Couture, you choose to stand in the way of my happiness and because of that choice, I will break you.  I have no other choice. 

 

I do not ask forgiveness for the violence that I will bring to you because you stand in the way of a life of peace and happiness for me and my loved ones.  I want you to know that I admire your spirit and respect you as a warrior.  I don’t know what your life is like and I don’t know what this fight means to you, but On March 3rd I will be fighting for all that I love and believe in.  Saturday night you will step into the cage across from the most highly motivated, focused and determined warrior you have ever faced and with the world as my witness, I will do everything in my power to destroy you.

Conor Heun Explains The Finer Details of Elevation Training and Hallucinogenic Experiences

Conor Heun - Thursday, February 09, 2012

Conor Heun is the closest thing MMA has to a Shaman, a master of the elements, finely in tune with the earth and the energies of the world around him. I've come to grips with that, and I hope you can too, because you're going to have to by the time you finish this interview. Rather than stand atop a mountain in Colorado guiding wary souls gently back onto their lost paths, Conor Heun is channeling his energies into fighting for now, and the next opponent he plans on sharing the cage experience with is Ryan Couture, which will be going down at Tate Vs. Rousey.

We discussed his upcoming opponent, Conor's training regimen and his methods for righting one's internal path via the use of hallucinogens in this interview conducted by Elena Lopez.

Do you think Ryan Couture is a little bit over his head in his future bout with you? You know he's a tough kid but I don't think he's fought anyone like me. He's a pro fighter sure, but I look at his fights and I look at my fight with KJ Noons for example. I learned a lot from that fight with KJ as far as fighters staying outside and scoring points. Couture is going to be in a fight not a point match I'm going to bring him a war. If he beats me it's a huge step up for him I'm not sure if he's willing to go as far as I'm willing to go to win the fight. He fought my friend Bollinger at Tuff E Nuff in an amateur fight and they went to a draw. Bollinger is a real tough kid so he's good but his heart, hands and conditioning in that fight were nowhere near my level. Ryan's gonna have a real tough time.

 

The Majority of his wins are by submission, how will you handle that? He's obviously proficient. I've watched his fights but his opponents have made mistakes I'm not going to make. I took second at Grapplers Quest out here and I was taking down other finalists, he took third in state in high school wrestling and never wrestled in college. I took second and went on to wrestle five years at college so he has nothing on me. The only place where it he might have the advantage is because he has I guess what we can call 'Ring Generalship'? He's very intelligent and he's going to know the rules and how to fight and how to win. He fights to win on points, I fight to tear people's heads off their body. That's the difference between him and me. I know he has some submission wins, but he doesn't seem to throw anything with bad intentions. I haven't seen any weapons out of him that look like they can do damage. He has some knees, but they don't look devastating, he has nothing I haven't seen.

 

It seems like you're always switching from Colorado to Hollywood, why is that? I like to train at altitude. I trained out New Mexico a bit for my last fight. The only thing to fear in a fight is running out of gas. When I train at altitude, I'm sure that I will be able to have the gas tank I need so I can put the pedal to the metal when I'm in the cage. Knowing that I can go so hard like that frees me from all worrying or doubt. I just open up. Outside that I've been training with GSP's old wrestling coach and he is great. I'm working out with Marquardt and Ed Herman and tough, tough guys. Running up peaks and doing all these mountain runs with weight vests. The altitude and training partners out in Colorado puts me in a place where I'm just so confident in the work I put in, that I'll be able to just go out there and have fun when the time comes. That's what he has to look forward to. I immerse myself in this to improve my self and I let that inner animal out, to be my primal self and having a full gas tank is important in that.

 

After your last fight with Magno Almeida, you cut a video encouraging all fighters not to tap out. Do you still stand by it? You know, I'm trying to evolve, I'm trying to learn from my mistakes. I guess it really depends on the moment. If it's other people no I'm going to say tap out, tap out right away. For me I want to keep the match going. Self preservation is great for other people, for me I would rather die than lose. When I go out there I go out there to lay it down. Going out there with that mentality that I have that my training is right and I've done what I can so I can be free to take whatever the combat has for me in the cage. No I don't recommend anyone not to tap. But for me as a Colorado fighter that's my choice. I'm not going to tap.

 

Speaking of tappping out, do you think the earth will submit to whatever 2012 apocalypse the Mayans foretold? No the Earth won't. We are just a minor problem for the Earth right now. As far as if the Mayans are right and we're wiped out? I don't know but if something happens I'll be up in the mountains of Colorado leading the army of the new world.

 

How can a person increase their enjoyment of life? Learning to live in the moment not the future, not the past, and to free themselves from worry and just breathe and focus on the gift that is the present moment. Know that every breath is a blessing and every moment is such a gift and so beautiful. If you're worrying about the future then you are missing out on the moment. Forget past mistakes, live.

 

Why did you choose 10th planet (as a gym)? When I moved out to California in 2006 I was working a desk job selling dental equipment and I really missed the competition. I was talking to my college roommate and I was saying how I wanted to go out and mix it up and he told me about Eddie Bravo. There was a guy out by me who was teaching Jiu Jitsu without the funny costume and so I went down, he invited me in and so I jumped in with both feet. Eddie was the first guy I ever trained with and no gi is a lot like wrestling and best of all it was close to my house so the rest is history.

 

So you prefer no gi to a gi? Yeah, well, I think the gi game is beautiful. I think it's a different game and fun, when I'm done competing I'm sure I'm going to immerse myself into the gi game. It's slower, the holds are different, tighter and more control. It's not as explosive a game, like wrestling, it's a slower game. My dad trains with a gi and has a great time. One day I will put focus on it, but guys aren't wearing a gi when I fight them...so.

 

Can you tell us the most satisfying experience you had under the influence of a hallucinogen? Feel free to explain in detail. The biggest thing that hallucinogens provide for me is the sense of 'one'. You know, we are all one. The acute sense that everything is right in the world. Like I said it's easy to get caught up in the future or the events of the past. But when under the influence of hallucinogens or psychedelics, I think that it sort of breaks down that sense of self or self-importance maybe. It heightens that connection to our fellow man and Earth and to our relatives that have passed. Every time that I've experienced something like that it just reaffirms my faith in the path that I'm on. These sacraments are something I may take at the start of my training camp and then again, maybe right after a fight just to check in with the universe and check in with the universal consciousness to make sure I'm on the right path.

One of the best experiences I’ve had was on psilocybin following my loss to Jorge Gurgel. I had blown out my knee a week before the fight and had really gotten beat up in the fight trying to stand with him because I couldn’t shoot off my right leg. I was really down on myself and was questioning if the sport was something I wanted to continue to be involved with. I was out in the middle of the desert and I was meditating and the clouds just sort of convened above me and I looked up to the sky and just sort of felt a sense of being embraced by the universe and wrapped up in this blanket of unconditional love. I saw myself fighting Jorge on TV and then the perspective shifted and pulled back and I saw that what I was doing in the fight was so small and tiny in the overall universal perspective. I saw that what I was doing was tiny and insignificant but I also saw that it was just one tiny moment but that it was part of a much greater cosmic battle of positive vs. negative forces in the world. I saw that by fighting with all my heart I enable people to do whatever it is that they do with all of their hearts. I saw that the outcome of the fight was insignificant, what was important was that I gave everything I had to my purpose and that I did it with love and integrity. I saw how if everyone approached everything in this manner that the positivity in the world would overcome the darkness. I cried and cried because I felt so thankful for being able to be apart of the battle in the big picture, a battle for love and compassion for our fellow man.

Is there any type of mental preparation you practice in order to not have a 'bad' hallucinogenic experience? You just have to be open to the experience. A 'bad' experience? I wouldn't label anything as bad. Losing a fight isn't bad, breaking a bone isn't bad. It's all those types of things that people put words and judgements on, it's short sighted. If you go through something that might be 'scary' or that shows you something traumatic it's just something that you can learn from. Hallucinogens are a natural teacher. look at all of our teachers. Sometimes you win a fight, sometimes you lose the fight sometimes it hurts, you have to go in with an open mind to draw from the experience and sometimes the lesson may not be the lesson you are hoping for or expecting but if you approach this with the proper respect and mindfulness, not as something to be used as a party drug or have a nice time, you can learn a lot. I use it as a sacred experience. It's a sacrament to me that enables me to expand my mind and my consciousness and it opens my eyes to the energy around me. If it's something scary or weird, what I'm learning to do is acknowledge it. If I'm feeling scared then I dive deeper and I think about how I'm scared. Why do I feel that way? I allow it to wash over me. Too many pass judgement and label something as bad, like oh this is a bad trip because you aren't seeing or feeling something you wanted. You're experience is different than your expected experience. The key is to free yourself from your expectations. I just go in and I search for the teachings. Whatever comes is what was meant to come.

 

Anything else you would like to add? I just want to send my love to my opponent Ryan Couture. I wish the best for him and the training camp goes wonderful and I hope he tests me and pushes me to my limits and I do the same to him so we can both take something from this experience.

Fight Day

Conor Heun - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On fight day I try to sleep as long as I can.  I keep water and food like raw almonds, berries, and oats within reach of the bed. I rarely get up to go to breakfast or anything, I just continue to rest and eat slowly while in my hotel room, making sure to chew everything thoroughly and drink plenty of water.  I usually get up and get moving at around noon. 

I’ll start with a nice hot shower followed by some yoga poses and breathing exercises designed to bring awareness into my body and get the blood and energy flowing.  After stretching, breathing, I’ll usually meditate for around 20 minutes.  In my meditation I vividly imagine everything leading up to the fight, getting my hands taped, putting on the gloves, walking to the cage, feeling the Vaseline applied to my face, biting down on my mouth guard, hearing my name announced, waiving to the crowd and breathing in the energy of the arena.  I visualize looking across the cage at my opponent and opening my heart to him. I bow out of courtesy and respect and invite their soul into battle, knowing that the universe will provide us both with tremendous opportunity for growth and evolution.

I watch the fight play out in my mind, bringing heightened awareness to my breathing and the way my body feels. I work to calm any tension in my body by focusing my breath into any discomfort I feel and leaning into the sensations I’m feeling while continuing to fight in my mind. I visualize finishing the fight, helping my opponent back to his feet and embracing him, giving him thanks for the opportunity to test myself and honoring his effort.  I imagine the announcer proclaiming my victory and I allow the emotions to rush over me, feeling the full weight of the emotional dump. I’ll often find myself in tears, giving thanks to all those who support me in my journey. I’ll lay in child’s pose for as long as it takes for the feelings to dissipate.

Once my breath and heart rate have returned to normal I usually put on some dance music and start packing my bag for battle. I make sure to include my cup, compression shorts, fight shorts, mouth guard, ankle sleeves, kneepads, and walkout-T as well as my sweats.  I remember to pack a towel so I can shower up at the arena after the fight and put on clean clothes for the press conference and the after parties. 

As I board the van to head to the arena I stay focused, listening to my music on my headphones and breathing in the energy of the universe, focusing on the feeling of winning.  I’m usually fighting pretty early on the card so once I’m in the locker room I’m getting my hands tapped and putting on my gear.  I’ll do my warm ups, with high knees, butt kicks, squats, lunges, big jumps, and some pad work and grappling to get my heart rate to 175. Once I have my heart rate up I just go back to my yoga to get my mind focused and my muscles loose.  After I’m good and warm I’ll often sit in the corner with my head down and visualize snowboarding down my favorite run back home in Colorado.  This allows me to keep the mind body connection but remove myself from the fight environment to a place where I perform with precision while remaining completely relaxed and in the zone. 

            When the commissioner comes to get me for my fight I stand up excited and ready to shine. I take everything in, taking time to enjoy the sensations that wash over me as I enter the arena. I feel so blessed to be able to express my soul in front of the world. I walk to the cage almost as if I’m floating on air. I hug my coaches and close my eyes as the ref applies the Vaseline to my face. I visualize the ointment creating an impenetrable and protective coating across my face making me impervious to damage. I step into the cage and take a lap, breathing my intention into our battleground. I walk forward with an open heart to meet my teacher/opponent. I touch gloves honoring him and work to stay open. I acknowledge the ref’s instructions and dance back to my corner, completely ready for whatever may come. 

Heun Walks Through Fire to Decision Almeida

Conor Heun - Thursday, June 30, 2011

DALLAS, June 18 – Veteran lightweight Conor Heun spoiled the Strikeforce debut of Brazil’s Magno Almeida in preliminary card action at American Airlines Center Saturday, scoring a hard-fought unanimous decision in a compelling three round scrap.

Almeida vs. Heun

Scores were 29-28 across the board for Heun.

Solid groundwork was turned in by both men in the opening stanza, with Almeida working his submission attempts while Heun unleashed hard punches on the mat, as well as kicks while his opponent was on his back.

The second round was a closely contested one as well until Almeida broke it open late with an armbar attempt that looked like it was going to finish the bout. Heun battled his way free though, drawing an appreciative roar from the crowd.

The nip and tuck action continued in the third, with Almeida almost finishing Heun with a choke. But with his usual resilience, Heun broke loose and fired away with ground strikes for the majority of the rest of the round, ending the exciting battle in style.

Heun improves to 9-4 with the win; Almeida falls to 9-2.

"If I'm not getting dropped when you break my jaw, I'm certainly not getting knocked out by a kid with no knockouts."

Conor Heun - Saturday, June 18, 2011
For Five Oz. of Pain

by Brendhan Conlan

The Conor Heun competing in the cage this weekend in Dallas at “Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum” may physically resemble the 8-4 lightweight who was last seen going toe-to-toe with K.J. Noons a year ago but ask Heun and you’ll find out appearance and attitude are where the similarities stop.

A long-time staple at Legends MMA and 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu in Los Angeles, the 32-year old recently packed up shop and headed to New Mexico where he now resides as part of Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque. Location is only one of the changes for Heun has undergone since nearly outpointing Noons last June, and, as he shared with Five Ounces of Pain, a big part in why people who watch his fight should expect to see an upgraded “Hurricane” hit the ring on Saturday night.

“They’re not gonna recognize me,” Heun said of MMA fans. “I’ve got a whole new set of skills, a whole new gameplan, (and) new coaches. Everything should be different, right?”

“I’ve definitely made a lot of changes,” he elaborated on the subject of his new surroundings and skills. “I left Legends MMA in California and 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu and moved out to the TapouT Ranch in Edgewood, New Mexico where Leonard Garcia and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone train. I train with those guys at Jackson’s. I wake up. I go running, I come back and do my yoga, then drive down to Jackson’s in Albuquerque and spar with the guys. Drive back in the afternoon, usually get a grappling workout or pad workout in come evening. And that’s really all that there is. There’s no going out, there’s no bars, there’s no girls. There’s nothing but fighters trying to be the best they can be.”

Working alongside the likes of UFC veterans close to his weight like Cerrone and Garcia was a core component of Heun’s decision to move East, explaining, “I just didn’t have the quality of sparring partners like I needed (in L.A.) – there was only one other pro in the gym at the time and that was Matt Horwich. Legends MMA has great guys but they’re all amateurs. In fact a lot of them are looking to make their pro debut in July for Shark Fights.”

Other bonuses to his new home include the ability to increase his fitness based on altitude, an aspect of his arsenal also assisted by the inclusion of his brother Aaron Heun who also happens to be a professional cyclist.

“He always thought my cardio was my strong suit but after seeing my fight with Noons he sorta asked me what happened where I gassed. He’d never seen that before,” Heun said of his younger sibling. “He’s really a genius when it comes to the science of cardio and physical performance. He’s just a real bright kid.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in better shape than I am right now,” he continued. “I’ve never sparred with the caliber of guys I’m working with every day. I’m getting the baddest men on the planet every single day in the gym.”

The only downside to training at Jackson’s MMA? “It takes a little bit of toll on my confidence so I’m not as quite as confident as I normally am going in to the fight,” Heun joked of his improved training partners.

The fight Heun is of course referencing is tomorrow evening’s preliminary pairing against Magno Almeida, a 9-1-1 BJJ blackbelt who has won his last five fights. Heun spoke candidly about his mindset in reference to Almeida saying he didn’t expect to tap out no matter the situation and had no real concerns about the Brazilian’s striking.

“I know he likes Kimuras and Keylocks and Armbars, but I’ve been wrestling since I was five years old…I’ve been doing Jiu-Jitsu with Eddie Bravo since 2006. I feel pretty comfortable (on the ground) but he’s got eight submissions in nine victories so he’s a submission machine.”

“He’s certainly not going to finish me with an Armbar,” said Heun. “I mean he can take it off and mail it to me COD if he wants. I’m not tapping to an Armbar, that’s for damn sure!”

“If he wants to finish the fight with me he better knock me out and a lot of the best guys in the world have tried. Noons is considered to be one of the top strikers in MMA, definitely at lightweight, and he couldn’t knock me out. According to Compustrike numbers I hit him more times than he hit me. My chin’s been tested. People say it’s granite but its titanium. I got a titanium plate in it when I fought Marlon Matias. He broke my jaw with a knee a minute and a half into the first round. If I’m not going to drop when you break my jaw I’m certainly not getting knocked out by a kid with no knockouts.”

Heun’s focus on victory is as clear as the desire to compete after only fighting twice in the past two years due to injury and contractual issues, both matters since taken care of.

“I’m willing to take this fight wherever it goes but I want to beat this kid up, I want to hurt him,” Heun passionately stated. “I want a knockout standing. I only have one TKO and I’ve been working on my striking. I flew back to LA and worked with my boxing coach, Frankie Liles. I’ve been working with all the great coaches out here in New Mexico. I mean I’ve got a lot of pent up aggression fighting once a year. That doesn’t sit well with me. I’m ready to let it all hang out.”

“I got my contact re-signed by Zuffa after the purchase and obviously it wasn’t for winning fights – it’s for the way that I fight,” Heun continued. “I go out and I try to finish. I march forward throwing bombs. And that’s what everybody’s gonna see this time except I’m not going to get tired so I’ll be throwing just any many bombs, just as hard, in the third round as I’m throwing in the first round if he makes it that long. If he wants to take it to the ground and manages to get me there, good luck…I’m pretty deep down there too. I just want to put on a show, show my heart – my improved cardio and my improved striking – and I’m force in this weight-class. I’m 32 years old, I’m getting up there…but I want the belt.”

“I’m here to let people know I’m the real deal. I’m no pushover. Anyone who fights me wakes up the next day and knows they’ve been in a fight, but that’s not enough…I need to get my hand raised. No one else is doing it for me so I’m looking for a knockout, a TKO, a submission. I’m marching forward and there’s no way I’m getting tired. I’d be really impressed to see me anybody match me cardio-vascularly and match my heart. I don’t think I can be knocked out. I know that sounds cocky but I’ve taken some shots and I don’t go down. I sure as hell am not tapping to an Armbar. Edson Berto had my arm and popped it but in a fight you gotta do something better than that. You’ve got to turn off the switch and stop the flow of blood to my brain. If you can put me to sleep, more power to you.”

Stopping Heun is something no fighter has done yet, a fact not lost on the fiery Californian with three Split Decisions in four total losses. “I would like to leave a fight feeling like, ‘Okay, that guy was better.’ I’ve never felt that, like I’ve lost a fight. I’ve only been a little behind on the cards when the time ran out.”

A number of other notable lightweights like Noons, Justin Wilcox, Jorge Masvidal, and J.Z. Cavalcante will also see action this weekend. All of those match-ups intrigue Heun including Noons who he feels he defeated regardless of the judges’ rendering in their 2010 throwdown.

“Noons is fighting Masvidal for the #1 contender’s spot and I feel like I beat him. He cut me up and I understand damage plays a huge part but I had a near submission in the first round,” Heun explained. “ If I’d been a little more in tune with what was going on I might have capitalized on that. There were no elbows on the ground and I think I may have finished them if there were. I’ve never lost a fight where elbows were allowed. I’m coming in here in the best shape I’ve ever been in to do damage.”

However, Heun stopped short of calling the hard-hitting Hawaiian out.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Noons. I talked to him in Vegas at the Zuffa Fighter Summit, and if he gets through Masvidal and beats Gilbert Melendez – a pretty steep hill to climb – and he’s holding the belt then I’ve got my eye on him. But I really just have my eyes on whoever is in front of me.”

In closing Heun mentioned fans can check him out on Twitter and also made sure to stay true to his roots by showing love to a few sponsors who won’t be able to advertise on his gear at “Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum” due to policy regarding certain types of support.

“I’d like to thank the sponsors that have been with me forever – Melee Fight Gear, On the Mat, and Bite Defense. Those guys started out with me and I don’t think they’re able to do anything for this fight due to the Zuffa sponsorship thing. Basically a week ago we found out a week ago all nutrition or apparel sponsors have to pay $10,000 per fighter or $100,000 per year. It really sucks I’m not able to help those people who helped me to get where I am. So Steve from Melee, Scott from On the Mat, and Mike from Bite Defense…those guys have been behind me, helped me out, and I really appreciate that. (Fighters) start out and those guys were sponsoring me when they weren’t getting anything for it. They’re giving me $500 to watch me fight in front of 500 people and get no return on it. It’s a shame that now I’m fighting on TV that I can’t return the favor and show them some love.”

Heun’s in-ring affair with Almeida can be seen live on HDNet along with the rest of the Strikeforce prelims starting at 8:00 PM EST. Other bouts include Mike Bronzoulis vs. Todd Moore and Wilcox vs. Cavalcante.

Conor Heun Putting Everything on the Line at Saturday's Strikeforce

Conor Heun - Saturday, June 18, 2011
For MMA Weekly by Mick Hammond

After suffering back-to-back losses for the first time in his career, Strikeforce lightweight Conor Heun has taken steps to ensure his return to the promotion this Saturday will go differently.

“I’m not one to keep doing the same thing and expect different results,” Heun told MMAWeekly.com. “I packed up everything and left Hollywood, drove out to New Mexico, and am living on (Donald) ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone’s ranch up in Edgewood and began training at (Greg) Jackson’s with the best fighters in the world.

“I’ve sacrificed just about everything to make this happen. I’m single-minded in pursuit of the goal of being the best. I think when I step in the cage this Saturday night; people are going to see an entirely different fighter.”

Heun also employed the help of his brother Aaron, a professional cyclist, to develop a workout that’s going to allow him to push the pace for a full 15 minutes if need be without gassing out.

“He sort of explained to me the science of lactate threshold and VO2 Max and how to build up your body’s ability to process lactic acid and expand the amount of oxygen you’re able to get to your muscles,” said Heun. “With him sort of at the helm of my cardio; I feel better than I ever have.”

While he’s made changes to his game, do not think that means he’s changed his fight philosophy.

“I lost both my fights with Strikeforce and they re-signed me to a contract, and it’s certainly not because I back up and avoid people,” he said. “I go out there to smash people and prove that I’m better than him.

“When I go out there and the door closes and the bell rings, I’m looking to establish my dominance and show the other guy that he made a mistake in signing that dotted line to face me. I think anybody that’s ever fought me will tell you that win or lose, they were in a war.”

Such is the mentality he’s carrying into his bout with the debuting Magno Almeida on the HDNet televised Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum undercard from Dallas on Saturday night.

“I know he has excellent jiu-jitsu – definitely the best jiu-jitsu of anyone I’ve fought – but to the best of my knowledge, that’s gi-based jiu-jitsu, and I’m not wearing a gi in the cage,” said Heun. “I’m going out there, bite down on my mouthpiece, and throw bombs.

“If Magno isn’t up to speed, it won’t be a war; it will be a real quick night. If he’s training and he’s as bad as they say he is, then it looks like we’re going to war.”

Never one to back down from a challenge, Heun saw his own limitations as such and aggressively eliminated them so he could begin to move up the 155-pound ladder and inspire others.

“Come out to the fight or check it out on HDNet,” he closed out. “Follow me on Twitter @ConorHeun and stay in touch and let me know what you think.

“I’ve never been in a boring fight, and come fight day I’m looking to go out there and shine and inspire people to chase their dreams; the winning and losing come second.”