Ian Heinisch takes his rest and recovery seriously. So as he conducts an interview after practice, it doesn’t sound like Englewood, Colorado in the background. It’s more like a Buddhist temple in the middle of Asia.
“This is all Zen’d out over here, man,” Heinisch laughs. “AC/DC and Metallica for tomorrow.”
Tomorrow was back to work to prepare with the Factory X squad for his second UFC bout this weekend against Antonio Carlos Junior. It’s been a long wait for “The Hurricane” to return to the Octagon, but that’s not through any fault of his own.
After earning a UFC contract with a knockout of Justin Sumter, Heinisch took a short-notice call to fight Cezar Ferreira last November and decisioned “Mutante.” Next up was Tom Breese in March, but on the day of the bout, Breese withdrew, leaving Heinisch without a fight.
“You’re always gonna have your initial reaction,” he said. “When I found out Tom Breese pulled out, I’m not gonna lie, I cursed and threw stuff around my hotel room. But I didn’t stay there, I didn’t stay mad. I thought about it from a reasonable point of view.”
It was downright Zen for the 30-year-old, who went on vacation after the aborted bout and then got back to the gym.
“If you look at my life, it’s a whole bunch of bumps in the road, so I’m used to it,” Heinisch said. “It’s not up to me; it’s God’s plan and whatever he decides. I’m just along for the ride and all I can do is what I can control and that’s my training and my attitude, so I just work on those things. It’s fine because the UFC took good care of me and got me rebooked right away with a new contract and a better opponent.”
The No. 12-ranked Carlos Junior is that opponent, and even with the Brazilian sporting a five-fight winning streak that includes four submissions, Heinisch couldn’t be more excited to match wits and fists with “Cara de Sapato.”
“I see a great matchup for me,” he said. “I see him as a stepping stone in my future, and I like guys who come forward and I like guys who want to try and grapple with me. That lets me strike, that lets me mix things up and I’m not going to have to chase him, like I kind of did with Cezar, because he’s gonna come forward hard. So I love this matchup. It’s a dream matchup for me. I know he’s a tough dude, he’s gonna want to take me down, pressure and get my back, but it’s gonna be a long night for him to try to do that. I’m gonna hit him with some hard shots.”
And Heinisch isn’t worried about a replay of the whole Breese situation.
“I feel like that was such an unusual thing, and it’s always going to be in the back of my mind, but I can’t think like that,” he said. “I’ve got to think of a positive outcome of my opponent showing up, me taking care of business and finishing him, so I’m not concerned about that. I’m controlling what I can – I’m planning and training for this guy, I’ll be there, I’ll make weight and I’ll be there on fight day, so that’s all I can control.”
Ian Heinisch has already come a long way in life, and a long way in the last year. At this time in 2018, Heinisch was coming off a first-round knockout of Gabriel Checco and hoping to get a shot at tacking the best middleweights in the world in the UFC. Now he’s here, but that hunger hasn’t subsided. Not by a long shot.
“Before the LFA fight, I knew I had a lot to prove,” Heinisch said. “I knew I had an attitude and I was very focused like I am now, and it’s kind of the same feeling. I know I have a lot to prove, I’m very focused, and I know that a huge performance in May, like I did last year, is gonna skyrocket my name and I know that’s gonna happen.”