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Heinisch Relishing "Dream Matchup" In Rochester

Factory X Prospect Sees Carlos Junior As "A Stepping Stone To My Future"

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.

Ian Heinisch poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at The O2 on March 15, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
March 15, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

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.”

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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.”

Ian Heinisch worked his way out of a bad decision and took over the fight finishing things in the first round thanks to some huge elbows on the ground to earn a UFC contract on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series.


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.”

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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.”