Ian Heinisch has never been someone content to stay in one place for too long. Where that gene comes from is anyone’s guess, but it’s been a way of life for “The Hurricane” throughout much of his 32 years.
On June 5, he married his lady, Joni, the couple moved into a new home earlier this month, and as he prepares for his Saturday bout against Nassourdine Imavov, he does so with the Sanford MMA squad in Deerfield Beach, Florida. That’s a lot of settling down.
“It's nice,” Heinisch said. “We're done traveling around and doing the Air B&B thing. We're ready to have a home base for a while and have a home team for a while. There will probably be some cross training in between, a little bit of traveling, but it will nice to always know you got your home base, a place where all your stuff's at and we don't have to move for a long time. I think it's gonna bring out the best in me.”
It’s easy to tell that with phrases like “for a while” and “for a long time” that it wasn’t easy for the Colorado native to put down roots in a new place.
“My whole life has been this anthem of controversy and chaos, and somehow I find peace in it,” he said. “I'm rooted in Christ and I feel like God's leading me through all this, but we're gonna be excited because moving sucks and it's hard on the body and I feel it in training after I move. But after we closed on this house, I'm locked in and chilling and home base is gonna be here in Florida, training out of Sanford for some time.”
At least he’s ready to try, and that’s not just good for his life in general, but for his fighting career in particular, as he’s now training with one of the best teams in the business. And it only took a recommendation from UFC vet Nate Marquardt and a few weeks in the gym to convince him to stay.
“I came down, tried out the gym and it was a big gym, but had the team vibe that I like, and it just was a good fit. Not only was the gym a good fit, but the climate, being so close to the beach, just the lifestyle out here, it all fell into place.”
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Heinisch was all-in from the start, so even though he wanted to fight as soon as possible after a February loss to Kelvin Gastelum, when Sanford MMA head coach Henri Hooft suggested that he wait a bit longer in order to sharpen his tools and get used to his new environment, Heinisch agreed.
“I felt healthy, I was injury free, I was in great shape, but I agreed to sharpen some tools up, and get used to the new program,” he said.
And though a honeymoon will have to wait, Heinisch and the Mrs. will hit the road for a trip after this weekend’s bout in Las Vegas.
“We need to get a big win and then we'll go enjoy somewhere nice for a little while,” said Heinisch, who enters his fight with Imavov having gone 1-3 in his last four. It’s been a tough pill to swallow for someone who won his first two UFC bouts and landed in the middleweight Top 15, but he’s in a good place mentally and physically to face the talented, but still under the radar, Frenchman. So while Imavov may not have the name of a Gastelum or a Derek Brunson, he is the man he has to beat to get back on track.
“At this point, I'm really just looking at it as this is a body in my way,” Heinisch said. “I need to get the job done, get back to my winning ways, get back to a win streak and get myself back where I want to be in the division. My teammate Phil Hawes fought him (Imavov) and beat him and he's given me a few pointers, and the rest is history. I need to show up as the best Ian and really show my skills instead of getting so involved in the name and this and that, like I feel I did a little bit with Gastelum. I need to focus on improving, having fun through the process, and just going out there and putting on a performance of a lifetime.”
It's a lot to put on a single 15-minute segment of his life, but Heinisch has never liked doing things the safe or easy way. That will remain a part of his DNA. As for the rest, he’s ready to try the stable life for a little while…or maybe forever.
“I needed to float around a little while and experience some things and just be kind of a nomad, the person I am,” he said. “But I've got my wife, we have a house, we're ready to have some stability with coaching and a place to rest our head every night and I think you're gonna see the best version of me and we're gonna go all-in on this and make that run for the belt.”
Then he chuckles, well aware that some things won’t ever go away.
“You gotta keep evolving, right? But I'm right next to the ocean, so I can take a trip to Aruba or any of the islands at any time. So adventure is not far.”
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