The Eye of The Hurricane: An Exclusive Interview with Ian Heinisch
UFC middleweight contender Ian “The Hurricane” Heinisch had to come to odds with a past that would have crippled most people. Overcoming self doubt, addiction, and being incarcerated in a foreign prison before the age of 21, Heinisch fought for his dream above all else. He achieved it when he was signed by the UFC in 2015, and is now looking to climb the ladder and strive for greatness within the industry. Find out what gives “The Hurricane” his strength in an exclusive Fightlete interview with Heinisch below.
-How much do you think your past sculpted you into the fighter and man that you are today?
Just going through the trials and tribulations that I went through and surviving the things that I did gives me somewhat of a bulletproof mindset. I was going down the wrong road, and I was the kind of guy who liked to take that road. Now that I’ve been there, and I’ve seen where that road leads, I will never go back. When you start to get fame and money, it is easy to want to go down that road so I think it was good for me to experience it then because I know I’ll never go back.
-Was fighting always something that you saw yourself coming back to in the end?
I always knew deep down in my heart that I was going to be not only a fighter but a champion. As time went by that dream was beginning to slip away because I couldn’t train regularly because partying and addiction led me to live a life that wouldn’t allow me to be successful in the sport. Getting locked up allowed me to take a step back and evaluate my life. It forced me to quit using drugs and alcohol, and once I did that I was able to see things a lot more clearly. It was then that I knew I was going to pursue and capture my dream of becoming a fighter.
-You mentioned that you always knew you were going to be a champion; how important do you think confidence is to the sport?
Confidence is everything. You have to live it. You have to put in the work. I can’t just be sitting on my couch eating potato chips and say, “I’m going to be a world champ”. With how hard I work, and the progress that I see on a day-to-day basis, that allows me to comfortably say that I will one day be a champion.
-How great did it feel to get back into the Octagon at UFC 250?
It really felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I was on a two-fight losing streak and losing three fights in a row in the UFC is the putting your job in jeopardy. I was also dealing with a move to Thailand, and I had to come back because of COVID, and I had to find a new team because I left my old team. The pressure and the chaos were definitely adding up, but I thrive in those situations. Going out there and putting on a performance and getting the job done in a minute and fifteen seconds really relieved a lot of pressure and solidified that all my hard work wasn’t for nothing.
-Was it a noticeably different environment fighting with no fans in attendance at UFC 250?
Absolutely. It kind of reminded me of the Contender Series and it was kind of cool actually. It was intimate. I got to just be there with my team, and I felt God’s presence. My emotions weren’t altered by the crowd at all, and I feel like I will be better at controlling those emotions when they are allowed back now thanks to that experience.
-Who is the toughest competitor that you have faced at this point in your career?
They’ve all been tough in different ways, but the two losses that I’ve taken were pretty tough matches. I truly feel like the toughest competitor is myself, though. If I was 100 percent locked in, and was mentally right, I think things could’ve been different. I haven’t ever faced anyone that I thought I could never beat. But I know if I’m not right and mentally focused then I can’t beat guys that I know I can beat.
-What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
My last fight was so big, just because I took such a huge leap of faith by changing gyms and countries and whatever I felt needed to change. A lot of people told me it was a bad idea but I went through with it anyways because I knew it would be a positive change. My story and being an inspiration to people is also something that I am really proud of.
-Are there any fighters that you model your fighting style after?
Honestly not really. I do pick up things from people’s techniques. I pick up things I like but I really want to be authentic. I want to be The Hurricane, the one and only.
-What do you think is your biggest strength?
I would say my mentality is a huge strength of mine as well as being well rounded as a fighter. Having knowledge and skills in every aspect of the game, whether it is striking, grappling, wrestling. There are a lot of fighters out there who are good at certain things, but I am good at everything and I can mix it up better than most.
-What keeps you hungry?
Just the dream man. The dream is not over until I get that belt and I know that is my God-given purpose, and that keeps me working harder and harder every day. I am going to push until I achieve that goal and be able to give back and make a full circle with everything I’ve done.
-Are there any fighters in your camp that you think we should keep an eye on?
Grant Neal and Anthony Adams. One is in Bellator and one fights on Contender Series tomorrow night.
-If you had to choose one UFC fighter to go up against, who would you choose?
Definitely Isreal Aldesanya. He’s got the belt and is undefeated right now. I feel like I’ve got his number so that’s definitely who I’d pick.
-Do you have any idea who you’ll be going up against next?
Fight news coming soon, that’s all I can tell you. (It was later announced that Heinisch will face off against Brendan Allen on the November 7 UFC card.)
-What do you like to do in your free time?
I always like to be in nature, whether it is in the mountains or on the beach. I love yoga, I love fishing. I also love traveling and seeing new places and cultures. Those are some of my favorite hobbies.
-How do you want to be remembered after your career is over?
I just want to be someone who inspired thousands of people and made a difference in this world. I want to leave a legacy.
-I heard you were in the process of writing a book, can you give me some information about that?
Yeah we are just working on a book and movie deal and hopefully they will both be solidified this year. Obviously, with COVID things are really up in the air with everything but that is the goal. We got a lot of offers so we are just sifting through everything and will decide which one we like the best.
-Where do you see yourself after your career is over?
Traveling the world and public speaking. I plan on eventually opening up a gym that would help out inner-city kids who get prison sentences, hopefully try to get them on the right track. I’m just being led by God and wherever he takes me. I am just going to take it one step at a time.