UFC 241's Ian Heinisch says painkiller relapse helped him renew focus in MMA career

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Ian Heinisch has accepted that his battle is a daily one, and that’s made him a better human being.

Heinisch already has experienced more in his 31 years than most could live over several lifetimes. His tale of ending up in a Canary Islands prison due to drug running, only to learn how to fight in a fight club, and taking that knowledge all the way to a ranked middleweight status in the UFC has been well documented.

But he’s also learned over the past couple years that even though his redemption story is something that could end up a movie one of these days, he’s still having ups and downs.

Heinisch (13-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC), who meets Derek Brunson on the main card of UFC 241 on Saturday, told MMA Junkie at Thursday’s media day that he briefly relapsed two years ago before again righting the ship.

“I’ve always had these addiction problems,” Heinisch said. “And before one of my fights I tore my LCL, and I got these prescription painkillers and started getting hooked on them, and started going toward that scene. I got baptized, and God gave me the strength to cure my addiction. I haven’t touched anything since then, a year-and-a-half ago. Since then, my trajectory is unreal.”

“I quit drinking for seven years, but I still have an addictive side to me,” Heinisch continued. “An addictive personality, but once I got a dose of painkillers from a doctor, I thought it was to help me, but it hurt me a lot more. I had to reevalute, and I went all in with God, and it’s changed my life forever.”

Since that brief reminder of how quickly it can all fall apart, the results speak for themselves. Heinisch earned his way into the UFC through Dana White’s Contender Series, then took back-to-back decisions over Cezar Ferreira and Antonio Carlos Junior.

After the latter bout, Heinisch called out Brunson (19-7 MMA, 10-5 UFC), who obliged by giving him the biggest fight of his career.

Brunson has been known for either scoring vicious knockouts or getting knocked out himself in the process. While Brunson believes he’s corrected that, Heinisch says he’ll goad Brunson into another finish defeat. 

“You know, you always resort back to that when it’s your instinct, and that’s his instinct,” Heinisch said. “So we’ll see either way he fights, I’m going to put some pressure on him that he’s not going to like, and I plan on hitting him with some shots and stuffing takedowns, and I believe he’ll get emotional in there.”

UFC 241 takes place Saturday at Honda Center. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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