In my continuing series of interviews, I'd like to introduce you to another guy fighting out of Highlander MMA in Louisville, KY - Joe "The Deal" Heink. Thanks to Joe for agreeing to the interview.
Check after the jump for the full interview as well as some of Joe's fight videos.
(FYI, I posted this on FightTicker first, so when you see a reference to FightTicker or "FT" asking the questions, it's really me, PV.)
FightTicker: First, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Joe Heink: I’m 23 years old, originally from Lexington, KY…I came to Louisville to go to Bellarmine University, and I graduated in 2008 with a degree in History.
FT: How did you get into MMA?
JH: I started out just training BJJ, after watching some of our guys have their first fights, I decided that I could do that too.
FT: What is your current record?
JH: Amateur: 8-1 Pro: 2-0
FT: In what promotions have you fought?
JH: RFL, AFL, Wild Bill’s Fight Night, Warfare MMA to name a few
FT: Are you able to train full-time, or do you work a regular job as well?
JH: As of right now I train full-time.
FT: Are you able to work a typical training camp before a fight, and how long does that generally last?
JH: I haven’t done a traditional camp yet, but I’m going to start one 5-6 weeks before my next one.
FT: What’s an average day of training like for you?
JH: In the morning I either see my strength/conditioning coach or I work out (strength and cardio) on my own, then I teach and train techniques in the evenings.
FT: What kind of mental preparations do you go through before a fight?
JH: Mostly I get myself very relaxed…I’m not one of those guys who gets all angry and spazzed out before he gets in the ring. I do get a certain intensity going, but I stay calm.
FT: What kind of training do you consider to be more important than the others?
JH:Any kind of training with a fully resisting opponent is pretty important!!
FT: Where did you get your nickname, “The Deal”?
JH: It was given to me by Mike Yanez, because “no one can deal with my Jiu Jitsu” haha.
FT: The Highlander Fight Team recently hit a milestone in getting win # 100 as a team – how did it feel to be the guy who hit that mark?
JH: It was awesome, but still just one win. A lot of other guys worked really hard to get Highlander where it is.
FT: Mike Yanez recently accepted a job as a trainer for the XFC in Florida – now that he’s mainly in Florida, what is your day-to-day role at Highlander?
JH: I’m co-owning it with Brian Holmes, another fighter. I make a lot of decisions regarding the school and training programs, and I am the head instructor.
FT: What do you think of Mike’s new position?
JH: It sounds like he is enjoying it! I have yet to visit down there and see for myself.
FT: One of your teammates, CT Turner, has recently been enjoying some success in the XFC – do you see him fighting for the title any time soon?
JH: There’s been some talk about it, CT is down there training now, he’s in a great position for a shot.
FT: What are your initial impressions of the XFC?
JH: They put on an impressive show! Any promotion that can get that many people pumped up to go and watch MMA is fine by me!
FT: You only have one loss (as an amateur) – a decision loss to Neal Craft – in a rematch in November (as a pro), you submitted him in under two minutes – how did you feel after that win?
JH: After I won, I felt that I had overcome a loss which had been bothering me all year. Losing the decision in January was frustrating to me, but I knew that I had gotten a LOT better since then, and I knew that if I fought Neal again I would have a lot more weapons in my arsenal.
FT: What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in your fighting career so far?
JH: Beating Neal Craft in the rematch.
FT: You’re currently 10-1, with all 10 of your wins coming by submission – clearly your BJJ background has proven effective – where do you think BJJ ranks in terms of skill sets necessary for strong competition in MMA?
JH: BJJ is wholly necessary for MMA! I think the wrestling/BJJ style we train at Highlander is particularly effective for the sport.
FT: What is your favorite technique?
JH: Hmm, probably the triangle.
FT: As a pro fighter, what kind of sponsorship deals do you have/are you working on?
JH: I have a sponsorship deal with Brawl and Maul, a clothing company from Ft. Lauderdale. I am currently working on a few others but I can’t name any names.
FT: How have you seen the sport of MMA grow since you’ve been involved with it?
JH: When I first started, amateur fighting was pretty much unregulated and not standardized between various events and promotions. Now it is all under the state Boxing commissions, which I feel is a good thing because it keeps things organized and keeps the fighters safer with insurance and medical support. Also, MMA recently got legalized in Tennessee, which is awesome.
FT: Who are some fighters, past or present, that you admire?
JH: Kenny Florian, Minotauro, Matt Serra, GSP, Sakuraba.
FT: In your opinion, who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world?
JH: Anderson Silva.
FT:What do you like most about being a pro fighter?
JH: I get paid to do what I love!
FT:What do you like least?
JH: Its a tough schedule and its hard on me sometimes.
FT: What’s something you’ve had to deal with you didn’t expect when you first started in MMA?
JH: Hate to say it, but having to deal with drama and bickering type stuff.
FT: What kind of hobbies do you enjoy in your down time?
JH: Music (both listening to and making it), reading, video games, and being with my friends and beautiful girlfriend!
FT: How do your family and friends feel about your fighting career?
JH: They weren’t sure about it at first and had a lot of questions, but they all support me!
FT: When do you think your next fight will be?
JH: February 20 in Knoxville, TN!
FT: Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions, Joe – are there any people or sponsors you’d like to give a shout out to?
JH: Mike Yanez, Brawl and Maul and all the guys at Physique Institute!
So that's Joe - really nice guy. I intended to interview him immediately after he got the 100th win for Highlander, but time constraints prevented that. However, when I ran into him at the Soneca tournament (where I also met Alan Belcher), he readily agreed to the interview.
Here are a couple videos of some of Joe's fights.
(Joe is wearing the white shorts with black trim.)
(Joe is in the white shorts - not a good angle on his submission win, but there's a great slam around the :50 mark.)
(Joe is the one in the black shorts with the white Brawl and Maul logo.)
More of Joe's fights (along with other Highlander stuff) are available on YouTube here.
You can find Highlander on the web here.
I'll be back in the future with more from Joe and the rest of the Highlander crew.