Conor Heun is the closest thing MMA has to a Shaman, a master of the elements, finely in tune with the earth and the energies of the world around him. I’ve come to grips with that, and I hope you can too, because you’re going to have to by the time you finish this interview. Rather than stand atop a mountain in Colorado guiding wary souls gently back onto their lost paths, Conor Heun is channeling his energies into fighting for now, and the next opponent he plans on sharing the cage experience with is Ryan Couture, which will be going down at Tate Vs. Rousey.
We discussed his upcoming opponent, Conor’s training regimen and his methods for righting one’s internal path via the use of hallucinogens in this interview conducted by Elena Lopez.
Do you think Ryan Couture is a little bit over his head in his future bout with you? You know he’s a tough kid but I don’t think he’s fought anyone like me. He’s a pro fighter sure, but I look at his fights and I look at my fight with KJ Noons for example. I learned a lot from that fight with KJ as far as fighters staying outside and scoring points. Couture is going to be in a fight not a point match I’m going to bring him a war. If he beats me it’s a huge step up for him I’m not sure if he’s willing to go as far as I’m willing to go to win the fight. He fought my friend Bollinger at Tuff E Nuff in an amateur fight and they went to a draw. Bollinger is a real tough kid so he’s good but his heart, hands and conditioning in that fight were nowhere near my level. Ryan’s gonna have a real tough time.
The Majority of his wins are by submission, how will you handle that? He’s obviously proficient. I’ve watched his fights but his opponents have made mistakes I’m not going to make. I took second at Grapplers Quest out here and I was taking down other finalists, he took third in state in high school wrestling and never wrestled in college. I took second and went on to wrestle five years at college so he has nothing on me. The only place where it he might have the advantage is because he has I guess what we can call ‘Ring Generalship’? He’s very intelligent and he’s going to know the rules and how to fight and how to win. He fights to win on points, I fight to tear people’s heads off their body. That’s the difference between him and me. I know he has some submission wins, but he doesn’t seem to throw anything with bad intentions. I haven’t seen any weapons out of him that look like they can do damage. He has some knees, but they don’t look devastating, he has nothing I haven’t seen.
It seems like you’re always switching from Colorado to Hollywood, why is that? I like to train at altitude. I trained out New Mexico a bit for my last fight. The only thing to fear in a fight is running out of gas. When I train at altitude, I’m sure that I will be able to have the gas tank I need so I can put the pedal to the metal when I’m in the cage. Knowing that I can go so hard like that frees me from all worrying or doubt. I just open up. Outside that I’ve been training with GSP’s old wrestling coach and he is great. I’m working out with Marquardt and Ed Herman and tough, tough guys. Running up peaks and doing all these mountain runs with weight vests. The altitude and training partners out in Colorado puts me in a place where I’m just so confident in the work I put in, that I’ll be able to just go out there and have fun when the time comes. That’s what he has to look forward to. I immerse myself in this to improve my self and I let that inner animal out, to be my primal self and having a full gas tank is important in that.
After your last fight with Magno Almeida, you cut a video encouraging all fighters not to tap out. Do you still stand by it? You know, I’m trying to evolve, I’m trying to learn from my mistakes. I guess it really depends on the moment. If it’s other people no I’m going to say tap out, tap out right away. For me I want to keep the match going. Self preservation is great for other people, for me I would rather die than lose. When I go out there I go out there to lay it down. Going out there with that mentality that I have that my training is right and I’ve done what I can so I can be free to take whatever the combat has for me in the cage. No I don’t recommend anyone not to tap. But for me as a Colorado fighter that’s my choice. I’m not going to tap.
Speaking of tappping out, do you think the earth will submit to whatever 2012 apocalypse the Mayans foretold? No the Earth won’t. We are just a minor problem for the Earth right now. As far as if the Mayans are right and we’re wiped out? I don’t know but if something happens I’ll be up in the mountains of Colorado leading the army of the new world.
How can a person increase their enjoyment of life? Learning to live in the moment not the future, not the past, and to free themselves from worry and just breathe and focus on the gift that is the present moment. Know that every breath is a blessing and every moment is such a gift and so beautiful. If you’re worrying about the future then you are missing out on the moment. Forget past mistakes, live.
Why did you choose 10th planet (as a gym)? When I moved out to California in 2006 I was working a desk job selling dental equipment and I really missed the competition. I was talking to my college roommate and I was saying how I wanted to go out and mix it up and he told me about Eddie Bravo. There was a guy out by me who was teaching Jiu Jitsu without the funny costume and so I went down, he invited me in and so I jumped in with both feet. Eddie was the first guy I ever trained with and no gi is a lot like wrestling and best of all it was close to my house so the rest is history.
So you prefer no gi to a gi? Yeah, well, I think the gi game is beautiful. I think it’s a different game and fun, when I’m done competing I’m sure I’m going to immerse myself into the gi game. It’s slower, the holds are different, tighter and more control. It’s not as explosive a game, like wrestling, it’s a slower game. My dad trains with a gi and has a great time. One day I will put focus on it, but guys aren’t wearing a gi when I fight them…so.
Can you tell us the most satisfying experience you had under the influence of a hallucinogen? Feel free to explain in detail.
The biggest thing that hallucinogens provide for me is the sense of ‘one’. You know, we are all one. The acute sense that everything is right in the world. Like I said it’s easy to get caught up in the future or the events of the past. But when under the influence of hallucinogens or psychedelics, I think that it sort of breaks down that sense of self or self-importance maybe. It heightens that connection to our fellow man and Earth and to our relatives that have passed. Every time that I’ve experienced something like that it just reaffirms my faith in the path that I’m on. These sacraments are something I may take at the start of my training camp and then again, maybe right after a fight just to check in with the universe and check in with the universal consciousness to make sure I’m on the right path.
One of the best experiences I’ve had was on psilocybin following my loss to Jorge Gurgel. I had blown out my knee a week before the fight and had really gotten beat up in the fight trying to stand with him because I couldn’t shoot off my right leg. I was really down on myself and was questioning if the sport was something I wanted to continue to be involved with. I was out in the middle of the desert and I was meditating and the clouds just sort of convened above me and I looked up to the sky and just sort of felt a sense of being embraced by the universe and wrapped up in this blanket of unconditional love. I saw myself fighting Jorge on TV and then the perspective shifted and pulled back and I saw that what I was doing in the fight was so small and tiny in the overall universal perspective. I saw that what I was doing was tiny and insignificant but I also saw that it was just one tiny moment but that it was part of a much greater cosmic battle of positive vs. negative forces in the world. I saw that by fighting with all my heart I enable people to do whatever it is that they do with all of their hearts. I saw that the outcome of the fight was insignificant, what was important was that I gave everything I had to my purpose and that I did it with love and integrity. I saw how if everyone approached everything in this manner that the positivity in the world would overcome the darkness. I cried and cried because I felt so thankful for being able to be apart of the battle in the big picture, a battle for love and compassion for our fellow man.
Is there any type of mental preparation you practice in order to not have a ‘bad’ hallucinogenic experience? You just have to be open to the experience. A ‘bad’ experience? I wouldn’t label anything as bad. Losing a fight isn’t bad, breaking a bone isn’t bad. It’s all those types of things that people put words and judgements on, it’s short sighted. If you go through something that might be ‘scary’ or that shows you something traumatic it’s just something that you can learn from. Hallucinogens are a natural teacher. look at all of our teachers. Sometimes you win a fight, sometimes you lose the fight sometimes it hurts, you have to go in with an open mind to draw from the experience and sometimes the lesson may not be the lesson you are hoping for or expecting but if you approach this with the proper respect and mindfulness, not as something to be used as a party drug or have a nice time, you can learn a lot. I use it as a sacred experience. It’s a sacrament to me that enables me to expand my mind and my consciousness and it opens my eyes to the energy around me. If it’s something scary or weird, what I’m learning to do is acknowledge it. If I’m feeling scared then I dive deeper and I think about how I’m scared. Why do I feel that way? I allow it to wash over me. Too many pass judgement and label something as bad, like oh this is a bad trip because you aren’t seeing or feeling something you wanted. You’re experience is different than your expected experience. The key is to free yourself from your expectations. I just go in and I search for the teachings. Whatever comes is what was meant to come.
Anything else you would like to add? I just want to send my love to my opponent Ryan Couture. I wish the best for him and the training camp goes wonderful and I hope he tests me and pushes me to my limits and I do the same to him so we can both take something from this experience.