Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream UFC 258 live on your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.
Nothing Ian Heinisch faces inside the cage can compare with the demons he has already conquered away from competition. He did, after all, once call Rikers Island home.
Heinisch will seek his seventh victory in nine appearances when he meets “The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner Kelvin Gastelum in a UFC 258 middleweight showcase this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The 32-year-old Denver native enters his latest assignment on the strength of a 74-second technical knockout of Gerald Meerschaert some eight months ago. It gave Heinisch some breathing room after back-to-back losses and put him back in position to make a run at the Top 10 at 185 pounds. The Genesis MMA representative has compiled a 3-2 record since he joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster in 2019.
As Heinisch irons out the remaining detail ahead of his three-round encounter with Gastelum, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. Wrestling provides his foundation.
Heinisch was a two-time All-American wrestler at Ponderosa High School in Parker, Colorado, and went on to wrestle at North Idaho College. However, his involvement in drug trafficking derailed his career and ultimately led to his incarceration on multiple occasions, first on the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa and later at Rikers Island in New York.
2. He hit the ground running in MMA.
“The Hurricane” won his first eight fights as a pro and 13 of his first 14, a Sept. 8, 2017 submission defeat to Markus Perez his only misstep. While the loss to Perez cost him the vacant Legacy Fighting Alliance middleweight crown, he went on to capture the promotion’s interim title less than a year later before being promoted to undisputed champion.
3. Timing was everything while he rose through the ranks.
Heinisch has five knockout wins on his resume, but three of them took place consecutively—at a most opportune time and within a seven-month window. He punched out Daniel Madrid on Jan. 19, 2018, wiped out Gabriel Checco with punches on May 4, 2018 and cut down Justin Sumter with elbows on July 31, 2018. The victory over Sumter was part of Season 2 of Dana White’s Contender Series and resulted in Heinisch being signed by the UFC.
4. Some might consider him a creature of habit.
Heinisch has delivered only two of his 14 career wins by submission, both by scarf hold armlock. He tapped Jeremy Spelts with the maneuver at a Sparta Combat League event in 2016 and did the same to Lucas Rota under the LFA banner nearly a year to the day later.
5. He has shown some all-or-nothing tendencies.
A former Sparta Combat League and Legacy Fighting Alliance champion, Heinisch has established a clearly defined pattern when it comes to the win column: He either finishes his fights early or goes the distance. He has secured seven wins inside the first round and seven others by decision, accounting for all 14 of his professional victories.