Ed Herman hopes that 2012 continues as his 2011 ended. After suffering a horrific knee injury in a fight against Aaron Simpson, Herman spent nearly two years on the shelf after surgery. He was able to return to the octagon triumphantly, gaining wins over Tim Credeur and Kyle Noke. Now set to face off against Clifford Starks at UFC 143, Herman looks to continue his comeback to the upper echelon of the middleweight division.
Herman went through tough times during his layoff, forced to take on bartending and security jobs to make ends meet while still going into debt. But he has also learned the value of patience, and the maxim of “good things come to those who wait.”
“It was rough. Financially and mentally. Wondering if I was even going to be able to come back. Definitely a hard thing to go through. We live paycheck to paycheck like everybody else, until you get up to the real big money. We make a decent living but at the same time being out for that long, it’s rough. I went into debt pretty far, thirty or forty grand just to be able to pay the bills and support my family. To get back, get in there and get a couple of wins right off the bat was great to be able to pay some bills and get out of debt.”
“I tried [to come back too soon] originally, but then I got injured again after my first surgery. I had to have the whole ACL surgery again. So that time I decided I had better take my time if I wanted to make another run, if I was to have any chance of coming back. So I think that the timeline that I had coming back was good off of the second injury.”
The lessons taught from the injury and subsequent rehabilitation have bled over into Herman’s training habits as well. He has the demeanor of a more mature and intelligent fighter than the one who initially earned the nickname “Short Fuse”.
“I’ve adjusted things quite a bit actually. I’m out in Colorado now so I’ve got the new camp and I just stepped back a little bit and I listen to my body a little more than I used to. I just turned 31, so it’s not the same as when you’re 22 and you can train all day and not feel any pain. I spar a little bit less, at Team Quest we used to bang every day. 5 or 6 days a week, we would throw down. I’ve cut that back to 3 or 4 days of sparring and trying to train a little smarter.”
Herman’s evolution also comes with the choice of a new locale. After training for years in Oregon with Team Quest, Herman made the move to set up shop in Colorado. The change in scenery appears to have been just what the doctor ordered for re-invigorating his career. While he looks back fondly at the TQ days, his voice gains more excitement as he discusses his current home.
“I miss my training partners from [Team Quest], I had great training partners. But at the same time we were losing a lot of guys. I feel that in Colorado there’s a big MMA scene. I have to travel a little bit more, I drive down to Denver a couple days a week and to Boulder. They’re both about an hour from where I live, so I have to travel a bit more but I’m still getting great training. I’m training with guys like Nate Marquardt, Brendan Schaub and Eliot Marshall so there’s a lot of good guys to train with.”
When the talk turns to Starks, Herman’s confidence shines through. While not sounding cocky or arrogant, it’s clear that he believes that this fight is destined to end with his arm raised in victory.
“[Starks is] a real athletic guy, a good wrestler. But I feel like he’s fairly green in the sport and I feel like his inexperience in the striking game and in submissions is going to help me out. Plus I feel like my wrestling is just as good as his. It’s a different style of wrestling but I don’t think he’s as accomplished as a wrestler.”
You can forgive Herman for being confident. Starks is a late replacement in the bout against Herman, and to hear him tell it he was almost desperate for someone to step up and save his fight on the card.
“It’s kind of a crazy situation. I was originally supposed to fight Chris Weidman. I think he was injured. We kind of looking for an opponent and Clifford Starks was the only one they could find. I was already halfway through training camp and my guy got hurt, so it kind of leaves me floating and not knowing what’s going on. My agent really pushed for me to stay on that card and for [UFC] to find me an opponent. Thanks to Clifford Starks for taking the fight on such short notice and thanks to UFC for grabbing somebody and getting me fighting. I really don’t want to wait any longer.”
Herman’s fight with Starks is rumoured to be on the portion on the undercard shown on Fuel TV, as part of the UFC’s new deal with Fox. Herman looks forward to the increased exposure the deal can potentially bring UFC fighters.
“I think it’s great because there’s going to be a major mainstream network pushing MMA which we’ve never had before. Hopefully get some more acceptance out there and people will watch the sport that haven’t seen it before. Sponsorship-wise, I think it’ll be a big deal too being on Fox because it’s a mainstream channel so hopefully a lot of those mainstream sponsors will jump on board and give guys who are on the undercard the opportunity to get TV time, exposure, and [bigger] sponsors.”
A win over Starks will mark Herman’s third consecutive victory since the injury. He is hopeful that will put him back in the upper-tier of the 185 pound division. While he’s not picky about his choice of opponents, he does offer some suggestions.
“I hope they’ll give me a top 10 guy, or somebody with some hype around them to try and get my name towards the top again. Like I said, one fight at a time for me but if I can get this win against Starks it gives me the opportunity to fight somebody in the top 10.”
“Everybody I’ve lost to is on my radar. [Aaron] Simpson’s on there, but so are some other guys. [Alan] Belcher, Demian Maia, who I would love to have another crack at as well.”
Whatever the scenario, Herman sounds like he is in a very positive frame of mind headed in to 2012 and what he believes will be a banner year for his new camp in Colorado.
“I opened a new gym out here in Colorado called Trials MMA (trialsmma.com), I’m hoping to grow my gym, my student base and my team here in Colorado. Help my teammates get back on track, my teammate [former IFL champ] Ryan Schultz has been out for a couple of years and just had his first fight back. He’s looking to make a run and get into the UFC so hopefully that will happen. That would be good for our team and our gym.”
When asked specifically about his own career in the year to come, Herman laughs and lets a bit of the old ‘Short Fuse” shine through.
“A lot of ass whuppings and a lot of paychecks.”
Follow Ed Herman on Twitter: @EdHermanUFC
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