After 20-plus fights in other promotions, Dave Herman is happy to be in the UFC, but he’s not just here to say he made it. At UFC 131, he’s looking to make Jon Olav Einemo his 21st win.
It’s hard to imagine any fighter making it to 15-0 while getting the biggest part of his training at home, wrestling with his buddies, and hitting the gym to do some cardio.
Enter former Sengoku and Bellator heavyweight Dave “Pee-Wee” Herman, who makes his UFC debut on Saturday night in Vancouver.
Herman has always been viewed as a physical specimen in MMA. At six-foot-five-inches and 240 pounds, Herman is a beast both in and out of the cage, but before his first loss 2009, he didn’t know what real MMA training consisted of.
“When I started out I didn’t have coaches or anything. I’d run, do some cardio, lift a little, and every once in a while I’d roll around with my friends, but that was about it,” Herman told MMAWeekly Radio.
“None of them really fought either, maybe drunk in a bar, but I don’t really count that. Once I had my first loss, I actually joined a gym and started training for real.”
The training has consisted of joining Team Quest in Temecula, Calif., where he works with several top fighters including current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson. Herman is the first to point out that his coaches found a lot of flaws in his game, but they have begun to mold him into a true mixed martial artist.
“Team Quest has been great, I love it out here. To work out with Dan, whose skill set is pretty awesome, and just having good coaches, I’m focused on things I never focused on,” Herman said.
“I’m starting to look like I know what I’m doing for once; that’s kind of nice.”
Normally a wrecking machine that has finished 15 opponents by KO or TKO in the first round, Herman is starting to discover true technique and how to finish fights the right way. He even pulled off an omo plata submission during a fight in Bellator.
As he makes his UFC debut after 20-plus fights in other organizations, including fighting in front of huge crowds in Japan, Herman is happy to finally get a shot in the Octagon, but getting a shot isn’t enough.
There is that stigma among fighters making their UFC debut that they’ve made it. Like getting called up to the big leagues in baseball. For Herman however, making it isn’t enough.
“If your goal is only to make it, maybe you need to set the bar a little higher,” Herman said. “Some people are happy with that, they’re just like ‘hey, I made it here,’ but I need some money so I can retire, not gonna fight forever.”
Being a veteran of the Japanese fight scene, Herman is also used to last-minute changes in opponents or just last-minute fights in general, so when the UFC came calling a few weeks back to offer him a chance to step up on the main card and face grappling ace Jon Olav Einemo, he was happy to accept.
“They asked me if I wanted a chance to fight on the main card against a tougher guy and I couldn’t really miss the opportunity,” Herman commented. “It doesn’t really make a difference for me.”
Even when talking about going from a brawling striker like Joey Beltran, who he was originally scheduled to face, to a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter like Einemo, Herman shrugs it off. If there’s one thing you can’t say about Dave Herman, he’s as cool as the other side of the pillow.
“For me, my game plan’s probably still going to be about the same, which is the lack of a game plan usually,” Herman joked.
“I don’t really think much of it, just go out there have fun, do what I do and hope for the best.”
The best will of course be a win in his first fight in the UFC this weekend in Vancouver.
Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for MMAWeekly.com.
Follow @DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon a question or comment.
Follow MMAWeekly.com on Twitter and Facebook.