As Matt Mitrione prepares for a forced layoff from the octagon, another UFC heavyweight is set to return.
Following a 30-day stint in rehab, Dave Herman this past week passed a UFC-mandated drug test and is now cleared to fight, manager Shu Hirata today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) and the UFC confirmed.
“He passed everything, so he just wants to get back to his normal life of fighting,” Hirata said.
Hirata said Herman, who declined an interview request, underwent rehab in his home city of Temecula, Calif. Upon completing the program, Hirata notified the UFC, which ordered the treatment program and a clean test following Herman’s second positive test for marijuana.
With a clean result this past Monday, UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva approved the returning Herman to fight, Hirata said.
“They’re looking for fights now,” he said.
Hirata called the UFC “generous” for not releasing his client and said Herman accepts responsibility for his actions. The fighter tested positive for marijuana a second time following UFC 153, which took place Oct. 13 at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro. Herman (21-5, MMA, 1-3 UFC) submitted to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (34-7-1 MMA, 5-3 UFC) in the event’s co-main draw, which served as his third consecutive loss in the octagon.
Herman opened his UFC career with a “Fight of the Night” TKO win over John-Olav Einemo at UFC 131 in 2011.
Hirata said Herman’s next fight is his last chance to turn things around.
“He’s got to go out and win and not test positive for marijuana to stay in the UFC,” he said.
“He understands the opportunity he has now,” the manager added. “He realizes it’s stupid to blow this opportunity. There are so many heavyweight fighters in the world who would love to be in the UFC, and he’s one of the lucky ones. He might as well do everything he can right now, and he have fun when he’s 40, 50 years old. His mind is straight-set right now.”
The manager added that Herman is not an advocate for marijuana, as with UFC welterweight Matt Riddle, who was released by the UFC after twice testing positive for the drug. Riddle later blasted the promotion’s policies and said he used marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Prior to UFC 136, Herman was flagged for marijuana and denied using the drug in an interview with MMAjunkie.com. He denied using the drug and said he might have inhaled it via second-hand smoke.
“Maybe it’s just being in the same room,” he said. “I don’t know. I see people smoke every day.”
Following Herman’s second positive test, which came alongside Stephan Bonnar‘s second infraction for steroids at UFC 153, the UFC consulted officials from professional baseball, basketball and football before deciding to order rehab for the heavyweight.
“We feel really strongly that there’s a difference between performance-enhancing drugs and street drugs such as marijuana,” said Ratner.
Bonnar was suspended one year, but retired shortly after his failure.
Ratner, who served as the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s executive director before joining the UFC in 2006, recently went before the commission to recommend lesser penalties for marijuana infractions.
“I’m an advocate for changing the way they do things,” he said today. “But right now, we follow what Nevada does.”
This past year, the NSAC suspended recent welterweight title challenger Nick Diaz a second time for marijuana metabolites, handing down a one-year suspension and fine.
Hirata believes Herman won’t walk down the same road again.
“I don’t think marijuana is addictive,” he said. “I think it’s more like a habit. To me, it’s stupid to do if you’re an athlete, especially if you’re getting ready for a fight. I was raised in Hawaii, so I grew up around the marijuana culture.
“But you’re an athlete, so it doesn’t help you at all. I don’t think marijuana will help you in any sport.”
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Dave Herman)