Dave Herman has tried to get under the skin of the world’s best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the past.
And to be quite frank, it didn’t work. For Herman’s fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira this past October, he made it a point to tell the world jiu-jitsu wouldn’t work on him. Then he went out and got submitted by “Big Nog” at UFC 153.
On Saturday, Herman (21-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) fights Gabriel Gonzaga (14-7 MMA, 9-6 UFC) at UFC 162, which takes place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. And while he hasn’t made the same drastic proclamations this time around, it doesn’t seem like it would matter. Not to Gonzaga, anyway.
Gonzaga, whose most recent three wins have been by submission, said if Herman made such claims for their fight, he wouldn’t believe him, for starters, and it definitely wouldn’t get under his skin. He said Herman can say he doesn’t train jiu-jitsu all he wants, but it’s not true.
“Piss me off? Definitely not,” told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “I know he’s doing that just to be controversial. It’s impossible that Dave Herman doesn’t train jiu-jitsu because he knows the importance. In my opinion, he’s training jiu-jitsu and training how to avoid (submissions). If you train how to avoid wrestling, you’re training wrestling. If you train how to avoid striking, you’re training striking.”
Gonzaga’s most famous win was a head-kick knockout of the most legendary head-kick artist of all time, Mirko Filipovic. When “Napao” knocked out “Cro Cop” in 2007, he got a title shot against Randy Couture.
In Gonzaga’s first UFC stint, in which he went 7-5 before being cut loose, it was that striking game he was known for. But after submissions of Ednaldo Oliveira and Ben Rothwell, opponents may be thinking differently.
Gonzaga’s goal on Saturday’s FX-televised preliminary card is to get people thinking about that striking again.
“Wherever the fight goes, I need to be prepared to be there,” he said. “I’m trying to bring back a little bit of punching and kicking, but if the fight goes to the ground, I need to be ready to apply my jiu-jitsu.”
Gonzaga believes fans are starting to understand the intricacies of the ground game a lot more these days. But he knows it’s highlight reels that they want to see. And that means knockouts.
“The striking – the knockout – is a good feeling because you’re not expecting it, and one punch can finish the fight,” Gonzaga said. “With a submission, you set up the threat. Your movement to get to the position is different. The fans like to see it, but the fans really like to see blood and people falling with the knockouts.”
But however he gets a win on Saturday would no doubt be fine with Gonzaga, who needs to rebound from an April knockout loss to Travis Browne that lasted just 71 seconds.
The 34-year-old Massachusetts-based Brazilian toyed with retirement before he got back to the UFC. But now he believes he’s got the skill level still to make another title run. He’s not ready to hang things up just yet.
“Until my body is ready to go, I think (I’ll keep fighting),” he said. “I don’t have a date. As long as I still feel healthy to do it, I’m going to do it. My skill level, I definitely do have. You need to have good fights and a good showing for the crowd, like a knockout, and then you go faster to the title shot. If you keep winning the fights and aren’t so exciting, they still hold you back.
“With the skills, I have what it takes to get back there.”
For the latest on UFC 162, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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