It took about four years, but Dave Herman is finally ready to get serious about his MMA career.
Despite mostly training out of his own living room in Indiana, "Pee-Wee" started out his fight career with 15 consecutive victories, all of them stoppages, including three straight under the EliteXC banner.
After losing two of his next six fights, Herman decided to step up his training and move out to Dan Henderson's Team Quest in California where he put together the skills to defeat Yoshihiro Nakao at Sengoku's "Soul of Fight" event last December.
When his contract was up with Bellator, Herman signed with the UFC and he'll be making his promotional debut on the main card of UFC 131 against Jon Olav Einemo this upcoming Saturday night (June 11, 2011).
"Pee-Wee" told MMAmania.com in this exclusive interview why he chose Team Quest and what he's been improving on since training at a legitimate camp.
Find out what what he expects from his opponent, Jon Olav Einemo, after the jump
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're making your UFC debut this upcoming Saturday. What does it feel like to have your first fight in the promotion on the main card of a numbered event?
Dave Herman: Right now it feels really tiring. Other than that, I'm pretty excited about it. Hopefully I put on a good performance and come out with a victory.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know that you've trained by yourself in the past. What caused you to make the switch to go out to California and to Team Quest?
Dave Herman: I was training by myself for a bit but things weren't really working out there and then this last fall I traveled around the country checking out a bunch of different gyms. I came out to Quest for a week in November and I really liked it out there. Once I got everything wrapped up at home, I hopped in my truck and drove out here.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're training in there alongside guys like Sokoudjou and Dan Henderson. Was that one of the key factors in the decision, constantly being in there working your sparring with some talented strikers like that?
Dave Herman: Yeah, that was part of it. Honestly when I came out here, I really liked everyone that was here. Everybody was really nice and there were obviously some good workout partners too but I just kinda got along with everybody and really like it out here.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've been criticized in the past for your striking style, like some scouting reports mention you leave your hands down too much. Is that something that they've been working with you a lot in your time that you've been with Quest.
Dave Herman: Yeah, I used to strike with my hands down and my chin up. Apparently that's a bad thing. I've been working on it over the past two years since I started training for real. I've been trying to focus on it more for sure.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've also been known for a flashy style, willing to throw out all kinds of crazy kicks. Is that something that they've allowed you to continue doing or are they trying to stifle that and instead make you more technical?
Dave Herman: Partially, I don't really work on that stuff. A lot of the stuff that I do, I just make up on my own anyways. Mostly, I've been trying to focus on technique, getting better technically but at the same time, in a lot of my old fights, I'd always have a goal of something stupid that I plan on doing in every fight. I don't really fully expect to do it but I'll be like "yeah, I'm gonna do 'this' in a fight" and then I get in there and actually do it. Sometimes it works out good and other times not so much.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I don't want you to give it away, but is there anything stupid that you might plan on trying to do against Einemo?
Dave Herman: I haven't really thought about it. I haven't had any stupid moves lately that I've really wanted to do. When I fought Sokkoudjou actually, my move that fight was a spinning back kick. I was messing around and saying, "oh, I'm gonna do this in the fight," and everyone was like, "dude, you're an idiot. Do not do that." Of course I did it and I slipped and fell down but I think it looked good even though it didn't work.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Yeah I saw that fight, pretty crazy. That had to be frustrating, earning the disqualification. I heard that you ended up hanging out with Sokoudjou in the afterparty afterwards. Was that one of the other reasons that you teamed up with Quest because you guys had a good time afterwards?
Dave Herman: No, not really. I never thought about it that way. In most of my fights, I get along with my opponent. We had a couple beers together and hung out a little. We didn't really talk about fighting or anything though. We were just at the party and having a good time. Although when I came out here to train, he was here and he was cool about it too so it just seemed like a good fit.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now you're upcoming opponent, Jon Olav Einemo, his last fight was before you even started your MMA career, which is just crazy to think about. There are so many question marks when you're stepping into the cage with him since he hasn't fought in so long. What are you kind of expecting from him?
Dave Herman: I'm not really sure what to expect since he hasn't had a fight in five years. Obviously there's no recent video. Hopefully he's a lot older, slower and more tired.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Is there any concern about all this time he's been putting in with all the Golden Glory guys because they're such talented strikers?
Dave Herman: Yeah, I figured that because he trains there, his striking is obviously improved since his last fight. He's also a world class grappler so it should be a pretty good fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Since this is your first UFC fight, it's most likely your introduction to about 90% of mixed martial arts casual fans, are you taking your training really seriously this time? I know in the past you've had problems with that.
Dave Herman: Yeah, I haven't drank in a while. I've been training pretty hard and trying to show up in good shape. In my last fight, I didn't drink for like a month before that although right after that I did go to the Bahama's for a week and get pretty drunk. I did accidentally go snowboarding one week out and that was not a good idea. That was my first time snowboarding too. The next day I could not walk, move, my entire body was just bruised. Now I know how to snowboard so that's good.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know you love to eat. Do you think, if you'd been born a smaller person, would you have been able to stick with a diet and stay in a smaller weight class or are you just lucky to have naturally been a heavyweight?
Dave Herman: I looooove pizza and peanut butter and jelly waffles. Honestly, I reckon everyone should try peanut butter and jelly waffles. They always tell me, "ehhh, I don't know about that," but then they try them and they're hooked, man. They're hooked!
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What do you think the fans can expect in your debut?
Dave Herman: I just want to put on a good show. I really hope I don't go out there and embarrass myself in my UFC debut, that wouldn't be good. No matter what happens, I'll fight hard, put on a good show and make it something that people want to see again.
Will Herman make a big splash in his UFC debut or will Einemo send him back to Team Quest with his tail between his legs?