Ready to ignite: Interview with UFC 143 middleweight Ed Herman

Photo of Ed Herman by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC vía Getty Images

It wasn't too long ago that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight and former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 3 runner up, Ed Herman, was considering retirement after a horrific reaggravation of a knee injury.

His return to mixed martial arts (MMA) action was delayed by 21 months, but boy, he's made up for lost time very quickly.

At UFC on Versus 5, "Short Fuse" blasted Tim Credeur with a first round knockout, which lasted just 40 seconds. He followed that performance up by tapping Kyle Noke with a heel hook, also a first round finish.

It's an incredible comeback story, and the Trials MMA fighter will get an opportunity to continue his inspirational tale when he steps into the Octagon this Saturday night (Feb. 4, 2012) against relatively inexperienced wrestler Clifford Starks in the opening bout of the pay-per-view (PPV) main card.

Herman was recently a guest on Bloody Elbow Radio where he spoke to us about the reason he embraces the role of the underdog, what he attributes his resurgence to and how he plans on dealing with Starks and his strong wrestling on Saturday night.

Check it out:

Matt Bishop: You kind of dropped off the grid for a while. What were you up to after defeating Kyle Noke last August?

Ed Herman: I was a little banged up after that fight. Just had a rough training camp and we were looking for a fight and I think we were scheduled to fight Chris Weidman and then he was injured so they kind of had me floating for a little while and I didn't know what was going on and boom, they called me with this fight. I'd been training like I was going to fight on the 4th anyways but they were able to replace him with Clifford Starks so that's how it happened.

Matt Bishop: You picked up two wins in a two month span after being out of action for such a long time, 21 months I believe. How did that feel?

Ed Herman: It was great, man. It was great to get back on the horse, get a couple wins and get myself back in line to start making a run.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Most people, when they're away from the cage so long and especially coming off a significant injury like you did, they come back and they're not the same but in my opinion, you came back and you were as good as ever if not better so what do you attribute this to?

Ed Herman: I think it just gave me some time to kind of look back from the outside, see some things, see some holes in my game. Gave me some time to kind of mentally grow and realize what I had an dthe opportunities that were there for me and how to take advantage of them the best I could. Fight smart, train smarter and just I think sometimes time off may be good.in a way. You never want to take time off like that but it could have been for the best.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You came out extremely aggressive too with two first round stoppages in your comeback fights. Did that also change you mindset a bit in coming out even harder than before?

Ed Herman: Well, I've got a new camp now. I moved out to Colorado and opened my own gym. I'm training with a bunch of different people out here in Colorado. You know, I've always been kind of a slow starter so I think I felt like I got a real good warm-up going into those fights and was just ready to go right from the beginning. Sometimes I'd start out slow, maybe take a couple punches to the head first before I realized I was in a fight and you hear that sometimes from guys, you've got to get punched in the face to wake up and get going. I was just trying to be on my toes and get ready to attack right from the very start, you know what I'm saying? Surprise people, get in their face with the same pace and intensity that I've always had.

Matt Bishop: You mentioned opening up your own gym. Has that done anything for you because there's a lot of responsibility that comes with that? Running a gym, running a business, has that affected your life at all?

Ed Herman: For sure, man. I've always coached throughout my career. I love coaching. I had an opportunity out here in Colorado to open a gym with former IFL champ Ryan Schultz and he's a great coach as well. I think it's been great and it gives me something to look forward to in the future and all for my family but at the same time, it's a lot of work, man. It's a lot of work. In between training and running the gym, I've got my plate full and trying to spend time with my family but it keeps me busy, keeps me out of trouble. Just train, go eat, rest, say hi to the family and head back to the gym to coach and train some more. I don't have much free time to waste.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now Ed, you've mentioned that you love being the underdog and you were a pretty hefty underdog in your last fight. What is it that you kind of like about embracing that role of being the underdog?

Ed Herman: I don't know. I just have something to prove. i've always kind of been doubted my whole career from the beginning. Even on the show (The Ultimate Fighter) getting picked seventh, you all watched that, saw me throw a fit about it. I don't know. I like being the underdog. Training with Randy [Couture] back in the day, I remember Randy saying, "Hey, the underdog suits me well," and I feel the same way. I feel it's less pressure. Going into this next fight I'm the big favorite I'm sure so there's added pressure there when you're supposed to win, you're supposed to perform, you know what I mean? Sometimes being the underdog gets me pumped up. Plus, being the underdog against Noke kind of pissed me off so it fires me up sometimes as well.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You went right into my next question because going in against Clifford Starks, he's a guy with one fight in the UFC and still a little bit unproven, so can you tell me about how much different it is especially when you're an overwhelming favorite?

Ed Herman: It's not that big of a deal really. I try not to think about it too much but everybody on the internet is talking this and that about different things and I'm supposed to win. Everybody expects you to win and the UFC expects you to win so you've got to go in there and win, there's the added pressure there. I try not to think about that. I try to just go about my day and just train like I always do and just like I prepare for anybody else so it shouldn't matter too much.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you tell me a little bit about Starks? I know he had his debut against Jacoby and he showcased his wrestling and that seemed like it was his primary strength in the fight so what are you kind of expecting against him?

Ed Herman: I feel like I"m a lot more well-rounded and I've got a lot more experience which doesn't always matter. It's still a fight, still a fist fight, you know what I'm saying? He's a good wrestler. He's an athletic wrestler and I feel like I'm more of a grinder, more of a bruiser with the wrestling so I feel like my wrestling's a little better than his. He may have a quicker shot than me but I feel like once I get my hands on him, he's gonna be in a lot of trouble whether it be in the clinch, me letting my hands go or even if he took me down I feel like off my back I could submit him or get back up.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Your submissions were really strong against Kyle Noke and you looked pretty comfortable off your back in that fight. How confident are you in your bottom game?

Ed Herman: I was actually a little pissed at myself during that Noke fight because I did spend so much time on my back and that's really not my style and I do have a good game off my back but it's dangerous down there. All it takes is one big punch or one big elbow or even being held down for the majority of the round, you could lose the round. I want to avoid that. I want to be in there and not let Starks take me down and hold me down and grind me out. Just keeping my hips moving, staying active the whole time, never just chilling out with a closed guard, you've got to stay busy, busy, busy. Even if you are on your back, I feel like you can win the round. I feel like I can win the round staying busy, attacking him with submission, elbows off my back, looking to get up and that'll wear him out too. My relentless style I think, it'll be different than what he was used to. He hasn't fought anyone like me or even close to the level I'm at.

Matt Bishop: What can everybody expect when you step in against Clifford Starks. I know you talked about maybe a little more pressure from being the favorite in this one but what's kind of the key to victory for you in that fight?

Ed Herman: For me, just staying busy, coming forward and implementing my strategy, my game and just attacking, overwhelming him with everything that I've got. It's just like I fight, coming forward the whole time and looking to finish all the time.

Ed would like to thank his gym Trials MMA and you can follow him on Twitter @EdHermanUFC.

So what do you think, Maniacs?

Will Herman's experience be too much for Clifford Starks on Saturday night? Will his incredible comeback story continue?

Sound off!

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