Breathing easy: Dave Herman UFC on Fuel interview exclusive with MMAmania.com

Photo of Dave Herman via UFC.com.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight Dave Herman is one of the most laid-back fighters in mixed martial arts (MMA).

Look no further than his Facebook profile, which features him at a lake drinking a beer. That's just the type of person he is. But, he also happens to be one of the most talented young heavyweights in the sport today. You don't start out your career at 15-0 without any formal mixed martial arts training without having some natural gifts.

Now working out of Dan Henderson's Team Quest gym in Temecula, California, Herman is beginning to realize his potential, although he'll never admit whether he's working hard or not. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see with the results.

After winning "Fight of the Night" in his UFC debut, "Pee-Wee" will be battling Stefan Struve in the co-main event of next week's (February 15, 2012) inaugural UFC on Fuel show in Omaha, Nebraska. It's a fight that could launch him into the upper echelon of the division should he win.

Herman was recently a guest on The Verbal Submission where he discussed his frustration with the cancellation of his last fight, his random in-fight behavior and why he won't have a gameplan to deal with Stefan Struve next Wednesday.

Check it out:

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You had some personal drama from your last fight. It sucked, from UFC 136. I know people have already talked about that, but to update everyone, they lost one of your tests, then when you went and took it again, you tested positive for marijuana and then you took another one after they'd already cancelled the fight and you came back clean. How frustrating was that whole ordeal?

Dave Herman: Well, the day it happened, it was rough, but once I finally came to accept it like, "Well, there's nothing I can do," it was fine. It was just a big letdown to be training that hard and then realize, "Wait a minute, I did all this for nothing." I just tried to make the most of it. I was in shape so I just kept training and just focused on getting better.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): That's what you have to do. The Texas commission has a pretty bad reputation for screwing some things up, so do you have any reservations about fighting in Texas again if given the opportunity?

Dave Herman: No. I fought in Texas a couple of times and it's a great crowd and good fights. I'd love to go back. It was just kind of a thing, I think part of the problem is it had never been done before because it was the commission so with anything you do the first time, there's some bugs you've got to work out. I'd look forward to fighting in Texas again.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've partially answered this, but I heard you were in the absolute best shape of your life for that fight with Mike Russow that got cancelled, so you just kept training? It's gotta be tough to try and stay at that same level for so long.

Dave Herman: Well, it wasn't hard for me to be in the best shape of my life. (laughs) I've never traditionally been in that great of shape before. I was already in shape so I just kept going to practice, I kept working hard but I also wasn't in training mode anymore either. I just tried to make the most of already being in shape. I did go out and had a couple drinks, having a good time, but I was still in good enough shape that I could still go through practice as if I were training. It just makes it a lot easier to learn and get better when you're already in shape. Otherwise, you're battling two things instead of one.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Plus, it was like you were already in fight shape, but you just didn't have any injuries afterwards from a fight so you could just keep going. Did you use a lot of this extra time to really improve your technique and just round out your game a little bit?

Dave Herman: I tried to. Hopefully it helped and it'll show, but that's not always the case.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're one of the fighters that people just love to watch because you're so random. There's things you do that are just completely unexpected like crazy spinning back fists and crazy kicks. I think you threw an ax kick against Jon Olav Einemo out of nowhere so where does some of this motivation to throw these unexpected techniques come from?

Dave Herman: I'm not real sure. Part of it, I had never thrown an ax kick before, nor was I even thinking about throwing one but somehow it happened. I don't know. I was trying to hit the guy and I was like, "Well bringing the kick from underneath is not working, maybe if I bring it from above. I'll give it a shot. Why not?" but it wasn't that effective but it was surprising for sure.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about this upcoming fight with Stefan Struve. You're 6'5, you're 235 pounds or so. You're a big guy but Stefan Struve, he's 6'11 and he's gonna be coming in at the heavyweight limit, might even have to cut weight, so what are your thoughts on facing a guy who's so much bigger than you?

Dave Herman: I don't think he's at the top of the weight class, he's definitely taller than me that's for sure and I've never faced anyone that tall. I've had one fight with a guy that was taller than me like significantly and a reach advantage but it was one of my first fights and I didn't even really know what I was doing so that'll be something that I'll have to deal with when I get in there. Honestly, it seems like, Struve's beat a lot of guys that are good, that are ranked higher than him, but he's also lost to some guys that aren't, that are below him so it seems like it's kind of a stylistic, "can you deal with his height and his length or not?" type of deal so that's gonna be something I find out that day. Can I deal with this or not? If I do, I think I'll do real well. If not, anything can happen.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I don't know if you've ever seen the famous picture of Roy Nelson preparing for Stefan Struve, but he had his trainer stand on top of a chair holding two broomsticks, one in each arm which I think it hilarious, but have you tried to do things specific to help you get ready for this guy?

Dave Herman: No, not really. I usually just get ready how I get ready and deal with the other stuff on the day.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): People were really harping on a comment you made that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one of the most ineffective martial arts and Stefan Struve is a really good Brazilian jiu-jitsu-using heavyweight. What are your concerns with his submission game?

Dave Herman: Well his submissions are decent. Are they better than the last guy I fought? Probably not but I don't really worry about it. It's only jiu-jitsu, right?

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You took some of the hardest shots and just kept going against Einemo and Stefan Struve is a guy, he takes those kind of punches and he goes down. He doesn't have the same type of chin that you have. Would you be confident just standing in the pocket and trading blow-for-blow with this guy?

Dave Herman: Hopefully. I feel, sometimes when I get in a little bit of meathead-mode, I have a tendency to get like that with anybody. It just depends on how I'm feeling that day but that's what makes for an exciting fight and they're always fun to watch when it happens.

Gerry Rodriguez: Were you a little bit disappointed when Brock Lesnar retired? Were you kind of licking your chops hoping to get a shot at him?

Dave Herman: I wasn't really worried about it. I think that's a pretty good match-up for me but I don't really get to pick so whoever I'm told to fight is who I'm gonna show up to fight. But yeah, it really doesn't make a difference. If anything, it makes the division a little easier for me.

Ben Thapa: In your last fight with Einemo, in the beginning when he came charging at you, you were like, "Say hello to my knee." What was your attitude in that fight towards his grappling?

Dave Herman: Well I knew he was a good grappler, obviously a world champion in jiu-jitsu. Especially after having talked crap, it would have looked really bad if I had lost from jiu-jitsu but I wasn't really, well I'm pretty comfortable there. I guess I wasn't worried about it and even the one time I was on the ground, I was real comfortable, calm, ready to go and I ended up getting out real quick.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you picture this fight with Struve, what do you see? How do you see victory?

Dave Herman: I don't know. I don't really do that so much. Actually, I don't think about it at all. I just try to go in. People ask me, "How do you think you're going to win?" and I never have a clue. My one fight, I was fighting a striker and I won by omaplata. I never would have guessed that in a million years. I actually would have bet money against it but it happens. I just kind of go in and have fun, see where it ends up. That's part of it, I don't care where it ends up. I just try to go in and try to win it no matter where you're at.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You definitely have fun because you have the biggest smile on y our face throughout the whole fight and that's something the fans love.

Dave Herman: Yeah, people were asking about that in my last fight and I didn't even realize I was smiling 'til afterwards.

Dave would like to thank Team Quest for having him out to work out and helping him out. He'd also like to thank his sponsors Affliction, Trampoline Cage Ball. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveHermanMMA.

So what do you think, Maniacs?

Will Herman's laid-back attitude help or hinder him against a dangerous heavyweight like Struve? If he can find the motivation to properly train, can he enter the upper echelon of the division?

Sound off!

To listen to the full audio of our interview with Dave Herman click here.

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