Ed Herman’s short fuse is set to go off when he returns at UFC Moncton later this month — and at thirty-eight, the longtime UFC veteran isn’t ready to hang them up just yet.
UFC veteran Ed Herman will return to the octagon for the first time in over a year later this month at UFC Moncton. When he does, he’ll have another scrappy opponent in Gian Villante — but that’s exactly the sort of opponent Herman feels suits him best. Herman’s not one to subscribe to the theory of ring rust, having been a fighter all his life. And for as long as his body continues to hold up, he’ll continue to do just that: fight.
We spoke to ‘Short Fuse’ ahead of UFC Fight Night 138, as UFC Moncton is officially known, to get his thoughts on getting back in action, fighting Gian Villante, and more.
Herman last fought at the TUF Redemption Finale in July 2007. In his time away, the Ultimate Fighter 3 finalist suffered a freak plumbing injury that, at the time, blew up on social media. Mainly because of how horrifying the accident was, resulting in Herman losing the tip of his finger (honestly, click at your own risk).
All is well these days, however. “It doesn’t bother me at all. It’s kind of numb at the fingertip,” he said of the digit in question. As for training and specifically grappling, “no problems at all. I got pretty lucky it didn’t take off more of my finger.”
Not that it was an easy fix. Undergoing what amounted to plastic surgery, doctors grafted new skin onto the finger by harvesting it off a neighbor. “They cut the skin off the top of my finger to the left, and they sewed my fingers together,” Herman explained. “And they leave that skin flap connected to the other finger, and wrap it around the tip of the finger that was damaged. So my fingers were sewn together for like two weeks, it was freakin’ awful, man. It was probably the most painful thing I’ve ever been through.” That, coming from someone who fights for a living, says a lot.
A crazy procedure to fix a gnarly injury, but luckily it worked. “The skin graft took. My fingers are a little funky looking, but it hasn’t bothered grappling or striking or anything. Like I said, I’m super lucky that I just lost the very tip. My fingernail even grew back, so it’s pretty awesome.”
Herman was out about three months, beginning to end, as a result, though he was able to do some weight training earlier. At the same time, he was also dealing with ACL surgery, so grappling was pretty much out of the question anyway.
That brought up the question of ring rust, but it’s not something that concerns Ed Herman. “I think that’s a myth,” he exclaimed.
“I’ve been fighting my whole life. From the playground to the octagon. It’s in my blood,” Herman told us. After fighting for so long, Herman doesn’t see ring rust as an issue for him. “Maybe for some guys. Obviously I’d like to stay more active, but it is what it is. I’m pretty hungry to get back in there. I’m pretty excited to get back in there, so I think that’s a lot of it. That mental state, of being excited to get back in there and get after it.”
“It’s a great opponent for me too,” Herman said of his return fight against Gian Villante. Like Herman, Villante is a game fighter. “He’s not like super technical or really really good anywhere. He’s pretty tough all the way around, but he’s not like a super grappler or a super striker. He’s a big puncher, that’s probably his best asset, he can win with the knockout at any time with that power.”
As a result, Herman feels it’s “going to be a good scrap.” Especially due to the fact that he feels he might just be in the best shape of his career. “I’d like to say some of the best shape I’ve ever been in in my career, but it’s hard to say, I’ve been doing this so long.” The key, however, is that Herman has been “injury free, which is really great. I’ve had a hard time staying healthy over my career. I’ve been injury free, so I’ve been able to really push. I think with my pace, that I’ll break him. Either I’m going to knock him out, or I’ll choke him out.”
UFC Moncton will mark Herman’s first fight on Canada’s east coast, though he’s fought in the country before. “I’m going to try to get out and see a few things” he told us, mainly during fight week. Afterward, he has family and kids waiting back home. But on Canada in general, Herman said that “I’m excited to go up there and fight in Moncton, the fans are great in Canada, I’ve always had a good time fighting up there in Canada. The only thing that sucks is the foreign tax.”
A common sentiment for fighters competing away from home.
“I’m not ready to hang them up yet. I’ve still got some fight left in me.”
In this case, Herman will be entering the octagon for the twenty-first time in his career. He’s been with the UFC since 2006, making him the rare veteran with over a decade’s service (Herman fought a single bout in Strikeforce while still under contract to the UFC after Zuffa purchased their rival promotion). Asked what keeps him going at thirty-eight, the answer was simple: Herman loves what he does. Still, there were questions not too long ago about whether he could continue.
“There was some times before I signed this fight, or just in the last year where I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to come back,” Herman admitted. “Other than that fear of not being able to do it anymore, it’s kind of like gosh, I’m not ready to hang them up yet. I’ve still got some fight left in me. It’s not going to get any easier with all these young studs coming in. It’s just me man. I’m a fighter, I was born to fight. It’s what I love to do.”
He is preparing for life after fighting, “making moves and working on stuff towards changing it up and eventually retiring, but I’m just not quite ready yet,” he continued. “If my body holds up, I’m going to keep doing it. Plus, you know, the paychecks are finally decent. It’s hard to walk away from that as well. It’s still not as good as they should be, but if you can go make $150,000 in one night, it’s hard to walk away from that.”
As to what he might do after his career in the cage comes to a close, “I love coaching,” Herman said, “and I’ve always done that and I still do that here at Gracie Barra in Portland, but that doesn’t really pay the bills.”
Instead, he’s working on getting into the Fire Department. It’s a job that, in the U.S., comes with “health benefits, retirement, which we don’t have through the UFC.” On top of that, the job features a schedule that would allow him to continue coaching, or even stay active as a fighter.
On the subject of money, and benefits, there’s always the question of a fighter’s union. “Of course we need to go that way,” Hermain offered when asked about the possibility. “A fighter’s union would be awesome. But it’s just not going to happen in my time.”
“I support it all, and when I’m done fighting, maybe I’ll get involved a little bit more to help support it, and make sure these young guys have a little more future than we do in the sport now,” he continued. “I’m totally a supporter of it, but it ain’t gonna happen while I’m around. I can’t see it happening in the next couple years.” Herman noted that “it takes forever to get some of that going,” but as to why, he isn’t sure.
“I really don’t know. I haven’t been involved enough to know all the logistics on that, but I know there’s been people involved to try to push for it for quite a few years now,” he pointed out. “I know Nathan Quarry, a good friend of mine, he’s been trying to push for this and really working on this stuff for at least five, six years it seems like, and there still hasn’t been any progress as far as I’ve seen. It just looks like a bunch of hoops people are jumping through, and nothing’s really happening.”
Later on though, Herman “would definitely like to get involved. Unfortunately when you’re working for the man where I’m at, I’ve got to feed my family, so I can’t afford to push too hard and get my contract cancelled. I don’t know if that sounds like kind of chickensh*t or not, but I’ve got to feed my family, so I’m a supporter of all that stuff, I’m just not speaking out on it a whole lot right now.” Besides which, “there’s a lot of people with bigger names that are already speaking out, who can probably make more happen than I can.”
Herman, who is training out of Portland, trains with Chael Sonnen, and the pair were working together for each man’s fights — Sonnen’s, of course, at Bellator 208 against Fedor Emelianenko. “Fedor hits like a truck, man,” Herman said of that loss Sonnen took. Sonnen, mind you, had moved up in weight for the heavyweight grand prix.
When it comes to weight classes, Herman’s keen to stick with his current home at light heavyweight, after spending much of his career cutting down to 185lbs. Considering himself a late bloomer, he pointed out that “I’ve never lost a fight because guys were bigger or stronger than me.” Rather, “it’s either they were faster or more athletic, or just more skilled. I think the light heavyweight weight class suits me a lot better. I’m not the biggest light heavyweight, but that doesn’t matter.”
Don’t miss Ed Herman take on Gian Villante at UFC Moncton (UFC Fight Night 138) on Saturday, October 27, live on Fox Sports 1 (TSN 5 in Canada).