Ed Herman entered UFC Kansas City as the longest active tenured and fourth oldest fighter in the UFC against hometown darling Zak Cummings.
Herman first stepped into the octagon in 2006 and came into Saturday still going strong even at 42 years of age. Meanwhile Cummings, aged 38, would be competing at light heavyweight for the first time in the UFC, having previously fought at middleweight and welterweight. The two elder statesmen looked to put on a show and prove that they still have something left in the tank.
The roar from the crowd for Zak Cummings was incredible, almost certainly the largest pop he has received in his career. He came out southpaw and hit Herman with a nice two-piece combo in the first twenty seconds. Herman tried to land a takedown but it was stuffed and he got dropped badly. Cummings tried to pound his way to a stoppage but Herman went for an armbar and Zak let his foe back to his feet.
Cummings pressed Herman backwards and could almost not miss with his punches, making Herman pull guard. Herman then landed an illegal grounded up-kick with Cummings on top, pausing the bout for the foul about ninety seconds in. The referee did not restart them on the ground, oddly, but Cummings was not bothered with the striking success he was having. That success continued but Herman ate the shots better after the restart, perhaps due to having warmed up by then. Herman started to land some decent strikes of his own but was still getting soundly out-struck. That continued for the rest of the round, though Herman did not again get hurt as badly as he had in the first minute of the fight.
The first two punches from Cummings in round two landed square on the chin of a recklessly onrushing Herman, who fell forward into a clinch which may have saved him from going down. Fifty seconds into the round Ed did get dropped by a hook, yet he sprung right back up. Ed spent some time trying to get a takedown from the clinch two minutes in, but gave up and got back to striking when he was unable to. With ninety seconds left in the round Cummings got one more knockdown and jumped on top in top half guard. He worked to drop elbows down on Herman but Herman was able to re-guard and somewhat protect himself, though he did eat several good elbows.
Then, with forty-five seconds left, Herman landed an illegal up-kick one more time, drawing boos from the crowd as the fight was paused. The referee was forced to take a point from Herman and Cummings got right back to putting it on him in the final seconds of the round.
The final round saw Cummings once again winning the striking. In the opening seconds he landed hard leg kicks that made Herman fall to his back, but Cummings did not engage on the ground and Ed got back up. The striking stayed wild from there on out. From his back, Ed may have hurt Cummings with a kick to the knee, but Zak kept putting it on him on the feet.
It was rather amazing that Herman, with all his mileage, managed to stay in there despite getting dropped at least five times and falling to his back in other ways a few more. He tried to stay on the outside and circle in the final two minutes instead of confronting Cummings directly. It worked at first but with one minute left he once again got hurt badly. Cummings was able to unleash a barrage of strikes against the fence that ended with a tight overhand left which sat Herman down one last time and forced the referee to step in at long last.
As Bruce Buffer read out the result, Ed Herman took off his gloves, seemingly ready to lay them down one last time. Daniel Cormier took the interview microphone to the winner, Cummings, who received enormous support from his hometown crowd. Zak returned that in kind, stating his appreciation and love for the fans. Cummings’ coach approached him and helped him take off his gloves. He said although he still had two fights left on his deal, he could not think of a better way to end his career. He picked up and embraced his daughter, talking about how she motivated him to keep going after a bad injury.
Not an eye was dry in the whole place. Cormier then went to another retiring fighter, Ed Herman, who was classy in defeat and gave all the props to his opponent. He thanked the UFC, the fans, and his family, as most fighters do, before finally hanging his gloves up for the last time.
Official Result: Zak Cummings def. Ed Herman by TKO (punches), Round 3, 4:13