But after Herman's "Fight of the Night" winning performance at UFC 131, he has become an eccentric worth watching. The Indiana native who now trains at California's Team Quest made his octagon debut with a memorable performance in a second-round TKO over Jon Olav Einemo.
The intense battle was filled with momentum swings until Herman finally finished Einemo with some ground-and-pound against the fence. The win improved his record to 21-2.
"He was big and probably the toughest guy I've faced so far," Herman said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "He kept coming for more. Honestly when you have a fight, sometimes it's not an easy one. But when you show up to fight, hopefully that's what you get, a fight."
Despite the wild affair, Herman said he came out with little more than an injured finger, and that he hopes to fight again as soon as possible.
Prior to the bout, Herman raised a few eyebrows in the sport when he commented repeatedly about jiu-jitsu's lack of effectiveness in MMA, an observation that seemed curious in its timing particularly due to the opponent he was going to face. Einemo is a high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, and had previously won the Abu Dhabi Combat Club submission wrestling world championship, the most prestigious submission tourney in the world.
Herman and Einemo spent just 89 seconds of their fight on the ground, but Herman did have to escape from underneath Einemo once, and did so quickly. Afterward, Herman reiterated his belief about BJJ.
"I honestly really don't think it does [work]," he said. "If you have any knowledge at all of jiu-jitsu, it's just not going to work. If you literally have never heard of anything and have no idea what they're doing, OK, kind of like the first UFC, yeah jiu-jitsu works. It's kind of like trickery, basically. If you have any idea about any of the tricks, it's just not going to work, unless you're a complete idiot and fall for it."
When asked how it could work against, say Fedor Emelianenko during his June 2010 match against Fabricio Werdum, Herman said it was possible Emelianenko had gotten too cocky, but that "if they fought again, it wouldn't happen."
"Maybe I should re-phrase it and just say, jiu-jitsu doesn't work on me," he said.
Herman said that in preparing for a fight, he trains grappling but rarely jiu-jitsu.
"As a wrestler I'm going to have to stick with wrestling as the best [foundation], but I really think jiu-jitsu isn't that great, and even from a spectator standpoint, it's not that fun to watch," he said. "Striking is obviously the most entertaining."
Now with three straight wins, a big payday under his belt, a home to spend his nights in, and the Team Quest crew behind him, the 26-year-old who has long been considered one of MMA's most promising heavyweights will begin his long climb up the ladder, with no concerns or requests about who he may face next, even if it's another jiu-jitsu master.
"Pretty much anyone," he said. "It doesn't really make a difference to me."
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