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With Acting Career in Full Swing, Heath Herring in No Hurry to Return to UFC

Less than a month before his UFC 99 fight against Cain Velasquez, Heath Herring was forced to withdraw from the bout after getting sick. Had he won that fight, Herring would have immediately become a player again in the UFC's heavyweight division.

Since then, there have been few updates on his health and his expected return to the Octagon. FanHouse spoke to "The Texas Crazy Horse" on Tuesday about his MMA future and his budding acting career. The full interview is below.

Ariel Helwani: What have you been up to lately?
Heath Herring: I have been doing some acting. Kind of fun stuff (laughs).

Why is that so funny?
I don't know. Things never go the way you think sometimes, I suppose. I'm also a part-owner here in Palm Springs at a sports bar restaurant called The Tilted Kilt.

How did you get into acting?
I've been trying to get into acting a little bit; it's actually been taking off. I've got a bunch of different movies lined up. Don't have anything signed just yet, but you know, the film industry is kind of like the fight industry, there's always rumors, but things always seem to fall in place afterwards.

Are these big budgets films?
I would say they're medium-ranged, medium budget movies. Kind of like the one I did last year, that Never Surrender movie. ... My girlfriend is saying quite a big bigger. She knows, she's an AD (assistant director). She's the one that's kind of getting me into all that stuff.

Nice. So you have an agent/girlfriend.
Right. So if I get her mad, I'm in big trouble (laughs).

What exactly happened to you prior to UFC 99?
I got really sick. I have asthma, obviously, and I got really bad bronchitis. Like walking pneumonia. I was stuck in my bed for about three weeks before the fight -- it was just a really bad deal. I just couldn't train ... It was right around a month before the fight, and we just had to pull out of the fight obviously due to that. Usually in a situation like that, they give you bronco dilators, which has cortisol in them. Couldn't take any of them, obviously, because it would make me test positive in the drug test. So it was a very frustrated time, to be direct.

How hard was it to have to finally pull out of the fight?
It was the first time ever in my life that that's ever happened. It was a hard thing to deal with. I've never had to pull out of a fight before. It didn't really sit well with me, and kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. You know, I had some issues with some trainers and things like that, as well, that I don't really want to get into. It just wasn't a fun time in my life, that's for sure.

Did you watch the fight?
I did. I watched the fight, you know, I think [Cheick] Kongo's wrestling was really exposed. You know, Cain's a great wrestler, and was just able to take him down and dominate him on him on the ground, which is kind of what I called before the fight.

So when can we expect you to fight next?
You know, I don't have anything scheduled right now with the UFC. Like I said, this acting stuff is kind of taking off, I've got some other things going on. I'm really not in a big hurry to jump back in there right now. I'm kind of riding this wave and seeing where it's going to take me.

Is it possible that you may have fought your last MMA fight?
No, I seriously doubt that; I'm only 31. We'll just see what happens with the way the sport is progressing. Hopefully the purses will get a little bit bigger, and things will go a little bit better that way.

In other words, your thought process is that if you can make more money acting, why fight?
Kind of. Maybe that's the nice way of putting it (laughs).

Do you still have a contract with the UFC?
I still have a three-fight deal with the UFC.

So if you wanted to fight again, it would have to be for the UFC?
As the way the contract currently is, yes.

Are you happy with the UFC?
It's not that I'm not really happy with the UFC ... It's just, you know, like I said, I think that last fight just took a lot out of me. Now with acting, and things kind of taking off, it just left a bad taste in my mouth. And not necessarily with the UFC. Just with the training ... you know, some of my trainers and things like that. I think I just needed a little time to step back and maybe do some other things for a little bit.

So no timetable in mind for a return?
No, not at all. And the other thing, too, is I know the Velasquez fight a lot of people were saying, 'Oh, it's a great fight.' You know, I've been fighting for 13 years. You see the fight with [Frank] Mir and [Brock] Lesnar and Lesnar just pretty much dominated Mir, knocked him out in the second round, and beat the hell out of [Randy] Couture in the second round. And it's like, Wow, I was the only one who was able to go the full time with that guy. It doesn't really benefit me to go backwards and fight new up-and-comer guys. It's not really what I'm there to do, or what I'm there for.

Is there one guy in particular you would like to fight next?
I think there is a lot of really good match-ups in the UFC. I think the heavyweight division is actually starting to get a little bit better at this point, but a lot of that has a lot more to do with what's going to happen, and where we are going to go with it.

Do you ever think back to your third fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira fight in the UFC, and think about how different things might have been had you finished him?
Well, you could think that way about a lot of things. I mean, I can think back to the Fedor fight when I was in Japan. You know, if I kept kneeing him in the head, that fight could have ended, as well. So you can't sit there and cry over spilled milk. You just have to go forward with it, and do the best with the cards that are dealt -- to use a poker analogy. And that's kind what I am doing right now. Like I said, I got some opportunities to do some other things, so I am going to take it while I have the opportunity to do it. You know, I'm going to chase some other stuff that I enjoy doing. I'm by no means getting rich fighting in the UFC, if you catch my drift, so you can go do this or you can go do that for a little bit.

Who do you like Nogueira vs. Couture bout this weekend?
I love Randy to death, but I think Nogueira's got this.

I love Randy; everybody loves Randy. I think everybody really wants Randy to win, but I think Nog is going to be a little bit too big for him. Just use the Lesnar fight as a perfect example: size is definitely a big advantage.

How about the Shane Carwin vs. Brock Lesnar fight?
I think Lesnar's got him. If Shane can land a shot on him ... I think, obviously, Lesnar's chin is suspect. Carwin actually has a shot because of his size -- I've got to give him that much. He's a bigger guy. I think he'll give Lesnar a better fight than maybe some of his last few opponents.

When is your movie coming out?
Probably in nine months.

What's it called?
The Underground.

Does it have anything to do with a popular MMA message board?
No, not at all. It's like a horror movie, and I play a gang leader in the beginning, and I chase the kids into this bunker where they get eaten by monsters. So, it's kind of fun. It's kind of fun to be doing things that don't involve MMA a little bit. It's fun to branch out and doing some different things.

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