In his 17-year career, Ed Herman has seen it all. But even he wasn’t prepared for the chaos that defined the first nine months of 2020.
Amid social unrest, a global pandemic, and now wildfires sweeping the west coast of the United States, millions have seen their best laid plans crumble, including athletes on the UFC’s roster. In Herman’s case, he’s had multiple fights set up this year, only to see them canceled or postponed for a variety of reasons.
The UFC veteran has yet to step into the cage this year, and he summed up his feelings on the matter during Thursday’s virtual media day for UFC Vegas 10.
“2020’s been pretty f**ked, man,” Herman said. “I’ve had three full fight camps, and I haven’t fought yet. I fight Saturday, great, that’s one fight. But I had three full fight camps with not making any money and not getting to fight. I’m in the best shape of my life almost, I feel like, so that’s cool. But at the same time, nobody likes working half a year and not getting paid. So it’s been a little rough financially in that sense.
“And then again with all the rioting, and just all the chaos between people, politics splitting families apart. Me and my brother don’t even talk because we have different ideas of what the hell’s going on. It’s been pretty f**ked man, honestly.”
On Saturday, Herman fights Mike Rodriguez in a light heavyweight bout – or at least he hopes he does. He’s feeling little relief during fight week, because an Aug. 1 meeting with Gerald Meerschaert fell through on fight day when Meerschaert tested positive for COVID-19. So until he actually steps foot into the octagon, he’s not assuming anything.
The good news for Herman is that for the most part, he’s been personally unaffected by the fires raging in Portland, Ore., where he currently trains at American Top Team Portland. Herman said he actually left town around the time the fires hit, and while he and his family have been lucky, he has a lot of sympathy for the less fortunate.
“It’s pretty sad,” Herman said. “People are losing their homes, people are losing their lives. It’s really sad to see.”
Reached for a statement, ATT Portland owner Brandon Miller told MMA Fighting that the gym isn’t currently open and they have avoided the impact from the fires for now.
With that concern in the back of his mind, Herman still has to worry about his upcoming fight and the looming possibility that something could happen again to prevent him from competing this weekend. At this point, he’s ready for anything, a mind set that has helped him move on from his recent disappointments.
“Not giving a f**k,” Herman said of how he sorted himself out mentally after having several fights canceled. “It is what it is, new opponent, this, that. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, so all kinds of sh*t’s happened over the years, so I’m just like, where I’m at in my career could be my last.
“You never know with injuries and things going down with all this COVID stuff, fires burning, and tornadoes and hurricanes, who the hell knows what’s gonna happen? All I know is Saturday night, I’m gonna go in there and get the job done, and that’s all I can do.”
Herman is reminded of the earliest days of his MMA when he could show up to a local show and not even know who he was fighting. He’s kept much of the same team around him since his start in 2003, another aspect of his fighting career that he credits with keeping him in the game for so long.
If all goes as planned, UFC Vegas 10 will mark Herman’s 23rd octagon appearance. He’ll turn 40 in October, and he can’t say how much longer he plans to fight. But he considers himself to be in peak condition at the moment.
What’s the secret to his longevity?
“I’m one of the real BMFs, for one,” Herman said. “Two, this is just what I do. When I was younger I didn’t take care of myself as good as I should have, so these days being a little older and a more mature, I take care of my body better, I eat better, I work on my recovery more, I don’t party like I did when I was a kid. Just all those little things add up.
“My family and my friends and my team are of my most importance to me, and you push the rest out. Trust the people who are around you, who you know are gonna have your back.”