Monday, April 2, 2007

One-on-one with UFC heavyweight Heath Herring

By Pramit Mohapatra

Heath Herring is a colorful personality in the world of mixed martial arts, known for his Dennis Rodman-esque hairstyles, entertaining fights and a New Years Eve kiss in 2005 from an unlikely person – his opponent Yoshihiro Nakao. Though he grew up in Amarillo, Texas, Herring has traveled the world fighting in promotions such as Pride and K-1. Herring will return to his home state April 7 to fight Brad Imes in a heavyweight matchup at UFC 69 in Houston.

I spent 20 minutes talking to Herring by phone on March 27. We discussed his UFC debut earlier this year -- a stunning loss to Jake O'Brien at UFC Fight Night 8 -- his upcoming match against Imes, and the news that the UFC owners had just purchased Pride.

UFC Fight Night 8

You lost a fairly one-sided decision to O'Brien at UFC Fight Night 8 on Jan. 25. That was your debut fight with the promotion and you were brought in with a lot of fanfare. Why do you think you lost the fight?

I think I learned a lot at that fight. I had to realize that the UFC isn't the same organization as what I was used to fighting [for] in Japan. And the end result was that I came up short on the judges' cards. And that's what happens sometimes. You start playing a new game with little bit different rules -- sometimes those new rules will kind of catch ya.

When you say new rules, what is different about the UFC compared to Pride?

Just a lot of minor differences, I would say. Like the referee standing the fight up at different times. I think here in the states, they put a lot of credit on [what happens] once the fighters hit the ground, even if there's not a lot of action being done. I think they let the fight continue on the ground for a long time. As opposed to Japan, [where] I've been in fights where we were on the ground 10, 15 seconds [and] they'd stand us up.

But, I'm by no means trying to put that blame on the referee or anything else. That's absolutely my ignorance and that's why I'm taking full responsibility for that fight.

In hindsight, how do you feel about that performance?

Well, I'm not happy with it of course. I like to … win and like I said afterward, I like to give the fans what they want -- that's an exciting fight. I look at it as my job to be in shape and be able to go the full 15 minutes, as hard as I can. And if you get caught with a punch or get caught with a cut or something like that, that's part of it. But to lose to a guy who wasn't doing a whole lot and he was picking away the points -- yeah, that sat a little bit badly with me. But, you're going to be a little bit smarter next time and learn how things go.

After your loss to O'Brien, you mentioned you had an MCL injury. First, which MCL was it?

It was my left … I didn't actually mention that, to be honest with you [laughing] … I think there was some stuff that did come out but I never officially came out and said either way.

About the injuries, I sure hate when people make excuses about fights. And just to sum it up real quick, I went in there and I knew what the score was when I got in the fight and I still chose to get in there so I'm not going to sit back and make up an excuse for an injury. I hate when guys to do that.

If you read stuff -- and I'm not saying it wasn't so and it didn't happen -- but I sure hate to make that as an excuse for why I had such a poor performance.

(Continue Reading)

No comments: