Friday, May 25, 2012 | 1:30 p.m.
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- UFC 146 section
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Speaking in superlatives is a popular way to give a bout context in mixed martial arts.
When Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos met for the heavyweight title last November, for example, the matchup was referred to as a bout between the two best fighters in the division.
Local fighter Roy Nelson and Dave Herman square off in a main card bout at UFC 146 Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. It’s unquestionably a matchup between the two goofiest heavyweights in the UFC.
“He’s the white version of Jon Jones,” Nelson said of Herman. “He’s tall, lanky, unorthodox. You don’t know what to expect. At one time, he liked to party. So, you know, just like Jon Jones.”
Most fighters would censor themselves from poking fun at Jones’ recent arrest. But Nelson (16-7 MMA, 3-3 UFC) and Herman (21-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) throw around enough barbs that their personalities often overshadow their careers.
It’s sometimes to the chagrin of UFC President Dana White and others. White openly expressed frustration with some of Herman’s antics before his last fight, a second-round TKO loss to Stefan Struve at UFC on FUEL TV 1.
Herman showed up to Omaha, Neb., sporting what he called “a sweater” — his chest and back completely covered in hair and a beard that took months to grow.
There’s no need to worry; Herman has ditched the look ahead of UFC 146. It’s almost summer after all.
“I left it in Europe actually,” Herman said. “I went on vacation and I think I shaved my back in Italy and my chest in France. I shaved my beard in Germany. I kept the ‘stache for like an hour, but I was getting a lot of weird looks. It was too short, so then I just got rid of it, too.”
Herman had embarked on a world tour of sorts before accepting the fight with Nelson on short notice. After the European vacation, Herman “went back to college” at Indiana University.
He went on a week-long alcohol binge with some friends in Bloomington, Ind.
“It was Little (500) week, which is a bike race,” Herman said. “I’ve never gone to the race. Biggest party week at IU. It’s mostly just a lot of drinking, about four hours of sleep a night. It made me sick because I drank too much. It was like Wednesday or Thursday before I was like, ‘Alright, I can eat again.’ I lost like 15 pounds.”
During that recovery period, Herman received a call from the UFC asking if he was in shape enough to take a bout with Nelson in a month. Even though he wasn’t, Herman said yes.
Herman wanted to train less for his next fight, anyway, because he felt like he was over-prepared for his first two UFC contests. He got the traditional three-month notice ahead of his bout with Struve and a UFC 131 knockout win over Jon Olav Einemo. He didn’t enjoy those long-term training camps.
“It’s kind of like Christmas,” Herman said. “A three-month wait for Christmas or a three-week wait for Christmas? A lot of times, less is more.”
Nelson put in a lot more hours at the gym. He said he sank his entire training budget into paying sparring partners to emulate original opponents Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Gabriel Gonzaga.
The card’s shake-up, due to both injuries and Alistair Overeem’s failure to secure a fighting license, perturbed Nelson. He’s complained about his finances before the Herman fight and even hinted at joining a rival promotion of the UFC.
“I’ll pretty much go where the money is,” Nelson said. “I heard Bellator is starting up on Spike in 2013.”
Coming from the vast majority of the UFC roster, a comment like that would illicit raised eyebrows. Nelson and Herman, however, have always spoken freely.
From DUIs to business gripes, nothing is off limits with these two.
“Thank you for the compliment, Roy,” Herman said. “In any way I can be compared with Jon Jones, I think it’s great.”