Middleweight Ed Herman is starting fresh in Colorado, making plans to get his career back on track after a devestating knee injury cost him a year in the middle of his fighting prime. Fighters move around the country all the time, swapping teams and making a fresh start. But few leave with quite as big a bang-fitting for a fighter called "Short Fuse." In an interview with MMA Junkie, Herman spared few words for his former teammates at Team Quest:
"I'd been wanting to make a move for a while," Herman said. "Things are kind of falling apart out in Oregon at (Team) Quest a little bit, and Matt Lindland's not the best person to be around all the time, so we needed to make our move."
For Lindland and others at Team Quest, the remarks came as a complete shock. Herman is one of the first professionals to come out of the camp, founded by Lindland, Randy Couture, and Dan Henderson back in 1999. He's spent his entire career in Oregon, and while his leaving wasn't a surprise, the way he went out was. In an exclusive interview with Bloody Elbow, Lindland remembered Herman's tenure with the legendary fight team:
We've done a lot for Ed. Ed never stepped onto an MMA mat before he came to our gym. We've done a lot to make him a pretty darn good fighter and a lot to make him more marketable. We got him on that TV show and helped him build a career. I think some of these younger guys get a little fame, a little notoriety and it goes to their head. They think everyone owes them something. It's hard to be successful in this sport with that kind of attitude, an attitude of entitlement.
Herman made his name during the third season of The Ultimate Fighter, losing to Kendall Grove in a final so compelling UFC President Dana White decided to award both men UFC contracts. From there, it's been a rough road. His record since that shining moment is an even .500 (4-4) and when he returns he'll be battling for his MMA life. With that pressure staring him squarely in the eye, Herman is looking for any edge-and told Junkie's Steve Marrocco he didn't think he'd find it at Team Quest:
"There's no bridges burned or anything, but I didn't like the way fighters were getting taken care of," he said. "I didn't like the way students were getting taken care of. There were a lot of promises to me that were never fulfilled. So we had to make a move and make things happen ourself instead of bitching and whining about stuff (and) not having this and not having that."
The controversy comes a month after a star turn by Herman's former teammate Chael Sonnen. Sonnen pushed UFC middleweight Anderson Silva to the limit at UFC 117, dominating the fighter many considered MMA's very best. Herman said Sonnen was able to succeed despite the training at Team Quest, not because of it. Lindland believes the issue may be a little more complicated:
It's almost like he's a little jealous of all the attention Chael Sonnen's gotten. There was a time when Ed was getting all that attention, all those accolades. Ed had his moment to shine on the TV show and he did great, fought his heart out in a great finals. But he's been hurt and been out for awhile with an injury. Keep in mind that this is all coming from a guy who hasn't even been in the gym for a year. He's not in the limelight. Maybe he's not getting recognized in the clubs?
As he spent time on the shelf, Herman thought plenty about all the things he didn't have at Team Quest. Herman wanted to see more outside talent brought into the camp, including thai boxing, jiu jitsu, and strength and conditioning specialists. And while Team Quest does occasionally bring in a guest instructor (I was there once at the same time as Randy Couture's grappling trainer Neil Melanson) the bulk of the training is done by a core staff of regular coaches. To Lindland, there's merit to training in a comfort zone:
Younger guys like Ed think there is a magic pill that will make you a champion. Something that will make you the champion without putting the time in and putting the work in. To be succesful in MMA, it takes the same thing that took me to seven national titles and multiple international finals in wrestling-perseverance, years of hard work, and discipline. There is no magic pill or a magic coach we can hire. You have to put the time and the work in.
Ed wanted more but he doesn't even take advantage of what he already has. He's got loyal and dedicated sparring partners, great MMA coaches like Robert Follis and a great boxing coach like Clayton Hires. It's just unfortunate. People move on and that's fine. But don't leave and badmouth someone that's been trying to help you for almost a decade and make disparaging remarks about your team and your teammates publicly. If he had something to say, he could have said it to me, not gone out and done an interview.
The parting seemed like it was going to be on good terms. Herman is joining Ryan Schultz, a Lindland favorite, who is moving to Colorado for family reasons. There was even talk of their new gym being a Team Quest franchise. What a difference a week makes. Lindland says he was open to the idea:
That was our intention. But we have certain systems and standards in place. I wanted to protect the name and the business I've built over the last ten years. I sent them our contract and sent it to their lawyers and I thought we were moving forward. But I never heard back. I guess they've decided to go out on their own. Which is great. I hope Ed and Ryan are happy and hope they have plenty of future success. It's just unfortunate that it ended this way.
Lindland makes his return to the cage on October 9th for Strikeforce, fighting rising star Luke Rockhold in a bout that may land the winner in the much discussed middleweight tournament.