Historically, the UFC's heavyweight division has always been the most laborious to saturate with fresh and respectable prospects. Compared to most other weight classes, the talent was sparse and scattered about the globe, and I reckon the sturdy heavyweight roster that Scott Coker synthesized was a juicy part of the UFC's bargain.
Amidst the guffawing over the six Strikeforce heavyweights that are ranked in the top-twenty, Dave Herman and Jon Olav Einemo are also very laudable additions whom will face one another in their Octagon debuts.
Let's start with the more polished and refined entry: Jon Olav Einemo is best known for beating virtuoso Roger Gracie in a grappling match and winning the 2003 ADCC tournament. The Norwegian trains with the kickboxing-based Golden Glory team alongside the Overeem's and Semmy Schilt, which has been a perfect complement to his ground acumen.
Einemo's MMA timeline has been sporadic. He started with two fights in 2000, then one in 2001, then another two in 2003, all of which were first round stoppages. He reappeared in 2006 at Pride 31 where he lost a decision to Fabricio Werdum, but submitted James Thompson in the first round later on that year ... and that was the last time we saw Jon Olav Einemo.
He explains the erratic schedule in an interview with Ariel Helwani, but it's still odd that he's getting his biggest chance and best exposure at age thirty-five with seven fights under his belt. Either way, better late than never, as his kickboxing has become adequate and his ground prowess is still elite.
For anyone who has uttered so much as a peep about lay-and-pray, complained about "fighting not to lose", opined that fighters should "let it all hang out", or engaged in any other recycled cliche about boring performances, I hereby present Dave "Pee Wee" Herman.
Herman is a pure athletic talent who embraces the skirmish with primal barbarity, literally to a fault. In his first fifteen fights, Herman slaughtered everyone in the first round except for ATT's Mario "Big Hurt" Rinaldi, who lasted to the third before the TKO. Do yourself a favor and check out some tape on Herman's previous fights.
In addition to his utterly berserk and balls-out brawling style, here's what I love about Herman. After his first career loss against Mu Bae Choi in Sengoku, Herman devised the totally innovative idea to actually start training MMA. It's a novel concept if you really think about it.
Here's what "Pee Wee" said about the revelation in his UFC.com Q&A:
When and why did you start training for fighting?
I started training for fighting about two years ago. I started training right after my first professional loss because I didn’t want it to happen again.
After the epiphany of "practice" hit him, Herman lambasted another trio of fighters in the first round, starting with Josh Barnes in Bellator, legend Don Frye in Shark Fights, and then assailed "Big" Jim York with a torrent of Axe kicks when dueling leglocks in Sengoku.
Herman then traveled to Abu Dhabi to take on Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, and after battering the Pride and UFC vet with two rounds of pure highlights, ended up losing for an illegal knee. Herman's stock managed to shoot up despite the loss because of his frenetically electric performance.
The next sign of his diversity was lacing an omoplata on Michael Kita at Bellator 31, again, in the first round. Before signing with the UFC, he took place in only his second fight to go to the cards, which was a commanding decision victory over Yoshihiro Nakao in Sengoku.
The run-through of the Einemo versus Herman confrontation is posted after the jump.
Don't mistake the shorter analysis for a lack of interest. In fact, from a pure entertainment standpoint, I'm looking forward to this fight more than any other on the entire UFC 131 card.
The madness captured on the left is the perfect representation of the way Dave Herman handles his business.
The jumping front kick and spinning back kick you first see were many in a virtual orgy of maniacal offense, not unlike the way we all tore through the living room, knocking over coffee tables and precious vases while mimicking Bruce Lee in our childhood.
The icing on the cake in the sequence above is that even though Herman falls flat on his ass after the second kick, the first thing that obviously comes into focus for him is a Sokoudjou leg, which Herman immediately latches on to and gnaws on furiously before turning into a leglock attempt.
Sure, it might seem comical from a distance, but imagine if you were standing across the cage from a 6'4", 240-pound, freakish athlete who fought like a hyperactive fifth grader that's been strapped down in a padded room and forced to watch The Karate Kid for ten straight hours with no Ritalin.
The man is supremely talented and knows nothing of strategy or points or anything other than winning a "Who Can Look the Coolest While Kicking Your Ass" contest.
Needless to say, win or lose, I expect Herman to be a big hit with fans.
As far as the actual match-up, Einemo is highly technical on the canvas with decent stand-up, so the gist of the outcome will be decided by if and how he can tame the unrestrained savagery of Herman.
To do so, Einemo will have to be everything Herman is not, which is strategic, cautious, and methodical. If the decorated grappler can get and keep Herman on the ground, hitting a submission is quite possible.
Please, don't allow my levity regarding Herman's style belie the true talent and potential this kid has. As carefully constructed gameplans and cerebral approaches have reached an all time high in MMA, it's refreshing to have an uncultivated monstrosity like him in the big show.
The betting odds slant heavily toward Herman, perhaps due to his ultra-aggressive style or Einemo's inconsistent schedule, and though I make no attempt to hide my bias, I feel the same.
My Prediction: Herman by TKO