For some fighters the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been too bad. At least not when it comes to the financial side of fighting. Fighters like Tanner Boser, Khamzat Chimaev, and others have been able to make repeated quick returns to the Octagon as the UFC desperately looks to fill out cards with last minute fight bookings.
For other fighters, however, the realities of 2020 have been a constant struggle.
Coming off back-to-back wins in 2019, Ed Herman seemed set to keep things rolling with a may fight booking against Da Un Jung. Unfortunately, the planned Jack Hermansson vs. Chris Weidman Fight Night fell smack dab in the early stages of the US pandemic response, when the UFC was forced to put a wholesale stop to their event calendar.
Three months later, and Herman’s fight with Jung had been re-booked for UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Shahbazyan. Unfortunately, Jung was forced from that fight due to travel restrictions, and replaced by Gerald Meerschaert—who then tested positive for COVID-19 and was also removed from the card. The UFC had hoped to make a last second booking between Herman and similarly unlucky Kevin Holland, but by the time they arrived at the idea Herman was already on a flight back home to Oregon.
Jump forward another month and Herman is finally about to fight. But not until after Meerschaert was once again forced from their bout, to be replaced by John Allan, who was then replaced by Mike Rodriguez. Speaking to the media ahead of this week’s UFC event, Herman summed up this year’s experiences in MMA succinctly (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“2020’s been pretty f-cked, 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.”
While Herman also revealed that escalating political tensions around the nation and their home state of Oregon have even driven a wedge between him and his brother, he also said he’s found some ways to cope with an especially hard year.
“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 vs. Rodriguez takes place on the undercard of UFC Fight Night: Waterson vs. Hill at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, NV. Outside the main event, the card features a top-ranked women’s flyweight bout between Andrea Lee and Roxanne Modafferi.