Our first interview with Dave “Pee Wee” Herman was in February 2009. He had just come off the very first loss of his career to Mu Bae Choi in Sengoku and decided he should probably take a few official MMA lessons somewhere.
Dave finished all of his first 15 opponents before Choi; 14 of them in the first round. All of Dave’s initial success came basically from him training at home, his athleticism and the couple of three years he wrestled in college.
Once Dave started “officially training” he got back to his first round knockout ways and won his next three fights. In May 2010, he made a mistake, threw an illegal knee and lost via disqualification to Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou in a fight he was clearly dominating.
Following that, he submitted Michal Kita via omoplata at Bellator 31, then scored the first decision win (unanimous) of his career against Yoshihiro “Kiss” Nakao at World Victory Road’s “Soul of Fight”.
Dave then began traveling the country and testing out some different gyms. He also signed on with a new manager, Shu Hirata. In Spring 2011, it was announced Dave had signed with the UFC and he settled in at Team Quest in Temecula, Calif., for training.
Dave made his Octagon debut this past weekend at UFC 131 against Jon Olav Einemo, a submission expert out of Golden Glory. After a back and forth battle that lasted just over three minutes into the second round, Einemo was left battered on the canvas and Dave “Pee Wee” Herman had just won his UFC debut.
He was also awarded “Fight of the Night” honors and pocketed and extra $70,000 on top of his regular salary.
ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) caught up with “Pee Wee” on Tuesday to talk about the win, how he has improved since joining Team Quest, how he plans to spend all that money and why he thinks BJJ doesn’t work.
One thing I noticed is your striking looked really improved. You looked really solid out there. How much of a difference has moving to Team Quest made for you in your striking?
“I think it’s helped a lot. My Muay Thai coach Daniel was in my corner for this fight. That’s what I’ve really been focusing on and where I can stand to improve the most, so that’s what I was working on. I still have a lot of work to do though and basically want to keep focusing on striking.”
Have you had a chance to watch the fight yet?
“Yeah, I got to watch it yesterday [Monday] finally.”
What did you think overall and what are some things you might have noticed that you would like to improve on?
“Well, there were a couple times where I dropped my hands a little and had a couple of my old bad habits pop in here and there, but I think overall for the most part it looked pretty good. Obviously, I still have a lot of room to improve and I plan on doing that, but I was pretty happy with it.”
When you saw how big that guy was, did you get any nerves at all or does that not make a difference to you?
“Not really. I kind of already knew how tall he was going to be, so it was what I expected. I was kind of thinking he might end up being a little bigger than that just cause of where he trains at a lot of the guys there are kind of notoriously on steroids. So I was like, if he just comes in huge I wouldn’t be surprised at all. But obviously, that didn’t seem to be the case at all.”
You got a huge payday there. What was the first thing you bought with that payday or have you not had the chance to spend any yet?
“I have actually not spent any of it yet. It takes like a day or two for the checks to clear, so… But basically pay everybody what I owe them and save for something big later down the road.”
How motivating is it to know you can make that kind of money and more by knocking people out?
“It’s pretty motivating, I’m not gonna lie.”
It has to be, right?
“Yeah, that was actually my goal for the fight. Obviously, I wanted to get either knockout or submission of the night. But then if I didn’t get that, win or lose, I wanted fight of the night. So, yeah, luckily I got it with the win.”
I know in the past there’s been some issues maybe with motivation or whatever. Do you think maybe this is the thing that will get you really motivated, is making that kind of money?
“I think it’s certainly going to help, yeah.”
I think you made Dana [White] very happy. Did he say anything to you after the fight?
“A little bit yeah, he congratulated me and made the comment, “I didn’t know Peyton Manning was that tough,” kind of joking around, and at the same time giving me a compliment. He seemed happy.”
Have you started catching any flack for the “BJJ doesn’t work” comments yet?
“I haven’t personally, but I haven’t really seen or talked to anybody other than my friends, but they’ve been telling me there’s a bunch of stuff online about it. But I haven’t really heard anything other than what other people have read and told me.”
I think I saw a Tweet from Renzo Gracie, said something. Did you hear about that?
“Yeah, one of my buddies said something. I don’t know what it said, but, it happens.”
Why does BJJ not work?
“I don’t know, I mean it just doesn’t. I mean it sort of works. Like if I were to teach a girl a martial art I’d probably go with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, because, you know, it’s kind of trickery, how can a little weak person maybe come out with a win after getting beat up real bad.”
It used to kind of work, right?
“Yeah, when nobody knew anything at all about it, cause, you know, it’s basically trickery. But once the tricks are even mildly known, you’re like, well I’m not falling for that. Are you going to get on Craig’s List and buy a car and wire somebody money that you’ve never met and hope they ship the car to you? Probably not, you know. But I bet a couple people fell for it at first though.”
You’ve used some pretty good moves submitting guys, omoplatas and stuff…
“Yeah… it happens. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in awhile.”
Can you talk a little about your wrestling background; you went to Indiana right?
“Yeah, just kind of walked onto Indiana University and wrestled there for two or three years, something like that.”
How does one walk onto a Division I school like that with really no experience?
“You just show up.”
What was your sports background before that?
“I mean I dabbled in everything. In high school I wrestled for like two weeks one year. So it wasn’t like I had never wrestled ever. But I only completed my sophomore year of high school. I didn’t have a junior or senior year, so I didn’t do any sports those two years. But at one time I pretty much did everything; basketball, soccer, track, cross country, football, wrestling.”
Did you always stay active then, always into something?
“Yeah, I was always doing something even if it was just outside playing with my friends, a pick-up game of basketball or something. I was always busy doing something.”
It really seems like your athleticism took you a long way in the sport to begin with.
“Yeah, it definitely helps a lot.”
So, does wrestling work in MMA?
“Oh yeah for sure. I think wrestling is the best base you can have, just because it’s the transition between everything. You know, the transition between being on your feet and on the ground, striking, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, you know what I mean? No matter what you’re trying to do, if you want to ground and pound, if you want to keep it on your feet, if you want to do jiu-jitsu, wrestling is the key between all of them. So, without that you’re kind of screwed.”
Did you watch the other fights on the card?
“I got to see a couple.”
Did you see Beltran’s fight?
“I did not. I saw one or two after me. I didn’t see any before.”
What did you think of the main event?
“You know, great performance by dos Santos. I was expecting Carwin to come out stronger in the first round, but in the end that’s kind of what I thought was going to happen. I figured if Carwin was going to win it, he was going to win it in the first round, but out of the first round dos Santos had it for sure. But you know, he almost had it in the first, which surprised me a little but…”
Yeah, it seemed like his hands were just too fast for him.
So, what’s next, are you right back in the gym, you going to take a couple weeks off?
“I’m taking a week off. Just kind of hanging out. Everyone keeps expecting me to gain weight, so maybe I’ll lift a little.”
Yeah I heard an interview where they asked if you wanted to drop to 205. Frankly, I had never even thought about that for you.
“I never have either, and people keep asking, “Well, could you make 205?” I could make it, but why would I want to? I could make 185, but why?”
You’ve had what like 23 fights at heavyweight now?
It’s a little late to start thinking about that maybe. I don’t know.
“I mean, it’s possible, but it’s not going to happen.”
So, are you thinking of maybe beefing up a little?
“I don’t know. I’m happy where I’m at honestly. You get heavier, you get a little slower, you get a little more tired… I mean, I feel pretty strong. I feel pretty good.”
Look at the champ, he’s not a huge guy.
“Yeah. He’s just shorter. He’s pretty thick and solid though. But yeah, I mean his weight is not ridiculously a lot.”