There we were, just one fight away from UFC 102 going live on pay-per-view television. The world could hardly await another epic appearance from the then face of the UFC, Randy Couture. Couture was about to stand face-to-face with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The only preliminary fight that stood in the way of this mouth-watering showdown and four other main card bouts was Ed Herman vs. Aaron Simpson.

The bout was irrelevant to most. In fact, few hardly tuned in for it. However, that turned out to be a mistake for those who missed out. In the second round of action, Herman was declared unable to continue due to a devastating knee injury. For those who watched, it was the beginning of the end for Herman. After all, it was his third loss in just his last four fights.

Ed Herman (top) battles Clifford Starks (James Law/Heavy MMA)

It was absolutely devastating for Herman and his team. To make matters worse, he would re-injure the knee, making the chances of a return even less probable. But overshadowing all the negative was a glimpse of hope. A will to not give up and to overcome the vicious odds of making it back to the Octagon. Despite having his own doubts, Herman knew it wasn’t time to hang up the gloves.

“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a time that I doubted my return. I went back to training after that fight with Aaron. The injury occurred in August of ‘09 and I started training again in January,” admitted Herman. “That’s when I blew my knee again.”

“I questioned whether or not I could ever come back. I had reinjured it, and it was a low point of my career. I ended up having two surgeries that year. As expected, it was tough both mentally and financially. I just kept pushing through, though. For a while I thought it was over, but I kept my focus on getting back and getting healthy,” said Herman. “It tightened the screws, and it gave me an extra drive to get back to where I’m at today.”

Almost two years removed from his bout with Simpson, Herman was set to make his long-awaited return to the Octagon. It was finally a chance to redeem himself and prove to the world that he was in fact relevant to the middleweight division.

Those who forgot who Herman was were quickly reminded that the “Short Fuse” is no man to sleep on. Just ask fellow middleweight Tim Credeur, who learned the hard way.

“Coming back and knocking Tim Credeur out in the first round was definitely the highlight of my career so far. It was my comeback after being out for two years. People were doubting if I could ever come back. Some people didn’t even know who I was anymore,” admitted Herman. “Making that comeback and having that feeling of being on top again made it all worth it.”

Following his welcome party back to the UFC, Herman would go on to finish Kyle Noke and Clifford Starks in his next two bouts, pushing his winning streak to three fights. Herman will now have the opportunity to take his hot streak to four consecutive wins when he meets well-known middleweight Jake Shields in a main card showdown at UFC 150 in Denver on Aug. 11.

Shields, who is a year-plus removed from his title loss to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 129, is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144 in Japan. If it’s up to Herman, he won’t allow Shields a chance to return to the throne. Instead, Herman believes it’s his time to shine. His time to make his name known.

Ed Herman (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

“For me, it’s about executing my game plan and not worrying too much about what he’s going to do in there. When I look at Jake’s game, he has a lot of good takedowns,” said Herman. “I’ve been working on my takedown defense a lot, because he has those slick single-leggers.”

“I think I’m going to stuff his shots and wear him down. I’m going to hit him with some power. I’m going to rough him up with my clinch and break his will. I want to break him mentally and physically. He’s a talented fighter, so it’s going to take my ‘A’ game. I’m not going to wait for him to shoot and defend,” said Herman. “I want to come out, push the pace, fight my game plan, fight smart, look to hurt him and put him away.”

A win over Shields would certainly be the biggest of Herman’s career. Just how big, you may ask?

“A win over Jake Shields puts me right up there with the top guys,” said Herman. “It puts me up there, for sure.”

Top Photo: Ed Herman (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)