"No one else wanted to cross over like that," Herman said. "But I've been in the UFC six years, so it ain't no big deal to me."
"Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine" takes place Jan. 12 at Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City. The event's main card, including Herman vs Souza, airs live on Showtime following prelims on Showtime Extreme.
Prior to Herman, only one UFC fighter had ever agreed to fight in Strikeforce, and that fighter, Frank Mir, injured his knee before he could set foot inside the Zuffa-owned promotion's cage.
Others, such as B.J. Penn, Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo, declined for various reasons to lend their services. But that was when Strikeforce allegedly had a future.
After months of infirmity, the promotion will formally fold up shop, and some of its talent will be folded into the UFC.
That's probably at the root of fears among those who allegedly dodged a fight with Souza. Not only is the Brazilian a tough fight in Strikeforce, he's a tough fight in any cage. A loss in a dying promotion might provide too easy an opportunity for matchmakers to cut dead weight, and in the event of a poor performance, such as the one Herman previously delivered, it would be a no-brainer.
"Short Fuse" doesn't see it this way, however. If he wins, he's got an opportunity to piggyback on Souza's notoriety, limited as it might be beyond hardcore fans, and put himself back into title contention in the octagon. If he loses, he's been around long enough that the promotion won't drop the hammer. And along the way, he gets to fight under new lights, in a new cage and in front of a new audience.
That's why Herman said he ran toward the Strikeforce hexagon.
"Obviously, the UFC is the main stage, and people may look at it as a downgrade, but I don't because I know I'm going to be right back in the octagon," he said.
Herman certainly has had ups and downs in his UFC career, which began following his stint on "The Ultimate Fighter 3." A unanimous decision loss to Kendall Grove saw him lose out on a six-figure contract offered to winners of the reality show. But six years later, he's still fighting for the promotion, while Grove toils in the minor leagues after a losing streak.
While it's true that Herman could have been spared the ax given the considerable amount of time he spent on the sidelines due to a knee injury, it's also true that his return was marked by three consecutive finishes before he met Jake Shields at UFC 150. A "flat" performance, which he considers one of his worst ever, resulted in a unanimous decision loss. Two months later, the decision was reversed when Shields tested positive for a banned substance, but he doesn't take any comfort with that.
"I don't know if I was too worried about what he was going to do, or not to make a mistake, but it wasn't me out there," Herman said. "I didn't fight up to my abilities at all."
Herman obviously is banking on doing that when he steps into the cage against Souza. It's a risky bet, but he wouldn't be a fighter if he didn't take it.
"The matchup is big for me because I feel like he's a top-ranked guy, and if I can go in there and get a win on him, that bumps me right back up in the mix of things," he said.