PRIDE 27 INFERNO Preview

Heath Herring vs. Gan McGee

Jan 29, 2004

Heath "The Destroyer" Herring vs. "Giant" Gan McGee

HEATH HERRING: American wrestler, known as "The Texas Crazy Horse", Superbrawl veteran, WVC veteran, Extreme Challenge veteran, 2H2H veteran, USWF veteran, former PFC heavyweight title #1 contender, trains under coach Corr Hammers and with PFC veterans Gilbert Yvel, Semmy Schilt, Valentijn Overeem, Alistair Overeem and UFC veteran Remco Pardoel among others and members of the Team Golden Glory, with a record of 21-9 in MMA, making his 13th appearance (8-4) in the ring of the PFC

Abbreviated Fight History: Herring fought many bouts in small shows in his home state of Texas including the Unified Shoot Wrestling Federation (fought USWF leader Evan Tanner twice) and the World Vale Tudo Federation in Colorado. In 1999 Heath fought 13 times in a span of just 5 months. He competed in three 4-man tournaments (Superbrawl and the Bas Rutten Invitational) and two 8-man WVC tournaments and advanced to the final bout of all five events. The lone single bout he fought that year was in the Extreme Challenge against NHB "Ironman" Travis Fulton where Heath lost a decision. After the WVC tournament win (defeating Pride veteran "Dirty" Bob Schrijber in the final) Heath was scouted by Ron Nyquist and Team Golden Glory in Holland. The Team Golden Glory fighters include Pride veterans Gilbert Yvel, Semmy Schilt, Valentijn Overeem and UFC veteran Remco Pardoel among others. Heath next appeared in the Too Hot To Handle promotion, battling Japan Open Vale Tudo and K-1 veteran Rene Rooze. The kickboxer got himself in foul trouble and Herring had another W. A trip to Moscow, Russia for a Pankration match (lost on a cut stoppage) proved to be a minor setback because a Pride debut was less than two months way. He has fought exclusively for the PFC for the past 3 years. Below are some of Herring's more significant contests.

Herring/Tom Erikson: Heath's first big test in the PFCs was at Pride 11 against RAW Team wrestler Tom "Big Cat" Erikson. Tom was punishing Heath on the ground for the first few minutes but Herring waited for his opportunity. When the fight went back to the feet, Heath exploded with strikes and finished Erikson on the mat with a rear choke.

Herring/Enson Inoue: At Pride 12 Herring faced former Shooto light heavyweight champion Enson Inoue and pounded the large Hawaiian with strikes for nearly five minutes before the bout was halted.

Herring/Mark Kerr: Heath's stock was still high and his challenges increased, as he was pitted against PFC top contender Mark Kerr. Kerr had dominated position in round 1. Like with Erikson, a stand-up from lack of action rejuvenated Heath and in round 2 he was able to land a devastating head kick and finish Kerr with knees on the ground.

Herring/Rodrigo Nogueira: The match with Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira for the PFC Heavyweight Title at Pride 17: Championship Chaos was the best bout of Herring's career and will undoubtedly go down as one of the best ever in Pride. Even in losing, Herring showed he belonged in the ring with Nogueira. Rodrigo dominated in both stand-up and on the ground but could not finish the young Texan.

Herring/Igor Vovchanchyn: At Pride 19: Bad Blood, Heath sent a message to everyone in the heavyweight division by beating Igor Vovchanchyn. I'm sure even Heath knows he didn't face Vovchanchyn at his best but when the time came to throw down, he did what he had to stay alive in the division.

Herring/Fedor Emelianenko: In likely the most vicious beating Herring has ever taken, he battled Emelianenko Fedor at Pride 23: Championship Chaos 2. Heath never got started as the Russian used jackhammer fists to pound Herring into the ground and make him a bloody mess. There was nowhere for Heath to turn for most of the 10-minute period because Fedor was beating him to every move. Late in the round, an exhausted Fedor caught a few strikes from Herring but the serious damage had already been done. A stunned crowd, having seen the top contender thrown around like a rag doll, was speechless when the bout was called in between rounds due to the excessive bleeding and swelling of Herring's face.

Herring/Mirko Filipovic: Herring looked flustered and unfocussed from the opening bell and paid for it. He kept shooting in for the takedown without relaxing. Granted Mirko is a devastating striker and worthy of concern, but the mindset of bringing "Cro Cop" to the ground seemed to overwhelm him and led to his demise. Filipovic looked good, avoiding takedowns and seizing the opportunities Heath provided en route to victory.

Herring/Norihisa Yamamoto: This was not the best showing for Herring. Taking a journeyman on the Japanese fight circuit 3 rounds is not a good sign. Heath's striking was poor, especially given the muay Thai boxing talent he has at Golden Glory, and his groundwork was unimproved. He sank the choke late in the third and you have to give Yamamoto credit just for being there.

Herring/Giant Silva: Discussed under Giant LA Silva bio.

Also worthy of note: Herring battled Evan Tanner (loss/strikes-win/submission), Travis Fulton (loss/decision), Alexandre Ferreira (loss/decision), Bobby Hoffman (loss/decision), Bob Schrijber (win/strikes), Willie Peeters (win/submission) and Vitor Belfort (loss/decision)

Strengths And Weaknesses:
Herring has good stand-up skills and a full arsenal of submission techniques. Heath has won via armbar, keylock, Kimura armlock and rear choke among others. He's taken out quite a few opponents with strikes as well. When Herring is rolling on a full head of steam, he's difficult to stop. Weight is ofte, n a factor in his advantage (except against Belfort of course). Heath can pound out a win on his feet but he is most devastating on the mat with , knees to the head. Although it's not necessarily what you'd call a weakness, Herring has been fighting a really tough schedule for quite a while, , ,, ., , Since 2001, he's fought Vitor Belfort, Mark Kerr, Igor Vovchanchyn, Nogueira, Emelianenko and Filipovic. Those are all former or current top 3 contenders in the division and he's had just one "filler fight" in the mix (Iouri Kotchkine). With 2 straight losses, he showing signs of burning , out and that explains his opponent today.

How He Can Beat McGee: By staying focused. A win here is very important to his career and Herring is only 26 years old. If he can turn it around, he can fight for another 10 years easy. Heath needs to press McGee, take him to the mat and pound out a win. Gan has been taken out with solid strikes and if Heath gets him to the mat and takes his back, he can do what Tim Sylvia did 4 months ago.

GAN MCGEE: American submission wrestler and kickboxer, Cal Poly wrestler, IFC 7 Heavyweight Tournament Champion, Bas Rutten Invitational veteran, trains with Chuck Liddell, Scott Adams, John Hackelman and members of The Pit Fight Team, with a 12-2 record in MMA, making his 1st appearance in the PFC

Abbreviated Fight History: McGee was a wrestler at Cal Poly and a friend of Chuck Liddell and Scott Adamsand was an early member of S.L.O. (San Luis Obispo) Kickboxing with trainer John Hackelman. They now make up The Pit Fight Team. Gan debuted in the Bas Rutten Invitationals scoring a win over UFC veteran Sam Adkins. McGee fought in the IFC shows in California and taking the IFC 7 heavyweight tournament before making his octagon debut at UFC 28: High Stakes. McGee fought twice on training partner Scott Adams World Extreme Cagefighting shows before returning to the UFC last September. Below are some of McGee's more significant contests.

McGee/Tim Lajcik: Lajcik was able to avoid the takedown and keep this one for about two and a half mnutes but McGee was able to mount and rain down forearms. He opened Tim up with a strike to the forehead and he taps out.

McGee/Paul Buentello: In the IFC tournament final, Gan showed little offense standing and pushed Buentello into the side of the cage to brink him down. Much like the bout with Lajcik, McGee took the mount and pounded him with forearms, cutting him open and stopping the bout. Paul complained after the bout that McGee was slippery and that he received the cut from an illegal elbow and not a forearm.

McGee/Josh Barnett: McGee faced former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh "The Baby-faced Assassin" Barnett at UFC 28: High Stakes in the Octagon debut for both fighters. McGee was able to hang with Barnett early but soon fell victim to poor stamina. Near the end of the second round Barnett was able to overpower the giant and secure a win via strikes.

McGee/Pedro Rizzo: Pedro had control early and was fending Gan off well, even stunning him momentarily. Near the end of the first round Gan countered a leg kick with a straight right hand to the head and made Rizzo's nose was a memory. In between rounds it was determined Pedro's nose was broken and the fight was over.

McGee/Alexandre Dantas: Gan stopped the reemerging jiu-jitsu fighter Alexandre "Café" Dantas as Dantas tried to move up in weight and state his claim in the heavyweight division. It was not to be as McGee used his size and limb length to punish the Brazilian fighter, finishing him with strikes late in the 1st round.

McGee/Tim Sylvia: McGee comes out hands low and swings lazy jabs at Sylvia and even lands one early. Sylvia looks totally composed and is defending well. Tim shoots jabs out of his defense but didn't cut loose right away. They exchange in close and Tim lands a right to the face as Gan spins away from a failed takedown attempt. Tim keeps pressing the action and Gan answers back with a jab and low roundhouse kick but back peddling the whole time. The punches get stiffer as Sylvia closes the gap and then he unloads. Three hard rights set it up and send McGee to the mat. Gan gets to his knees but Tim lands five unanswered blows to his head on the canvas before John McCarthy breaks it up.

Also worthy of note: McGee battled Sam Adkins (win/knees), Aaron Brink (win/strikes) and Seth Petrucelli (win/ankle lock)

Strengths And Weaknesses: Gan likes to stand up and strike with his opponents and has a majority of referee stoppages on his record. McGee seems to keep his hands low sometimes but I imagine some of that has to do with his opponents being so much smaller than he. At this level of competition, he needs to work more on his basic defense. He has also had issues with stamina in and outside of the ring.

How He Can Beat Herring: Using his size and avoiding the takedown. Gan is a wrestler and can usually dominate a stand-up exchange with reach alone. Hopefully the bout with Sylvia showed him he can't continue to leave the hands low and paw at his opponent. If he can take Herring down and immediately fire down on him from the standing position ala Alexandre Dantas, he could have another TKO victory.

MY PICK: Herring. This is his comeback bout. Heath was off his game against Yamamoto and didn't really need to utilize much skill against Silva. That brings us back to the Filipovic and Emelianenko losses. The beating from Fedor obviously took its toll both physically and mentally and it showed against "Cro Cop". Now he has a real opponent in front of him and it is time to show he has recovered. McGee is big and has wrestling skills but he drops his hands and can be taken down. I feel it will be Herring by TKO from strikes in the 1st Rd.

DOWN THE ROAD:
McGee/Ricardo Morais: "The Mutant" is back in action with a bout at the Jungle Fight. Although that was an Inoki show, he's a Pride veteran. With all the giants being so popular now, he could show up in the Heavyweight GP.

McGee/Mark Coleman: Mark never officially retired. We also saw how the proposed retirement of Gary Goodridge went. It is a winnable fight for Coleman and he has the perfect training partner in Wes Sims.

Herring/Gary Goodridge: A possible Heavyweight GP match-up? If Gary is serious about still fighting, this is a likely opponent.

Herring/Mark Kerr: Both fighters have had their ups and downs (more downs) since the first meeting and it would have an entirely different feel now.

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