Herman Terrado’s Trials By Fire

By Jason Burgos Jul 2, 2018

Herman Terrado’s short relationship with the Professional Fighters League has been frustrating at times. However, as a man who once lived out of his car as a teenager, he has dealt with far worse.

Like many other PFL fighters, Terrado was a victim of the league’s delayed starts and other irksome issues. To understand how he brushes off the troubles and pushes forward, you have to know what he has already battled through in his pursuits to become a mixed martial artist. His story starts all the way on the other side of the planet, in the United States territory on which he was born and raised: Guam. Terrado was not an ordinary kid, as he was already in to weightlifting at a time when other kids were playing video games. He enjoyed it so much that by age 14 he was already 190 pounds of muscular bulk. Terrado then received an invite from his cousin to spar at the Purebred Ground-Fu gym. He scoffed at his 125-pound relative’s request.

“I’m into bodybuilding,” Terrado told him. “Plus, you guys are all small and skinny. I’ll kick your ass.”

After some convincing, he accepted the invite.

“I went to the gym, and my cousin says ‘are you ready, man?’ and he [expletive] kicked my ass,” Terrado said.

The lesson in MMA included taking head kicks, double-leg slams, armbars and rear-naked chokes -- and not just from his cousin. Other gym members got their chance to manhandle the youngster, as well. Despite being embarrassed by men 60 pounds lighter than him, Terrado did not back down. Quite the contrary, he had an awakening and wanted to know how it was done. “Instead of looking big and cool,” Terrado thought, “I’d rather know how to fight.” Day after day, he would go back to get brutalized by the fighters at the gym. “I’d get my ass kicked every [expletive] day, just getting beat up,” Terrado said. However, he knew his situation was not about trained fighters taking advantage of easy and naive prey. An old-school combat sports mentality permeated the gym, and the only way to earn respect and devotion was to be broken down, mentally and physically.

“They want to see if you have heart,” Terrado said.

Over time, he proved himself. However, the bruises and scrapes that accompanied him to school gave officials some concerns. One day, his father received a call from the principal, inquiring about the injuries. He had his response ready.

“I didn’t do anything,” Terrado’s father said. “If I did it, trust me, he’d be dead. No, he thinks he’s tough. He does that MMA stuff. That’s who did that.”

Terrado laughed as he remembered his father’s no-nonsense answer. Terrado spent most of his high school years training, and he enjoyed the brotherhood built between fighters in the gym. However, he realized the MMA scene in Guam had a glass ceiling for many combatants. Fighters would train, win championships with a local promotion and then transition into the next phase of their lives. That scenario did not work for Terrado. He wanted to do more with his fighting career.

“If I’m going to do this,” he thought, “I’m not going to be able to make it here.”

With that in mind, the only option for Terrado, then 17, was to make an adult decision and move to the U.S. mainland. His gym in Guam had a sister facility in California: Undisputed. He also had relatives in the area that could give him a place to stay while he pursued his dreams. Terrado quit school and made the move to San Diego. Unfortunately, his early days did not go to well. After a dispute with his cousin, Terrado was thrown out on the streets and forced to live in a 1997 Mustang he had purchased for $900. He was now 18 years old, out of school, homeless, working three different jobs and actively training as a professional mixed martial artist.

“I’d wake up in the morning, go train, then take a shower at the gym, then go to work and do those three jobs,” he said.

Terrado’s diet at the time left a lot to be desired. He knew as a professional he had to eat smart and that he could not dine on salty foods like hot dogs and Ramen noodles. However, his limited budget did not allow for much more. In the end, his diet consisted of a loaf of bread and cans of tuna he would ration during the week. If he had a few extra bucks, he splurged on items like lettuce and Sriracha to liven up his meals.

“I was doing what I had to so I can survive [and] fight and try and make a name for myself,” Terrado said.

Ten years later, he is married with a child and owns a gym: Gamebred Training Center. Built-in toughness has allowed him to push through the difficulties he has experienced with the Professional Fighters League. Terrado originally signed with the rebranded organization in 2017 and expected to be competing in a tournament format early this year.

“I’ve been training since last year getting ready for January,” he said.

However, circumstances for the reformed company have delayed the start of welterweight bouts on several occasions. Along with those frustrations, Terrado claims he originally agreed to fight in a tournament and that the concept of two regular-season fights followed by playoffs was added afterwards.

“I was over here thinking I was already in the tournament,” Terrado said. “Now I’ve got to fight these two fights, and if I lose, I don’t have a chance to get in?”

The change came as a harsh surprise for Terrado, especially since he felt as though he did the promotion a favor last summer. While on a cruise for his honeymoon, Terrado was contacted about taking a fight on the company’s inaugural short-form card in Daytona, Florida. The bout was against Joao Zeferino and on three weeks’ notice. Terrado won a split decision. “I thought [by] doing that last minute the PFL would have a little bit more consideration for me,” he said. In the end, he was not going to allow it to derail his focus going forward. “Whatever. I signed. I agreed,” said Terrado, who owns a 15-3-1 record, with 12 wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission. “I’m a fighter, and it’s a great opportunity to turn my life around.”

To make amends, the company gave Terrado a bonus for signing a new contract that includes regular-season bouts. Ready to get back in action after a yearlong layoff, he now has his sights set on PFL 3 and his showdown with Magomed Magomedkerimov this Thursday at the GWU Smith Center in Washington, D.C.

“I’m ready to go out there and just explode with fireworks and smash this mother [expletive],” said Terrado, who plans to reintroduce himself to the MMA universe. “They don’t know who I am, but they will.”
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