12 Questions for Sean Sherk

12 Questions for Sean Sherk

By TJ De Santis May 18, 2009
In his quest to return to the top of the lightweight division, former champion Sean Sherk will meet Frankie Edgar in a pivotal main card bout at UFC 98 “Evans vs. Machida” this Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The sculpted 35-year-old Minnesotan rebounded from his title fight loss to B.J. Penn a year ago with a unanimous decision victory against Tyson Griffin at UFC 90 in October. Sherk (33-3-1) has lost to only three men -- Penn, current UFC welterweight king Georges St. Pierre and future UFC hall of famer Matt Hughes -- and remains one of the sport’s most underappreciated fighters.

In this exclusive interview with Sherdog.com, Sherk discusses the possibility of a rematch with Penn, the taxing cut to 155 pounds and life as a father to two sons who seem unaware of his stardom.

Sherdog: Let’s start with Frankie Edgar. He’s your next opponent in the UFC. How are things going in preparation for Frankie?
Sherk: Things are going real good. [I have] a lot of good training partners. Training camp has been going phenomenal. [I’m] putting things together and just winding it down, getting ready for showtime.

Sherdog: You’ve fought a lot of guys in your career. Is Frankie different from opponents you have faced in the past?
Sherk: I think he’s pretty well-rounded. He has a great wrestling background, [and] his striking looks good. Every time I’ve seen him fight, he looks comfortable on his feet. I think he’s a purple belt in jiu-jitsu. I think he’s pretty well-versed. I don’t know how this fight is going to turn out. It could turn into a wrestling match or a boxing match. That has yet to be seen. I think you’ll see a lot of everything in this one. That’s the way it is with everybody in this industry now, especially at the high level. Everyone is three-dimensional now. You never know how it’s going to go until you get in there and start mixing it up.

Sherdog: B.J. Penn is going to fight Kenny Florian at UFC 101 in August. You fought both of those guys. If you get past Edgar and Penn beats Florian, do you think the MMA community is ready for Penn-Sherk 2?
Sherk: I would hope so. My last fight with Tyson [Griffin] was real exciting. We got “Fight of the Night.” I think my fight with Frankie is going to be real exciting. I think -- assuming I do pull the win off in two fast-paced, exciting fights -- that the fans would be excited for Penn and Sherk 2.

Sherdog: Let’s talk about the time when you were outside of the UFC. You decided to call up Monte Cox, and he got you back in. UFC President Dana White has gone on record saying he does not like Monte. What is so special about Monte and how does he make things happen?
Sherk: I think the guy is a really good manager. He’s got so many great guys that he manages, which obviously helps. He knows a lot of people in this industry. He’s really well-connected. I don’t know the issues between him and Dana, but if you’re managed by Monte Cox, you’re in the big show. That’s just the way it is.

Sherdog: Let’s talk about some of your past opponents. You’ve been in there with some of the best fighters in the world -- Matt Hughes, Georges St. Pierre and B.J. Penn. Who is the toughest guy you’ve competed against in mixed martial arts?
Sherk: All of those guys … my three losses, obviously. When I fought Matt Hughes, he was number one pound-for-pound in the world. When I fought Georges St. Pierre, he was on that top 10 pound-for-pound in the world list. When I fought B.J. Penn, he was on that top 10 pound-for-pound list. All three of those guys were phenomenal fighters. I couldn’t really put my finger on one guy. They all posed problems in different ways. I had a lot of trouble with St. Pierre because of his reach. I’ve been in the ring with a lot of great guys, not just the guys that I’ve been beaten by. Look at the guys I’ve beaten. I’ve beaten 10 guys over my career that have been ranked top 10 in the world at one point in time, so I’ve beaten a lot of great guys, and I’ve been beaten by some great guys. That’s what mixed martial arts is all about to me -- creating that legacy. When I walk away from this industry, I don’t want to have any type of question marks next to my name. I want to know -- and I want the fans to know -- that I was one of the best guys in the world for a long time and I fought some of the best guys to prove it.

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