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Sean Sherk Talks about the UFC and More

September 6th, 2005 · No Comments · News

Sean Sherk Talks about the UFC and More
By John Buhl
Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Back in July maXfighting talked to Sean Sherk and cleared the air that he was, indeed, still training and looking to get back into MMA; he was simply waiting for a worthwhile fight deal. Now Sherk will be back in action in just a few weeks, and he has also signed on with top MMA talent agent Monte Cox. MaXfighting once again spoke with one of the most accomplished fighters in the sport to discuss his recent flurry of announcements and more.

Despite a record of 28-1, wins over top fighters (Jutaro Nakao, Benji Radach, Gerald Strebendt, Karo Parisyan), a 3-1 record in the UFC and a victory in his lone Pride Bushido appearance, for some reason the top promotions had not come calling since early 2004. For a fighter whose only loss was a five round decision to UFC Champion Matt Hughes, it is understandable that Sherk became frustrated with the sport he loved. “It was definitely frustrating. That was why I pretty much decided to step away from fighting for a while 9 months ago. I was sick of being overlooked; I had paid my dues and didn’t want to keep fighting in the small shows.”

In taking time off, Sherk tried sticking with a regular full time job, but the MMA bug soon pulled him back in. “I was installing hardwood floors,” he said. Sean continued, “I worked with my father-in-law. It was anywhere from 40-60 hours a week. I realized I’m not a 9-5 guy.”

Not wanting to continue being on the outside looking in, Sherk signed on with MMA mega-agent Monte Cox, whose stable of fighters includes Hughes, Rich Franklin, Tim Sylvia, Jeremy Horn and a slew of others. “That was definitely the main reason I called him. He knows pretty much every promoter in the world,” he said.

As previously reported, Sherk will be fighting on an upcoming fight card called Pride and Glory, which will professional boxing (including Sherk taking on Joel Blanton) as well as professional MMA. The feature bout will showcase world-class boxer and title contender Ebo Elder, and Sean thinks this could be the start of a mutually beneficial relationship between MMA and boxing. “Boxing is really big right now, so to be on a card with all of these big name fighters is great. And the guy putting on the event is known for putting on good shows, from what I hear,” Sherk said.
In recent weeks, top fighters including Ivan Salaverry, Chris Lytle, Matt Lindland and Frank Trigg have been released by the UFC for various reasons. Clearly the UFC has tremendous leverage in being able to let go such world-class fighters.

As someone who has been unfairly left out of the mix for quite some time, Sherk agreed that having more top-level promotions (including cards like Pride and Glory, combining top-level boxers and mixed martial artists) would benefit fighters and perhaps the sport in the long term. “I think the best thing would be for more promotions to move up. It would give guys more options. Right now in the US the UFC is THE [primary] option. I’ve said in the past, it would be great to start some type of fighters union. I think a lot of times fighters get taken advantage of, but it’s the fighters that make the show,” he said.

Sean did point out that the UFC has done well to increase the prominence of MMA. “The UFC is paving the way for fighters to make a living doing this, you know? Look at Chuck Liddell; he’s throwing out the first pitch at Major League Baseball games,” Sherk said.

The UFC has made great strides, but the sport is not quite on the level in the US that it is in Japan. While in the Land of the Rising Sun fighting on Pride’s second Bushido card, Sherk noted, “Fans are crazy over there. You have to be there and see it to really understand. Fighters are like superheroes there. People chase you down the street…I had one guy come up to me and give me gifts,” he said.

Some fans are under the impression that Sherk is a straightforward ground-and-pound wrestler, and to set the record straight once again, he discussed his fighting background. “I started submission wrestling in ’94, and Thai boxing in ’94. I started out doing those a couple of times a week. I started cross training and taking it really seriously in 1998, training those techniques about 5 or 6 times a week,” Sean said.

For those who still think Sherk is a one-dimensional fighter, he said, “Yeah, people stereotype. But I look at those fans as one-dimensional. I think my stats of how I finish fights speak for themselves.”

The past six weeks Sean has been teaching combat grappling at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, and discussed the transition from fighter to teacher. “A lot of guys look to me for advice and training techniques. I get to show them what I’ve learned over the years,” he said.

Sherk has also enjoyed seeing fighters he is working with succeed in MMA. “Watching fighters you train be successful is definitely satisfying.” He continued, “Brock Larson, I rolled with him for hundreds of hours on the mat, and it’s great to see him doing well.”

Asked if Larson, whose now 12-0, is ready for a shot in one of the big promotions right now, Sherk replied without hesitation, “He is ready. He [beat] Stephan Potvin [in the IFC], and he went 25 minutes in that fight. He just won that 8-man tournament up in Wisconsin (Extreme Challenge 63). He’s ready, he’s been on a tear.”

The transition from fighter to trainer is not the only change Sean has had to make. Now a father, he’s learning to balance family life with a fighting career. “It really forces you to focus more. My life revolves around my kid now; training is secondary. I actually tried bringing him to the gym for the first time while I trained, but that didn’t work.”

Sean is not yet familiar with Blanton, and will attempt to scout him and put together a strategy. “I don’t know anything about him except what I’ve heard from Monte. That’s what I’m going to do the next couple of weeks, is try and get some tape of him. I don’t like going in to a fight blind,” Sherk said.

Nevertheless, Sherk plans on being ready for the fight September 16th. “To train for a fight I usually take about 10 weeks. I took this fight on about 4 weeks notice. I’m working out about 3-4 times a day, trying to play catch up. But cardio and technique definitely won’t be a problem,” he said.



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