Not very many fighters can step away from the sport for some time, with rumors circling that they have retired, and still remain in the top 10 of pretty much every list out there and still have their name mentioned by hundreds of loyal fans on every forum for mixed martial arts…Sean Sherk is one such fighter that can make that claim. Sherk, who hasn’t fought since last year, is training hard and hopes to make his way back to the top of the welterweight division, stepping through any opponent that gets in his way. Sherk sat down to catch up on what he’s been up to and what’s in store for his future.
MMAWeekly: There were a lot of rumors that you had retired. Is that true? Are you coming back to the sport full time?
Sean Sherk: I don’t know where that came from that I officially retired, cause I never said that. Whoever was saying that was just making stuff up. Basically, all I said was that I was sick of getting jerked around in the smaller shows, fighting guys I never really heard of before, so I just kind of wanted to take a step back to reflect and see what I needed to do, maybe even take a break from the sport for a little while.
MMAWeekly: You’re still training now, is there anything that’s set up on the horizon that’s next for you?
Sean Sherk: Well, my ears are definitely open for options. I’m talking to a couple different promoters and they’re talking to Monte Cox, seeing if there is anything out there for me. If something good comes along, I’m definitely interested in fighting again. I’ve been training, I haven’t lost anything, I’m still sharp. I guess all I would need is just one tune up fight and I’d be ready to go. I’d like to fight once or twice this year before it’s over. When I fight, I fight all out. I’m not one of those guys who fights every 6 months, I fight 10 or 12 times a year. Pretty much fight every month, because I learn from every fight.
MMAWeekly: After you fought Matt Hughes in the UFC, they didn’t bring you back. What exactly happened with that situation and how did that effect your mentality about making it back to the big show?
Sean Sherk: I actually had decided to take a step back from the sport, for almost about 2 years after I fought Hughes. I was still fighting actively, but every fighter’s goal out there is to make it to the big show. If you’re fighting in the top level and you feel like you should be fighting in the big show, and that doesn’t happen, that’s really frustrating, so that did play a part in finding a way to step back from the sport for a while.
MMAWeekly: Do you think the promoters who are running the big shows should be paying fighters more that what they do currently?
Sean Sherk: I think some fighters are definitely being underpaid, and I think the reason they’re okay with that is that they would rather be underpaid in the UFC on pay per view, than underpaid on some show that no one has ever heard of before. They could probably pay fighters more money, but if the fighters aren’t going to take a stand and demand more money? If all the fighters were to say, “Yeah, we want more money and we’re not going to fight for less,” then the promoters would be forced to pay more money. I think the way the promoters look at it, you got one guy asking for more money and one guy saying I’ll fight for less. Well of course they’re going to go with the guy for less because the fans don’t know who the hell half the fighters are anyway, they just want to see two guys fight.
MMAWeekly: With the success of the “Ultimate Fighter” and unproven guys getting six figure contracts, does that anger you at all that guys like that are getting an opportunity over guys like you who have proven themselves in the sport?
Sean Sherk: I definitely would love to be in that situation. But unfortunately, for the “Ultimate Fighter” show, they’re only taking guys who have never fought in the UFC before. So, that’s just the way it goes.
MMAWeekly: There’s a big welterweight fight coming up at the next UFC with Frank Trigg and Georges St. Pierre. What do you think about that fight? How do you see that one going?
Sean Sherk: I think that fight is going to be really exciting. I think Trigg is a guy who is an Olympic caliber wrestler, and he fights with a lot of heart and never quits, just really aggressive. St. Pierre, same thing. That guy’s got a ton of conditioning and fights with a lot of heart, he never quits either. I think the first guy who makes a mistake, it’s going to be over.
MMAWeekly: It’s been rumored now that Karo Parysian will be taking on Matt Hughes for the welterweight title. You’ve beaten Karo twice and fought Hughes before obviously, how do you see those two matching up?
Sean Sherk: I don’t know how good of a match-up that is for Karo, I really don’t. I think his biggest weakness is wrestling. He’s prone for the takedown. A guy like Hughes is really hard to submit, I just don’t see that going in Karo’s favor. I think that’s just another payday for Hughes. They’re running out of guys for him to fight.
MMAWeekly: All over the forums for MMA, you are still one of the most talked about fighters with the fans. If you had a message to all of your supporters, what would it be?
Sean Sherk: I’d definitely like to tell them thanks. That’s one of the reasons why I want to continue fighting, is because of the fans that want to see me fight. I don’t want to walk away from the sport like that, I want to give the fans what they want. I know a lot of my hardcore fans want to see me win a world title, so that’s always my goal, to be the number one guy in the world. I don’t think I fell too far down in the rankings yet, but I’m looking to get back in there to fight and giving the fans some exciting fights to see. I’m still trying to kick that ground and pound image. I won my first 10 or 12 fights with pure wrestling and ground and pound, but my eventually my jiu-jitsu ability caught up to my wrestling ability, but basically I’m still seen as a ground and pound guy, so I gotta prove them wrong.
MMAWeekly: If the UFC came knocking again, would you go back to the UFC?
Sean Sherk: Oh, for sure. I’ve got no hard feelings with the UFC. It’s just a business decision, I guess a lot of people see me as a different version of Hughes and they just figured they don’t need another Hughes in the show. It’s no hard feelings at all and if they want me to fight, I’ll fight.
MMAWeekly: In most of the top rankings, you’re still considered in the top 10 of most of those lists. Where do you see yourself matched up in those rankings?
Sean Sherk: I stack right up at the top, just like I was before. I would love to fight guys like Trigg and St. Pierre, and I think I’d beat them. I train too damn hard to get beat. I don’t take no for an answer, and I’d like to see myself back at the top, maybe even get another shot at Hughes again.
Sean Sherk continues to teach and train in Minnesota, while he awaits his next challenge in mixed martial arts.