by Damon Martin (Photo courtesy of SeanSherk.com)
“Gunning For Number 1 Contender”
Sean Sherk Makes His Return To The UFC To Face Georges St. Pierre At UFC 56
Many people have said that Georges St. Pierre is the future of the welterweight division and that may very well be true, but at UFC 56 returning top 170lb contender Sean Sherk is hoping to prove that he is the best in the division right now. After some time off to reflect and decide if he still wanted to fight, Sherk is now determined to regain his place as one of the best in the world.
Sean Sherk talked with MMAWeekly about his upcoming fight with Georges St. Pierre and his future in the UFC.
MMAWeekly: How has training been going for the fight?
Sean Sherk: Training’s going good, training my butt off. Getting about 3 or 4 workouts a day. Pushing myself real hard.
MMAWeekly: Who are you working for to get ready for this fight?
Sean Sherk: I’m working out with my same guys that I’ve been with for 5 or 6 years. We got a lot of jiu-jitsu guys, and Thai boxers. I’m also working with Nick Thompson, he’s fighting on the same show, Josh Koscheck is out here right now, training with Brock Larsen, he just fought on the last UFC. I’ve got a solid group of guys and everyone is pushing me, it’s been really beneficial.
MMAWeekly: What do you think about Georges St. Pierre as a fighter and what kind of dangers does he pose as an opponent?
Sean Sherk: I think he’s a good fighter, he’s well rounded, good conditioned, good athlete, young, so I think he’s going to pose a lot of problems. I think he’s a threat in every aspect of the game and I think you’re going to have to be on your “A” game and can’t get tired.
MMAWeekly: Did you have any hesitation at all signing to fight a guy like St. Pierre for your first fight back in the UFC?
Sean Sherk: I really don’t care. I wanted this fight a long time ago, so when they offered me the fight, I was surprised St. Pierre took it, I didn’t think he would. I didn’t think he’d want anything to do with this fight. I wanted to fight him on the Spike TV card, that’s when this fight was originally supposed to happen, and that would have been 4 weeks notice, and I took it on 4 weeks notice and said okay let’s do it. Then they came back to me and they wanted it on UFC 56 instead and that gave me 10 weeks to train instead, so that’s fine by me.
MMAWeekly: I know you had a fight not too long ago and won in quick fashion, but this will be your first fight in this atmosphere for a while. Do you think you’ll have any “ring rust” because of the layoff you had?
Sean Sherk: I don’t think I’ll have any ring rust. I’ve been fighting for 6 years, I’ve got 35 fights under my belt, I’ve been wrestling since I was 7, I’ve got about 400 amateur wrestling matches, I’ve been competing my whole life and it just comes second nature. Heart is something you’re born with, not something you can really earn. I’ll never quit, I’ll come out, fight hard and I think everything will be just fine.
MMAWeekly: St. Pierre is a pretty big guy for 170lbs and the only guy that’s seemed to match his strength was Matt Hughes. Are you preparing yourself to deal with that factor or not really worried about his power?
Sean Sherk: I really don’t know how strong he is, I’ve never locked up with him. People say he’s pretty strong, so it’s just something we’ll have to find out in the opening round of the fight. We’ll lock up and see who’s stronger. I’m not weak by any means and everyone I train with is anywhere from 190 to 220lbs, big guys, so it doesn’t really matter.
MMAWeekly: You obviously have a very strong background in wrestling and the only person that has given you trouble in a fight in regards to wrestling was Matt Hughes. Do you plan on working for the takedown on St. Pierre, put him on his back and see how good his guard is or stand up with him?
Sean Sherk: I’m going to have to go out there and kind of feel around and see what happens. I actually have no problem standing up and boxing with him, I have no problem taking it to the ground. We’ll go out there and see how things progress and go from there.
MMAWeekly: In your career your wins have come from a myriad of ways, submission, strikes, etc. What is it that you do better than St. Pierre that gives you your biggest advantage in this fight?
Sean Sherk: I think my ground and pound is better than his. My arms are short and I’m really hard to submit when I’m on top of somebody, and I can really work somebody over really fast.
MMAWeekly: Not to look past this fight, but if you win, how far away do you think you’d be from another title shot?
Sean Sherk: I would hope I’d be next in line, but the welterweight division is getting pretty damned deep. You’ve got a lot of guys, with TUF 2, you’ve got a whole slew of welterweights and a lot of the guys from TUF 1 who were middleweights dropped down to 170, so the division has so many fighters. I mean if they wanted to give me a title shot, I’d be more than happy to take it. It doesn’t matter who I fight, as long as I get paid and make a decent living.
MMAWeekly: How did it come about that you got back with Monte Cox and has it been discussed if the fight is offered for a rematch with Matt Hughes?
Sean Sherk: I had taken a step back from mixed martial arts for about 9 months and I was looking to get back into the sport, so I contacted Monte. If anybody can keep me busy, it’s going to be that guy. So I contacted him and he said he could keep me busy, and the UFC contacted him shortly after that, so the first thing we talked about was potentially me and Hughes fighting. He said he didn’t want it to happen at first, but now he said that if it happens it happens and he’ll stand aside and let it happen.
MMAWeekly: What does it mean to you to be back in the UFC?
Sean Sherk: It’s a really good feeling. I mean one thing is job security. When you’re fighting in all these small shows, I mean I fought 10 times last year in the small shows and I was constantly scrambling to find fights, fights were falling through one after the other and I’m constantly scrambling to find another one. I’ve got bills to pay and this is my only job, so if I don’t fight, I don’t pay my bills. So that was very frustrating, which kind of led me to walk away from the sport, all the frustration dealing with all that stuff. So being with the UFC now, it’s definitely job security. I don’t have to talk to 10 different promoters asking them “Please put me on the card?” And the UFC is making some major waves in the sport; I can’t believe how big this sport has gotten since I last fought in the UFC 2 _ years ago. Now the UFC is so big. I haven’t even fought yet and I can tell the difference. I really like the direction it’s heading, and I’m really excited about its future and I hope to be a part of its future.
MMAWeekly: With two title fights on this card, your fight with St. Pierre is probably the fight most people are talking about and seems to be the most highly anticipated fight on the card. How does that make you feel know the respect that fans give you and the hype up for this fight?
Sean Sherk: It feels really good that they have that appreciation, that’s part of the reason that I fought, because the fans have been so loyal over the years. I’m assuming I’m the underdog which is fine because I’ve been gone for a while, but I like being the underdog, motivates me to train harder. It’s good and I hope that the fight lives up to the hype. I mean when I fight I don’t want anybody to be sitting in their chairs. I want everybody to be up screaming and yelling. I mean it’s only 15 minutes, I can go hard for 15 minutes and I know St. Pierre can too, so this will be a really good fight.
MMAWeekly: What do you think about the welterweight title fight on the same card with Matt Hughes fighting Joe Riggs?
Sean Sherk: I think that fight has the potential to be better than a lot of people think it’s going to be. Riggs is very, very aggressive, his hands are very good, and he can definitely knock people out with his hands. He used to weigh well over 200lbs so he’s going to be very strong, he hits hard, he’s a good striker and he’s also a good wrestler. I’m actually looking forward to watching that fight myself.
MMAWeekly: Any final words for the fans or about the fight coming up?
Sean Sherk: First off I want to thank my sponsors, Gamma-O and KTFO. I’d like to thank all my family and friends for their support. I’d like to thank all the loyal fans that have been with me since day one, loyalty is what it’s all about. I don’t want people jumping wagons after this fight, coming off the St. Pierre bandwagon, jumping onto mine. And all the guys I train with, I couldn’t do it without them.