by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com

It has been a year of anguish for Sean Sherk. First, he had
to face allegations of using a performance enhancing substance in his UFC
lightweight title defense against Hermes Franca, which was upheld by the
California State Athletic Commission. He went through months of suspension and
the stripping of his championship belt.


Then, in his return to competition in May, Sherk suffered a
rare TKO defeat at the hands of current UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn.


Still, Sherk keeps his head up and looks forward to his next
bout, and an eventual return to title contention.


“I have five fights left (on my contract),” he told
MMAWeekly.com. “I feel like I have a good, strong future with the UFC still. I
feel like I’m a strong part of the organization. Maybe one or two wins will put
me back in title contention again.”


Part of his surety of returning to fight for UFC gold is
Sherk’s particularity in selecting opponents. He’s not interested in taking on
just anyone that happens to show a spark of talent in the lightweight division.
He wants to face the toughest competition around, the guys that, if he defeats
them, will leave no one doubting that he should be back in the mix, fighting
for a UFC championship.


“I’ve been real careful with who I’m going to fight. I want
to fight contenders; I want to fight top guys,” Sherk stated to MMMAWeekly.com.
“I don’t want to fight up and coming guys… I want to fight the best of the best
and that’s what I’m doing with my upcoming fight.”


Though it has yet to be announced by the UFC, sources close
to both camps say that Sherk’s next bout has been signed and he will face rising
contender Tyson Griffin. The bout is expected to take place in Chicago on Oct.
25 at UFC 90.


The winner will surely be propelled within a fight or two of
an eventual title shot, although the lightweight division is currently in flux
as champion B.J. Penn lobbies for a move up in weight to rematch UFC welterweight
champion Georges St. Pierre, while retaining the crown at 155 pounds.


Check out
MMAWeekly.com’s In The Cage interview with Sean Sherk where he talks about his
plans to return to title contention, his thoughts on the B.J. Penn bout, his
thoughts on possible legal action against the state of California, and more.