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Exclusive Interview with UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk

Sherk_at_BCXThis interview was submitted and conducted by special contributor Eric Shapiro…

Making an appearance during Saturday’s BattleCage Xtreme III event in Atlantic City was current UFC lightweight champion Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk. I was lucky enough to grab some face time with the champ and ask him a few questions about a potential bout with B.J. Penn, the Randy Couture situation, and his long-term future in the world of MMA. Enjoy.

Eric Shapiro: Do you enjoy coming to these events and is this a regular thing for you?

Sean Sherk: I do these every weekend…you know I get paid for appearances but I like watching fights, meet new people make new fans. It’s great.

Eric Shapiro: Is this your first time coming to New Jersey for an event?

Sean Sherk: I fought in New Jersey back in UFC 30… which was the first UFC event I ever fought in and that was at the Trump (Taj Mahal) so its been a while.

Eric Shapiro: You defeated Hermes Franca, who is supposed to have excellent Jiu-Jitsu, do you think B.J. Penn’s Jiu-Jitsu game is that much better?

Sean Sherk: I really think so, you know B.J.’s won a world title and I think his Jiu-Jitsu is going to be the best I’ve ever faced.

Eric Shapiro: How do you feel about B.J. being at 155 lbs. now instead of 170 lbs. as a welterweight? Do you think he will lose some power dropping the weight?

Sean Sherk: I always thought that he was a better 155 pounder than he was at 170 I think hes got better cardio, he’s more agile, quicker, and I think he’s a better fighter at 155. I always said that about him.

Eric Shapiro: Are you training ground game more specifically for a fight with B.J. or is it just business as usual in the gym?

Sean Sherk: I train everything in the gym, I’ve been boxing for a real long time, wrestling all my life, I’ve been training Jiu-Jitsu for a long time now and I’ve got some real phenomenal people that I train Jiu-Jitsu with. I’ll probably bring a couple more Jiu-Jitsu guys to train with too.

Eric Shapiro: Assuming Matt Huges beats Matt Serra in the TUF finale, who would you see winning another potential match between Hughes and contender Georges St. Pierre? Since you’ve fought both of them before at welterweight.

Sean Sherk: Well that’s the rubber match and if Hughes can get that fight on the ground I think he’s got a pretty good chance but that’s a big if, you know GSP can sprawl and he’s a phenomenal athlete so if Hughes can get it on the ground he’s got the advantage but if it stays standing up I give the advantage to Georges St. Pierre.

Eric Shapiro: Matt Hughes said recently on the TUF series that he’s getting older and that he probably only has about two or three good fights left in him. Since you two are the same age (34) do you see retirement anywhere in your near future?

Sean Sherk: Do I plan on retiring any time soon? Not at all, I’m going to fight as long as I can. I love what I do and there’s nothing else I would rather do. When I start losing fights it will be time to walk away but as long as I’m winning I’m not going to retire any time soon.

Eric Shapiro: Assuming you face and defeat B.J. Penn, who’s left for Sean Sherk to face?

Sean Sherk: Well the weight class is stacked and there’s guys coming out of the wood work all the time. Joe Stevenson’s been on a winning streak, Frankie Edgar’s been winning some fights, (Kenny) Florian’s been winning a couple fights in a row…

Eric Shapiro: Would you be content with fighting Kenny Florian again?

Sean Sherk: Why not? I beat him last time. I don’t care. I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me.

Eric Shapiro: So you’re not a real picker-chooser when it comes to your opponents?

Sean Sherk: You know what, when I retire from this sport I want to know that I fought the best of the best I don’t want a question mark at the end of my career saying “Did I fight the best guys out there? Was I the best fighter?” If you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best so put the best in front me and I’ll fight ‘em.

Eric Shapiro: Assuming you conquer everything there is to conquer at 155 lbs., do you think you might ever want to move back up to welterweight in the future?

Sean Sherk: You know what I just don’t fee like I need to, I like 155, I fought 37 fights as a welterweight. I walk around at about 175-180 lbs. so it’s no problem for me to make welterweight I actually have to cut a lot of weight to make 155. I feel exactly the same at 155 as I do at 170 that’s why it’s a big advantage for me because I don’t lose any power and my cardio is actually better and I have more speed, agility, all and all its just a better fit.

Eric Shapiro: Are you currently training full-time?

Sean Sherk: Oh yeah, I’ve been training full-time for years.

Eric Shapiro: Do you ever take a break from training?

Sean Sherk: Well I had to take a break after my last fight, I tore my shoulder which I had hurt before I even fought (Kenny) Florian. I had surgery and took six weeks off to rehab it.

Eric Shapiro: Do you have a strategy in mind for a fight against B.J. Penn?

Sean Sherk: Just tire him out. I don’t care how I do it, just tire him out.

Eric Shapiro: So you think cardio is still an issue for B.J. Penn?

Sean Sherk: Always man, I’ve never seen him fight and not get tired so that’s always an issue

Eric Shapiro: So you really think he will still get gassed and have that same problem again?

Sean Sherk: Look, if you don’t have work ethic you don’t have work ethic. If you can’t dieted properly and you can’t get your ass in the gym six days a week…I mean maybe he (B.J.) will do some things differently but he’s definitely not going to train as hard as I am, I promise you that.

Eric Shapiro: You’re a big name in the UFC and everybody is still talking about the Randy Couture developments, what’s your take on that?

Sean Sherk: I think Couture’s phenomenal man I think he’s one of the best guys to ever step foot in the Octagon. Like I said earlier about myself, I think Randy just wants to walk away from this sport knowing that he fought the best of the best. Right now Fedor (Emelianenko) is the number one heavyweight in the world everyone thinks he’s unbeatable and Randy wants to fight him and that makes sense. I hate to see him leave the UFC, but it makes sense for him and I support him. Randy’s 44-years old man; he’s a four-time Olympian (editor’s note: Couture was an Olympic alternate for the U.S. in Greco-Roman wrestling); five-time UFC champion; he wants to fight the best in the world and he deserves it.

Eric Shapiro: Have you ever personally experienced any of the problems that Couture claims to have had with UFC management?

Sean Sherk: I’ve never personally seen anything like that but there are other bigger organizations out there that are trying to compete with the UFC right now. UFC is obviously the big show in town and I think Randy left just because of Fedor.

Eric Shapiro: People have joked in the past that the UF in UFC stands for Underpaid Fighters, do you think that has some truth to it from your perspective?

Sean Sherk: You know, they’ve taken pretty good care of me in the past year, the paydays could definitely be better I’m not going to lie to you, but they have taken good care of me and outside of the paydays you’ve got all kinds of exposure and sponsorships, appearances, etc.

Eric Shapiro: A lot of guys in the UFC including yourself are sponsored by Xyience. Are they still treating you well?

Sean Sherk: Oh no, I’m not sponsored by them anymore. I used to be but they stiffed me a bunch of money. They stiff everybody. A lot of people are leaving them.

18 COMMENTS
  • Drehog says:

    Good Job. Way to completely ignore the giant elephant in the room and just assume that he’ll be fighting B.J. Penn. Journalism at its finest.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Noob says:

    I was kind of surprised there weren’t any questions about his suspension. From reading this article, you wouldn’t even know he was under suspension.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Sam Caplan says:

    While I appreciate Eric covering the event for us and supplying us content, as the editor of this site, I was disappointed that he didn’t ask Sherk about his upcoming hearing as well. I contemplated not running the interview but felt that there was still some good stuff in it. I can assure all the readers of this site that this type of mistake will not be repeated in the future.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Evan says:

    Xyience…………..

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  • dizzle says:

    No questions about his steriod usage? I think Benn is going to give him a run for his money.

    I really don’t get why he gets to keep the title after what had happened to him.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Dayzah says:

    hah funny stuff .. I gotta agree with #1 100% …

    I would have asked him who he thought would be wearing his belt next , Penn or Stevenson , when they fight for it in December.

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  • Eric Shapiro says:

    Hey all, I sincerely apologize for not getting a question about his hearing in there. I obviously wanted to, and agree that an interview without that topic in it is not as solid, but Sherk has already claimed several times that his stance is “I never knowingly used steroids” and has passed that claim in a recent polygraph test. That being said, at the time I was finally able to score a second with Sherk (after the bouts of the evening), a slew of parents and children were hounding him for pictures and autographs, but he agreed to talk for a minute as he posed and signed. I conducted the interview in about 4 minutes, half of which were spent fending off others who kept trying to cut me off and get their time in with Sherk. So I had to use my time wisely, while I did not want to ask him about his hearing in front of all those children, it really came down to what was more important. I figured I could either definitely get some relevant questions in there, or I could waste time asking him about something that he has already addressed, didn’t want to talk about, and would likely not give a new response to. It also could have soured the entire interview and I might not have been able to use anything I decided not to risk it and believe that I used my time well, otherwise I might not have been able to get anything at all with Sherk. Also, I never say that Sherk will “definitely” be fighting B.J. Penn, Sherk just said to someone else right before I spoke to him that B.J. is who he will be facing next (assuming he isn’t suspended of course) that’s why I asked him about Penn in the first place. If you read the top introduction you’ll see that it says a “potential” bout with B.J. Penn, since it could obviously not happen until much later down the line depending on what happens. It should be noted that I also never demand to have any of my content posted, and as Sam Caplan said above, he wanted to run the interview regardless because there was still some good stuff in there. I am more than okay with my content not being posted and the operators of 5oz always have the right to take my content down or not run something, I don’t mind. All in all, I stand by my decision and I apologize to those who feel short changed, but I did the best I could given the situation and if you really have a problem with it…well just leave some more comments. Thanks.

    -Eric

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Asa says:

    I enjoyed the interview. Especially the additional mud slung at the Xyience people. I hope they don’t take the UFC with them.

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  • Accomando says:

    The UFC is Xyience.

    The Fertitta’s are shodow owners, or I just made that up, one of the 2.

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  • I’ve heard reports from various people stating that he has mentioned while out clubbing or whatever that his case is dependent on the supplements being tainted. So, he’ll be suspended even if he wins according to most commissions.

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  • […] Junkie has a new interview with Ken Shamrock. MMA Madness has an interview with Jens Pulver. In a new interview Sean Sherk did with Five Ounces of Pain, he claims that he got stiffed on money by […]

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  • […] with Sean Sherk 5oz. of Pain conducted an interview with current UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk, here is a recap of that […]

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  • Jamisun says:

    Sherk is a roid users…end of story. Just because he miscalculated the detection time does not mean he is innocent.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Johnny Thunder says:

    Who cares about Eric not asking Sherk about the suspension. That has been played to death, any athlete suspected of something like that has a canned answer for that kind of question anyway. I appreciate his use of time to ask questions that would definitely be answered. He wasn’t there to do a Sherk steroid expose. He wasn’t going to trick him into saying anything. Eric would have asked “What’s going on with your suspension?” Sherk would have answered “I have never taken steroids. We filed an appeal and are waiting for the hearing so this can be over with.” Would that have made the interview way better? No. Nice job Eric.

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  • Kyle Ross says:

    And Sam should apologize for being a jerk. “This type of mistake will not be repeated.” Did Eric say he was going to ask that question? Was his headline misleading? Did it say “Steroid Scandal Blown Open”. It was an interview with Sherk. That is what was presented. Good questions about B.J. Penn and a little slap to Xyience. 4 minute interview done well.

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  • It’s nice to see the Randy revolution finally inspired someone to talk about Xyience’s failure to pay their sponsorships. I have been trying to tell folks forever that they are up to no good:

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  • Eric Shapiro says:

    Thank you Johnny and Kyle, I greatly appreciate your comments. I really did not think it was that crucial to try to jam a roid question in there during my short window of opportunity, but obviously others felt differently. So its nice to finally see some fans that understand. Furthermore, if anyone out there sees any other recent video interviews with Sherk (as in the one from mmanews.com) you will see that none of them involve a “steroid scandal” type question being addressed either. Sherk just says that his appeal hearing is coming up, and that hes confident it will get overturned. Not exactly earth shattering news. In fact, that particular interview was almost identical to mine. Thanks again guys.

    -Eric

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  • Bob Langevin says:

    Good Interview,

    I am was really wondering about the steroid issue not being raised also. Great idea to address that in the responses. The background was helpful and does adjust my original thoughts of the interview. Judgment call on your part… OK, I agree with it. I have heard the official stance a dozen times, I did not need it again. Good Interview. I was especialy suprised by the Xience info. Are they really stiffing athletes sponsorship dollars, wow. I would like to read an article on that.

    Thanks Eric I look forward to reading more of your stuff in the future.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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