Former UFC lightweight champion Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk is set to face Frankie Edgar at UFC 98 on May 23. Terry E. Bush caught up with Sherk to talk to him about where he’s been and where he plans on going.
FIGHT! Magazine: First of all, congratulations on your win over Tyson Griffin. It was a great fight. How did you feel going into the fight?
Sean Sherk: I felt great coming into the fight…I knew it was going to be a fast-paced sprint fight. I was looking forward to it because I was coming off a loss, so I tend to get better when I get beat. I don’t want to make a habit out of it obviously, but when I do lose I get better and it makes me more hungry, so I came into this fight real hungry…it was a good fight.
FM: I noticed something when you were walking down to the Octagon…was the crowd booing?
SS: To be honest with you, I really don’t remember. I’m sure there were some boos but not as many as last time when I fought B.J. I don’t let that stuff get to me. It is what it is. As an athlete and being in the public eye, not everyone’s going to like you and people have their reasons not to like me and I don’t take it personal.
FM: I don’t want to beat a horse to death but bottom line with the steroids thing—you’ve gone to great lengths to prove your innocence, you’ve spent much time, much money, much effort—what do you want people to know about that situation?
SS: I mean what you said pretty much hit the nail right on the head, you know. I’ve put a lot of time into proving my innocence and I’ve done everything I could possibly do to show that I hadn’t taken anything. I’ve done everything I can do to prove my innocence, now a new Commissioner steps in after [Armando] Garcia resigns and says, ‘we have a problem and we’re going to fix it.’ What more can I do? There’s absolutely nothing more I can do there.
FM: They’re now changing how testing samples are collected, what they are collected in and how they are transported and those are issues that you brought up during your hearings. Does that give you somewhat of a sense that it was all worth it for you?
SS: Well, I definitely don’t regret going through the appeal process. At least I was able to let people hear my voice. [The CSAC] is definitely making steps in the right direction. I’m excited about that because I enjoyed fighting in California…and I said I would never fight in the state of California again and now that they’re going through all this process to really make a change, I mean who knows?
FM: I think the changes will definitely help fighters going forward. Do you feel that this is a victory for you in a small sense?
SS: Yeah, it’s definitely a small, small victory.
FM: Are you looking forward to the day when reporters no longer ask you about this?
SS: It really doesn’t bother me. I’ve got nothing to hide and I don’t want people to forget about it because I didn’t do it. If I would have done it, yeah, sweep it under the rug, but … I want everyone to hear the facts. I’ll talk about it any time someone wants to talk about it.
FM: So how long do you think it will take you to get back into contention for the title, given the circumstances of the division right now?
SS: I would think only one more fight, depending on who I fight. If I’ve got to fight with Sanchez, if he drops to 155 and beat him, I should be the number one guy. I wouldn’t mind fighting Kenny too. I don’t’ know if Kenny’s planning on sitting on the sidelines until summer to fight B.J. because he was promised a title shot, but I would love to fight him too.
FM: There’s a quote, “True champions are made, not born.” Do you agree or disagree?
SS: I would say both. I think you can be born to do something. I really honestly believe I was born to fight. I’ve been fighting and training and competing and wrestling and working out my entire life. It’s just something that came natural to me. It’s something that was in my blood and I was made into a world-class fighter. I mean if I would have never found the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy back in 1994, I’d probably be plumbing right now…working 9 to 5 making whatever plumbers make and I’d just be doing my thing, but I was introduced to the right people and that was my path, so I would have to say both of those are true. You know, you have to be born to do something, I believe, and obviously you have to be surrounded by the correct people to give you the ability to do that.
FM: One last question…complete this sentence: “Sean Sherk is…”
SS: I am the type of guy who’s got a lot of work ethic, I don’t take no for an answer and the harder something is the more I want to do it and the better I’m going to do it.