Former UFC Lightweight Champ Sean Sherk Wants 'Right Fight'

Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The last we saw of Sean Sherk, the former UFC lightweight champion took a hotly contested split decision from Evan Dunham at UFC 119.

That bout, which earned Fight of the Night honors, was conducted more than a year and a half ago. Since then, "The Muscle Shark" has been all but invisible on the MMA scene.

But Sherk recently told "The MMA Hour" that just because he's been out of sight, it doesn't mean you should put him forever out of your mind.

"I'm not ready to walk away," said Sherk. "I consider myself still one of the top fighters in the world, I just want to get the right fight, get the right fight for my legacy."

The 38-year old Sherk has been competing in combat sports since age seven, with a decorated career as an amateur wrestler before making his mixed martial arts debut in the pre-Unified Rules era in 1999. And while he's been lucky enough to go as long as he has without suffering a serious injury, the cumulative effect from three decades of scrapping was his reason for taking an extended break.

"It's just normal wear and tear," said Sherk (36-4-1). "I've been competing in wrestling since I was seven years old, for 13 years, and I've been fighting professionally for 12 years. My first fight was in ‘99, so, you know, it's been a long road. I've always trained hard, my goal was work hard in the gym so I wouldn't have to suffer defeat, wouldn't ever have to get tired, wouldn't have to watch my opponent get his hand raised. Obviously over time, that stuff adds up."

Sherk first excelled in the UFC as an undersized welterweight during the era in which the company had no lightweight champion. He took then-champion Matt Hughes the full 25 minutes the middle of a period when Hughes was steamrolling most of his competition.

When the company restored the lightweight championship in 2006, he made the drop to 155 pounds and defeated Kenny Florian to claim the gold. While he was stripped of the title a year later for a positive steroid test, he remained a formidable force in the division.

So with a career resume that includes wins ranging from Karo Parisyan to Nick Diaz to Kenny Florian to Hermes Franca to Tyson Griffin and Dunham, Sherk doesn't want to come back and take a fight for the sake of taking a fight.

"I don't want to fight up and comers," said Sherk, who has two bouts left on his UFC contract. "I don't want to fight guys trying to make a name for themselves, I want to fight guys who have been there and done that, guys who I feel like have something to offer me just as much as I have to offer them. It's big fights, is what I want."

But Sherk isn't ready to call out anyone by name.

"A rematch would be nice, one of my losses," Sherk said. "I'm always game for trying to avenge a loss, or maybe just another contender, someone who's exciting, someone who's fast-paced. Off the top of my head, take your pick, the lightweight division is stacked with so many great fighters out there."

Sherk made his UFC debut at UFC 30 on Feb. 23, 2001, which just happened to be the first card under the Zuffa regime. Sherk, though, isn't going to pretend like he knew t the time what the new ownership group would achieve over the next decade.

"Well, back then I think I had maybe 12 fights under my belt and really new in the industry and really kind of starstruck, just being in the organization," said Sherk, who defeated Tiki Ghosn that evening. "I had watched UFC going back to UFC 2, had always been a huge fan. I watched every PPV, knew all the fighters, was a total fanboy.

I was a little starstruck, I didn't know who Dana [White] was, who Lorenzo and Frank [Fertitta] were. I didn't really know the UFC was in jeopardy. I thought the UFC was making tons of money.

I've been saying since 10 years ago this is the sport of future. I didn't think it would happen as fast as it did, and didn't think I'd be part of it. I always thought it would be by the time I had kids and they were in their 20s, maybe it would be big then. This thing blew up fast."

And if he has his way, Sherk will contribute more to the sport before his fighting days are through.

"I was tentatively thinking I'd like to fight this summer," he said. "That would be fun, if I get a phone call and they say they've got a great fight, or a great card, I'm in."

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