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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
It's been over two years since former UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk has stepped inside the Octagon, but "The Muscle Shark" hasn't gone anywhere. Sherk's battled a series of nagging injuries during that time, but he's continued training, hosted seminars, and has gotten himself into the equipment business with his Elevation Training Mask (available at TrainingMask.com).
All the while, he's continued planning his return to action, and isn't near ready to walk away from a sport he's been involved with for the last 13 years. I caught up with Sherk last weekend in Maplewood, Minn., where he was a guest for an event from local Minnesota promotion Cage Fighting Xtreme, and he discussed a number of topics, including his health, returning to action, the UFC's lightweight division, the upcoming Championship bout between Ben Henderson and Nate Diaz, and more. Here's what Sherk had to say:
On his health: I'm feeling ok, as healthy as I'm going to get. I'm just trying to get 100% so I can get in the cage and give it all I've got. I mean I feel good. I'm in shape, there's just nagging injuries that aren't really going to go anywhere for awhile. Whatever I decide to do, I've got some really good doctors I'm working with who are definitely getting me in the right direction.
On staying in touch with the UFC for his next bout: I've been in contact with the UFC. I go to a show probably once a month. I see Joe Silva and I see Dana [White] around a lot, so I talk to them quite frequently. Joe asks me all the time where I'm at and wants to know when I'll be ready. I want the correct opponent, too. I don't want to fight a young up and comer. I don't have anything to gain from that. As far as names go, [nothing's in mind], just somebody that makes sense to me. It has to be somebody that makes sense. I think whoever I fight, they have something to gain from it win, lose, or draw, because I've been around for a long time. I want that same thing; I want to gain something from my [next] fight.
On how long he'll keep fighting: I don't want to put any kind of a timeframe or a number on it. I want to fight as long as I can. That's what I love to do. But again, you've gotta listen to what your body's telling you. I've got 43 fights, I've been doing this for a long time. I'm trying to take a step back and kind of gauge how everything's going and how I feel. I'm staying very busy doing seminars during my downtime, and I've got my training mask that's doing very well, it's being sold all over the world. So I'm keeping busy in other ventures at this point and time.
On whether he follows the 155 lb. division closely: I don't watch MMA outside of when I'm at events. I'll sit down, I'll watch the fights, but as far as what's going on in the lightweight division, I know who the champ is, outside of that, I don't know anyone (laughs).
On Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar: You know, I didn't see the first fight that they fought. The second time that they fought I was actually there. I thought that Frankie might have won that fight, just an opinion. I think a lot of people might have thought the same thing. But, you know, the judges might have saw something different. It was close enough to go either way, or worst case scenario been called a draw.
On Frankie Edgar's move to the featherweight division: I think that's a great decision. I think that he's going to give Jose Aldo hell, and I think he's going to beat him. With Frankie's wrestling and his mobility, I think he's going to give Aldo all he can handle. I'd like to keep all the belts here in the States. Right now we've got have the UFC belts in Brazil, the other half are here in the United States. I want them all to be here. This is an American sport, man, let's keep them here. No disrespect towards the Brazilians at all; I want to see Americans hold the title belts, just like they want to see the Brazilians hold title belts.
On Champ Ben Henderson: I think Henderson's tough. The guy is just a physical specimen, he's very well rounded. Not only that, but he represents the weight class very well. He's not disrespectful, he's very humble, and that's the kind of guy that you want to represent your weight class.
On No. 1 contender Nate Diaz: Nate Diaz is tough. The guy's striking… lately I think he's really come into his own. He's always been tough as nails, but lately I've seen a whole different Diaz. He's just really coming into his own, he's still young, he's probably just starting to hit his prime. His striking has just been phenomenal lately, better than usual. His takedown defense is still pretty decent, and his submission game is second to none.
On the UFC on Fox 5 Title bout: How do I see that fight going? I guess it depends on Henderson's gameplan. Is he going to try to box with him? Is he going to try to out-wrestle him? I don't think Henderson's going to submit him, he might not even shoot a takedown. If you take somebody down and you can't submit them, what's the point in taking them down? So he might try to box with him. I think Henderson's faster, but Diaz has got that reach. As far as who's going to win, I don't know. I could see so many different scenarios playing out. I could see Diaz maybe even getting a submission. Look what Diaz just did to Jim Miller. Look what he did to [Donald Cerrone]. He's got a habit of making great fighters look bad.
On fan support during his time on the sidelines: I've gotten a lot of fan support. I've done a lot of seminars all over the country. People still want to watch me, and they still want to train with me, which is pretty awesome. The response I've gotten from the training mask, which is something I've been using since 2008, the response from the fans and the public has been phenomenal. That's a great testament on my end, people are paying attention, and I'd like to thank everybody for the support.
Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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