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Sean Sherk Interview Part I: Former UFC champ shares thoughts on Armando Garcia’s resignation

Sean Sherk is coming off the heels of a unanimous decision victory over fellow lightweight title contender Tyson Griffin at UFC 90 last month at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.

Sherk and Griffin combined for “Fight of the Night” honors by largely putting their outstanding wrestling skills on the back burner and instead electing to try and brawl it out. In sharing FOTN honors, Sherk put on perhaps the best display of technical boxing in his nine-year career.

However, the strong performance has left Sherk in a state of limbo. A former UFC lightweight title holder before the California State Athletic Commission suspended him over claims that he had tested positive for steroids, Sherk would like nothing better to get another shot at the belt.

But that shot will have to wait, as the division’s current champion, B.J. Penn, is set to moonlight in the welterweight division when he faces Georges St. Pierre for the 170 pound strap on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas.

Sherk recently took time out to speak exclusively with as a part of a media tour he’s doing on behalf of Round 5’s “World of MMA” series two action figures and discussed a number of topics, including his feelings on Penn’s involvement at welterweight.

In Part I of this two part series, Sherk discussed his feelings about the resignation of Armando Garcia as the executive director of the California State Athletic Commission, Brock Lesnar’s win over Randy Couture, his involvement with Round 5, and more.

Sam Caplan: Did you feel any sense of satisfaction upon hearing that Armando Garcia was going to resign?

Sean Sherk: Yeah, I mean, definitely. There’s no love lost there. That’s definitely music to my ears. I felt he obviously handled my case very, very poorly and he had handled many other fights very poorly. And he handled the UFC poorly.

You know, the UFC hasn’t been back in California since July of ’07, after my fight. UFC 73 was the last time they had been there. Now, if the UFC leaves your state and refuses to come back, there’s a reason for that. So there’s a lot of things going on there and there’s a reason why he resigned. It’s not coincidence; there’s a reason why he resigned and rightfully so.

Sam Caplan: What’s your reaction to published reports that he engaged in an improper relationship with a female staffer?

Sean Sherk: (Laughs) I’d like to know who that female staffer was, to be honest with you because there were a couple people on that panel while I was undergoing my trial that I felt were under his wing. I’d be curious to see if that was one of them.

Anyway, I didn’t know what the reasoning behind him resigning was. I didn’t know what it was. I just assumed it was because how he handled a lot of different situations while he served as head commissioner.

Sam Caplan: You’ve said in the past that you’d never fight in California again. With Armando Garcia leaving and changes at the top of the commission, are you now open to the possibility of fighting in California again?

Sean Sherk: To be honest with you, I think there needs to be a little more change. Armando was the big problem, obviously, but there’s other people on the commission’s board that I believe if they were to take over, they’d do about the same job as he did. I think there needs to be more change and only time will tell. I’m not going to run back and fight in California and take a chance of going through the same thing I just went through. I’m just going to wait and see what happens. It’s going to take some time.

Sam Caplan: You’ve maintained your innocence since day one but you’ve exhausted your appeal process with CSAC. Do you have any plans to try and get your name cleared through the courts or is the alleged positive test result a dead issue?

Sean Sherk: I would love nothing more than to take this thing back to court — actually, take it to court and in front of a real judge and get a fair trial because you go to the appeal and you’re dealing with the commission. (The commission) is the judge, jury, and the prosecution and there’s no way you’re going to get a fair hearing.

I’d love to take this thing to court but in all reality it’s going to take me $20,000 or $30,000 to take this thing back and the chances of me getting this thing overturned and actually doing something back are so slim because there’s really nothing I can do about it. They’re right and I’m wrong regardless of how many times I say I didn’t do it or regardless of how many lie detectors I take or regardless of how many blood tests I take. If they say I take steroids then I guess I take steroids (and) there’s nothing I can do about it.

So really, I’m just not willing to spend money just so I can get kicked in the ass again. I’ve got no interest in fighting in California and the whole thing just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth because this is something I’ll never be able to escape. Even after my last fight against Tyson there were still people yelling and booing and calling me a cheater and all of this other crap even though I didn’t do it. Obviously people don’t check into their facts too much. I did pass a polygraph test three times and I did pass my blood test. Blood work is much more accurate for testing for steroids than urinalysis.

If people don’t want to check into the facts, then that’s fine. It’s just something you’ve got to deal with when you’re in the spotlight and I just have no interest fighting in California again.

Sam Caplan: It’s holiday shopping time so I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about Round 5’s “World of MMA Champions” series of action figures that feature several UFC fighters, including yourself. My understanding is that you played a very active role in Round 5’s design process?

Sean Sherk: Yeah, I was. I was introduced to the guys at Round 5 about a year ago and was presented with the opportunity to be a part of the company and have my own action figure, which was something I was very excited about. From there we just started going through the molding stages.

The cool thing about it was that as we were going through the design process, I actually had a say in how everything was going to turn out. Everything from the pose of my figure, to the types of shorts that I wear, to the types of sponsors on my shorts, and everything to the look. Everything was basically my decision, which was pretty cool to have such a big part in it.

I also had a big part in the launch. We did a launch and we went out to Canada with Randy Couture and we did a big launch. I’d say probably about five months ago, right around when the first series came out. I had a big part in that and now I have a big part in the launch of series two.

It’s been a lot of fun and I am really excited. I am looking forward to walking through the stores one of these days and seeing my action figure on the shelf. I think that would be pretty cool and a nice moment in my career.

Sam Caplan: With these action figures, is it a license that Round 5 got through the UFC, or a license they signed directly with you?

Sean Sherk: This is something we did through me. The UFC has their own set of action figures through Jakks Pacific and Round 5 is a separate entity. We did this through me and it’s the first of its kind as far as MMA action figures. The UFC has their own coming out in probably another year or so. But Round 5 is something I did totally separate of the UFC.

Sam Caplan: In working with Round 5, does that preclude you from being involved with Jakks and having the UFC marketing a Jakks figure of Sean Sherk?

Sean Sherk: I’m exclusive to Round 5 and obviously I can’t have any competitors out there using my likeness for action figures. When I signed my deal with Round 5, the UFC had no intentions of coming out with action figures at the time.

Sam Caplan: When you signed your deal with Round 5 did the UFC have any issues it?

Sean Sherk: You know what? Dana has been totally cool with it. I’ve talked to him about it several times and I told him I was exclusive with Round 5 and this was a deal I had signed six months prior to the UFC announcing that they were going to have their own action figures. It was something they were totally cool about. I’m all for making money in this industry and I think Dana is all about it too so he was totally cool with it.

Sam Caplan: Were you able to stay abrest last week of the controversy involving Jon Fitch, the American Kickboxing Academy, Zinkin Entertainment, and the UFC?

Sean Sherk: I heard that Fitch got let go but I wasn’t really sure why. I heard it was something to do with the marketing agreement or something of that nature. But I just moved into a new house last week and I didn’t get Internet until yesterday so I’ve been completely out of it for three weeks. I didn’t even see the Lesnar vs. Couture fight until today. I didn’t even know who won until I watched it this afternoon at the Academy. So I’m pretty out of it and I don’t even know what that was about.

Sam Caplan: Well, let me first get your thoughts on the Couture vs. Lesnar bout if I could?

Sean Sherk: I thought it was good. I know Brock won the fight but you’ve got to give it to Randy Couture. I mean the guy is 45-years old and is out there fighting a guy that’s 30, 60 pounds heavier, a national champion wrestler, who is just a crazy phenomenal athlete and I thought he performed pretty damn good.

You’ve got to give it to him, the guy is still one of the best heavyweights in the world but it just so happens that Brock is a beast. There aren’t a lot of guys that are going to do that to Randy Couture. There are maybe one or two guys that could potentially beat Couture in the heavyweight division and stylistically vs. Brock, it just wasn’t a good matchup for him.

Sam Caplan: Do you think now with the win that Brock is the best heavyweight in the world?

Sean Sherk: Stylistically that was a hard matchup for Randy but there aren’t many guys in the world that can beat Randy Couture. Nogueira is not going to beat him; Mir is not going to beat him; and none of those jiu-jitsu guys are going to beat him because Randy has been in this industry for a long, long time. He’s going to beat a jiu-jitsu guy — I’d beat my money on it.

Brock is still new to jiu-jitsu and stylistically those are the matchups that are going to be more difficult for Brock. The guys such as Nogueira and Mir are going to be more difficult for Brock. I’m not saying Brock isn’t going to beat them but those are the matchups that are going to pose the most problems in my opinion.

  • Kung Foo says:

    Interesting to see where Sean goes from here in terms of the title.

  • Jim says:

    I’ve been hoping for an interview with Sherk since I heard about Garcia’s resignation. Awesome that you got one, I really appreciate that. Good reporting here. Definitely looking forward to the second part.

    I’ve really started to like Sherk lately — his fight with Franca wasn’t all that exciting, aside from that hellacious knee Sherk took and still somehow stayed conscious through, but he seems like he’s really starting to round out his training a lot more and use it in his fights. When he first came into the 155 division, he was one of the biggest guys, but I think a lot of the others have caught up to him in terms of cutting weight and getting size, so I think we’ll see a lot more interesting fights in the future.

    Great interview.

  • Franklin says:

    When someone from any sport (not just MMA) tests positive for steroids, they (nearly) always claim innocence, and it’s rarely believable. Few deny it as strongly and passionately as Sherk, and even fewer go through all the steps he’s tried to clear his name. I rarely find myself giving these athletes the benefit of the doubt, but I think Sherk has earned it at this point.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    Unless Sherk can grow each arm about 4 or 5 more inches, I don’t see the point of a rematch with BJ.

  • dpk says:

    This was a great interview, I’m looking forward to part II.

    I think Sherk is at least 2-3 fights away from any kind of rematch for the title, but 2-3 fights for Sherk could cover the same time frame it takes BJ to fight KenFlo, and be prepared for another title defense. I could see him fighting guys like Huerta, Stevenson, Nate Diaz (eventually), and most likely would be the first fight for someone like Alverez if he was to sign with UFC. If Sherk could win 2 or 3 of these fights, he would be back in line for a title shot.

  • bcolflesh says:

    “To be honest with you, I think there needs to be a little more change. Armando was the big problem, obviously, but there’s other people on the commission’s board that I believe if they were to take over, they’d do about the same job as he did.”

    = Kizer

  • Leland Roling says:

    I’m sorry, but the whole resignation of Armando Garcia isn’t exactly the nail in the coffin for the complete mockery that is the CSAC. Once again, it should be brought up that most of the board is made up of entertainment lawyers, big business man, etc. They aren’t all medical doctors or have experience in boxing or MMA for years and years. With that said… there is definitely some housecleaning that needs to be done.

    Moreover, Garcia’s decision making during actual appeals wasn’t entirely off the mark. Sherk’s levels were still above the CSAC’s standards, which are in line with the most world drug testing organizations including the IOC. I’m not sure how Douglas is going to revamp the drug testing measures, but the levels probably won’t change, and supplements containing traces won’t change unless the FDA gets involved with supplement companies. Anyways, that’s off my point.

    Garcia still maintained that fighters shouldn’t have been let off the hook in most cases. Specifically, Toney insulted officials when he clearly took steroids, yet the board reduced his sentence. Garcia only had the power to make a reccomendation, I believe. It’s the board’s fault for not taking it out on some of those athletes and instead giving leniency to those who clearly did drugs. I remember reading about one guy who admitted taking two kinds of recreational drugs before a fight, tested positive, then pleaded his case and got his sentence reduced. Ridiculous.

    Garcia’s departure is a start, but that board needs to be re-comissioned with people who care, and won’t put up with some of the mockery that’s occured there.

  • Robert says:

    dpk I don’t think your going to see Huerta compete for awhile because he hasn’t caved in to Zuffa’s contract demands so he’s being punished,but as long as Penn is fighting at 155 a rematch is inevitable because Sherk is going to beat the rest of the fighters currently in the UFC lightweight division.

  • goodguy says:

    Personally, I don’t like Sean. Mostly because he seems to run into some of my favorite fighters and I don’t have a choice but to hope he loses; however, I have gained a lot of respect for him, post-steroid controversy. With all of the Tim Montgomerys’ and the Barry Bonds’ in the word, its hard to believe someone when they said that they didn’t cheat. I really hate to be such a cynic, but it really is hard.

    On the other hand, I love to see someone who really knows how to strike and do it well. In today’s MMA you HAVE to been well versed in several disciplines, but you don’t have to abandon what your great at!!! *coughs, Jurgel*

    I really wish that boxing had a stronger presence in MMA. Although, as an ex-amateur boxer, I know that if I am fighting from my back, I am in SERIOUS trouble. I can see the problems in transition as compared to wrestling or jits.

  • steve says:

    oh, Mirs not going to beat him? hmm lets look back to February…

  • Imbecile says:

    Great interview! I feel bad for all the lightweights having to sit around while BJ Penn refuses to play by the rules other people adhere to.

  • demonianray says:

    Steve, I think Sean meant Mir wouldnt beat Randy not Brock, read again

  • steve says:

    oh, my bad i didnt realize that. thanks man.

  • HexRei says:

    sherk’s figure looks nothing like him…and i dont mean the large head on the medium body, cause that’s not all that too far off 😀

    just the face is not even close.

  • Robert says:

    I agree they could of done a better job of getting the likeness a little more realistic.


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