There has been and forever will be a debate on who is the G.O.A. T. of MMA.
Some say Jon Jones, some say Anderson Silva and some say Georges St. Pierre. However, there are those who believe Khabib Nurmagomedov is the greatest fighter of all time, though Charles Oliveira is quickly diminishing his legendary status while fighting in arguably MMA’s greatest division ever.
Just looking at the UFC’s roster, Charles Oliveira, Michael Chandler, Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, Islam Makhachev, Beneil Dariush, Rafael Dos Anjos, Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson, and Rafael Fiziev rounds out the impressive top ten of the lightweight division.
The lightweight division, in general, has hosted legendary champions like B.J. Penn, Frankie Edgar, Benson Henderson, Anthony Pettis, and more. However, before all that was a man named Sean Sherk. The forgotten champion of the lightweight division was a dominant force in the 2000s.
The Rise of the Muscle Sherk
Sherk didn’t just enter MMA, he kicked its door down. Shooting out to an impressive 31-1-1 record in his first 33 appearances, Sherk was on a mission. His record is already impeccable but when you add in two wins over Karo Parisyan, a victory over Manny Gamburyan and Benji Radach with his only loss coming in a welterweight matchup versus Matt Hughes, he couldn’t have done much better.
His career only got better from there. Sherk would drop a fight against GSP but it would be soon forgotten with a victory over Nick Diaz. After the fight, he announced he’d move from welterweight to lightweight and would be rewarded with a title shot, a shot he cashed in with a dominant performance over Kenny Florian.
Sean Sherk’s Lightweight Title Reign is Cut Short
Life was good for Sherk as he was the face of the UFC’s lightweight division, the first UFC lightweight champion since Jens Pulver. It got even better with a title-defense victory over Hermes Franca. However, his career momentum came to a grinding halt with a positive PED test that stripped him of the title and was hit with a year suspension.
Sherk appealed and argued that errors were made in his testing. The California State Athletic Commission has maintained that there wasn’t but Sherk’s suspension was dropped to six months. To Sherk’s credit, he never tested positive before or since.
The End of The Road
Sherk would come back but wind up on the bad end in his title fight against B.J. Penn. Sherk would fight three more times in his career before injuries forced him into retirement in 2013. Sherk has since joined MMA’s coaching ranks, worked in real estate, and has largely remained out of the spotlight.
Sean Sherk’s career record is 36-4-1. In an era where an amateur career was not a thing, he used his wrestling background to dominate. Not slipping up even once in his youth, Sherk was and is the prototypical route for wrestlers coming into MMA, improving his all-around game and sticking to the fundamentals to make it to the top.
Sean Sherk: Monster, fighter, champion.
Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images