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MMA Madness writer Ben Zeidler recently caught up with Sean Sherk to discuss just about every aspect of the steroid controversy, his feelings on BJ Penn, and the Lay �N Pray style he�s often criticized for. Here are the highlights of that interview.
MMA Madness: What�s the story with your title being stripped considering you�re eligible to return in January? It doesn�t make sense to me.
Sherk: You know, Dana basically said that he wants to stay consistent with what he has done in the past. In the past, if you did it or not, you got the belt stripped. He believes that I didn�t do it and I know that I didn�t do it, but the belt gets stripped. That�s just the way it is.
MMA Madness: Are you pleased with the announcement that you�ll get the winner of Penn-Stevenson?
Sherk: I knew that already. As soon as they told me that they were taking it [the belt], they said my first fight back would be against the winner. To be honest with you, I still feel like I am champion and that this fight is for the interim title. To be the champion, you have to beat him and no one beat me yet. I still feel like the champion because no one beat me.
MMA Madness: Who would you prefer to fight, Penn or Stevenson, and how do you match up against each?
Sherk: I match up real well with either, I�m a confident fighter -- I can beat anyone, and I don�t fear anyone. I like my match up with either of them. On a personal level, I�d rather fight BJ. We don�t like each other much and he�s been disrespecting me a lot, saying things about me. I don�t have any respect for someone who does that so I�d like to go in there and beat up on him.
MMA Madness: What kinds of things has he been saying?
Sherk: He�s been talking garbage and talking about his title fight, saying that it is for the natural title. He�s having a good time with this whole thing. Whatever man, I have lots of stuff to say about him too. Let�s see if he wins, first. I actually think Joe has a good chance to beat him.
MMA Madness: Yeah, people seem to be writing Joe off, but there�s a reason he got the shot at the title and he�s won a bunch in a row.
Sherk: The guy has won, like what, four in a row? BJs only got one win in a row. Joe is more deserving of the title shot than BJ is.
MMA Madness: What�s been the biggest win of your career?
Sherk: I�ve had a series of big wins before I fought: Karo [Parisyan], [Benji] Radach, and you know, I�m on a three-fight win streak too. I don�t consider any of them to be my biggest win; it�s just a series of wins.
MMA Madness: Many people describe your battle with Kenny Florian as their favorite MMA fight. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Sherk: That was a good fight and what made for a good fight was the drama that had taken place. I was fighting with a torn shoulder that I tore in training, I got a nine stitch cut on my head so there was lots of blood, and I was fighting with a lot of tenacity and intensity. It had good jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing, a mix of everything.
MMA Madness: Let�s talk about fighting styles for a minute. What do you say to critics who accuse you of winning fights by Lay �N Pray?
Sherk: My style of fighting is mine. I�m not going to change it for anyone. You know? It is what it is. I guess, if you don�t like the way I fight, then go get a beer when I�m fighting.
MMA Madness: Would you ever want an opportunity to avenge your losses to Matt Hughes or GSP? How do you think those fights would play out now?
Sherk: Of course, I�d love the opportunity to avenge a loss.
MMA Madness: Would you go up to 170 pounds or would you want them to come down?
Sherk: If I had the opportunity, I would be willing to go up. I have tons of fights at 170 [pounds] so I would be fine.
MMA Madness: Have you still been training 100% over the last four months? It has to be difficult with no clear answer as to when you�re going to fight next.
Sherk: I know I�m not fighting for a while so I�m not fight-training. I�m working more on strength, technical stuff, plyometrics, just maintenance. I�m just trying to get better and keep everything I have. I hope to be fighting by April, so I�ll probably start my training in January, 12 weeks out.
MMA Madness: Dana White has spoken publicly about how poorly he feels the case against you has been handled. What are your feelings about why your case took so long?
Sherk: I know there was a mistake made at the testing facility. As far as the commission, they were very unprofessional. There are no rules, no regulations for them to follow. No one overlooks and sees what they are doing � they are their own boss. It is impossible to get a fair trial with them because they are judge, jury, and executioner. They strung me along and had a good time. They had fun jerking me around so I�m looking in taking this in front of a judge. I�m talking to a lawyer about continuing this. It�s tough to take the entire state of California to a judge, so I want to make sure I have a case, but that is my intention.
MMA Madness: What will the defense against the positive test entail?
Sherk: We made a lot of good arguments as far as custody of testing materials. We found carry over into the machines, too. The three people who got tested before me were found to be positive. They are supposed to clean it in between each test. They did do that but what they didn�t do is test for any remaining steroids in the vial. They are supposed to do a test run after the cleaning but they screwed that up. The machine still had steroids in it! We found contamination in one of my samples, so after it came back positive, I got a blood test that was clean and I passed a polygraph. We had a lot of evidence for the commission but they just weren�t willing to listen.
MMA Madness: Sounds like they had one job to do over at the testing facility and they screwed it up.
Sherk: Exactly. Are high school kids working there? You have someone�s livelihood on the line there. I�ll never fight in California again. I�ll never let labs do it again. Never again will I let my sample get tested at that facility.
MMA Madness: Have your fans expressed that they think of you any differently?
Sherk: There are fair weather fans and guys who want to jump ship or whatever. I have loyal fans, though. 90% are supporting me from the emails I get and then you have the 10% who want to talk garbage. I just want to fight.
MMA Madness: Has it hurt you financially in terms of sponsors?
Sherk: My sponsors pay me when I fight, and I�ve missed out on probably two fights. I�ve had sponsors tell me that they don�t want to sign me or they want to put things on hold. So I�ve missed out on fight paydays, advertising, exposure, everything is on hold. It is what it is.
MMA Madness: If you had one thing you could say to MMA fans, what would it be?
Sherk: You know, the big thing is that I have to thank the fans. The UFC has backed me too and Dana has backed me. You know I didn�t take Nandro[lone]. I want to take this case further.
MMA Madness: While we�re on the topic of Dana White, what do you think of the Randy Couture situation? I�ve talked to guys who have had very positive interactions with Dana and I�ve talked to guys, like Ken Shamrock, who accused him of doing this stuff before.
Sherk: I haven�t had any bad experiences with Dana. I don�t know what is going on with Dana and Randy. I guess Randy has issues with the organization. He had his reason so it is what it is. He�s 44 years old too and if he wants to fight Fedor, let him.
MMA Madness: I�ve read that you�re a big Entourage fan. Would you ever want to appear on the show like Chuck Liddell did?
Sherk: Oh yeah, I�d love to do that. That�d be awesome. I�m doing a lot more of that sort of stuff. I did a movie two months ago and I�m about to start a second. I�m definitely interested in checking out that realm of the entertainment business. Being a fighter gives you a leg up when people know who you are. It makes it much easier.
MMA Madness: What�s the movie?
Sherk: It�s called �Made for Each Other.� It�s a comedy and it comes out next summer. I won�t name the next one since it�s not set yet, but I just got the thumbs up from the director and we think we�re going to start shooting in January.
MMA Madness: Let�s get some predictions for UFC 79. Liddell vs. Silva?
Sherk: Chuck Liddell. He�s got a lot of reach, he�s coming off of losses, [and] Chuck is a warrior. A year ago, he was the best pound-for-pound [fighter] in the world so he�s real hungry to get back to the top.
MMA Madness: Hughes vs. St. Pierre?
Sherk: I could see that one going either way, you know, it�s one to one so this is the rubber match. I�ll take St. Pierre on the feet and Hughes on the ground. This will be one of the more interesting fights.
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