Category Archives: Sean Sherk

Sherk’s Suspension Cut In Half…So He’s Only Kind of Guilty?

Earlier today the California State Athletic Commission ruled on UFC lightweight champ Sean Sherk’s steroid suspension appeal, cutting the suspension time from one year to six months, but upholding the $2,500 fine.  Sherk was apparently upset with the ruling, which has taken longer than usual to hand down, telling MMA Weekly after the hearing, “I’m not happy at all.  This is not over.”

It’s easy to see why Sherk might be unhappy if he is, in fact, innocent, but it’s not easy to see how the CSAC came to this conclusion.  Cutting the suspension time in half and upholding the fine seems to indicate that they still believe Sherk is guilty of using steroids.  So why cut his suspension at all?

Perhaps the CSAC was trying to atone for their bungling of this situation thus far.  Delays and disorganization in hearing the appeal made them seem amateurish early on, and it’s possible that they truly believe the shortened suspension will serve as a compromise to make everyone happy.

They are wrong.

This ruling is really the worst of both worlds.  Sherk is still upset because, he insists, he never took steroids.  The integrity of the sport and the seriousness of steroid testing isn’t helped any if the CSAC reduces the standard penalty on someone they believe has broken the rules.  Maybe the UFC is a little happier than most with the decision, because they get Sherk back six months earlier and have a semi-plausible explanation for why he isn’t being stripped of the title.

All things considered, this may be the worst, most conflicted ruling the CSAC could have made.  I don’t know if it’s a concession to the UFC, since the CSAC would no doubt like to see them continue to hold events in the Golden State, but it certainly doesn’t help clear up this hopelessly muddled case.

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Filed under MMA, Sean Sherk, Sports, Steroids, UFC

Sherk’s Hearing Postponed Again

The California State Athletic Commission has again postponed UFC lightweight champ Sean Sherk’s appeal hearing, according to Sherdog.com. Originally scheduled for Nov. 13, the Commission is now trying to push the hearing, which is Sherk’s chance to present evidence in appeal of his positive steroid test and ensuing suspension, to December.

November 13 is absolutely out,” California State Athletic Commission staffer Bill Douglas confirmed to Sherdog.com. “The date that’s being worked on right now — rooms are being reserved, schedules are being coordinated, everything is happening — looks like Dec. 4”

Wait, did I read that right? Rooms are being reserved and schedules are being coordinated? I guess holding an appeal hearing is not unlike throwing a party for your grandparents’ fiftieth anniversary. You know, you have to book the DJ, get the caterers, check and see if Uncle Mickey is going to be out of town that weekend (he drinks too much and gets emotional at these things, so it’s just better for everyone if he isn’t around).

This is the California State Athletic Commission we’re talking about here, and they can’t get their act together? It’s amazing that organizations keep going back to California with all the headaches involved in putting on a show there, and now this? If it were the South Dakota State Athletic Commission (assuming one exists), I wouldn’t say anything. But this is the most populous state in the Union. That’s just embarrassing.

Hopefully the CSAC can get a conference room or something by Dec. 4. This whole thing has turned out to be way more difficult than it needs to be.

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Filed under MMA, Sean Sherk, Sports, UFC

Penn-Stevenson Fight For Interim Title, And I’m As Confused As Ever

My brain hurts. It’s tired of trying to sort this mess out, and it’s getting nowhere. But it’s not my brain’s fault, it’s the UFC’s. Their tortured logic is driving me crazy, and they don’t even care.

If you’re on the UFC’s mailing list, as I am, you received an email alerting you that B.J. Penn and Joe Stevenson will be fighting for the “interim” lightweight title at UFC 80 in January. And if you also compulsively follow MMA news, as I do, you know that Dana White has said he will not strip lightweight champion Sean Sherk of his title because of the way the California State Athletic Commission has bungled his appeal of a positive steroid case.

But if Sherk isn’t being stripped, why is there an interim title at all?

This feels like one of those situations that only gets more confusing as you try to sort it out. I almost understand the reasoning. White seems to feel that Sherk is innocent when it comes to steroid use. From what I’ve heard, the levels of nandrolene detected in Sherk’s system were so low that it’s not so unbelievable to think this might be a false positive.

So, okay, I get it. White feels that the CSAC, which has a reputation as the most difficult commission for MMA organizations to deal with, by far, is screwing this thing up. They postponed Sherk’s appeal hearing because they didn’t read all the material submitted by his lawyer, which makes them seem more like the Mayberry Athletic Commission than the California one. White was angered by this, as was Sherk, and understandably so.

That’s why White announced that Sherk (who White says he considers a friend) will not be stripped of his title. Okay. That makes a certain kind of sense. It seems like he might be blowing off the CSAC, but maybe somebody should.

But now I have to ask again. Why is there an interim title?

I understand that Sherk is stilll under suspension pending his appeal, but if the UFC’s position is that Sherk is going to hold onto that belt unless the CSAC can produce photos of a needle going into “The Muscle Shark’s” arm, there shouldn’t be any interim title. It’s meaningless. The winner of the interim title has essentially just earned number one contender status, only he’s got a belt to show for it.

I’m not going to pretend I don’t know why the UFC is doing this. They don’t want the belt to be out of circulation while they wait for this appeal, because a title fight always makes for an instant main event on a pay-per-view card. They already have a heavyweight title with no one to defend it after Randy Couture’s “resignation”, and they’ve kept their welterweight title in reality TV land lo these many months.

But they can’t have it both ways. They can’t refuse to strip the title-holder and also have two other guys fight for his title. That essentially creates two champions in one weight class, which defeats the purpose of having a champion at all.

Do you see now what I’ve been going through? Maybe it’s my fault for even trying to understand this, or for assuming that it’s supposed to make sense. As it is I feel like I’m standing in the mall and looking at one of those magic pictures that has an image of a sailboat somewhere in it, only I can’t see it and I just keep staring.

Much like those magic pictures, this situation will leave me with nothing but a headache and a nagging sense of failure. I just know it.

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Filed under B.J. Penn, Dana White, Joe Stevenson, MMA, Sean Sherk, Sports, UFC

Championship Questions Abound for the UFC

Anderson Silva’s title defense at UFC 77 on Saturday night got me thinking.  The fight was one-sided from the beginning, but it was a satisfying event nonetheless mainly because a championship belt was at stake.  That makes everything more interesting.  Even if it seems like a mismatch (the way Franklin-Quarry was, or the way St. Pierre-Serra looked on paper), a title fight will always be a big deal.

So why, I can’t help but wonder, is the UFC not in more of a hurry to put the other titles up for grabs?  Why are they content to let some belts stay out of circulation while others get defended every couple of months?

I’m referring now, of course, to the welterweight title.  Matt Serra shocked the MMA world when he upset Georges St. Pierre with a first-round TKO to take the 170-pound strap away from the Canadian, but that was back in April.  That’s the last time we saw the welterweight title up for grabs, and why?  Apparently, so the UFC could use the current season of The Ultimate Fighter to pump up a title match between Serra and Matt Hughes.

I can’t say I don’t understand why they’re doing this.  It’s about money.  They saw an existing rivalry between Hughes and Serra and pounced on it.  They figured that if they spent the entire reality show season reinforcing the idea that these two don’t like each other, their title match at UFC 79 (entitled “Nemesis”, by the way) would bring big pay-per-view money.

Understandable though it may be, this is somewhat disturbing.  It seems like the UFC sees Serra as a Buster Douglas in the making.  They don’t believe he’ll successfully defend the title against any top-tier welterweight, so they want to make sure they squeeze all the cash they can out of him before he gives up the belt.

The real loser here is St. Pierre.  He has to sit on the sidelines and wait for this “Nemesis” bout to happen, and then he’ll probably have to sit around some more and wait for a fight with the winner.  And what does he do in the meantime?  He already beat Josh Koscheck, who was climbing toward number one contender status after his win over Diego Sanchez.

Now he has to hang around waiting for his next shot at a paycheck, figuring whether he’ll get to rematch Serra or whether he’ll have to beat Hughes again (and does anyone have any doubt that he will?)

What bothers me about this situation is not just that the title is on the shelf for so long because of a TV show, it’s that the UFC is putting so much emphasis on the need for a rivalry match.  Other than Hughes’ legacy as the longtime-champ, the only reason he’s getting this title shot at Serra is because the two men hate each other and people will pay to see that.

I’m all for a rivalry match from time to time, don’t get me wrong.  But if you already have the title at stake, you don’t need to manufacture a rivalry on a TV show.

For instance, what’s going to become of the lightweight title after Sean Sherk’s appeal at the end of the month?  Unless he becomes the first person to get a steroid suspension overturned in the state of California, he’ll be stripped of the title.  Then what?  Will the UFC look at their lightweight stable to see who they can make a rivalry fight with, then put those two guys in together?

In other words, will they arbitrarily decide which two men get to fight for the vacant title, and if so, who will they be?  Kenny Florian and some guy who hates Kenny Florian, assuming such a person can be found?

It’s no way to decide the future of a championship belt.  It rewards people who manufacture controversy rather than people who put on good fights (paging, Dr. Ortiz).  It’s more pro wrestling than it is pro fighting, and while I understand that a company’s objective is to make money, it seems smarter to look at the big picture rather than just the short term pay-per-view cash on the table.

Maybe I’m the only one bothered by this, I don’t know.  But if the next season of TUF features coaches Tim Sylvia and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, we’re all going to be longing for the good old days when title fights happened without the benefit of a drawn out reality show.  That, and wondering why the UFC didn’t learn from Sylvia’s disastrous appearance on Blind Date.  I know I did.

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Filed under Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, MMA, Sean Sherk, Sports, UFC