Sean McCorkle (10-0) will be making his second Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) appearance when he faces Stefan Struve (20-4) at UFC 124: "St. Pierre vs. Koscheck II" on Dec. 11 from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
And the winner of their super-sized slugfest could find themselves right back in the heavyweight title hunt.
At the age of 37, many asked the question of why McCorkle started mixed martial arts (MMA) so late. "Big Sexy" tells Pro MMA Radio why he decided to venture into the sport.
"I was always a really good athlete, I played basketball in college. I started taking a jiu-jitsu class and basically realized that I could fight pretty quickly. Some of the guys that I was training with who competed in the UFC thought I was crazy for not fighting and I thought they were all crazy for doing it to begin with."
McCorkle's run with the UFC almost never happened. The Legends of Fighting (LOF) veteran admits he was thinking about leaving MMA early in his career.
"I said I was gonna do it one time just to do it and I won like in 30 seconds and just kept doing it after that. When I realized I was kind of at the time making a lot of money doing what I was doing, it just wasn't worth taking the damage I was taking in fights. I dislocated my shoulder in a fight, had like 18 months physical therapy and I thought it's just not worth it."
With a record of 10-0, perhaps being a fighter isn't such a bad job for McCorkle after all.
Outside of MMA, McCorkle had some personal issues to deal with. Before making his UFC debut, he had a divorce, but don't expect "Big Sexy" to cry about it.
"I got divorced about a year ago and decided it was finally time for me to be me. Finally I wanted to do something I wanted to do for once in my life instead of trying to keep her mouth shut. That's basically what I did the entire time we were married, trying to keep her happy. The big thing with here was always money. She was kind of like a cocaine addict without the cocaine. She was a money spender, so when I was fighting and making $500 to fight, she didn't really see any future in it and made my life hell for doing it."
With his ex-wife out of the way, McCorkle faced a new challenge when the UFC offered him a deal.
"I didn't expect the UFC to call this early, but when they did I actually didn't want it at first because I didn't feel like I was ready. My manager said ‘well they're not gonna ask you twice.' I decided I had to either do it or not do it. The biggest thing for me was the weight. I was about 60 pounds over the weight limit when they called me and I had about 13 weeks to do it. I actually did the worst diet ever as far as being the hardest one I've ever had to stick to in my life. I just kept envisioning myself getting beat up in front of 20,000 of my closest friends and family in my hometown every time I decided I wanted to have ice cream or eat something unhealthy and it pretty much talked me out of it."
Many believe that McCorkle got a deal with the UFC because of his strong following on the internet, but "Big Sexy" says that's not the case.
"I trained with (Tim) Sylvia a couple of times and didn't realize he was apparently impressed with me. I didn't know one way or another. I got to know him pretty well and corned him in his fight and Monte (Cox) got to know me a little bit. He said ‘Tim said you can fight, he said you're pretty good.' I was like ‘I bet he did, I've been putting it on him for three weeks.' Monte could probably get anyone in the UFC just on his word. He's got a really good relationship with Joe Silva and Joe even told me that Monte is the reason why I got in. He said ‘it wasn't your internet persona that got you in,' which kind of disappointed me because I was hoping that I was a good enough self-hype man in the internet that I could talk my way into the UFC."
On paper, McCorkle's UFC debut looked liked an easy fight as his opponent come into the bout with a 5-6 record. That man however was Mark Hunt.
"I signed the contract first without an opponent, then I got the bout agreements sent over and it said Mark Hunt on there and I was thinking surely that's not the Mark Hunt. I thought maybe it would be another first time guy."
Some say that a win over Mark Hunt wasn't a big deal since K-1 veteran is on the downside of his career. McCorkle doesn't see this as an issue.
"If I could I would love to fight all legends who are on their last leg of their careers. Get me Mirko "Cro Cop" next, but make him fight me like he did against Frank Mir. I don't want the head kicking Mirko Cro Cop. I want the down on his last leg, don't care anymore, unmotivated Mirko Cro Cop."
When McCorkle was offered a bout with Struve, he wasn't surprised.
"He's a guy that I thought they would probably match us up if nothing else because of our size. Unfortunately I'm not 7 feet tall like I've claimed to be for years, so he's gonna be a little bit taller than me."
While the "Skyscraper" will be "Big Sexy's" toughest test, McCorkle believes he has an advantage over Struve.
"I don't think he's ready for man strength to be honest with you. I think he's still got teenage looks and teenage strength and I don't think he's ready for a guy my age."
McCorkle has been known for talking trash to his opponents and Struve is no exception.
"I announced that I was fighting him and he said he wasn't sure who he was fighting yet, so I made a couple of jokes. He then, said he was gonna shut my big mouth with his big hands and I'm like why in the world with you tap me on my lips and then it started going back and fourth. He disengaged when I started talking about the Stefan Struve top 10 rumors because I think he realized that's a fight he can't win. No one's gonna beat me in a trash talking battle, maybe Chael (Sonnen) could if he was still using his scripted questions coming from the crowd."
All jokes aside, McCorkle plans on letting his fists have the final word at UFC 124.
"I keep hearing that he's a great jiu-jitsu guy, I don't know what fights they're watching, I don't know if these are guys that are training with him, I mean if you're 7 feet tall and you triangle 5'10 guys that doesn't necessarily mean that you've got great submissions. I see our fight going a lot like Christian Morecraft fight, except obviously I'm not gonna be dumb enough to stand there and trade with him. I don't see myself having a problem taking him down. He shows a lot of heart, I'll give him that credit he's game for sure, but when Junior dos Santos started swinging or Roy Nelson started swinging he picks his hands up, backs up against the cage and waits to get knocked out. "
Will "Big Sexy" hand the "Skyscraper" the fifth loss of his career? Tune in to UFC 124: "St. Pierre vs. Koscheck II" live on pay-per-view on Dec. 11 to find out.