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Report: Sean Sherk to remain UFC Lightweight Champion?

sean sherkIt's good to have friends in high places.

Sean Sherk -- who was in peril of losing his 155-pound belt because of being popped for illegal steroid use -- apparently still maintains the lightweight title, according to Steve Seivert at Brawl Sports.

Here's the snip:

"The UFC has yet to comment and when asked about the situation late today, the UFC confirmed that Sherk remains the promotion's 155-lb. titleholder."

Not an outright declaration, but telling because the UFC brass has had a half-year to determine how to handle this situation when a verdict was turned in and hasn't said boo about it. The silence on this matter is deafening.

That's because UFC President Dana White indicated numerous times prior to the final appeal hearing that he would strip Sherk of the title if the California Athletic Commission (CSAC) upheld its finding that he had elevated levels of Nandrolone in his system following his successful title defense against Hermes Franca at UFC 73: "Stacked" in July.

It took almost six months and three appeal hearings for the CSAC to determine that Sherk was in the wrong; however, the athletic commission did reduce his suspension from 12 months to six. During this time White -- frustrated because of the apparent bumbling of the case -- booked BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson to battle for the interim lightweight championship until a final verdict was delivered regarding Sherk.

The question is why book an interim title fight if Sherk was going to remain champ all along regardless of the CSAC ruling?

This possible decision also creates other major problems:

  1. Then UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett was stripped of his belt when he tested positive for steroids in 2002 and has never competed inside the Octagon since that time. It should have set a precedent to deter fighters (more importantly champions) from ingesting banned substances. Letting Sherk keep his belt sends all the wrong signals.
  2. Does this not reek of favoritism? Sherk and White are buddies and Dana has been quoted that he believes Sherk is innocent. Perhaps more damaging it sends a message to the CSAC and other athletic commissions that the UFC will pick and choose what it wants to believe regardless of their test results. By saying he believes Sherk, White is indirectly saying that he doesn't believe the regulatory body that found him guilty. That's not good.
  3. If Penn defeats Stevenson at UFC 80: "Rapid Fire" he has gone on the record that he will not fight a guilty Sherk. What's happens then to the "undisputed" 155-pound crown if he follows through on his promise? Something tells me the Hawaiian will stick to his word.

There's a very real chance that Sherk is indeed being truthful -- perhaps he had no idea the supplements he was taking would trigger positive test results. For what it's worth, he did pass a lie detector test.

But if I'm doing 90 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone and a cop pulls me over I'm more than likely going to get a speeding ticket even if I tell him (truthfully) I wasn't aware of how fast I was going. And, I could probably pass a lie detector test.

The point being Sherk -- knowingly or unknowingly -- had steroids in his system. It sounds ridiculous to say but he should have done his homework prior to eating a smörgåsbord of shakes and pills ... not after the fact when his good name and career were on the line.

I know it's easier said than done.

Long story short the UFC (in this writer's opinion) has no choice but to strip Sherk of his title. Not only does it set a dangerous precedent, but it will more than likely do more harm than good in the long run to Sherk in particular and the promotion in general.

A tangled web has been woven, but it will get much worse if Sherk continues to hold the belt and the UFC thumbs its nose at the CSAC.

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