UFC 119 Preview Part Two: Sean Sherk vs. Evan Dunham

Sean Sherk is walking into the octagon for the first time since losing to Frankie Edgar at UFC 98 in 2009. Over a year later, his return is against another up-and-comer in Evan Dunham. Dunham has made quick work of his opponents so far in the UFC, and seems to be ready to step up his level of competition. On September 25th, 2010, both men are walking into the octagon with tons of pressure on their shoulders, and something to prove to the mixed martial arts community.

Question One: Is Sean Sherk truly washed up?

The media, fans and bookies all over the world are quickly counting Sean Sherk out. Not only “out” of this fight, but “out” in terms of relevance in the world of mixed martial arts. Simply because he failed a drug test and lost a couple of his latest fights doesn’t mean that Sean Sherk is done. His only four losses are against some of the greatest mixed martial artists to grace the octagon: Matt Hughes (UFC Hall of Famer), BJ Penn (Future UFC Hall of Famer), Georges St. Pierre (Future UFC Hall of Famer and Pound-4-Pound Best in the World) and Frankie Edgar (Current UFC Lightweight Champion). What people seem to ignore is the slew of victories at the beginning of his record. Sherk has complied over 30 victories throughout his career, including wins over Nick Diaz, Kenny Florian and Tyson Griffin. Sean Sherk is nowhere near washed up, expect the old Sean Sherk to return to the octagon this Saturday.

Question Two: Does Evan Dunham deserve all the hype?

UFC and fans on various message boards are usually quick to jump on the bandwagon of undefeated up-and-comers to take the UFC by storm. Unlike some, Evan Dunham actually backs up his hype. Dana White and the UFC are looking for individuals who make fights exciting and end fights in exciting fashion. Despite the fact that three of his wins have come by way of decision, he currently sports eight wins due to stoppage (two by knockout, and six by submission). Evan Dunham is one of the most exciting lightweights currently in the UFC, and a victory over Sean Sherk will definitely show that he deserves the hype.

At the same time though, Dunham’s level of competition in the UFC can be questioned. His most recent victory over Tyson Griffin was, to say the least, lackluster. He was unable to fully utilize his reach advantage on the feet, and never locked in the rear naked choke he was looking for. He may have shown the instinct to finish the fight, but wanting to and actually doing it are two different things. Efrain Escudero and Marcus Aurelio recently got cut by the UFC after not being able to impress officials after their fight with Dunham. Per Eklund hasn’t even fought anywhere since his fight with Evan Dunham in his UFC debut bout. One thing we can be 100% sure of is that with a victory of Sherk on Saturday, Dunham will deserve to be in the octagon with elite competitors like Clay Guida and Kenny Florian.

Question Three: Who will win this Saturday?

In one corner, we have one of the best wrestlers and ground-and-pounders in the game, Sean Sherk. In the other, we have Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Evan Dunham. If there’s one thing that’s most reliable in mixed martial arts, it’s history. History can tell us many things: every fighter has a kryptonite, or once you get knocked out you are more susceptible to getting knocked out again in the future. In this situation, it’s the fact that if a fighter is really good at exploiting a practice, they’ll do it over and over again. In Sean Sherk’s history, he has proven time and time again that BJJ is not a problem for him at all. He defeated three BJJ Black belts in a row in the UFC when he defeated Nick Diaz, Kenny Florian and Hermes Franca. It’s easy to use the argument that “Diaz and Florian weren’t the fighters they were today”, but that can be negated by saying that Sherk is fighting a Dunham that is nowhere near his full potential. I’m a fan of both men, but every streak must come to an end. I believe that Dunham has what it takes to beat Sean Sherk, but I think Sherk wants the win a little more.

Pick: Sean Sherk by TKO in Round 3

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