Would you believe me, if I told you this very instant, that Sean Sherk is still on the UFC roster?
It's true. To the best of my knowledge, Sherk is still maintaining a spot on the roster despite not having actually stepped in the cage in close to two years. That was UFC 119 and Sherk's opponent was Evan Dunham, and Sherk somehow won a split-decision victory despite—at least according to most of us who actually, you know, watched the fight—not really winning a decision at all.
It's been well over four years at this point since Sherk has convincingly won a fight. Yet he's still maintaining a roster spot, and I'm not sure why.
I'm much more understanding when it comes to Matt Hughes, but he's in the same kind of weird holding pattern as Sherk. He lost his previous two fights, with his last actual appearance in the cage coming a year ago at UFC 135, and he's been virtually nonexistent since that night.
He showed up for a Hall of Fame induction—an honor that is richly deserved—and made a few comments here and there about letting his wife decide if was the right time for him to walk away from the sport where he made his name.
Will Hughes come back to the cage? Your guess is as good as mine. But here's the dilemma: What's the point?
We hear Dana White say it about aging fighters all the time, but it certainly rings true for Hughes: This guy has absolutely nothing to prove. There is no reason for him to step back in the cage again, not ever, not for any reason. He hasn't been great since losing to Georges St-Pierre back in 2006, but the last six years of his career will never and could never cast a shadow over what Hughes accomplished during the first portion of his career.
Hughes had a brief resurgence in 2009 and 2010, but let's be honest with ourselves here—at the end of the day, he still beat Matt Serra, Renzo Gracie and Ricardo Almeida, three fighters who were also already well past their expiration dates when they faced Hughes.
And we shouldn't forget that Hughes was viciously knocked out in his last two fights with Josh Koscheck and B.J. Penn. The chin isn't there anymore, so what's the point in going out and risking brain damage by taking needless punishment? Hughes doesn't need to fight.
Sherk isn't in the same boat. He's not a legend like Hughes, and I doubt very highly that he's made enough money over the course of his career that he can just walk away now and live for the rest of his life on his UFC nest egg. Sherk probably needs to fight, and yet he just continues to string it along, always putting one toe in or out and never going all the way.
It's time to make a decision. If Hughes and Sherk made the decision today to walk away from this sport, I'd applaud them and thank them for all they've done as pioneers for the sport in their respective weight classes. But there's no point in stringing it along, in putting it off in the hopes of making a late-career resurgence on par with Randy Couture.
It just isn't going to happen, and the time has come to deal with it.
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