Sean Sherk was an old-school fighter that kept the same mentality through nearly 14 years of competing in the cage and the ring, but a mounting list of injuries hampered his ability to compete. As a result, he announced his retirement from mixed martial arts Monday.
The announcement about Sherk's retirement was made during the MMA Hour (via host Ariel Helwani's Twitter feed). Additional sources confirmed to Bleacher Report that Sherk came to the decision to retire just recently and made it official this week.
It's been nearly three years since the 40-year-old Sherk last set foot in the cage, where he picked up a close split-decision victory over Evan Dunham at UFC 119 in Indianapolis.
Following that fight, Sherk's body continued to wilt after being hit with a slew of injuries that kept his MMA schedule blank for the next few years while he rehabbed and tried to make a return to the sport.
In an interview with MMAWeekly.com in October 2012, Sherk said he wasn't ready to call it a career just yet, but he didn't want to return unless his body was really ready for the competition. According to Sherk, it all came down to having surgery, and it wasn't something he was willing to go through again.
I’ve got some injuries that need surgery, and I really don’t want to have surgery. I’ve had surgery several times in the past, and the whole recovery process, I don’t like it. I don’t like the down time, the three to four months of getting back to 100-percent; I don’t like that. I’m trying to get myself healthy without having any kind of surgery. I mean I feel pretty good. I’d say I’m probably 85-percent, which is pretty good, considering.
Sherk was a force in the UFC in several different eras, moving from welterweight to lightweight, competing for titles in both weight classes and having a career that spanned UFC events from 2001 to 2010 at the time of his last bout.
While he wasn't the first ever UFC lightweight champion, Sherk ushered in a new era for the 155-pound division after the weight class was dropped by the promotion for several years. Sherk defeated Kenny Florian in 2006 to become the new UFC lightweight champion.
Eventually, Sherk lost the belt after testing positive for banned substances (for which he vehemently denied using) and then fell to defeat in his bid to reclaim the title when he faced B.J. Penn at UFC 84 in 2008.
Sherk went 2-1 in his final three fights in the UFC before the long layoff due to injury.
Even last year when he was contemplating a comeback, Sherk said the idea of retirement was tough to handle. He knew eventually it was something he'd have to face, but at the time, he wasn't ready to concede to it.
I don’t think I’ll ever have that mentality (about retirement). Eventually, I’m going to have to come to terms. Eventually, I’m going to have to walk away from the sport, but hopefully that’s not for a little while yet. When that time comes, I guess that’s a decision I’ll have to come to terms with.
It seems as of Monday, Sherk has come to that decision and will retire from MMA with a 36-4-1 record as a former UFC lightweight champion and UFC welterweight title contender.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.