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The Unpopular Opinion: Why Sean Sherk Will Beat B.J. Penn


(‘You’re getting to be such a big boy. Pretty soon I won’t be able to do this anymore.’)

I realize the headline has some of you worked up into a frenzy, but just give me a chance to explain. B.J. Penn is a wonderfully gifted fighter. Let’s start there. In fact, let’s go further. B.J. Penn is a truly great fighter, easily one of the best lightweights in the world. Most of the other guys in the lightweight top ten would stand little chance against him, and the same goes for a few of the guys in the welterweight top ten.

I don’t think Sean Sherk is objectively a better fighter than B.J. Penn. I do, however, think that Sean Sherk can beat B.J. Penn on Saturday night, and I’d like to explain why.

Styles make fights. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. So much in MMA is dependent on how one man’s style matches up against another’s, and Sherk is a bad match for Penn.

If there’s any type of fighter Penn has struggled against, it’s wrestlers. Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre were both bigger and stronger than Penn, but they are also both excellent wrestlers, and they both beat Penn by outworking and outlasting him. You can give him a pass for having a broken rib or bad cardio in those fights, but the blame for both of those problems rests with Penn.

A powerhouse of a wrestler is tough on a jiu-jitsu fighter because his takedown ability and takedown defense makes it difficult to gain top position on him, which means that if you can’t beat him on the feet and can’t sweep or submit him on the mat, your chances of winning a decision aren’t good.

I’m not saying Penn’s standup isn’t better than Sherk’s. It is. But here’s a fun quiz: who’s the last person Penn beat by TKO? The answer is Paul Creighton, and it was at UFC 37 in 2002.

You could argue that he beat Joe Stevenson with strikes before finishing him with a choke, but Sherk isn’t Stevenson. To beat him you have to either overpower him and be a better wrestler than he is, or you have to become the first person to knock him out or submit him.

Penn probably isn’t going to KO him, and a decision is unlikely unless he can nullify Sherk’s takedowns. His best chance is submission, and Sherk has never been submitted.

While we’re on the subject of things Sherk has never done, let’s look at something Penn has never done, which is win a five-round fight. He’s gone five rounds twice in his career. The first was a decision loss against Jens Pulver, and the second was a draw against Caol Uno, which was over five years ago.

Sherk’s gone five rounds three times. He dropped the first via decision to Matt Hughes, and he won the last two against Hermes Franca and Kenny Florian respectively.

That doesn’t mean Penn can’t win a five-round fight, or that Sherk can’t lose one. It just means that one of those men is used to it and has proven he can do it, while the other hasn’t. Unlike many people, I don’t believe Penn’s cardio will be a major factor in this fight. He seems to be training harder than ever before, taking his preparation and his career as seriously as many of us wished he would have from the start. He’ll be in shape for this fight.

But there’s a difference between being physically ready and being mentally ready. Penn is physically ready, but what will be going through his mind in round four if he hasn’t been able to dominate Sherk or put him away like he expected? What if Sherk keeps after the takedowns until he gets them, then puts Penn against the fence and grinds away at him? Will Penn start telling himself that it’s not fair for Sherk to win a decision this way? Will he begin to accept defeat little by little?

What we know about B.J. Penn is that “The Prodigy” is about as apt a nickname as one could imagine. He is uncommonly talented. He has gifts that surpass those of someone like Sean Sherk. In some capacity, I expect that Sherk knows this too. That’s why he won’t depend on simply being better. He’ll have to depend on being more resilient, more tenacious, and willing to do what Penn won’t.

Sean Sherk’s style is rarely pretty and sometimes monotonous, but unlike pure ability it is something that you can depend on. A victory for Penn would likely offer more finality and be more pleasing for the fans, but that doesn’t mean it will happen. Sometimes you win by being naturally better than your opponent, and sometimes you win by not going away. Sometimes.

(-Ben Fowlkes)

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Anonymous- May 30, 2008 at 10:12 am
wow sherk wins worst game plan of any ufc fighter ever
Omar- May 26, 2008 at 12:07 am
But BJ did beat Sherk
Jeff- May 25, 2008 at 10:49 am
Well, not even I like Sean Sherk anymore. What an unentertaining fighter...

Dana, take notice, Sean Sherk is completely unmarketable. He has no fans and no skill. Please drop him from the roster and give the money to real fighters.

Gratz BJ, that title is now yours fair and square. If you get a staph infection from licking the blood, be sure to go to the hospital before it gets really bad.
Dayna- May 24, 2008 at 7:00 pm
Oh well... your theory was dead wrong. Sean Sherk sucked.
SherkIzaJuicer- May 24, 2008 at 10:23 am
It seems the author of this article is completely full of shit.

BJ Penn soundly beat Sherk.
There is no question now.
With steroids, Sherk is an average fighter
Without steroids, Sherk is a LESS than average fighter.

Bye Bye Juicer.
Your MMA career is OVER
Knife'em- May 23, 2008 at 1:54 pm
Sherk should be slapped just for the stupid fight name of "muscle shark"
Maybe if he was a Japanese fighter and his dumb name was lost in translation,
I hope the Sherk losses and he disapears into the deep trench of "who was that fighter what's name?" like most UFC fighters
Jeff- May 23, 2008 at 1:37 pm
Sherk my hero? Ya right. I'm a way bigger fan of BJ than I am of Sherk.

That just never clouded my judgement when it came to the steroid issue or my UFC84 predictions.
Warcraft- May 23, 2008 at 2:27 am
Jeff I feel you picking a horse thats about to get shot.
I'm an idiot but can easily see BJ is going to total annihilate your hero sherk.
Jeff- May 23, 2008 at 12:48 am
Ok... whatever you say mma fan. If that makes the most sense to you than there is no use arguing with you, you're just an idiot.

Warcraft, you too are an idiot for agreeing with him.
sol- May 23, 2008 at 12:37 am
its like you guys are writing Shrek on purpose
Warcraft- May 23, 2008 at 12:28 am
True mma fan summed it up.

This fight is gonna look like stevenson vs penn. Shrek got no stand-up and taking BJ down and ending up on top is a hard move to do. Even if he does get top what is shrek gonna do get sweeped and rolled over to him back.

"Shrek will have to sell his soul to satin and bring a gun to this fight to win by decision".
true mma fan- May 22, 2008 at 11:04 pm
wow thats funny hat is just hilarious i never thought it would be possible wow jeff you have just taken the cake for being dumber then a monkey
look at a lie detector test this way they react off of your heart rate and who better then a mma fight to this to you. most and almost everyone in the world who does not fight and train on a regular basis would freak out with someone bigger on top of them pounding their face in their heart rate would sky rocket and be almost off the charts. ok now with a mma fighter he has trained himself to remain calm under duress and or some of the most stressful situations now who would be better at passing a lie detector test then a roided out mma fighter
true mma fan- May 22, 2008 at 10:22 pm
wow thats funny hat is just hilarious i never thought it would be possible for someone to put sherk in the same category of GSP ad HUGHS but you have ust made me piss my pants thats so funny.
first of all sherk does not have the strength to compete against either of those guys ad when he did he was mutilated by GSP and HUGHS dominated him with power and wrestling ooh yeah Shrek has no punching abilities and he has to be able to take bj down to be able to lay and pray for a win and getting past bj's hands will be difficult so lets recap

1. first shrek has to be able to take bj down
2. shrek has to get past bj's hands and knee's to be able to get atleast a one leg let alone a two leg take down
3. shrek can't lay and pray on bj or hey will ge tapped
4. Shrek will have to control one of the most talented bjj artists in the world to be able to hold the top position wichis a laugh all in it's own.

So what is the conclusion :::: Shrek will have to sell his soul to satin and bring a gun to this fight to win by decision
Jeff- May 22, 2008 at 8:33 pm
You havn't convinced me you're any older than 15 yet.

Keep trying though.
Warcraft- May 22, 2008 at 5:52 pm
Uh oh you are guessing my age...I better stop what talking trash about your boyfriend shrunk.

Come back and write another post in about an hour after you have to time to think of something else not funny to post.

FYI I do work for "the media" if you don't believe me look outside your window we are watching all the time.
Jeff- May 22, 2008 at 11:46 am
You don't work for the media, you're 15.
Jeff- May 22, 2008 at 10:52 am
It's always easier when you do the part where you make yourself look like an idiot for me.
Warcraft- May 22, 2008 at 2:44 am
Wow, you just don't seem to have a clue.
"The media" like "The man" is just a little talking voice inside your paranoid head.
FYI I work for the Media and its not really all that bad good hours and plenty of cocaine and whores.
Jeff- May 21, 2008 at 10:03 pm
The media waged a battle on your mind and you lost.
Warcraft- May 21, 2008 at 7:59 pm
Ok lets switch gears there Jeff.
What proof do you have that he didn't do steroids?
Lie detector that's full proof 100% right all the time right?

Yes please keep insulting the fans of one of the better MMA fighters in History you are really putting us to shame there you close-minded steroid lover.

I am not surprised if they deleted one of your 9-11 ranting post. Even if it was an inside job by the "the man" or "the illuminate"etc wtf can you and me do about it....not a damn thing so find something else to waste your time on really.
Oh no the Men in Black are coming I gotta run....
Jeff- May 21, 2008 at 4:15 pm
Cage Potato DOES read every comment. Not right away but eventually. SOmetimes they even delete you comments and say them themselves, if they think they are funny enough (my battle of the beards comment way back at tank/kimbo was stolen by CP). And at the time I posted my follow-up reply the original was in fact gone. Probobly a tech error on my side, oh well.

So does anyone have any way to support the accusations against Sherk besides calling me names?

Damn, BJ has some ignorant, closed minded nuthuggers, thats for sure.
skidding- May 21, 2008 at 3:55 pm
Jeff, they didn't touch ur previous post.

Hahaz @ you for thinking Cagepotato would care about what we write.
Jeff- May 21, 2008 at 3:40 pm
My reply got deleted for OT methinks.

I guess there is a better time and place to spread the word about false flags.

Sherk by guillotine, 2:44 left in round 3.

(The internet is serious business).
Jeff- May 21, 2008 at 3:19 pm
Fine, I'll bite. Been a while since I had a good ol' flame war.

Roid user? Nigga please... I'm 6'4'' 145 lbs, if you saw me you'd be wondering if I ever ate food much less take steroids.

I'm not exactly sure what else you guys are trying to say... Do you disagree that 9/11 was an inside job? Or are you pissed because I said that all people who don't believe Sean Sherk DO believe their government. I was just making a point about groups of people who ignore the facts and evidence and just go along with popular oppinion.

It's really tough to read all these negative Sherk comments and still post a positive one. It's really tempting to change my oppinion once I see that everybody disagrees with me. Alas I'm not that kind of person.

CP, if posting OT is not allowed I'm sorry.
Warcraft- May 21, 2008 at 9:00 am
NipGrip just put you to shame.
I got sick reading that 9-11 tie in there. EPIC FAIL douchebag roid user probly like Jeff (one less BJ nuthugger).

Why don’t you people put all that skepticism to good use and start questioning your government?

When did people stop questiong there goverments? Did I miss that meeting?
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