It's UFC 98 fight week and that means previewing a different bout every single day here on RopesRingCage.com for UFC 98, headlined by Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida. While not a sexy card that is heavy on buzz, there are still some intriguing bouts that will answer questions for how the rest of 2009 could play out.
Today, RRC begins by previewing Sean Sherk vs. Frank Edgar.
About Sean Sherk (37-3-1)
The 35-year-old Sherk (seen above on the right) is the definition of a veteran, having waged wars since the summer of 1999. After battling all over the country for a variety of promotions—including four scattered UFC events that included a Welterweight title shot against Matt Hughes at UFC 42—Sherk got the permanent call to the Octagon in April 2005.
After losing via second-round TKO to Georges St. Pierre UFC 56, he would go on to defeat Nick Diaz at UFC 59 and Kenny Florian at UFC 64 to begin his first and only UFC Lightweight title reign.
But after a successful July 2007 title defense against Hermes Franca at UFC 73, Sherk was stripped of his belt after testing positive for steroids by the California State Athletic Commission, a charge he vehemently denied and fought, eventually getting a suspension reduced.
The 5'6" Minnesota native got a return shot at the gold at UFC 84, but was defeated by BJ Penn when he couldn't answer the bell for the fourth round. After picking up a unanimous victory over Tyson Griffin at UFC 90 last October, Sherk now finds himself in the role of gatekeeper with a young and fiery opponent across the ring from him this Saturday.
About Frankie Edgar (9-1)
The 27-year-old New Jersey native has been with the UFC since February 2007 when he debuted against Tyson Griffin at UFC 67 in an exciting victory that earned Fight of the Night honors. Edgar followed that up with victories over Mark Bocek and Spencer Fisher before earning his first career loss courtesy of Gray Maynard at last April's UFC Fight Night 13. Edgar got back to his winning ways with another Fight of the Night against Hermes Franca last July, which brings us to this Saturday.
Working against Sherk is his age, which at this stage of his career is going to catch up with him at some point. His conditioning is still strong as four of his last five have gone the distance, something that is likely to happen against Edgar, who also has gone the full length in his last three bouts.
Edgar will have to shake off ring rust, as he's been off for almost a year due to injury, something made more difficult by Sherk's experience. It will be the biggest fight of his career and the opportunity to update his status from "fun fighter to watch" to "positioning for a title shot." We think he'll step up, but in a close career-making upset.
Edgar via unanimous decision
Josh Nason—josh [at] ropesringandcage [dot com]—has published MMA, wrestling, and boxing blog Ropes, Ring and Cage.com since 2007. He joined up with Bleacher Report in 2008 and achieved Columnist status in 2009.