UFC 84 Ill Will is finally upon us. All the trash talk, all the controversy, all the animosity will be solved soon and how can one not be absolutely amped for this event? By the time Sean "The Muscle Shark" Sherk and B.J. "The Prodigy" Penn enter the Octagon the energy will be nothing short of frenzied.
1 The number of champions (1) in the lightweight division after UFC 84. After tonight it's either going to be Sherk or Penn, not Sherk and Penn. Also, the round number (1) B.J. Penn says he wants to finish the fight in, "...I shouldn't be saying I want to take him out in the first round, but I want to take him out in the first round." Sean Sherk has a (1) of his own. This is his (1) chance to erase or at least diminish the pain of the last ten months and gain a little redemption.
2 In B.J. Penn's last (2) fights he finished them by rear naked choke in round (2) and he dominated in both. First, his grudge match with Jens Pulver that ended with him holding onto the choke a little too long for emphasis, and then his respectful fight with Joe Stevenson, one of the bloodiest fights in the history of the UFC. Immediately following the win in Newcastle, England Penn made the now infamous assertion, "Sean Sherk, you're dead!" Sherk, who was at the event made his way to the cage and told Penn he wasn't the champion yet, he had one more fight.
3 In Sean Sherk's last (3) fights he won them all by decision, first over Nick Diaz at UFC 59, then over Kenny Florian at UFC 64 when he won the lightweight belt, and finally he beat Hermes Franca at UFC 73. After the Franca victory though he tested positive for steroids and has maintained his innocence throughout. However in the court of public opinion he seemed to remain guilty no matter what he's done to prove his innocence. Beating B.J. Penn when his tests for banned substances have come back negative might be exactly what he needs to get back in many fans good graces.
412 The pundits suggest that if Penn is going to win it needs to be early due to his lack of "cardio." However through his 17 fights, (41.2%) have gone the distance and Penn is 3-3-1 in those bouts. So yes maybe the deeper it goes the bigger advantage Sherk has, but Penn has shown he can fight into the later rounds.
656 It is also suggested that Sherk's only hope is to grind out a decision. This may be his best bet, but through 32 wins Sherk has stopped (65.6%) of his opponents. So he has shown the ability to finish fights. Of course Penn has only been stopped one time against Matt Hughes in a fight in which he injured his rib.
6 between the 32-2-1 Sherk and 12-4-1 Penn they've lost a total of (6) times. Both were beaten by Matt Hughes (Penn is 1-1 vs. Hughes) and Georges St. Pierre and Penn also lost to Jens Pulver (He's also 1-1 vs. Pulver) and Lyoto Machida. All tough opponents and now Sherk and Penn will do their best to dole out another loss to the other. Sherk has called this fights a defining moment in his career. Penn says he is now focused, no more coasting in training means no more excuses. So in many ways it is also a defining moment for Penn. It's going to be one hell of a fight!
If you'd like to see more about UFC 84 including videos of Sherk discussing his thoughts on Penn and his actions upon finding out about the positive steroid test, the "Sean Sherk, you're dead," comment, Penn discussing his desires to end the fight fast, and both men talking at the press conference check out my blog Sports by the Numbers MMA.