The very questionable Frank Mir vs Cro Cop headliner has a lot of fans writing off this card, but it's actually stuffed with meaningful matches. Perhaps none more so than Sean Sherk vs Evan Dunham.
It's a classic future vs past bout. Sean Sherk is the 37 year old former champion. He's got a career full of accomplishments. The 32 notches on his belt include Kenny Florian, Nick Diaz, Tyson Griffin, Karo Parisyan (2x), Hermes Franca and Manny Gamburyan. All four of his losses came to UFC champs: Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes, B.J. Penn, and Frankie Edgar.
Dunham meanwhile is the undefeated 28 year old up and comer who's already beaten long-time contender Tyson Griffin, Ultimate Fighter winner Efrain Escudero and Brazilian notable Marcus Aurelio. He's got a well rounded style and has fans buzzing about his potential. A win over Sherk would thrust him to the top of the UFC lightweight contender pile.
Oddsmakers are favoring Dunham over the veteran.
Since losing to Edgar in May of 2009, Sherks's been on a bad luck streak. Sherdog documents the atrocities:
He was forced to drop out of fights against Gleison Tibau at UFC 104 in October (right shoulder injury), Jim Miller at UFC 108 in January (cut on his forehead) and Clay Guida at UFC Live 1 in March (undisclosed injury).
Sherk talked to TSN about the bad luck streak:
"It's tough," Sherk said. "You're training for a fight, you're ready for a fight, you want to fight and then you get hurt. That's no fun.
"But I don't think I would say I've been cursed. I've been fighting professionally for 11 years, I've got 42 professional fights and I've been pulled out of two fights in 11 years. And it just so happens those two fights were back-to-back. It's not a curse by any means, it's just the way it is. We play rough and sometimes you get hurt."
He also talked to TSN about his opponent, Evan Dunham:
"To be honest when they offered me the fight with Dunham, I didn't know who he was and I just said 'OK, sounds good.' I didn't even look into it. I just wanted to fight and I accepted the fight, not knowing who he was.
"After I started watching some video, I'm like 'All right, OK, this is going to be a tough fight. So I better get my ass going and train like I always do. If I do that, then there's nothing to worry about. I know I can hang with the best in the world, I can beat the best in the world.
For his part, Dunham had to make some sacrifices to make this fight too. MMA Weekly gets the scoop:
"I had some plans that I had to cut short, like my brother's wedding and that sort of stuff. But I really can't complain. I'm back at it, and it's always good to keep active.
"(The UFC executives) were like 'yeah, we really want you to fight Sherk on Sept. 25,' and I was thinking 'ah, man. That's really soon. Maybe we can push it back to the next show?' They said 'you know, it's gotta be on this show or we can find somebody else.' So I was like no, screw it. This is my opportunity to fight a guy that I've always wanted to fight," he proclaimed.
"I've looked up to him in the sport, so I jumped up at the opportunity and I was really excited to take on the challenge."
We'll find out on Saturday if the grizzled veteran can stop the rising star.