Two former UFC lightweight contenders looking to work their way back toward title shots will likely square off in March, The Times has learned.
A fight between former lightweight champion Sean Sherk and Chicago area native Clay Guida is in the works for March 21 on the UFC's Ultimate Fight Night card in Denver, sources close to Sherk's camp told The Times on Saturday -- though bout agreements have not yet been signed.
Sherk in December had to pull out of his Jan. 2 UFC 108 fight against Jim Miller after suffering a cut in training camp. That news was first reported by The Times. He was replaced by Duane Ludwig in that bout on a card that became infamous for the number of bout changes due to injury.
Sherk has not fought since UFC 98 last May, where he suffered a unanimous decision loss to Frank Edgar. After that loss, a scheduled bout with Gleison Tibau for UFC 104 in October was called off when he was injured, and his UFC 108 bout was scrapped, too.
While Sherk seems to be having a tough time staying healthy of late, Guida had perhaps his most memorable year yet in 2009 -- though he has just one win to show for it.
At UFC 94 a year ago, Guida won a split decision battle with Nate Diaz and Fight of the Night honors. He followed that up in June at The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale with another Fight of the Night award, though he came out on the short end of a split decision loss to Diego Sanchez in a bout that many voted Fight of the Year. And last month, he was submitted by Kenny Florian at UFC 107.
The level of competition Guida faced in 2009 outshined any other year of his career -- but he still has two straight losses to show for it and a need to rebound. And that level of competition won't subside for him against Sherk, a well-rounded fighter with one of the best wrestling games in MMA.
Guida (25-11, 5-5 UFC), a native of Round Lake, Ill., split his training camps between Midwest Training Center in Schaumburg and Gilbert Grappling in Tinley Park before making Greg Jackson's camp in Albuquerque, N.M., his training base last year.
Sherk (37-4-1, 7-4 UFC), trains at Minnesota Martial Arts Academy alongside current UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. Prior to the upset loss to Edgar at UFC 98, his only career losses were to former welterweight champion Matt Hughes, current welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre and current lightweight champ BJ Penn.
The fight card, while still unannounced by the UFC, is expected to be aired on the Versus network as the promotion's first broadcast with the cable station. UFC Fight Night cards have always aired previously on the Spike network, but a new UFC deal with Versus will see some programming on that station in 2010. Fellow Zuffa promotion World Extreme Cagefighting airs its programming on Versus already. Also rumored for the card are a light heavyweight contenders bout between Jon Jones and Brandon Vera and a welterweight bout between Anthony Johnson and John Howard, as first reported earlier this week by MMA Junkie.