Without much fanfare, the Ultimate Fighting Championship stripped Sean Sherk of the lightweight championship. Company officials confirmed this information on Saturday before its event in Las Vegas.
Sherk, 34, had tested positive for the anabolic steroid Nandrolone, more commonly known as Decadurabolin, in his July 7 title defense in Sacramento, Calif. where he defeated Hermes Franca. Franca also tested positive for steroids during the fight. Sherk won via five round decision. The California State Athletic Commission, unlike Nevada, doesn’t have the legal authority to overturn a decision based on a positive drug test.
Sherk had appealed the test result, and on Tuesday the commission cut his one-year suspension to six months, but upheld the $2,500 fine. Sherk is eligible to fight again on Jan. 3.
Because the appeal verdict was that his test result was not overturned, it left UFC officials with little alternative, other than set a dangerous precedent had they not decided to strip Sherk of the championship, for a company that has stated a public hard line on steroid use among its competitors.
UFC president Dana White had already booked B.J. Penn vs. Joe Stevenson for the interim championship on Jan. 19 in Newcastle, England. Had Sherk been cleared, he would have faced the winner at the earliest possible date. Now the Penn-Stevenson winner would be the outright champion.
It has not been confirmed whether Sherk would still get the first shot at the winner.