Shamrock Ready to Rock ďThe RockĒ in Sydney
Special thanks to Kelly Grieves, Angela Ceberano and Heather Foreman
In July, 2010 Australian MMA fans are going to be groundínípounded into ecstatic submission when Impact FC holds The Uprising 1in Brisbane (Saturday July 10) and The Uprising 2 in Sydney (Sunday July 18).
And Impact FC have declared all-out war on Oz with more and more elite recruits being added to these two wacker-packer cards. News just in: Paul ďSemtexĒ Daily is being flown in to lock horns with Daniel Acacio, and now a summons has gone out to Bob Sapp for a throwdown against Australiaís Soa ďThe HulkĒ Palelei.
But headlining the bill in Sydney will be two of the most respected names in MMA, Ken Shamrock and Pedro Rizzo. Ken ďThe Worldís Most Dangerous ManĒ Shamrock has done it all, having become Japanís first King of Pancrase, competed in the very first UFC and become UFCís first Superfight Champion as well as being inducted into UFCís Hall of Fame. And Ken is determined to whip up a storm for all his fans Down Under.
Knucklepit was fortunate to catch up with Ken Shamrock and chat with him about his upcoming bout with Pedro ďThe RockĒ Rizzo at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.
Ken, are you looking forward to competing again on July 18 in Sydney?
ďIím looking very forward to getting in there and competing again, especially against Pedro Rizzo. Iím looking forward to showing people what I can do, and itís been a year since I last got in the ring so Iím really looking forward to getting in there.Ē
Were you originally going to be fighting Mark Coleman?
ďNo. Iíve obviously heard talk, but nobodyís ever come to me about it so I donít know where thatís coming from. All I know is that Pedro Rizzo is who Iím supposed to be fighting and Iím looking forward to that.Ē
Will this match be held in a cage or a ring?
ďAs far as I know a cage, but either way, a fightís a fight.Ē
With your experience it wouldnít worry you either way, would it?
ďNo, it doesnít matter to me because I started out in a ring and then I fought in a cage for a long time, and back in the ring again, so to me thatís irrelevant.Ē
You and Pedro are both UFC Hall of Famers and Pride and UFC legends. Did it seem inevitable that you would cross paths eventually?
ďOh, absolutely. I know Pedro was coming in at the tail end of my UFC career, and I knew if he put himself in a position to become a champion or win a lot that we would cross each other. Now, here it is and weíre going to cross each other in Os-stray-le-ya and weíre going to get DOWN [laughs].Ē
I believe youíve been training at Mt. Rose in Northern Nevada. Is that purely for the elevation, or are there other reasons for your choosing there?
ďDefinitely for elevation. Itís over nine thousand feet, so weíve been doing a lot of training up there to get that oxygen and that build up. Weíre looking forward to be able to go down there and actually take advantage of that elevation training.Ē
You donít know if Pedro has been doing a similar thing?
ďI donít. I do it strictly for myself Ö What other people do for their training is irrelevant to me because I know, just to get myself prepared and to get in the ring and do what I have to do at my fullest, I donít have a problem with what anybody else is doing because when Iím ready and when Iím at my best, nobody can beat me.Ē
How long will your preparation be for this fight?
ďAbout three and a half months.Ē
Do you intend arriving in Australia early to acclimatize?
ďYeah, Iíll be there eight days before the fight.Ē
Will this be your first trip to Australia?
Do you intend spending some time Down Under after the fight?
ďWeíre going to stay a couple of days after. Weíre going to enjoy itĒ
Do you like what you see when you study Pedroís videos?
ďI do. I like the way the match-up is. I love it a lot because Pedro is pretty much one-dimensional and he really hasnít improved his game at all except for his stand-up. Heís very good at stand-up fighting, and heís pretty good at the clinch and at defending the takedown, but once you get him to the ground, Pedro has a very difficult time understanding that submission game.Ē
So will he be like a crab on his back against you on the ground?
ďLike I said, he works on defending a lot and heís basically got good defense, but he has no offense when it comes to the ground, so heís a defensive machine on the ground, but no offense on the ground, whatsoever.Ē
Is Ken Shamrock vs. Pedro Rizzo a dream match-up for the fans?
ďI donít know about a dream match Ė just Ken Shamrock getting in the ring and fighting somebody is definitely what I love to do and I love to be able to get out there and fight in front of the fans. Iím hoping that the fans are there just because they want to see me fight. Pedro Rizzo is a good, good opponent for me and I think thereís going to be a lot of excitement in that fight, so I hope when the fans go there they are going to be excited to watch me fight. Thatís whatís going to happen: itís going to be a fight!Ē
What do you see Pedroís strengths being?
ďHeís very good at stand-up, but like I said, over the years he hasnít really improved on the ground. Heís very good at defending on the ground, but no offense on the ground.Ē
What will your strengths be?
ďWell, first of all Iím better on the ground than he isÖ Anytime I grab a leg heíll be limping the rest of the fight, or even if he sticks an arm out there or exposes his backÖ Anything he does on the ground, if he makes a mistake the match will be over.Ē
ďKen Shamrockís Lionís Den, and our Fighters of Faith.Ē
Ken, is there anything youíd like to add?
ďIíd just like to say to my fans that my career has been awesome; I look forward to putting on a few more fights in the next couple of years; itís been a great ride; and Iíve got a couple more for them, so keep your ears open and your eyes open and weíre going to put a few more fights together to close out this deal.Ē
more on Ken Shamrock:
Impact FC has secured some of the worldís best fighters for their upcoming tournaments and will feature some huge names including Pride and UFC veterans. Fans will be thrilled to know that ĎBig Johní McCarthy, former head referee for the Ultimate Fighting Championship will be the referee for The Uprising series. The Sydney show will go live from 12:00pm on the 18th July on The Main Event PPV and throughout USA at 10:00pm on the East Coast and 7:00pm on the West Coast and Canada on July 17th. Footage from all fights will be available via The Main Event.
IMPACT FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIP DATES
Impact FC website: www.impactfc.net - tickets on sale NOW via the above outlets.
For travel and accommodation packages contact Impact Travel email@example.com.
The Den of Opportunity
© Marc Wickert
All photos copyright 2004 Zuffa LLC
Photography by Joshua Hedges
Special thanks to Tonya Shamrock
At the time of this interview, Ken Shamrock is sitting at home, having just polished off 12 egg whites. Heís at his house in Susanville, California, the new location for the Lionís Den gym. In around one month, Ken will be taking on his archrival, Tito Ortiz, at UFC 61.
Other big MMA news in the air is that the Lionís Den will be holding more tryouts on September 17 for up-and-coming athletes wishing to train at, and later compete for, this world-renowned gym. "There are no weight divisions. Anyoneís welcome to come along and try out, and we evaluate them on their skill and their heart," says Shamrock. "The night before that, we have a fight on that weíre promoting in Susanville."
Emails regularly come in to knucklepit.com, asking how interested parties can train for UFC-style fighting, and how they can get a start in mixed martial arts competition. Here is an outstanding opportunity for up-and-coming fighters to do just that.
However, at the moment, Ken Shamrockís sights are focused on July 8, for his rematch with Tito. And although Ken prefers to fight as a heavyweight, heís again prepared to come down to Titoís division in order to make the bout happen.
"Yes, Iím fighting at 205 pounds. And Iím learning how to cut weight. It took me a few times to get it down, but Iím getting there. It is a skill learning how to cut weight, but this time I shouldnít have any problems doing that. My training at the moment is going outstandingly. Everything is going the way I like it to go."
With all the bad blood between Ken and Tito that has surfaced in the past, itís no surprise thereís a lot more to this fight than just the purse. Last time the pair met, Shamrock was already injured before entering the Octagon; however, for their rematch, Ken expects to be injury free and raring to go. And he agrees thereís a lot at stake. "Yep. Itís definitely a fight that could change one or two careers."
"Whatís going to be a factor in this fight is who wants it more."
Thatís what it comes down to?
"It comes down to whoís going to have the bigger heart Ė who wants it more than the other."
How will Titoís strength level match yours?
"Ah, you know itís hard to say. My strength has definitely always been part of my arsenal. Iíve always been really strong for my size, and I was always able to handle big super-heavyweights when we fought, because I was as strong as they were. Cutting my weight down to 205 could mean losing a little bit of strength, but Iím learning how to retain my strength. Even the last time I fought him, where I lost too much weight and I lost a lot of strength, I was still able to get out when I wanted to.
"So I think strength will play a major part in my strategy for fighting him. And I donít think he really realises this. The last time we fought, I was injured and he still wasnít able to hold me down. I still got off the ground. He couldnít knock me down. I was a standing target for him. So all these things in mind - knowing that if I go in there, having cut my weight properly - it will be a different fight this time."
Will Tito want to keep it standing?
"Iím not sure. I think Tito will go back to what he does best. When he gets hit and starts to panic, heíll go back to what he does best, which is to shoot and groundínípound. Weíll just have to see what folds out. But whatever he does, Iíll be ready for it."
"I brought in Eric Polsen, whoís my grappling coach and who trained me for the Kimo fight. And also for my boxing coaches, from Nevada, Iíve got Wolf and Roman Polak Ė theyíre a father and son combination."
What do you see as being Titoís strengths against you?
"I believe heís going to have to get me to the ground, and heís going to have to be on top. Thatís his strength. I think thatís what heís going to have to do to win the fight. And I think in his mind he knows that, but he probably also thinks he can outbox me. He might try to do a little bit of that, but once we get into the fight, and punches are exchanged, heíll change that strategy and start shooting."
And what will be your strengths against Tito?
"I donít know. Weíll just have to wait and see how that works out. We can say one thing or another, but until the fight happens, I wonít know. And I think there are a lot of good things that can happen in this fight, so Iím just going to wait and see how it turns out. Weíre putting some plans together, but this fight means too much to me to try to talk too much about it. I want to execute it."
Ken, is there anything youíd like to add to the article?
"For information leading up to my fight with Tito, you can go to www.kenshamrock.com and weíll keep you up with it all. And fighting Tito this time is going to be my coming out.
"But especially to the fans, I just want
to say I appreciate their support over the years, and I know this
fight with Tito Ortiz means just as much to them as it does to me, so
Iím going to do everything I can to win this fight for them."
For more on Ken Shamrock and information on the Lionís Den tryouts: www.kenshamrock.com.
For more on UFC 61: www.ufc.tv.
The Lion's Den Roars
When the final episode of UFCís Ultimate Fighter program airs on April 9, 2005, Mixed Martial Arts fans will be treated to a bonus bout between Ken Shamrock and Rich Franklin.
Originally, Ken Shamrock thought heíd be fighting Tito Ortiz, but when that match-up didnít eventuate, Ken was eager to take on whoever UFC brought in for the event. "I think UFC are trying to bring other people up and start moving in the direction of building some new stars, so itís smart on their part. And either way, Rich Franklin is going to be recognised - whether he wins or loses," says Shamrock.
For years there has been plenty of animosity between Tito and Kenís Lionís Den fighters. After Ortiz defeated Vitor Belfort at UFC 51, he then tried to bait Shamrock by challenging Ken to a rematch. But Shamrock was one step ahead of Ortiz, pointing out that he had already signed the contract and that Tito had only to add his signature to secure the fight.
When asked if thereís any chance they could ever become drinking buddies, Ken laughs off the suggestion: "Weíre still waiting on that first drink together. Weíve never really been able to be in the same room. The way things work out, weíre not able to get along. Heís way too arrogant for me, and I definitely wouldnít turn my back to let him pour me a drink."
When Ken and Tito last clashed, Ken had to come down from heavyweight to 205 in order to take on Ortiz. For a rematch, Ken had suggested it was Titoís turn to meet Shamrock at his class, and come up from light heavyweight to heavyweight division, which Tito refused to do. Shamrock then cut back down to 205 again, expecting Ortiz to accept the rematch on his terms. However when Ortiz did not sign the contract, Rich Franklin accepted the opportunity to fight Ken.
"The last fight I had with Tito was just one of those things where Iíd never dieted before, and I was getting over some problems that I had. You know there were a lot of things that helped me to lose that fight, but I got beaten by the better fighter on the night. So now Iím looking for the rematch to see if I can change the outcome."
But Ken is not letting the prospect of a rematch with Tito prevent him from focusing on his upcoming bout with Franklin. "The most important thing right now is to prepare for the Rich Franklin fight. Thatís my main priority right now. Heís 18-1, heís got an impressive record, a well-rounded fighter, is in good shape, and heís fairly strong. So Iím looking forward to this challenge. Itís going to be a challenge for me and Iím going to take it full on."
Ken says that no particular bout from UFC 51 stands out in his mind, but he is in the unique position of having seen it all: the evolution of MMA, and the rise in standard of matches.
"Most of the bouts are pretty explosive, so Iíve seen a big improvement in the cards. Theyíre all very interesting and action packed. I think UFC has come a long way to make them very interesting. Guys who were one-dimensional used to get in the ring: There were the grappler guys and the strikers. But itís all changed now. You had the guys who specialised in one thing, but now everybody knows you have to be rounded in order to compete in the UFC."
No fighter can compete successfully in the game for as long as Ken has and not gather a wealth of skills along the way. To have fought at UFCís inaugural event on November 12, 1993, and still have his hand up to take on all challenges at the ĎSuper Bowl of Martial Artsí is a true testimony to this legendary gladiatorís ability.
But Ken is also renowned for his superior strength. In his book Inside the Lionís Den, Shamrock said a sure way of testing a potential fighterís mettle was to have him perform 500 squats - a feat which was a regular ingredient in Kenís own workouts.
However Shamrock says: "Now Iím 41 years old. I canít still do all the millions of repetitions and all those things. Now what I do is just maintain my strength, maintain my body conditioningÖIím not going to improve much more than where Iím at. So for me itís all maintaining and keeping everything sharp.
"We do circuit training, doing maybe 10 or 12 exercises in a row. We do five to seven minutes of strictly lifting weights, for about three rounds. It helps keep my muscle tone and my strength up. In the off season Iíll hit some heavy weights to keep my strength and power up. And I do core training with surgical tubing every so often if I feel like Iím aching or some of my muscles are too sore.
"You can put waist bands on with the surgical tubing and you can do shot drills, wrist control, throws, and all kinds of things using the tubing. If you hook it up to the wall, you can do shot exercises. There are a lot of different techniques you can do with it."
UFC48 - Shamrock vs Kimo.
Ken, for your upcoming fight, what are you expecting from Rich Franklin?
"Heís not going to change anything. Itís got him to this point. Heís done very well, so I think heís going to stick to his game planÖwhat heís done well, with being active, pressing the fight, looking for his openings, and not getting over-excited one way or another.
"I expect to see the same things from him that Iíve seen in his other fights. Iím looking forward to meeting him in the ring and getting it on."
Would you prefer it to be a standing or ground fight?
"Well, itís not going to matter to me. I think itís going to depend on where he wants it. Iíve been doing this for a long time and Iíve learnt that you canít plan on one thing or another to happen, or want things to go one way or another. Youíve got to be willing to do it all. And thatís what Iím going to do. Wherever itís at, thatís where Iíll be."
How do you think you guys stack up strength- and conditioning-wise?
"I think, strength-wise, heís a lot stronger than he looks, but I still believe I have an edge on him. Conditioning-wise, itís three rounds, five minutes, so I donít think thatís going to play a factor."
So because youíll both be so fit, it will be too short a fight for stamina to be a decider?
"Yeah. For three 5-minute rounds weíll both be Ďin ití. His Jiu Jitsu is definitely better than mine because I donít do Jiu Jitsu. My submission game, Iím very good at that, so I donít believe he has anything on me there. Also, as for my striking ability, Iíve learnt so much over the past years that I think my striking is as good as, if not better than his. And I think I possess more power in my strikes."
How are you going to win this fight?
"I donít know. Itís one of those fights that has to fold out. Rich Franklin has fought a lot. Heís won in UFC by a submission and by two knockouts, so I donít really understand how he intends winning this fight, but Iím going to bring everything. Iím going to bring punches, kicks, knees, submissionsÖAnd weíll see how it folds out."
So, just whatever does the job at the time?
"Thatís where Iíll be."
EXCITING NEW TIMES FOR THE LIONíS DEN
Ken, is there anything youíd like to add?
"Yeah, that weíve just bought five acres up in Susanville, which is up by Reno, Nevada, but on the California side of the mountains. Weíre opening a Lionís Den training center there, where we are going to be getting fighters from all over the world to come train. And we will house six fighters. Our tryouts will be in July 2005.
"We havenít set an exact date on that, but interested people can get more information from www.kenshamrock.com. And we will house them for 12 months. During that year, we will be getting them fights in events that I will be holding at Diamond Mount Casino in Susanville. Then after theyíve done that for a year, I will manage their careers and get them big fights."
But this doesnít mean you wonít continue to compete?
"No. No. No. It means that Iíve got myself in a good position - where I need to be, physically and mentally - for my fights, and now I can actually train and still coach fighters. I have this five-acre ranch which weíre going to build the training facility on. Iíll be training there and weíll also have new talent come up there, stay in the living quarters, and weíll be training them also."
KEN BLASTS BACK
© Marc Wickert
All photos copyright 2004 Zuffa
"Last time I beat him in two minutes. This time Iíll beat him in ten. Either way, Iíll beat him." Ė Ken Shamrock speaking prior to his battle with Kimo at UFC 48: PayBack.
These two warriors of the Octagon first locked horns at UFC 8: David v Goliath on February 16, 1996, when Shamrock defeated Kimo Leopoldo by kneebar. So UFC 48 was a chance for Kimo to settle the score when he faced Ken on June 19, 2004.
But Kimoís revenge was not to be. This time around, Shamrock was victorious in just 1.26 seconds. And although Ken was surprised to seal the fight so early into the bout, he believed all along the match would be his.
"Absolutely, I was happy with the result. Any time you can get something like thatÖHe made a mistake and I made him pay for it. Finding the victory just makes my career last a bit longer,í laughs Shamrock.
And like everything he does, Ken celebrated his victory BIG time. "I went out with my family. It was the first time my kids have actually been to a UFC fight, and it was a great outcome, so we all went out to dinner. We sat around. There were about 50 of us, including members of the Lionís Den, who are part of my family. And we had a wonderful time."
Shamrock and Leopoldo are two of the most intense competitors in UFC, so it wasnít surprising when the fight went to action stations the moment the bout started. And Ken, who was two stone lighter at weigh-in, expected this would be the case. "Kimo and I are both pretty aggressive. ĎLetís do it. Ring the bell.í I knew that he would come out and throw and press first, trying to use his weight against me. So it all went the way I expected it to go, except that I didnít think he would make a mistake that early."
At UFC 45, Ken Shamrock was inducted into UFCís Hall of Fame and voted UFCís second most popular fighter despite coming off a loss to Tito Ortiz and being absent from the Octagon for some time. At UFC 48, the fans showed their support for Ken again.
"It was explosive, and when they announced me the crowd popped. That always helps me get fired up. Itís exciting. You know, you work hard to get there and then you appreciate it all the more. Everythingís all the better."
Ken says seeing Kimo weigh in two stone heavier the day before the fight didnít faze him at all. Shamrock has always been one of the strongest fighters in MMA Ė regardless of his weight Ė and he knew he would be able to match Kimoís strength and fitness level.
"I didnít get to test my fitness against Kimoís, but I did get to test my strength against his. He tried to take me down and I double under-hooked him, and just lifted him right up. So my strength was there. I was in better shape than he was, without a doubt. We spent some time just hand fighting and he slowed down. I wasnít close to slowing down. Man, I wasnít tired. I didnít even sweat. It was kind of a warm-up for me. But you donít really test your fitness until the second round. Thatís when you get to challenge an opponentís fitness."
There was never a doubt in Shamrockís mind that the fight would be his. And at UFC 47, Ken stated that the fight with Kimo was just a stepping stone for some business he had to take care of. "Thereís no way that Kimo could beat me. Thereís no way that anyone can beat me in my current shape. And, yes, I was referring to Tito."
Exactly when the Shamrock v Tito II bout will take place is undecided, but Ken is still very keen for the rematch. "Iím not sure when UFC want it to happen, but UFC 49 is the next one, right? So UFC 50 will be in October. I know thereís talk, but you never know until the contractís signed.
"Thereís a dispute over what weight we should fight at. Everybody wants us to fight at heavyweight, because thatís the weight I fight at. Last time we fought, I went down to his weight. This time they want him to fight at my weight, but Tito says he will not do that. He will only fight me at 205."
Will Ken go down to light heavyweight? "If thatís what Iíve gotta do to fight Tito."
If Shamrock does fight at UFC 50 he will be in the unique position of being one of only two men who could have fought at both UFC 1 and UFC 50. The other person being Royce Gracie. "The others from UFC 1 are all gone. And thereís one thing about me: I will take on anybody the UFC wants me to fight. And if they change the rules, Iíll still fight by their rules. But Royce wants to choose who he fights and the rules he fights by."
At forty years, there are no signs of Ken slowing down, and like Randy Couture (forty-one years), who will be fighting Vitor Belfort at UFC 49: Unfinished Business, these athletes are doing more than MMA. They are pioneers testing the limits of the human body: the Chuck Yeagers of fitness and fighting.
"Yeah, I think Iím pushing the boundaries. But as long as you feel good and your mind can train hard for a fight, and you can still compete, then why not do it? You know there are no rules that say, ĎHey, you know what? When you turn forty you done fighting.í
"And when I am done fighting, Iíll be a big part of UFC history. But Iím going to keep training, and when my body breaks, then Iíll know. My mind is strong, my recoveryís fine. Iím doing all the right things to keep where I need to be. So Iíll keep fighting. I guess when I quit fighting Iíll look back on it and go ĎOuch!í But right now I donít have time for that," laughs Ken.
Shamrockís father Bob is always at ringside for Kenís fights, and Bob was delighted with the outcome of the fight with Kimo. "Oh, I think it was the proudest night of his life. It seems like everyone gets better and better, so it was nice to have him there and being able to have my family there. And because it was the very first one my kids had been to: Theyíve seen me on TV, but theyíd never been to the real fight. And it was the night before Fatherís Day, so I dedicated the fight to my Dad. He was pretty excited about it," says Ken.
Ken, is there anything youíd like to add to this interview?
"I just want to say that every time I enter the Octagon to fight, the fans are just a BIG, BIG part of my success. When I walk out and they pop like that, itís like, ĎIím okay. Iím all right. You guys are with me and Iím going to turn it on.í I just want to make sure they know that I appreciate them. I do. Because I do hear it, and I do recognize it, and I do appreciate it."
For more on Ken Shamrock - www.kenshamrock.com
For more on UFC 49: Unfinished Business Ė www.ufc.tv
To order Kenís brilliant book: Inside the Lionís Den Ė www.kenshamrock.com
© Marc Wickert
All photos copyright 2004
UFC 48: Payback promises to be a huge night for Mixed Martial Arts fans on Saturday June 19, 2004. And heading the card are two MMA legends: Ken Shamrock and Kimo Leopoldo.
Shamrock, a veteran of UFC I: The Beginning, November 12, 1993, previously defeated Kimo on February 16,1996 at UFC VIII: David and Goliath, when the Octagon travelled down to San Juan, Puerto Rico. During his Super Fight Championship defence, Ken was determined to dominate Kimo with a leg submission, and refused to dip into his extensive bag of strike or choke techniques. Keeping to his game plan, Shamrock defeated Leopoldo by way of a leg submission in just over four minutes.
Born February 11, 1964, in Georgia where he spent the first four years of his life, Ken Shamrock then relocated to California and eventually took up wrestling at Lassen High School under his father Bob Shamrockís advice. Instantly Bob and the coaches realised Ken was a natural.
"I started doing some wrestling and submissions, and really liked it. I got into competitions and knew I had to learn more striking and kicking, and I just enjoyed the first classes I took. I kept excelling and looking for more to do. I got involved in Mixed Martial Arts just through the love of it," says Shamrock.
Ken then pioneered the way for other American fighters to compete on the Japanese Pancrase circuit, and he became the first American to defeat the Japanese champions. As a result of his outstanding success in Pancrase and due to his competing at PRIDE, Shamrock was treated like royalty in Japan, and became something of a MMA hero worldwide.
"I had a really good reputation throughout Japan and I captured the first King of Pancrase belt before the Japanese or anybody else. I was the first champion. I accomplished a lot over there and I was a fan favourite. Then I came back to America where I live and started fighting here. And I did very well in the UFC, so thatís how I got a pretty good following: through competing and doing well."
Ken Shamrockís army of fans has stayed loyal over the years and his contribution to his sport has been appreciated by the MMA industry. At UFC 45: Revolution, both Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie were inducted into UFCís Hall of Fame. On the same night Ken was voted second to Randy Couture in the Peopleís Choice Top 10 poll, despite Shamrockís absence from the Octagon for so long.
Was Ken pleased by the support? "Absolutely! Iíve been doing this since the very first UFC, and then three years prior to that I was over in Japan, so Iíve been doing this for about 15 years. And to stay as a fan favourite that long is quite an honour. Randy Couture was voted number one and he recently fought three times, and had great wins over Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. So obviously heís going to be fresh in the peopleís minds. And I had just lost to Tito, and yet I was still voted number two. That just goes to show you the fans appreciate the things Iíve done over the years."
Ken says his Pancrase background gave him a solid foundation for competing in UFC. "If you follow the UFCs from the first one up until now, probably the first ten, submission skills were something nobody really understood. So the only ones who did well and understood submissions were Royce Gracie and myself. We were taking down guys 40 and 60 pounds heavier. We were able to submit them. There were a lot of strikers and kickers and we were able to take them out of their game and submit them.
"We were the first two real grapplers. Royce was choking and arm barring, and I was doing knee bars and ankle locks. I took the first UFC for granted. I didnít think anyone else knew submissions, and I thought what I did was only being done by people in Japan. Royce caught me with the gi Ė something I didnít understand Ė and after I got caught in a choke with the gi I started studying it and understanding it. And I went back for a return match with Royce (UFC 5: Return of the Beast, April 7, 1995) and I beat him down for 36 minutes. They carried him out of the ring."
Ken doesnít hold high hopes for a rematch with Royce Gracie in the near future, although he would gladly welcome the challenge. "You know, that would be a nice thing to happen. But Royce Gracie, I donít believe will ever take the fight. He wants to fight by his rules and only his rules. And then he wants people to cut weight, you know he wants to control the rules and the match. I go in and I fight by the rules wherever Iím at. And Royce Gracie doesnít do that. He fights under the rules HE makes."
In Ken Shamrockís book, Inside the Lionís Den, he states that it is important for a shooter to rough an opponent up with strikes before taking the fight to the ground: A theory he still maintains. "I think you have to land shots. And if you donít land shots, youíve got to get them to throw. Either you or they have to be throwing punches in order to take away the focus of the takedown."
For the rematch against Kimo Leopoldo at UFC 48, Ken says he will not be looking back at his previous bout with Kimo, because he believes Kimo will be a totally different fighter, having improved his Jiu Jitsi and striking techniques. But Ken adds that it makes for a great match.
"What I think he will do is apply the same philosophy Iíve taught people over the years: to press the fight and wait for them to open up, and then go for the takedown and the clinch. And I think thatís what heíll do. Heíll press; heíll come forward; heíll throw big, strong punches and wait for me to throw back, and then heíll try to clinch.
"Strength for strength, heís not going to overpower me, nor will I overpower him. Our strengths will be even. But what I think this fight comes down to is conditioning, and my skill levelÖ Iíve been doing this a long time and somebodyís going to make a mistake, and itís not going to be me. Kimoís been doing it for quite a long time, but heís been learning as he goes along. Heís been getting better, but when it gets to the ground, my skill level is much better than his."
Shamrock suggests his fitness level will be much better than Leopoldoís, expecting Kimo to be carrying far too much size. "Heíll come in probably too big and be tired in the second round."
Ken hopes his bout with Kimo will be followed by Shamrock v Ortiz II. But was Ken surprised to see Chuck Liddell defeat Tito Ortiz?
"I was surprised to see Chuck defeat Tito like that. I thought Tito made a mistake in thinking he could cover up, because he got poked in the eye. I saw him squinting. I was sitting ringside, and he covered up trying to get his vision back, instead of shooting on Chuck and trying to take him down. And then if he missed the takedown, just falling to his back, because then heís not getting hit.
"Chuck didnít want it on the ground, and if Tito did take it there, Chuck would have been in Titoís guard where Titoís well versed, and heíd have been able to hold Chuck off in his guard. But Tito backed up against the fence and tried to recover standing up instead of while heís on his back where he gets a couple of extra seconds to recover without getting punched."
Does Ken have a prediction for his appointment with Kimo at UFC 48?
"Oh no, no no. That just gets you in trouble, man," laughs Shamrock. "That just gets you in trouble. But I can predict, if Kimo comes out and heís in good shape, then it should be an explosive fight. It should be a good fight, and Iím looking forward to it. And I hope he does come out in great shape, because itís only going to make for a better match."
One thing is for sure, on Saturday, June 19, 2004, Bob Shamrock will be at ringside in the front row, and thereíll be no mistaking where his support lies.
For more on Ken Shamrock: www.kenshamrock.com
For more on UFC 48: Pay Back! www.ufc.tv