by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Frank Shamrock answered a lot of questions long-time mixed martial arts enthusiasts had concerning his fighting ability against today’s fighters, and gave newer fans to the sport a glimpse into the mystic that is Frank Shamrock, when he dispatched of hard hitting Phil Baroni at the co-promoted Strikeforce and EliteXC event Friday night in San Jose, Calif.
Shamrock, now sporting the moniker ‘The Legend,’ nearly finished Baroni with strikes in the first round before choking ‘The New York Bad Ass’ out with a Rear Naked Choke in round two.
Following the fight the focus shifted to Shamrock’s knee injury suffered while training with Thierry Sokoudjou two weeks before the event. The thirty-four year old former UFC champion told MMAWeekly, “I tore my ACL and MCL, and partially tore my meniscus which apparently is really bad. I probably shouldn’t be walking around, but I just put that big brace on it and kept on going.”
Asked if surgery would be needed to correct the injury, Shamrock said, “I think so. We’re going to wait until the swelling goes down, and then we’re going to look at it. I’ve got like three opinions and two of the three are saying we need to get some tendons and give them to me.”
Frank added, “They said don’t do anything for a week, and no contact sports, and then they’ll look at it. They think I’m a mutant, and I may have torn my ACL years ago, and it may have just never existed. Same with the MCL. They just don’t seem to know, but they’re going to have to scope it I think.”
Pre-fight injuries affect the fighters physically, that goes without saying, but how it affects them mentally is rarely mentioned. “I was worried about the kicking because it hurt when I kicked, and that’s usually not good… I was worried about my cardio because I knew I wasn’t going to last that long.”
Shamrock continued, “I knew it would drain me, and I knew there would be a point where my body would go anaerobic and crash, and I sort of just have to deal with it then. But my theory was that I could damage him more by then, and hopefully I’d be able to finish him even slow and kind of burned out a little bit.”
The hype surrounding the match-up was largely fueled by the Internet. There were comments posted on various forums by Baroni, and videos on YouTube.com by Shamrock. It was billed as the classic grudge match, but Shamrock said the feud with Baroni is over.
“I talked to him. It sounded like it was pretty much done. Phil’s a stand up guy. He made a challenge and we stepped up, threw down and fought it out.”
Despite the online hype and pre-fight smack talk, Baroni gained the respect of Shamrock in the cage. “I knew he’d fight until the end. Phil’s a warrior man. I mean Phil proved to me, I thought I would destroy Phil, and he proved to me that he’s one of the toughest guys in MMA. He’s got the toughest jaw I’ve ever seen, and he’s got meat hooks on his hands. I think he came out huge on this, and my head is misshapened and swollen from getting punched.”
Frank went on to say, “He’s a brawler. He’s a power puncher. He’s got incredibly heavy hands. I think he’s got the heaviest hands in MMA. His strength is that he’ll do it. He’s not good at it, but he’ll do it, and that’s dangerous. He smacked me a bunch of good times. I’ve never hit anybody in MMA that hard on the chin that many times and they not go down.”
Shamrock had his way in the opening round, dropping Baroni with a three punch combination, but shortly after was deducted a point for striking Phil in the back of the head, the same infraction that resulted in a disqualification loss to Renzo Gracie earlier this year.
When asked about the illegal blows, Frank replied, “I was surprised when they stopped me because I didn’t realize I was hitting him in the back of the head. I was like, wow. What? Sorry. But as soon as he said it I was like, you know, I was hitting him in the back of the head. Part of me struggles with the fighting because I know that that’s how you damage people. And what’s he doing with his head down there? My brain just goes to it. I know the rules, but sometimes the excitement of the moment… I know where I’m hitting him, but sometimes in the flow you kind of forget.”
With the Phil Baroni match out of the way Frank Shamrock sets his sights on a rematch with Renzo Gracie. Frank commented, “As soon as my knee heals up I want to take care of Renzo. I’ll do that one in quick, dramatic fashion… It’s definitely a grudge match. There’s controversy.”
Gracie officially accepted Shamrock’s challenge on MMAWeekly Radio, but the question remains where would the fight take place? Both are coaches in the IFL. Both have fought in EliteXC and Shamrock is a staple in the Strikeforce promotion.
Shamrock boasted, “I’ll go wherever I want to go and where I’m most comfortable going, but I want to fight Renzo. It doesn’t matter where. Where ever we can get it done. It doesn’t matter where.”