– MMAWeekly Radio – Transcribed by Jeff Cain
Friday night San Jose’s HP Pavilion will play host to the first sanctioned Mixed Martial Arts event in the state of California since the sport was legalized there in December of last year. Frank Shamrock and Cesar Gracie headline the thirteen bout card that also features Cung Le’s MMA debut, Josh ‘The Punk’ Thomson vs Clayton Guida, Gilbert Melendez vs Harris Sarmiento, the return of Eugene Jackson against Jorge Ortiz, and Mike Kyle vs Krzysztof ‘The Experiment’ Soszynski.
It has been nearly three years since Frank Shamrock has walked through the cage door to compete in MMA. It was March 27th, 2003 against Bryan Pardoe at WEC 6: ‘Return of a legend.’ On the eve of weigh-ins for his second return to fighting, Shamrock spoke with MMAWeekly Radio about finally having the opportunity to fight a Gracie, the Shamrock and Gracie feud, and his future fighting plans. MMAWeekly Radio host, Ryan Bennett, and co-host, Frank Trigg, asked the questions while Shamrock, never at a loss for words, made some interesting statements.
Ryan Bennett: What is going on?
Frank Shamrock: Well, I’m old and I’m tired, but I’m still kicking.
Bennett: I’m on the Central Coast in San Luis Obispo, and at night I can pick up KNBR out of San Francisco. I always listen to that show at night, get my daily sports talk, and bang, here comes Frank on the show.
Shamrock: They’re big supporters, big fans, those KNBR guys.
Bennett: What I found interesting was you were talking on that show a little bit about Martial Arts, and I think you made a great point. The guys were saying what about the people that say MMA is too violent. It is the standard question we get all the time, anybody in the MMA industry, and you basically said, look, high school football is more dangerous than MMA. Talk a little bit about what you were talking about with that.
Shamrock: Well, it is the truth. If you look statistically at a bunch of sports, heck if you look at cheerleading, cheerleading is more dangerous than MMA. It is just their simple easy soapbox for everybody to climb up on and preach to because it has a lot of violence in it. The perception of violence is very high. Realistically and statistically the actual violence or injury rate is really low.
Bennett: I agree. I thought it was an interesting point. You say you’re old. How old are you now?
Shamrock: Nah. I’m only 33.
Bennett: Are you serious?
Shamrock: I am.
Bennett: It only seems like you’re 37. [laughs]
Shamrock: I know. Oh, I play the old card because when I started, I was the youngest guy ever and everyone was older than I was. But now the tides have kind of turned and I’m like the almost old guy.
Bennett: 33. Man. You’ve still got a lot in the tank.
Shamrock: Man, I’ve still got six or seven years if I wanted.
Bennett: Let me ask you, what do you want to do? You’ve got Cesar Gracie on the table. I hear Japan wants you. What is going on? What is your thought process for this upcoming year of 2006?
Shamrock: Honestly, I’m not looking past this one moment in this one fight, but I have been approached by everybody under the sun. I’m mainly interested in doing something good for myself and doing something good for the sport and taking care of my family. I want to do business with people who want to support the sport and do right by the athletes and the talent. I’m a free-agent. I’m going to remain a free-agent, and I’m going to be my own business man, do my own deals. Anybody who wants to do business with me and wants to do business under those terms, I’m going to do business with them.
Bennett: Are you fighting at 185 for this fight?
Shamrock: I am.
Bennett: I want to throw a couple of names at you since you watch the sport and see what is going on. What are your impressions of Rich Franklin at 185?
Shamrock: Rich Franklin. Great hair and very, very talented.
Bennett: Let me throw you another name. Dan Henderson at 185?
Shamrock: Dan Henderson. Bad hair, very, very tough.
Bennett: Who is better Rich Franklin or Dan Henderson?
Shamrock: Um, I would say Rich Franklin.
Bennett: Really, why?
Shamrock: Yea. I would say that Rich Franklin is a better athlete. I don’t think it is so much about styles anymore. I think it is now about the professional athlete.
Bennett: Interesting. What would happen if Rich Franklin fought Frank Shamrock later in 2006?
Shamrock: Um, I’d have better hair. That is a given. I would crush him in the hair department. It is something that I would really have to get in shape for. There are very few people stylistically that I have any trouble fighting, but conditioning wise, strength wise, and endurance wise; that is a battle unto itself. But I could whoop Rich Franklin. I’m not concerned about that. I just don’t want him falling on me because he is a lot bigger than I am I think.
Bennett: He is a big dude.
Shamrock: He’s a big boy. Now is the time, it has flipped in the last couple of years that the professional athlete and the professional Martial Artist have taken over.
Frank Trigg: Frank, what is your natural weight walking around? What are you walking around at right now?
Shamrock: Natural weight, I weight 191 pounds. I weighed it today. I weighed it yesterday, the day before, and I weighed it for every single fight I’ve ever fought except for when I did kickboxing at which point I actually made 183 pounds.
Trigg: He and I are the same size then.
Shamrock: Yea, but I have better hair.
Trigg: We should do a Frank Shamrock and Frank Trigg fight.
Bennett: What do you think of Frank Trigg’s hair, speaking of hair?
Shamrock: Well, I have better hair. I just told you.
Trigg: Let me tell you something right now Frankie. If you and I ever fought, which I would love to have a fight with you. I think it would be great. I think it would be a high quality great fight. Two world class athletes out there banging it out, I think it would be a great competition. I would love to knock that out someday, but I absolutely know that it would be the best looking fight ever.
Shamrock: [laughs] Well there it is. And I love the title. It could be Frank and Frank.
Trigg: Yep. Frank and Frank being Frank.
Shamrock: That would be strong.
Bennett: We could do a hair vs hair match.
Trigg: That would be great.
Shamrock: They still do that in pro-wrestling.
Bennett: They do man. I’m telling you. We could work that out.
Trigg: I would love that.
Shamrock: I would love that too Frank. All right Frank.
Trigg: I have to tell you what. I think it would be a great fight for everyone involved. The sponsors would get so much money they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. The place would sell out. And it would be two guys that would have dinner together the night of the fight and then buy drinks for each other the night after. It would be great.
Bennett: Cesar Gracie, this is a fight we’ve been waiting for, for years. It is funny. I feel like I’ve been a part of this whole thing. I saw this happening at WEC. I saw it happen at Rumble on the Rock, and now I get to call it Friday night. It is only appropriate. Tell me about this long wait. It has been a crazy time and this fight is finally happening.
Shamrock: It has been a long time. And you know what? It just took me awhile to put it together, but now we’ve got it together. Honestly, I thought the guy would never fight me. I called him years ago and said are you sure? Is this something you want to do? Blah, blah, blah, blah. And he said absolutely, so it has been a long time coming. It took a lot of effort, but it’s here. I’m excited about it.
Bennett: For those who may not know, how did this get started and how did we get to this point?
Shamrock: How did we get here? I believe, if I remember correctly, that I was on vacation in Hawaii and I got an email from one of my students. He said that Cesar Gracie was posting a challenge online and he was interested in fighting me. And I thought, wow. Here is my chance to finally fight a Gracie, and who the hell is Cesar Gracie? So I got home, I rang the guy up and got him on the phone and asked him if this was real or if this was just and internet thingamajig? He said, no. It is very real. I would love to fight you, and I think that I can beat you. I said, well Mr. Gracie, if you are serious about that then I will start working and I will make this fight happen. I’ll raise the money. I’ll put it together. Tell me what you need. It took me two and a half years, and I got it done.
Trigg: You haven’t been fighting in awhile. One of the things that you always worry about is ring rust. Is that going to be a concern for you fighting a guy who has never fought before, or is ring rust still going to be a factor and there is still going to be a little feeling out period the first couple of minutes of the first round?
Shamrock: I think timing and confidence is always an issue. You know, if you’re not banging it up every day then you’re just not going to have the same snap that you normally would. But luckily, I bang it up every day. I train every single day of my life. I teach every single day of my life, and I train the team every single day, so I feel very confident going into this. I feel very confident with my standup, with my ground. I did a wrestling match in November in Japan and I have the absolute time of my life getting back in the ring and throwing punches and kicks and playing stupid strategies. I realized that I love fighting. I love to get in there and celebrate my arts by whacking someone over the head. And I’m just excited to finally do it and quit training because I’ve been training for this fight forever.
Bennett: Who have you been training with to get you ready for this fight?
Shamrock: I brought in my old team. I brought in Maurice Smith. He has been with me for about five weeks now. I brought in my old wrestling coach, Eric Duce. I brought him back in. I hired a strength and conditioning coach, Joe Sarte. I did kettle-bell training for this one, which I don’t know if you ever did kettle-bell training, but man that is some serious work.
Bennett: Talk about that. What is that?
Shamrock: Kettle-bells are those, it is a Russian strength and conditioning workout, and they’re these Russian kettle-bells. It looks like a big ball, a steel ball with a steel handle on it. It is all these funky, crazy body movements that you do while balancing and controlling this ball. It is very core oriented. It is very balance specific. I can tell you, after about three weeks the density of my muscles had honestly increased by about 50%. I gained five pounds of muscle, which for me, I haven’t gained weight for eight years. I’ve immediately tacked on muscle. I’ve never felt stronger. That was wild. I brought my old chiropractic team back in. I got my old masseur back fired up again, and I hired a cardiovascular coach from San Jose State University.
Bennett: Sounds like you’re in shape man.
Shamrock: Well, I did my homework, and I got myself together. I was real serious about this. I don’t take any fight lightly, but a fight of this caliber and it was something that I wanted to do. There is not much more for me to do in the sport, but fighting a Gracie and setting this whole Shamrock and Gracie thing straight and setting the Martial Arts community right once again is something I’ve always wanted to do. I think the Gracies have been lying to everyone for years. I think they’ve been living on this marketing crap for a long, long time and the truth needs to be told. And I’m more than happy to tell it.
Bennett: When you say that, are you talking about basically through the beginning of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), through Royce Gracie, they’re living off that?
Shamrock: Well I mean, what no one realizes is Rorion Gracie started the UFC. The UFC was a promotional vehicle to sell video tapes for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. This is what nobody realizes. It just accidently turned into a sport and accidently turned into a money making pay-per-view entity which accidently turned into a television show. It was never supposed to be anything more than a promotional vehicle to put over Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. That’s why Rorion Gracie trademarked the name. That is why the whole thing was set up. It just turned out that the American athletes are far superior to anybody else and they took over the sport. And now it is a real sport.
Bennett: I can hear this Shamrock and Gracie rivalry in your voice.
Trigg: Yea, a little bit.
Shamrock: [laughs] Well, I know the truth. The whole thing is, I’ve been around since the very beginning. I was at UFC 1, and I believed all the hype, and I believed all the BS. I’ve traveled to these schools all across the United States teaching Martial Arts. The truth is a lot of these Martial Artists have been taught purposely wrong so that they Gracies could continue their dominating style of Jiu-Jitsu. But a lot of it is BS. A lot of it is crap. I don’t think that is right. If you’re teaching something your job is to teach the best that you have and make the people the best that you can make them. Anyway, I just know the truth and I’m excited about setting the record straight.
Bennett: Whose Jiu-Jitsu is better? Is it yours, or is it Cesar’s?
Shamrock: I would say Cesar’s Jiu-Jitsu is probably better. I don’t really practice Jiu-Jitsu. I have this unique style called anti-Jiu-Jitsu.
Bennett: So what is that?
Shamrock: It is everything Jiu-Jitsu is not: kicking, punching, countering the guard, leg lockin, cart wheelin, head stompin. Everything Jiu-Jitsu wishes it had, I have it.
Bennett: You know Frank, it has been interesting to see what has gone on in the past year and a half, two years in MMA. I know you had a brutal feud with the UFC, so did Tito Ortiz, so did BJ Penn. We say Tito come back. We saw BJ Penn come back. Is there any way you would come back to the UFC?
Shamrock: Yes. For ten million dollars and 50% ownership of that company, I would gladly come back to the UFC. Other than that, they can kiss my ass.
Bennett: Wow. Why?
Shamrock: Because, you know, when they first bought the UFC they flew me down there and they gave me the wine and roses suite and all of that. They told me how they were going to change the sport and told me how they were going to protect the athlete, and gave me all of this song and dance so I would sign a contract with them. My thought was I’ll wait and see. I’ll wait and see how they treat people and how they work it. And then immediately they did exactly the opposite, and immediately they started cutting people and treating people wrong. I mean they wouldn’t give me tickets to a fight at the UFC when I broke with a meeting between them and K-1 as I’m trying to grow the sport. Dana [White] and Lorenzo [Fertitta] lied to my face and said you know what? It is completely sold out. You can’t buy tickets. I’m sorry. There is nothing we can do for you. We walked right outside and bought six $350 ringside tickets. They are in it for the money. They don’t care about anybody else. Dana White is an egomaniac Uncle Fester looking knucklehead, and those are the people I don’t want in my life. And I am in a very blessed position, and I don’t have to do any business with them. They can’t touch me. And I don’t care.
Bennett: You didn’t pull any punches there. You sounded like Frank Trigg for a second there.
Shamrock: [laughs] Frank and Frank, I’m telling you. The heat is there.
Trigg: Here is the deal. This is the problem and I’ve spoken with Frank about this before. The problem with most of these promotions is there is no loyalty to their fighters. If they don’t think their fighter is going to get one more seat, one more butt in the seat more than what they are paying them, they don’t want them around. If they don’t think the guy is going to toll the line and do exactly what they say, they don’t want him around. A lot of promotions are like that. They will cut you in a minute. They want you to do everything for them. They’ll promise you the world and then if you have a couple of bad times or a couple of lackluster performances, even if you win, they’ll still release you. It is very difficult now for a lot of fighters, especially with a lot of shows out there, to go well I could make a lot of money over here, but I could almost make the same amount of money over here and not have any headaches, so why would I go to organization B and have all the headache when I could just go with organization A and do what I want when I want and how I please and live my life the way I wan to and be me the whole time?
Bennett: Frank, tell me how this fight is going to go. How do you see this fight going?
Shamrock: You know, I honestly don’t know. My goal is to punch him in the head a few times, put the fear of God into him, and then put him away. I don’t know how it’s going to go. I can tell you how I want it. I can tell you what I’m prepared for, and that is just to beat the crap out of the guy. On a good night, I’ll be in there at 9 o’clock and I’ll be out at 9:05. We’ll be having our banquet afterwards.
Bennett: Will this fight be on pay-per-view?
Shamrock: It will not be on pay-per-view. We skipped pay-per-view to be the first legalized show in the state of California. It will show on Fox Sports Net, 50 million homes, thirty days after the event. There will be a delayed pay-per-view and you can check everything out at www.frankshamrock.com where you get all the real info.
Bennett: There you go. I appreciated it Frank. Always good to track you down. I’ll see you at weigh-ins. Weigh-ins are Thursday at what time?
Shamrock: Thursday at 7 o’clock at the Crown Plaza downtown San Jose. I’ll be there lean and mean, and hopefully you can bring Frank Trigg with you and we can pump that Frank and Frank fight.
Bennett: No kidding. Trigg, you’ve got to get up to San Jose on Thursday and Friday.
Trigg: I can’t.
Bennett: Dude, come on.
Trigg: Dude, I’ve got a fight in a month. I can’t be out there watching anybody else’s fight. I’ve got a training schedule to handle.
Shamrock: What about commentary?
Bennett: Yea, what about commentating? Come on. Trigg, he is inviting you to commentate.
Trigg: Dude. Dude. Call me.
Bennett: Frank, good talking to you. I’ll see you at the weigh-ins.
Shamrock: All right. Thanks guys.