Very few fighters have the honor of being called legend by fans, critics and other mixed martial artists. Frank Shamrock is one person that has proven himself as an ambassador for the sport and is considered possibly the greatest MMA fighter of all time. He was a 5 time defending champion in the UFC and fought in one of the most spectacular matches when he took on perennial bad boy, Tito Ortiz. Now, Shamrock makes his comeback to the world of MMA when he takes on Cesar Gracie at the HP Pavillion in San Jose, California on October 1st. Shamrock sat down for an interview with MMAWeekly to give his thoughts to the fight and his future in MMA.
MMAWeekly: The fight is finally signed with Cesar Gracie on October 1st, what finally brought this fight to happen?
Frank Shamrock: Business. I made the deal happen, it just took a while. Everybody talks money and everyone talks a big talk, but that’s a considerable chunk of money, to make something like that happen, so it took a while. I tried with a couple of people and they weren’t able to put it together, moneywise, whatever. But we finally got it together. We had some help from HP Pavillion and actually the city of San Jose came in and they’re going to help promote the fight, and make it a hometown battle.
MMAWeekly: How do you see this fight going? Do you see it as a stand-up fight or do you just kind of play with it and the flow of the match?
Frank Shamrock: Well, you know, I do whatever happens. I’m a complete fighter. I know his desire is to get me to the ground, I just plan on beating the crap out of him. I was a professional kickboxer for a minute and I love to stand-up, I love all fighting arts. I don’t think he’ll ever get me down and if he does, I’m going to beat the crap out of him there as well. I know all the styles, I know the game, I’m an old dog. He’s a young guy.
MMAWeekly: When this fight happens, is this a personal grudge or is it all business?
Frank Shamrock: For me it’s all business. I don’t care, I mean for me I’ve never had a grudge except for John Lober back in the day, but for me it’s all business.
MMAWeekly: So this is his (Cesar Gracie) first fight in MMA, he’s trained a lot of fighters, but he has never fought, how do you think that’s going to play into his gameplan?
Frank Shamrock: Psychologically, I don’t think he’ll be prepared for what’s about to happen, and unless you’ve done it, you can’t say you’ve done, you can’t experience it. I think inexperience is really going to hurt him. I know he’s got competition, but that doesn’t prepare you for getting punched in the head. If they haven’t done it, they haven’t done it. That’s why it’s a joke, he’s going to challenge me to a fight? I’m going to crush you. That’s just silly. I’ve been waiting my whole career to fight a Gracie, and I don’t care where I start. I’ll start with this one, if the other ones want to fight, that’s just fine. You know, whoever.
MMAWeekly: Your school and training center are open now, how’s that going so far?
Frank Shamrock: Our gym is exploding, I always thought that it would, but it truly has. We’ve got people coming from as far as South Africa. I got guys coming here and we’re going to rebuild the team, our student base is really strong, our amateur team, we just started an amateur team. We’ve got 9 people already on our amateur team. It’s like we finally have a home. Everything is just coming together like I thought it would. I’m so happy, I love going to the gym, and my training is fantastic. I just finished training Brian Ebersole for the Strikeforce event in San Jose against Cung Le, and he did so good, he just did so good! He not only took the fight, but he kicked the crap out of Cung Le. Cung thought he was going to have an easy night, he came in a little out of shape, and boy Brian put a whoopin’ on him.
MMAWeekly: The fight with Cesar Gracie is on October 1st, having this much time between now and the fight and your training, are you going to wait and really focus about 2 months before the fight or how are you planning on training?
Frank Shamrock: You know I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and I’ve been planning this for a long time. I am going to build myself and my body up strong, and really focus on raw strength, and then I’m going to train myself for a fight, like I do for all my fights. I’m going to take two weeks off go to Jamaica, get married, relax, I’m going to comeback and train for the fight. When I trained to fight Tito, I inadvertently peaked about 4 weeks out, my body was ready to fight about 4 weeks before the fight. I was ready to fight and I still had 4 more weeks. So I basically took 10 days off and did nothing, I just rested and relaxed and reset my mind, then went back to the gym for 2 weeks of training, and I trained myself again. That mental break, that physical break, the psychological break, all that stuff, had me so charged and so ready to fight. I was already ready to fight, and I’m going to do that for this fight. Fighting Tito was the peak of my mind, body and spirit, and my body was just retardedly strong. All the things, my spirit, my technique, all of them were clicking that day, and I think this time I can even double that. The knowledge that I have, what I do everyday. Most people go back to whatever they do, I go back and I study the arts. I study the body. Focus on my nutrition. I see the body as the ultimate fighting machine.
MMAWeekly: What would it take to ever see Frank Shamrock fight full time, or a more regular schedule? Would it be business or training or how would that work out for you?
Frank Shamrock: I honestly, I don’t know. One of the reasons why I quit, training so hard, doing so much, was because it became so much work. I had to travel here, I had to travel there, I had to get my back fixed, my shoulder fixed, you know, workout, lift weights. I was going to five different places in one day to get myself together, so I could keep running that machine at that level. I honestly became bored with it, I became tired with it. Tired of running around, living in cars, living in gyms. I got bored, I needed something else. I think building this center, might be a rebirth of my interest. I don’t know yet. I love the gym, I love doing it, I love training, but will I love doing that everyday for the next year or so, I don’t know.
MMAWeekly: The UFC, with it’s popularity at a pinnacle right now with the success of shows like “The Ultimate Fighter”, would you ever consider coming back to the UFC or is that totally out of the question?
Frank Shamrock: No, it’s not out of the question. I don’t do business with the UFC, because I don’t agree on their business practices with talent, that’s all. I don’t agree with a lot of people, I don’t do business with them because I don’t choose to. Will it ever happen? I don’t know. Who knows?
MMAWeekly: Your brother fought Rich Franklin a couple of months back, and Rich Franklin is now the 185lb champion in the UFC, if the money was right and the fight was offered to you, would you have any interest in fighting Rich Franklin for the title in the UFC?
Frank Shamrock: Sure! That’s fun, that’s exciting, that’s a challenge. I look at things, it’s like jumping out of a plane. Once you’ve jumped out of a plane a thousand times, and you’re like we’re going to jump out of the plane again, it’s just not the same. And you’ve really got to have that excitement, that energy, this is “a brand new woman” kind of feeling, cause if you don’t, then you’re going to get hurt or you’re going to waste your time doing something that’s just not really your passion. My passion at one time was beating the absolute best in the world and knowing more than anybody else. And after I did it, then what do you do? To maintain that edge at all times. But when I’m presented with an opportunity like a Cesar Gracie, who’s going to challenge me, in my town, come in here and try to take my students, take my respect, that’s a whole other story. That’s fun! That, I’ll get out of bed every morning and go beat up my boys for. That I’ll be excited about, cause he’s trying to come into my home. That doesn’t work for me.
MMAWeekly: You were one of the first really great hybrid fighters that developed mixed martial arts where it is today. Where the UFC and Pride are today, what do you think about how it’s transitioned and who are some of your favorites to watch?
Frank Shamrock: I think the new generation started about the time I was rolling into the UFC until about the time I was leaving, what is the complete fighter. The true mixed martial artist. I like all the guys out there. The Rich Franklins, I like Tito, I like Chuck. Everybody’s got a style that’s just mixed up with all these different things, and I really feel like our future is a complete art, to extend further than just the fight itself. Cause you can be the greatest fighter in the world, but if you’re not a good person, or a respectable guy, you’re never really going to get better. I think this generation we’ll see the complete martial artist…the healer, the teacher, the father…instead of just the fighter.
MMAWeekly: When Rumble on the Rock happened not too long ago, there was a rumor that Tito Ortiz wanted to get a rematch with you. Would fighting Tito do anything for you or is that more, “you’ve beat him already, do you really need to fight him again”, or would you have any interest in that?
Frank Shamrock: I wouldn’t have all that much interest. I’m sure that we could make it make money, but at the end of the day, it’s not all that exciting. He’s a big dude, he’s highly skilled, he and I had a war last time, we’re just going to beat the crap out of each other. Somebody’s going to win, doesn’t matter who, we’re going to beat the crap out of each other, and what do we really get out of it? I’m sure Tito wants it, but to me it’s not all that exciting. I don’t see Tito coming into my hometown, trying to take my stuff. I’m not that worried about it. Would it be something I would do? Yeah, if we could make it all work, it’s a challenge, but I’m getting older. It took me 2 and a half years to put this fight together (with Gracie). I worked for over 2 years to put the Sakuraba fight together, and came up with zero. It’s not as easy as “I wanna fight that guy”, lets make it happen. I wish it was, I know what the fans want, and I wish I could give it to them. But the reality is that the world is run by the money that circulates in the sport.
Frank Shamrock makes his comeback to the sport he helped to revolutionize on October 1st in San Jose.