by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Some of the biggest names in fighting history were absent from the sport for years during the height of the careers: Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and Frank Shamrock. Each had their reasons.
Johnson was fleeing the law. Ali was fighting the law. Tyson was incarcerated by the law. Unlike the others, Shamrock walked away on his own terms. Like Ali, Frank was a conscientious objector. Ali objected to the war in Vietnam. Shamrock objected to the industry standard business practices of the time. The first three mentioned never returned to their former greatness following their hiatus from fighting. The recently turned 33-year-old Shamrock intends on breaking from that tradition.
It’s been nearly three years since Mixed Martial Arts legend Frank Shamrock has competed in MMA, but that’s about to change. A fight with Cesar Gracie has been in the works for more than two years. On March 10th, the fight will finally happen. Shamrock spoke exclusively to MMAWeekly about his up coming grudge match with Cesar Gracie and his plans for the rest of 2006.
MMAWeekly: We’ve been talking about his Cesar fight for a long time. Has it finally come together?
Frank Shamrock: Man, it’s a done deal.
MMAWeekly: What is the date and location exactly?
Shamrock: March 10th, San Jose California, at the HP Pavilion, The Shark Tank.
MMAWeekly: It seems like the last couple of years we’ve talked about whether the match is going to happen or whether it’s not, but now we get to actually talk about the match up itself. What does Cesar bring to the table that you might have to be concerned about?
Shamrock: Well, he’s a Gracie, so he’s got grappling. He’s produced some pretty well rounded fighters: Nick Diaz and those type of guys, so he’s obviously doing something right. We’ll see if he can fight. I don’t think he can. I think he’s a pussy, and I don’t think he’s got any skills. But I’ve always wanted to fight a Gracie. I’ve been waiting my whole life and my whole career every since Ken got choked out by a skinny guy, Royce. I’ve been waiting my whole career to stomp a Gracie, and now finally one of them has the nuts to accept the challenge, so I’ll take care of it.
MMAWeekly: 2006 for Frank Shamrock, is this the return, or is this just the settling of old business?
Shamrock: I’m going to come back and take care of business. I tried to a few years ago, but the industry really wasn’t ready for it. I’ve decided I’m going to take the next couple of years and do what I did before, travel around and beat the crap out of everybody and remind everybody what real fighting is about, how real fighters should carry themselves, and what Martial Arts are truly about. I’m going to come back and take over the sport, take over the industry, then I’m going to take all my money and build a league for the fighters so they’re not brain dead, retarded, and broke when they’re done.
MMAWeekly: Is this going to be at 185lbs?
Shamrock: Yep. 185, and I’ll probably fight some fights at 205 as well, but my natural body weight is always the same, about 191 or 192. In the 185lb. class, I’ll fight anybody in the world. That’s my goal.
MMAWeekly: In 2005, we saw a bunch of big names be signed by some premier organizations. You’re obviously the biggest and most recognizable name on the market. Have you been contacted by any of these organizations?
Shamrock: Yeah. I’ve been contacted by everybody, including boxing promoters, kickboxing promoters. Everybody calls me because I’m one of the most branded athletes out there who is not signed and not owned. Everybody calls me, but as soon as I hit them with that big dollar amount, most of them don’t call back because most of them don’t realize what it costs. Now the industry has grown. The sport has grown. The dollars have grown, and there’s a lot of people out there that want to do good business, so I’ll do business with them. And I’m a free agent. I don’t sign contracts. I go fight by fight. I’m just going to travel around like I did before and take each
champion out. Take their belt. Take their money and go to the next show.
MMAWeekly: That sounds like a plan.
Shamrock: Yeah. It worked for me before. I figure it will work for me again.
MMAWeekly: So you’re not set with one organization? You’re not a company guy?
Shamrock: Nope. I am not a company man unless it’s my company.
MMAWeekly: That’s probably a good policy.
Shamrock: Yep. That’s the way we’re going to do this business because I’ve done the business before the other way. It didn’t work for me. I’m tired of these, you know, millionaire fans that own these shows that think they know what the hell they’re doing. You know, ruin people’s lives, and people who put their heart and soul into Martial Arts and into fighting; I just hate to see people profiting off of them that don’t give a shit about it. I’m not about that. I do things my way, or I don’t do them. And if they don’t like it, I just kick the shit out of them.
MMAWeekly: Getting back to the March 10th event, what other fights besides you and Cesar is on the card?
Shamrock: So far, we’re planning an eight-man tournament, an eight-man lightweight tournament. We’re trying to get all ‘A’ level talent for that. The semi main event will be Cung Le doing his first MMA match. Cung Le is of course the International San Shou Champion. It’s going to be in a cage too. California has asked us to throw it in a cage, so we’ll throw it in a cage and do our thing. The fight card is still pretty much coming together. We’ve got a lot of celebrity involvement. We’re looking to get celebrity commentators. We’re not thinking, you know, knock down drag out cage fighting. We’re thinking of sports and entertainment. We’d like to mix those two and provide a quality product with the Shamrock name as the headline.
MMAWeekly: What’s the format for the eight man light weight tournament? Will it play out over a couple of events, or will it be done in one night?
Shamrock: All one night. We’re going old school.
MMAWeekly: I noticed you have a new website up.
Shamrock: We relaunched FrankShamrock.com, so it is really popping. I built it for the fans. That’s what they asked for. They wanted a nice flash-based site with lots of toys and a good experience. Basically every week we are adding new stuff to it.
MMAWeekly: Aren’t you opening a new school as well?
Shamrock: The biggest project that I’ve been working on is our school which is the Shamrock Martial Arts Academy. We have our grand opening on January 28th. That’s a big day for us. We are approaching Mixed Martial Arts a little differently, Martial Arts a little bit differently. We’re teaching the whole family in a good, clean community atmosphere. It is just something better for every person there, and also for our community. Our school is 3100 square feet. We’ve got a health bar and a pro shop and a gym, bags. You’ve got everything you need. I’m trying to make one place where you can go, take your kids, take your wife, become a champion, or just hang out and train and have a good time.
MMAWeekly: Are you going to rebuild your team?
Shamrock: Yes. We’re going to start over with the team. I’ve trained, produced, and managed some of the biggest stars in the industry. I’m going to start that over in my time off. Some of my trainers and partners lost their path, so I’m going to start over. I’ve got a couple of really talented athletes right now. Clint Coronel is one of our young fighters. He’s just exploded on the scene. We’ve got Brian Ebersole who fought Cung Le. He’s going to fight on this up coming March show. We’ve got a new light-heavyweight, Jeff Quinlan who is going to give the heavyweights a run for their money, so I’m really excited about him. All of our boys are really talented, good strong me, good hearts, good people. I’m starting over. I’m cleaning out the closet and I’m taking out the trash. I’m really excited about 2006. It’s going to be the year. Anyone who missed my last run that I did where I went six years undefeated, I plan on doing that again.
MMAWeekly: To shift subjects real quick, your brother, Ken Shamrock, is going to be the coach of ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ They begin shooting, I believe, this week. What’s your take on Ken and Tito Ortiz being the coaches of the reality show and meeting in a rematch later this fall?
Shamrock: I think it’s a great idea. I mean Ken is an institution in this industry . . . And Tito is the quintessential idiot bad boy. Everybody wants to see Tito get his ass kicked, and everybody wants to see Ken win. I think it’s the perfect opportunity for Ken because it’s the end of his career, but he’s still a force . . . I think it was a smart move by Zuffa. I think they were pressured into it by the growth of the sport, but it is what it is. I think it’s going to help everybody out. Frankly, I’d like to see Ken beat the crap out of Tito and revive his career as well.
MMAWeekly: Thanks as always Frank.
Shamrock: No problem. Anytime.