by Matt Hill – MMAWeekly.com
The on again, off again highly anticipated fight between Frank Shamrock and Phil Baroni, two of the biggest trash talkers in MMA today, appears that it will finally take place on June 22nd at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The two are the feature bout of the next Strikeforce event.

In a media conference call, Baroni, never a man to hold any punches whether inside or outside of a cage, had many choice words for Shamrock questioning everything from his character to his manhood. Shamrock on the other hand appeared to be playing the relaxed role just taking it all in, likening all of the previous trash talk to little more than pre-fight hype.

The noteworthy item in this fight is that there is a great discrepancy in the level of competition that each man has faced in the past eight years. Baroni has been fighting top-contenders and champions in both the UFC and Pride, while Shamrock has had only a handful of fights, none against top-ranked fighters. And of Shamrock’s three fights, his most worthy adversary, Renzo Gracie, dominated the fight before Shamrock was disqualified for illegally striking the back of Gracie’s head.

But now Shamrock needs to turn his attention to Phil Baroni because ‘The New York Bad Ass’ is going to be trying to take his head off on June 22nd. Baroni is the one who issued the challenge to Shamrock, but why?

“When he was armchair quarterbacking, when I was fighting the best fighters around the world, and he was sitting at home, ridiculing and talking about everybody, the guy had a lot to say. I never thought he would back it up, and I still will not believe it until we get to the ring and they lock the cage door. I thought that he was looking for a way out of this fight…I issued a challenge. Everybody wants to fight that punk. It is not just me. He, being the so-called legend, got to pick his opponent, and he picked the wrong cat. He is getting knocked out,” Baroni said.

In some circles Shamrock is hailed as a legend of MMA, while in others he is viewed simply as a fighter who had potential but squandered it in the height of his career, but how does Baroni feel about Shamrock’s status in MMA?

“I think he is a scum bag,” said Baroni. “I am not going to hold any punches. The guy is a hypocrite. I think he is a fraud, and everyone that has ever dealt with him, that I know of, does not like him… I want to see what he is about. Wait till he steps in with the real deal. I am the real deal, and I am going to throw punches with bad intentions at his #**##@####**## head and put him to sleep.”

Shamrock responded, “Well, it is what it is. I am a professional martial artist, and I am a professional fighter. Phil is a professional idiot. I let my talking happen in the ring.”

Shamrock has, however, done plenty of extra-curricular talking by way of making videos and uploading them to YouTube.

Baroni responded to Shamrock’s statement by saying, “Yes, see he did a lot of talking. He is the one that started the bad blood with his little videos and this and that. Now he wants to be the good guy. He has nothing to say because he is embarrassed, and he is going to get smashed. Now it is getting close, buddy. You can feel the heat. I am coming for you.”

He continued, “You are going to hurt real badly and there is nothing you can do about it now. There is no backing out. There is no more tough-guy talk. No little funny videos. It is just going to be me and you when they shut that door, and there is nowhere to run and there is nowhere to hide.”

Frank Shamrock was widely considered one of the top mixed martial artists in the late 90’s, but with only a handful of fights in eight years there are many questions in people’s minds about where he currently stands.

Asked where he feels he ranks among today’s fighter, Shamrock responded, “I have no idea. I have not fought very many people for a length of time, to be honest. He is just a stepping stone to move up, so I am just working my way up.” He continued, “I do not mind Phil at all. I think he is a great marketer and promoter, and obviously speaks very well. He is a mid-grade opponent, and he looks good, sells tickets.”

When asked how he needed to prepare for a fighter like Baroni, Shamrock simply said, “I know he does not have the cardio and stamina to last. The strengths he brings are brute force and mindless punching. So I am prepared for it, and I do what I do.”

Shamrock has been around MMA for as long as anyone still involved, so what made him want to come back after so many years of inactivity?

“I just enjoy being a professional athlete and a professional martial artist, and enjoy teaching martial arts and guiding the community. I enjoy getting in and mixing it up. For me, the game is still the same. Just the money is bigger and the stakes are higher, but this is what I have always loved to do, and this is what I plan to do for awhile.”

So on June 22nd, hands and feet (and according to Baroni, Shamrock’s head) are going to fly when these two charismatic athletes get into the ring in San Jose for their much-anticipated fight. It will be interesting to see if Shamrock still has what it takes to be a top-contender in the middleweight class, or if ‘The New York Bad Ass’ will write the end chapter on Frank Shamrock ‘The Legend.’ Tune in to Strikeforce on Showtime PPV to see history in the making in San Jose on June 22nd.