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From Legend to Sideshow: The Ken Shamrock Story




Last Friday, Ken Shamrock fought at the age of 51 and lost via TKO in the first round. Shamrock, who hasn’t fought since 2010 before he stepped into the Bellator cage, was dropped with a right hook from former internet street fighter, Kimbo Slice. While the fight itself was ridiculous and more of a sideshow than anything, it’s another chapter in the rather sad story of the downfall of Ken Shamrock. Once promoted as “The World’s Most Dangerous Man,” Shamrock originally started in pro wrestling in the late 1980’s and made a name for himself wrestling in Japan, which allowed him an introduction to mixed martial arts when the Pancrase organization launched in 1993. Shamrock found success in shoot fighting and he was one of the original competitors for the first UFC tournament later that year. Despite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter Royce Gracie dominating most of the early UFC events, Shamrock would emerge as the top star of the promotion and became the face of mixed martial arts in a America during a time when it was considered an underground sport. He fought almost all of the top competitors of the early era of MMA and he earned a record of 23-5-2 during his initial run in the sport.

During Shamrock’s prime, MMA was nowhere near the popularity that it has today and he opted to sign with the WWE in 1997 because it was considerably better money than cage fighting. It’s unfortunate that MMA wasn’t as popular when Shamrock returned to pro wrestling because it would have made him a major star and despite a decent push upon his arrival to the WWE, he usually worked the upper mid card at best because most fans didn’t know about his extensive accomplishments in cage fighting. Perhaps, the element that limited Shamrock the most was his lack of mic skills and while memorable, his nearly three-year run in the WWE was somewhat lackluster.

Returning to MMA in 2000, Shamrock was a featured star for both Pride in Japan and the UFC in America, but garnered a 3-7 record during the next six years of fighting in the spotlight, which prompted many to suggest his retirement. He fought on smaller carders for the next few years and was scheduled to fight former WWE superstar, Bobby Lashley, but Shamrock tested positive for steroids from a previous bout, and was suspended for a year. In 2010, he returned to the cage for the upstart Impact Fighting Championship promotion to battle veteran, Pedro Rizzo in Sydney Australia. Shamrock was stopped in the first round via TKO and it’s considered a low point in his career, as the event drew a low attendance and the building was very quiet when Shamrock was defeated. The IFC would fold following the event and Shamrock continued fighting on smaller shows. After a win and another loss the same year, many assumed Shamrock was finally done fighting and he was seen as a celebrity body-guard during the past few years.

Ken Shamrock’s return to mixed martial arts for Bellator is probably a way for him to get another paycheck from fighting, but at this point, it’s embarrassing to see him compete. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take anything away from his accomplishments, but he was past his prime ten years ago and a legend fighting for another paycheck to continue to tarnish his legacy is a disappointing situation. Kimbo Slice, who is a relatively humble competitor outside of the cage, earned a paycheck so it’s good for him, but what’s next for Shamrock? Hopefully this was just a publicity stunt for Bellator to get some viewers for the product and he isn’t actually signed to a multifight deal because it would be irresponsible for Shamrock to fight again.

The subject of Ken Shamrock being inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame was reported recently and it seems as though he won’t get the induction, which is actually the right decision. As mentioned, Shamrock’s run in the WWE was memorable, but overall, he was a mid carder and during his relatively short run in the company. However, he was inducted in the UFC Hall Of Fame several years ago and he certainly earned a spot there. For his own safety, Shamrock probably shouldn’t be allowed to fight again and hopefully, he can make the complete transition to another aspect of the sport, such as his duties as a train because sadly, Shamrock’s mishaps fighting past his prime have somewhat overshadowed the accomplishments of his legendary career.

Special thanks to Jim LaMotta for this piece – Follow him on Twitter @JimLaMotta

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