Ken Shamrock (incl.Video)
Many MMA Fighters come and go. Some leave very special memories, other can hardly be remembered. Some win titles, but most of them don’t and many of them simply fall into oblivion as time goes by.
But there are fighters which are unforgettable, fighters who had a special influence on the development of this kind of sport and who can be rightfully seen as “legends of the sports”. And which man fulfills all these qualifications? It is of course Ken Shamrock.
In his younger years life did not treat him very good. Even if Ken Shamrock, born Kenneth Wayne Kilpatrick on 05.02.1964, is NOW listed in the Hall of Fame, he did not have a good start. He grew up in a broken family and has been treated bad by his stepfather and his classmates.
Maybe this was the reason why he got in trouble with law. Finally he has been kicked out of home by his stepfather. Luckily, after a journey through several foster homes, he finally found a new home when Bob Shamrock adopted the young boy and his name had been changed to Shamrock. Things went better then and he focused on his sports, where he finally debuted in 1990 in the South Atlantic Pro Wrestling Promotion.
His first Mixed Martial Art Fight took place in October 1992 in Tokyo where the Japanese pro wrestling organization Fujiwara Gumi announced the fight between Ken Shamrock and Kickboxer Don Nayaka Nielsen. Ken won within a minute and pulled down his opponent with an armbarr.
The result of this spectacular show was the starting shot for a new era of Mixed Martial Arts:the new founded organization “Pancrase” was born. Would you be surprised if I told you that Ken Shamrock became the first King of Pancrase? I suppose not.
Shortly before this happened, Ken Shamrock met Bas Rutten in the ring, the rising star of Pancrase at that time. Bas had to give up to the much more experienced Shamrock when Ken used the “rear naked choke”.
The organisation planned a rematch for 1995 and trained Bas very hard to make sure that he would win the next fight, because they urgently wanted HIM to be the next best man in PANCRASE but Ken was very angry when he heard about this plan and was more than motivated to upset their plans. And, what can I say, he did a good job: this time he defeated Bas with an kneebarr. Presumably both, Bas and Pancrase, were mad, because their plans did not work out. And Bas has been defeated two times by the same opponent.
But Ken did not only participate in Pancrase matches, in the beginning of his career he also fought in the first UFC tournement. At that time most of the fighters were either Boxers, Kickboxern or Karatekas. So this means that they would prefer standing fights. Or maybe not prefer, but it was all they knew and had trained so far. But Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie had well been aware that “submissions” worked very effectively. And of course Ken brought his first opponent down to the ground and defeated him with an heelhook.
And then Ken met the semi-finalist and BJJ Star Royce Gracie. Smaller, less weight and nobody thought that this guy could win. Ken was pretty sure that he could easily bring him down like all his other opponents. But … surprise! … Royce Gracie defeated Ken with a choke. Ken could not wait to have a rematch … and they fought really hard but this fight ended stand-off.
After this fight, Gracie left the UFC for 11 years and Ken Shamrock became the “Superfight Champion” when he defeated UFC 5 Champion Dan Severn with a guillotine choke after about 2 minutes. At the rematch he lost the title when Dan Severn won in UFC9.
He spent some successful years in WWE where they called him “ the most dangerous man in the world” before he returned to MMA and fought for “Pride” before he returned to UFC.
Kens Feud with Tito Ortiz
What perhaps became the biggest feud of MMA history, had its beginning with the following incident: On January 8, 1999, the aspiring young Tito Ortiz defeated Shamrocks protégé Jerry Bohlander at UFC 18 and celebrated his victory quite exuberant while he was still in the octagon.
There he drew two imaginary guns like a gunslinger and “shot” in Bohlanders corner, in which Ken Shamrock stood (as Bohlanders Head Coach) and put on a T-Shirt that says “ I just f ** ked your ass „
This action continued about 2 months later at UFC19 when again one of Shamrocks proteges met Tito Ortiz. This time it was Guy Mezger , who had been defeated by Tito Ortiz with TKO. And again he put on a T-shirt while standing in the octagon and again with a provocative inscription on it. Shamrock found the imprint “ Gay Mezger is my bitch“ apparently not very funny and he and Ortiz had a violent discussion with each other about it.
UFC matchmaker Joe Silva comments:
“ Ken freaked out backstage . He was furious . Tables were shattered. They had to bring Tito in a separate room. Who knows what would have happened otherwise . „
On November 22 , nearly 4 years after the incident at UFC 19, it came to the long-awaited fight between the two men. Shamrock entered the Octagon for the UFC for the first time since 6 years. But times had changed. The sport has developed rapidly and while at the beginning of Kens career he had to fight mostly with Standupfighters without experience in fighting on the ground, a new generation has grown up which now reigned the UFC. An this new generation of top athletes who could fight standing an also on the ground, because of their experience and training in BJJ, Wrestling, Sambo, Judo an other styles were perfectly prepared to face almost every attack. These new athletes were like the decathletes of martial arts.
This fact in combination with Kens long abstincence from the octagon, his damaged knees and his immense weightcut down to 201 lbs lead to the result that Tito clearly dominated Ken and he had to give up before round 4 started.
“ Ken was a damn good fighter. I would not say that I was intimidated by him , but maybe a little worried . “ Tito Ortiz
After he won the day by Knocking out Kimo Leopoldo at UFC 48 and after he lost in the fight against Rich Franklin and Kazushi Sakuraba, he again had to face the fight against Ortiz on July, 8 , 2006.
It has to be mentioned that before Ken and Tito met again, they had been opposing coaches in the “The Ultimate Fighter” Season during which they constantly attacked each other verbally.
The rematch ended somewhat disappointing and referee Herb Dean stopped the fight after 1:18 in the first round after Tito’s ground and pound obviously was too much for Ken. Also the third fight ended in a similar way.
„I thought I was going to be able to put on more of a fight, but reality sets in and I have to realize that I just don’t have the skills I used to have or the strength I used to have…I guess you come to a point where you figure, wow, I’m just not the same person I was. In my heart and my mind I’m still a competitor, but my body’s just not following. I just can’t compete with these guys anymore.“
In his last fight for the UFC it became very clear to him that he (with his 42 years and all his injuries from all the previous fights) could not keep up with the new generation of world class MMA Fighters. But despite this deeper insight he participated in some smaller promotions, where he lost his last fight on November, 25, 2010 versus Mike Bourke in South Africa.
Now if you see how this man started his career, how hard he fought, how hard he trained and how often he defeated his opponents in a devestating fashion, this man, this pioneer of MMA can truly claim that he is a living MMA legend!