Frank Shamrock Q & A
Coming up on March 29th,
Frank Shamrock steps back into the cage to take
on fellow San Jose native Cung Le for the Strikeforce
organization. Shamrock has been out of action
since his June 2007 victory over heated rival
Phil Baroni. Now, he returns to the cage against
the undefeated yet largely untested Le.
We recently caught up with
Shamrock to discuss a wide variety of topics
including his thoughts on the fight with the
Le, what he thinks about his brother Ken’s
recent fight with Buzz Berry, and his views
on Kimbo Slice being the front man for Elite
XC’s first appearance on network television.
Question: What are your thoughts
on the upcoming fight with San Sou expert Cung
Frank Shamrock: I think it’s
going to be a good match. It’s a different
style match. I’m more of a grappler /
puncher guy, and he’s more of a kicker
/ wrestler guy so stylistically, I think it
is a very exciting match. And in San Jose, it’s
Q: Why is it that mixed martial
arts is so big in San Jose?
FS: San Jose is like a little
big city. All the big companies are here, but
at the core, it is a small town. And this town
loves martial arts. There are umpteen number
of MMA schools here. When you have local martial
arts icons going against each other in a fight,
it becomes a huge, huge event.
Q: As far as Le goes, he
has not fought someone near your caliber in
MMA. Do you think he’s ready to take on
someone as accomplished as yourself?
FS: Personally, no. I have
fought everyone for every title. I have been
at this for about fourteen years now. When I
look at Cung, he looks like a young boy, but
the beauty of this sport is anything can happen
at any time. There are so many different elements
to (the fight) that anyone has a shot at winning.
But if I were him - I wouldn’t fight me.
Q: Do you expect Cung Le
to keep the fight standing? I know he has a
wrestling background as well, but his expertise
definitely seems to be on his feet.
FS: I believe he will start
standing, but once he feels that I understand
the striking game, he’ll go back to his
roots, which really is wrestling. He has a very
good wrestling base. He’ll try to combine
the two to pick apart my striking game, but
I think he is really underestimating my striking
Q: In your last fight against
Phil Baroni – a noted striker, you stood
and traded with him for a while before finally
getting him to the ground and finishing the
fight with a rear naked choke.
FS: Definitely. Everyone
thought that was a fluke. But when I first retired
from the sport, I really thought the sport would
turn to a striking based sport because that
is just the easiest way to damage somebody.
Since 1999, my main focus and study has boxing,
kicking, kneeing, and elbows – anything
based in the striking arts. I think the world
is going to have a big wake up call when it
comes to my striking.
Q: Should you get past Cung
Le, one man who has mentioned your name a few
times is Tito Ortiz. Is that a fight you’d
like to have in the future?
FS: Most definitely. Tito
is a great character, and he has wonderful marketing
power. The sport loves him. The fans love him.
And our last fight was one of the best fights
ever to happen. It also happened at a very pivotal
time in our sport. It happened at a time when
we were moving from the big, scary guys to the
professional, athletic type fighters.
Q: Have you and Tito spoken
about having a fight in the future?
FS: I sort of pitched him
on the whole landscape of the business and where
I thought we were going with television and
how I thought - as stars – we could take
some of that power for ourselves and use it
to promote our own fight as opposed to having
another company promote it for us.
Q: So should you guys fight,
it would be under your own promotional banner?
FS: Yes, it would be Tito
and I. I think the future of the sport especially
with the big, big talent is much like Oscar
De La Hoya is doing. That is to have your own
promotional company plus another guy’s
promotional companies then hire the people to
run the event as opposed to those people owning
the whole thing.
Q: What do you think of Tito
Ortiz publicly announcing that he will be leaving
the UFC – especially him Ortiz basing
it on problems with Dana White when you yourself
had problems with White as well?
FS: Eventually, when you
do business with someone that has a very different
business model and you are devalued as an athlete,
you’re going to realize they are taking
advantage of you and this is not a good situation.
I just see it as a natural progression of the
way they do business. The UFC is in it to promote
the company, and that is one way to do business.
The fighters are all in it to promote the talent,
and the talent is the most important thing.
People don’t go to the shows to see the
company – they go to see the talent fighting.
Their vision of the sport goes against the nature
of the fighters. I see this happening more and
more in the future.
Q: What’s interesting
with what you say is that it is almost as if
the UFC model is close to professional wrestling
and World Wrestling Entertainment. Whereas your
model and EliteXC’s model is closer to
boxing. Is that a fair assumption?
FS: 100%. The problem with
running it like a WWE or staged event and controlling
the talent is that these guys (MMA fighters)
have a very limited lifespan. At the end of
the lifespan, the MMA guys need to have something
to show for it or the fighters will just be
broken up old guys that have given you their
bodies. You can only compete for a long time
if it is staged because only then can you control
how much damage you take and what the outcome
is. When you do it for real and you are fighting
for your life basically, the fighters have to
be taken care of because you know they will
not be competing twenty years later.
Q: So what you’re saying
is the MMA guys can compete for maybe ten years
but pro wrestlers can go on for a long time
– which means you need a different business
model than the UFC / WWE to protect the fighters.
FS: Yes. And it works that
way. If you are going to have a guy work for
you for thirty years, you can control the brand
and vice versa. But if a guy makes it ten years
in MMA, he is a stud. However, the injuries
you sustain in MMA after ten years are astronomical.
I have been fighting for fourteen years. I have
broken my back. I have no ACL. My elbows are
falling apart. There is only a limited lifespan
for me left.
Q: How many fights do you
think you have left?
FS: I think I have about
twenty or thirty. Realistically though, for
me, this is a way of life. I get up every day
and go to the gym. I study martial arts. I couldn’t
imagine doing a different way of life. Conversely,
my body is so banged up that if I stopped training
I’d probably fall apart. So for me, I
am going to keep going until my body or mind
say that’s it.
Q: Currently, you are basically
the top guy for two promotions – Strikeforce
and EliteXC. Do you feel any added pressure
being put in that position for both promotions?
FS: That’s a good question.
No, I don’t. I’ve always been that
guy. I’m the guy that launches the company
onto television and pay-per-view. Even though
I was the guy that was fighting when we had
the smallest audience possible on television
and PPV, I’ve always been that go-to guy
they call to do the show. I really like it.
I’ve got two companies that both believe
in the Frank Shamrock brand and who are both
supporting me wholeheartedly. Moreover, I have
two companies that allow me to present my brand
the way I want to – not how they think
I should be.
Q: You mentioned launching
onto television. Recently, EliteXC signed the
big CBS deal. Do you expect to be part of their
first show at the end of May?
FS: I certainly hope so.
I won’t be ready to fight by then, but
I have done commentary for them in the past
and Showtime really, really enjoyed it. I also
really enjoyed the experience so yes; I hope
I am part of it. I think it is a whole new audience.
We’re going to have some overnight stars
with some of these young guys. I think it is
a milestone for the sport.
Q: What do you think of the
fact that Kimbo Slice is being pushed as the
biggest star fighting on the show?
FS: Kimbo has a weird aura
about him. Personally, I think it’s a
step back to where we were ten years ago which
is the big, tough scary guy fighting, but he’s
very, very popular with the young generation.
His story is very interesting and appealing
to people, but I also think they will quickly
grow tired of it because it is kind of that
gimmick story. The problem with Kimbo is the
more he learns – the worse he’s
going to get. He’s going to lose that
raw, crazy, angry power that he is using to
Q: Do you think that Kimbo
is a bad role model for kids considering how
he made himself popular - through backyard fights?
Could there potentially be a problem with the
younger generation trying to copy Kimbo in order
to get noticed?
FS: 100%. I think he is the
absolute worst role model we could have for
our events. This is coming from someone who
has been here since the beginning. Having Kimbo
as a representative as a face for the first
big event on CBS is a step back.
Q: If you saw your own kids
watching Kimbo Slice fights on the Internet,
would you let them watch it?
FS: I don’t know. That’s
a tough one. I’d probably let them watch
it, but then I’d make them go to the martial
arts class that night. It’s like I wouldn’t
stop my son from watching car racing, but I
wouldn’t let my son go race. But I would
let him go to a racing school and learn about
Q: A little earlier we talked
about your being involved with both EliteXC
and Strikeforce. What is your current contract
FS: I have two more fights
including this one with Strikeforce, and I’ve
got another year and a half with EliteXC where
I am under contract with them. Then, I become
a free agent and I can roam around. I’ve
been blessed that I understand the business
side of it. I’ll be able to expand the
brand of Frank Shamrock.
Q: As far as expanding the
brand of Frank Shamrock, one of the fights that
you’ve spoken about for a while now is
a fight with your brother Ken. Ken recently
lost a fight to relative unknown Buzz Berry.
Does that loss affect the possible fight?
FS: You know it hasn’t
in my eyes. I think the general fan of MMA may
be questioning it, but I think the lure of that
event is that first the idea of brother vs.
brother is a very strong idea. It raises a lot
of questions both internally and externally
and then second, Ken and I really built this
sport off our own backs and that story has never
really been told. No promotion has ever really
gotten behind that idea. I think that telling
people that story combined with the animosity
of Ken and I is very popular and would appeal
to the masses.
Q: Are you concerned about
Ken’s safety in continuing to fight?
FS: I just don’t want
to see him get hurt or lose. Losing definitely
hurts the value, and it makes my role different.
I don’t want to be the younger brother
that beats up his older brother that loses all
the time. That’s not a very good story.
Q: Potentially, that is very
much what the fight with Ken could look like
FS: I know. Sadly, that wasn’t
the story I laid out.
Q: Are you disappointed he
took that fight?
FS: I am very disappointed.
That wasn’t my idea. It was against my
better judgment. But when we hit CBS, you’re
talking about a fan base that has never even
seen a fight. They won’t know anything
from anything. You’ll be able to tell
the story how you want to. Most people won’t
know the real history or the fight history.
My belief is by the time we get into the ring
– as long as he’s healthy and I’m
healthy – the story will sell the fight.
The fight will be a bit part in the actual story.
Q: I follow where you’re
going with that. People won’t really know
about the fight with Buzz Berry so it won’t
take away from the brother vs. brother aspect
of it. In the past, boxing has been successful
building fights even though a fighter is coming
off a loss. A few years back Zab Judah lost
the welterweight title to relative unknown Carlos
Baldomir. Regardless, they still went forward
with the fight of Judah vs. Floyd Mayweather,
and the fight did good numbers.
FS: Yes. We’re in the
business of sports marketing. Fighting is the
product that we sell. That fight can still be
Q: Why do you think you’ve
become so good as the business side of the sport
– so good at marketing a fight?
FS: I saw early on the impact
the one person could have if they presented
themselves properly. Every moment that I have
in the public – people are going to see
it and remember it, and that will be the brand
that I am. And I have always been a fan of pro
wrestling. Nobody knows how to market better
than pro wrestling.
Q: That is what pro wrestling
is – it’s a show based on marketing.
FS: It definitely is a show.
At the end of the day, people want entertainment.
Some people chose that entertainment to be fighting.
Q: One question I have to
ask – you’ve made some comments
in a previous interview that you believe your
brother Ken took steroids. Can I ask you for
some more information on that?
FS: Sometimes, I think I
have bit of truth tourette’s when I’m
asked a question – I will always just
answer the question asked. The reason why I
never did steroids is because I watched Ken
go through this terrible up and down cycle of
being psychologically strong and psychologically
weak. I always thought that my mind was my biggest
asset when it came to fighting, and I realized
that this drug was messing with his mind. I
jus thought I should never go down that path.
Personally, I think it messed with Ken.
Q: Did you actually see Ken
FS: No, I didn’t see
him do it. I never witnessed him shooting a
steroid, but I have 100% factual knowledge that
he was doing them consistently. Ken isn’t
going to be happy with me, but who knows –
maybe it will help build the fight.
Q: As far as being on the
top fighters in the world right now, you are
definitely a very highly regarded middleweight.
The consensus best middleweight fighter in the
world right now is Anderson Silva. What do you
think about Anderson Silva and would there ever
be a chance you would fight him?
FS: I would love to fight
him. I think that he is a great fighter. Overall,
he’s well rounded. If I were going to
put negatives on him, he does not speak English,
and he’s not good on the mic. He’s
going to lose a tremendous amount of energy
once the fight is over, and the interview time
comes. From a marketing standpoint, he’s
got 95% of the package together, but I think
competitively it would be a wonderful fight.
You know I laugh when people say Anderson Silva
is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world
because I’ve been that guy two or three
times so we’ll see if he can sustain it.
If he can sustain it, he’ll be the next
super superstar much like I have been and will
Q: There has been some talk
of a reality show with your involvement and
Mark Burnett’s. Is there anything new
FS: I haven’t heard
anything new on one with Mark Burnett, but we
do have another show that is in the can called
Frank Shamrock’s School of Hard Knocks.
That one is for sale up on the market right
now. I have been so focused on the fight that
I don’t the exact status of the show.
Q: In closing, the fight
is less than a week away. What will you be doing
in this last week to get ready for the fight?
FS: The last week is
the whole chill time for me. I do a lot of media.
I spend some time with my wife because I haven’t
been around much for the past month. This is
my time to hang out and spend time with her.
A lot of friends and family come to town so
there is a lot of socializing. I go to the gym
maybe an hour a day and just work on technique.
I do a lot of reading and visualization. Then,
the day before the fight I sleep all day and
wake up about 5pm and have a massage. Finally,
I get ready for the fight.