The fights keep getting bigger.
To start, Ken Shamrock becomes the first UFC heavyweight champion. Then, he sets the record for the most-viewed match of all-time (up to that point) against Tito Ortiz. Now, Shamrock will likely shatter that record when he takes on Kimbo Slice in just a few days.
But all has not been good in the interim. Shamrock is a disappointing 1-7 in his last eight fights. He was also knocked out by journeyman Robert Berry this past March. However, no one in all of MMA markets a fight better than Shamrock.
That is why this next big fight is coming about. He has the ability to make many people sit down to watch him fight, and millions of people will.
Shamrock, however, is a long shot. Slice is presently listed as about a 3.5 to 1 favorite. Slice is also undefeated in his short MMA career (3-0). On the other hand, Shamrock is a legend in the sport, and he truly believes he will win.
We recently had a chance to talk about his coming upcoming matchup with Slice, a potential fight with his brother Frank Shamrock, and what it’s like just seconds before he enters the cage.
Question: What are your thoughts on the upcoming fight with Kimbo Slice?
Ken Shamrock: If all goes well, I’ll get a win in the first round. I can handle him anywhere – stand-up or on the ground. I’m not going to force anything. If it’s there, I’m going to take it. If he leaves his face open, I’m going to punch it. If he gives me a leg, I’ll take that.
Q: Kimbo Slice certainly has had a very high profile rise to stardom in MMA. How do you feel about his lightning quick rise without paying the same dues that someone like yourself has?
KS: More power to him. I don’t hate people for making a success of themselves. That’s what we did. He went out and made the best of what he had.
Q: As one of the true pioneers of the sport, do you think he’s good for the sport?
KS: Definitely. Anytime you put people in the seats and make the sport more popular doing whatever it is you do then I am definitely for it.
Q: You don’t think there is an issue with him glamorizing street fighting and being a bad role model for kids?
KS: It depends on how you look at it. He’s in MMA now. I didn’t approve of the Internet thing that much but now, he’s in MMA and not doing that anymore. We have a lot more stuff in our society that we need to worry about besides people fighting. We’ve got lots of drugs on the street. We’ve got prostitution. And people are looking at fighting? Kimbo has done something with his life. He’s got the ability to fight. He’s channeled it and is making the most of it. I don’t hate on that. I commend it.
Q: You had mentioned in the press conference that if you beat Kimbo, you’re going to shave his beard. Is that still the case?
KS: Absolutely – especially if he’s unconscious. Think the referee will let me? They might be tackling me before I get the chance.
Q: Assuming you do well on the fight, how long do you want to keep fighting for?
KS: I’m not really sure. I take each day one day at a time. I just love life, and I love living life.
Q: What’s it been like you for you getting back into the national spotlight with this fight? This could very well be the most viewed fight in MMA history.
KS: It just seems to me that every time I do a fight it keeps getting bigger. I’ve pretty much broke records over and over again every time I’ve gotten in the ring – pay per view numbers, TV ratings. I’ve always been the guy to be able to break the numbers. I’ve done it several times, and it’s great to be able to do that again especially at this stage of my life.
Q: Why do you think that is?
KS: I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just my character and the way that I get into my fights. I enjoy really getting into my opponents and finding things I don’t like about them. I like starting problems with them – just creating something that gets me to dislike them. I think people buy into that. It’s not on purpose because it’s how I do it. I’m not “selling “the fight though. It’s just me. I’ve done it ever since I started fighting. I had no idea that people would even like that.
Q: Do you think your ability to really get into your fights is what made you successful at professional wrestling as well?
KS: Yes, I think so. When I went from MMA to pro wrestling, I took that anger and moved it into the pro wrestling ring. I think people kind of enjoyed that because it was real. They could feel the “realness” in my anger. It wasn’t to destroy my opponent, but it was as a character.
Q: What are your thoughts on two former pro wrestlers that have given or are considering giving MMA a shot – Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle?
KS: Brock’s doing it well. Kurt keeps talking about it, but I haven’t seen him make a move yet. I think that Kurt will do it someday – hopefully. I’d like to see him do it because I think he’s got potential. Right now, Brock’s the man. He’s had some success. He’s big. He’s powerful and he’s going to learn as he goes.
Q: A few years ago there was some talk about you possibly facing off against Kurt Angle in the IFL. Was that ever close?
KS: Yeah, we were trying to do that. I’m not sure though that was ever going to happen. Kurt wants it to happen, but I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to break away from the entertainment world.
Q: Another guy that you know pretty well has been calling your name for the past few years. What do you think about a potential fight with your brother Frank Shamrock?
KS: He keeps talking about so let’s do it. It’s all talk to me until he steps in and does it. I’ve always said, “Yes, let’s do it” then it falls through – never by my part.
Q: A little while back there were some contract issues with the UFC that ended up in court. Are you still working through those problems?
KS: Yes, we are, but I can’t really talk on it because it’s not done yet.
Q: You’ve fought a lot of big fights in your career. The matches have been all across the world. Do you have a single fight that is your favorite?
KS: I’d have to say that there are actually two of them. One was in Japan where I actually took the belt for Pancrase. I was the first champion for that Pancrase organization. Second one was in the UFC when I captured the first Superfight heavyweight belt. I was the very first heavyweight champion of the UFC belt. I’m very proud of those records because they can never be broken.
Q: You spoke a little bit earlier about really getting mentally prepared for your fight – really trying to hate your opponent. Well, what’s it like for you right before the match starts – what are you thinking about as you’re walking to the cage to fight somebody?
KS: First of all, you’re thinking about your training. You’re thinking about your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses are. You’re thinking about what your opponent may come out with and what your counter would be. You’re basically thinking about the strategy to get the fight started. As soon as you get in the ring, you’re trying to size your opponent up – trying to see if he’s going to come forward. You’re tying to see if he’s excited or if he’s calm. All those things run through your mind.
Q: Were you ever – and maybe this is not the right term – scared going into a fight?
KS: No no. Never. There’s nervousness. There are times when you go into a fight with an injury or something. But afraid? You wouldn’t get in the ring. If you start getting that then you don’t go to the ring.
Q: Any final thoughts heading into the big fight?
KS: I’m excited about being able to get in there and get after it. I’m healthy. I’m tired of training. I want to get in there and ring the bell.