Frank Shamrock has been known for a couple of things over his career, one of which being that he isn’t one to mince words. That tendency has reared its (ugly?) head once again, with Frank openly blaming his brother Ken for ruining the appeal of a long-rumored fight between the brothers. Frank told Sherdog.com that he is “very disappointed” that the fight might not ever happen, which he says is due to promoters not wanting to roll the dice on Ken. He cited Ken’s recent string of losses (up until his win by arm bar over the exceedingly large Ross Clifton) and last minute drop-out before his network television fight with former Elite XC poster boy Kimbo Slice as reasons.
It’s hard to separate the hype from reality with mixed martial arts feuds, so it’s hard not to take Ken’s statement that “if [Frank] were in front of my gym right now, I would beat his ass” with a grain of salt. After all, Ken has been calling out certain fighters, such as Tank Abbott, for years now, all seemingly for the purpose of a nice payday if a showdown can take place. Frank’s own sentiments that he has spent a lot of time trying to hype up a Shamrock vs. Shamrock matchup happen shows how important it is for non-UFC fighters to build up hype for these types of “super fights”, especially as they age. After all, a fight between Ken and Frank would have no impact on any Top 10 rankings, so there must be some other hook to interest fans into buying into it, right?
What about Frank’s assertion that Ken’s rocky career has put the potential bout at risk? Well, there’s a corny saying that when you point at someone else, you have three fingers pointing right back at yourself, and Frank has done little in recent years to build fan interest in his own career, either. Although Frank has still shown that he is a draw, particularly in California, a 2-2 record since 2006 doesn’t help build fan anticipation, either.
Frank’s fans will point out that one of his losses in that time span was by disqualification, but in the fight in question, Frank was not looking good against Renzo Gracie and seemed to want a way out. Frank’s reaction that he “thought this was a fight”, as if he was not accustomed to the rules of MMA in North America, certainly didn’t explain his decision to throw what he had to have known were illegal knee strikes. At the time of the foul, Gracie was side-mounted on Frank in a dominant position, and even though he was winning the fight, the heat immediately fell onto Gracie for what many perceived as “acting” when he was deemed unable to continue, rather than onto Frank for deliberately fouling his opponent.
It’s particularly worth noting that Frank’s last few wins were less than extraordinary. Only Phil Baroni has a winning record (currently at 13-10) among the fighters Frank has beaten since his career-defining classic win over Tito Ortiz in 1999. Frank does deserve credit for stepping up his level of competition in the last year, as Cung Le is no slouch and his next fight (against Nick Diaz in Strikeforce) will be a difficult one. However, over the last several years, there have been a lot of great non-UFC middleweights that Frank could have built his legacy by taking on, such as Matt Lindland, Jeremy Horn (who Frank did beat back in 1998) and Robbie Lawler. His failure to do so has not helped to prove that Frank is still a fighter that fans of the sport should pay serious attention to.
Ken has proven over the years that no matter what trajectory his career takes, he’s still a fighter that fans will pay to see in action. If Frank can pull out a big win- or even a competitive performance- against the young and talented Nick Diaz in April, there’s no reason that a Ken vs. Frank fight can’t happen. In fact, seeing aging greats of the sport face off against their contemporaries instead of young guns is often a more entertaining proposition- even if the “bad blood” isn’t always genuine.
by Jon Hartley for Fightmania.com