I know it’s easy to make jokes about Ken Shamrock, based on the second half of his fighting career, but the mixed martial arts (MMA) pioneer was one of the biggest stars of combat sports back when some of today’s top names were still shitting their diapers and sucking down Similac.
In addition to his wars against Dan Severn and Oleg Taktarov for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the “World’s Most Dangerous Man” also ruled the Pancrase circuit in Japan, laying waste to the likes of Bas Rutten and Matt Hume, among others.
That’s probably why Shamrock is laughing at all the fanfare for the Baddest Mother Fucker (BMF) belt that was up for grabs in the UFC 244 pay-per-view (PPV) main event last weekend in New York, contested between welterweight veterans Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz.
“It’s funny to hear these guys talk about toughness and being tough and being bad,” Shamrock told Ariel Helwani of ESPN. “It’s like, man, if they only knew what went through in those beginning days, with no training, there was no map of how to train. There were guys that would go to the park and get in fights with people in order to get training, real training in. You’ve seen a lot of guys that would just do a road tour. They’d drive from one end of California to the other end and they would stop at different places and do fights on these different promotions in the beginning days when there was promotions everywhere. They would drive across country just hitting every stop and fighting at them, just to get the training in.”
Shamrock, now 55, fought a staggering 12 times during his 1994 fight campaign and then another eight times in 1995, amassing a record of 15-3-2 along the way. Sadly, he would surrender four years of his fighting prime to compete for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), long before ex-champions like Cain Velasquez and Ronda Rousey made it the cool thing to do.
“Back in the day when I was over in Japan, before they even started the UFC, I couldn’t get anybody to train with me,” Shamrock said. “I would go into karate schools and boxing schools, they were striking and you’d take them down and they’d be like ‘No, what are you talking about’ or I’d get a wrestler and say ‘Shoot on me, I’m not gonna knock you out but I’m gonna punch you.’ There was nobody to do that so I had to open a gym and slowly start training people. So for them to start talking about being a Bad MF, I just kinda laugh and go, oh my gosh, you guys are wearing four-ounce gloves, you fight one time a night, every six months to a year. Really?” Shamrock said laughing. “Come on.”
Diaz competed twice in 2019 (1-1) following a three-year absence while Masvidal registered three fights (3-0) after missing all of 2018. Fight frequency is no longer critical when salaries are exceeding several hundred thousand apiece.
Shamrock (28-17-2) has not competed since his technical knockout loss to fellow founding father, Royce Gracie, at the Bellator 149 event back in early 2016, though fans can still see him strutting his stuff in the land of make believe, where the “World’s Most Dangerous Man” is pulling off some of the world’s most dangerous stunts.