A “military brat,” Kenneth Wayne Kilpatrick was born at the Robins Air Force Base, in Warner Robins, Georgia, where he lived for the first four years of his life. His father Richard Kilpatrick was a United States Air Force enlistee, and his mother Diane Kilpatrick worked as a waitress and a dancer. Diane had her first son when she was only 15 years old. Shamrock had three brothers and came from a broken family in a predominantly black neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia.
He was often left to fend for himself, and, without the supervision or guidance of his parents, ended up getting into many fights. Shamrock’s father abandoned his family when Shamrock was five years old. His mother, Diane Kilpatrick, married an Army aviator named Bob Nance. The newly formed family moved to Napa, California, Nance’s hometown. Shamrock and his brothers were outsiders in this community, coming from a poor background and speaking in a Southern accent, they continued to cause trouble and get into fights and began using drugs. Nance, who had fought in the Vietnam War, became a member of the local fire department and also found work in roofing and upholstery. Shamrock became involved and excelled in sports at a young age, playing in Little League baseball and Pop Warner football. Nance remembers a veteran coach telling him that he had never seen a player with as much heart and tenacity as the young Shamrock. Shamrock was not as involved with drugs as his brothers, such as his brother Richie, who enjoyed smoking marijuana and eventually using heroin intravenously, but who also played football.
At age 10, Shamrock ran away from home for the first time, and was stabbed by another child on the run, ending up in the hospital. Shamrock, at the age of 13, was then kicked out of his home by his stepfather, and each of the brothers went their separate ways. Shamrock lived in cars as a result before being placed in a foster home. He went through seven group homes and ended up serving time in a juvenile hall. He bounced around between several group homes before being placed in Bob Shamrock’s Boys’ Home at age 14, in Susanville, California where he turned his life around. Bob Shamrock legally adopted Ken as his son, and Ken changed his last name from Kilpatrick to Shamrock in Bob’s honor. He then joined the Coast Guard shortly before knocking out Kevin “The Hitman” Harlee.
At Lassen High School, Shamrock (known there as Kenny Nance) excelled in both football and wrestling. As a senior, Shamrock qualified for the state championships in wrestling, but broke his neck in practice days before the competition and underwent neck surgery. Shamrock did not receive scholarship offers from any big colleges, and doctors told him his sports career was likely over. Against doctors orders, Shamrock joined the Shasta College football team, where he was voted team captain in his final season. The San Diego Chargers of the National Football League later offered Shamrock a tryout, but Shamrock declined in order to pursue a career in professional wrestling, where he debuted in 1989 in the South Atlantic Pro Wrestling promotion.
Mixed martial arts career
The origins of Shamrock’s mixed martial arts career began in the Japanese pro wrestling organization Fujiwara Gumi. On October 4, 1992, at the Tokyo Dome, a legitimate match between “Wayne Shamrock” (Shamrock’s ring name in Japan) and kickboxer Don Nakaya Nielsen took place. Shamrock submitted Nielsen in 45 seconds, first threatening him with a rear naked choke and then locking a neck crank/keylock combination for the win. The success of this match made young professional wrestlers Shamrock, Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki question what they had been told since entering into predetermined wrestling: that nobody would ever pay to see real matches. Shamrock, Funaki and Suzuki then founded a group of professional wrestlers and decided to pursue marketable legitimate matches. They formed a promotion called Pancrase.
Pancrase Hybrid Wrestling (1993–1996)
Shamrock made his mixed martial arts debut at Pancrase on September 21. Using professional wrestling rules—no closed fisted punching to the head and breaks on the ropes—but fighting for real without predetermined finishes, Shamrock beat Funaki by arm-triangle choke in the main event of the first Pancrase show on September 21, 1993. Shamrock considered this a big victory, as it had been the first time he beat Funaki in all his time as Funaki’s apprentice, and the show attracted a sell-out audience of 7,000.
He followed up with victories over Yoshiki Takahashi, Takaku Fuke and Andre Van Den Oetelaar, and was slated to fight co-founder Minoru Suzuki on January 19, 1994. According to Shamrock, he was asked by Pancrase management not to injure Suzuki during the match, as the Japanese was already affected by a back injury. However, during the match Suzuki refused to release a kneebar after Shamrock had grabbed the ropes to escape, which injured the American’s leg and forced him to forfeit the fight. The incident angered Shamrock, but there were no consequences.
His ninth match, against Matt Hume, would be a controversial one too. The bout was finished by Shamrock performing a professional wrestling northern lights suplex floated over into a Kimura lock, and was widely considered to be a worked shoot. When Shamrock was asked about the matter in 1998, he revealed that Hume and him had agreed to work the match in an exhibition format. Later, in 2015, he would answer to a similar question: “I talked to Matt and I said that we would go in with each other but I wouldn’t hurt him. I wouldn’t hurt him, because he had been so green. […] So those were understandings I had with guys because I was so much better than they were. And I’m not going to go in there and abuse these guys.”
He defeated world kickboxing champion Maurice Smith and Alex Cook in the opening round of the 16-man King of Pancrase Tournament and Masakatsu Funaki and Manabu Yamada in the Second Round to become the first King of Pancrase in December 1994. With this win, Shamrock became the first ever foreign champion in MMA history in Japan. He then defended his King of Pancrase title against Bas Rutten in 1995, submitting him with a kneebar. He lost the title in his next fight against Pancrase co-creator, Minoru Suzuki.
In addition to his MMA bouts in Pancrase, Shamrock also competed in a kickboxing match in 1994 with Dutch champion Frank “The Animal” Lobman, who holds a pro record of 110-6 with a 90% KO ratio. The American had only rudimentary striking experience, but he took the fight expecting it to help him to work on proper kickboxing. Shamrock broke Lobman’s nose with a right cross early in the bout but was ultimately defeated by TKO due to leg kicks.
Shamrock eventually had a falling out with Pancrase management in early 1996 and left the company to compete in the UFC full-time. Shamrock left Pancrase with a record of 17–3.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (1993–1996)
First UFC rivalry: Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie
On November 12, 1993, after the first three Pancrase shows, Shamrock was introduced by his apprentice Scott Bessac to the newly formed Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a fighting tournament that would take place in America. Although Shamrock initially believed it to be a professional wrestling event, he decided to sign up nonetheless, supported by Pancrase members Masakatsu Funaki and Takaku Fuke. The event, UFC 1, was held under a one-night tournament format, but Shamrock only realized it would be real fighting after watching Gerard Gordeau knock out Teila Tuli in the first bout.
In the first round, Shamrock was pitted against Kickboxing stylist Patrick Smith, who he made short work of by throwing Smith to the mat and submitting him with a heel hook. His next opponent was Brazilian jiu-jitsu exponent and eventual tournament winner Royce Gracie. Shamrock sprawled a takedown and manoeuvred on top of Gracie, but the latter escaped from under his mount attempt and returned to his feet. The Brazilian then pulled guard, so the American grabbed his ankle and sat back to attempt another heel hook. According to Shamrock, however, Gracie had wrapped his gi around Shamrock’s arm, and when the latter sat back, it pulled Gracie on top of him. With his arm still entangled, the American could not apply his leglock, which Gracie capitalized to secure a choke with his free hand and submit Shamrock. While the move is often listed as a rear naked choke, Shamrock later stated it to be actually a gi choke, as Royce had wrapped the cloth of his gi around Ken’s neck. The ending of the fight was also controversial, as the referee did not see the tap and ordered the two fighters to continue fighting after Gracie had let go of the hold. Shamrock paused for a few seconds but declined, admitting to the ref that he tapped out and that it would not be fair for him to continue fighting.
After the fight, Shamrock admitted that he had underestimated Gracie. In 2008 he said: “I didn’t know who Royce Gracie was… When I saw him in his gi, I thought he was some karate guy [with no grappling skills].” On the other hand, in 2015 Shamrock said he had watched the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu: In Action before the event and showed it to Funaki and the rest: “So one thing led to another, they started to support me on it- they did know that that gi meant a lot- but when they saw it too they thought “Yeah, you’ll be able to beat this guy pretty well.” And I had confidence, too.” Anyway, he put the blame of his loss in the fact that he wasn’t allowed to wear wrestling shoes during the fights, while Gracie himself had been allowed to wear his gi and choke Shamrock with it. “[Wearing shoes] is a lot of the set ups and the positions for my leglocks- being able to get my knee inside, being able to spin and push off, and being able to secure the leg. You take the shoes off, it’s like being on ice on the mat if you’ve never done it before.”
Shamrock was originally scheduled to compete at UFC 2 but broke his hand after blocking a high kick while sparring with a teammate. He still wanted to compete, but when doctors told him that he might never fight again if he injured his hand any further, he reluctantly withdrew.
On September 9, 1994, Shamrock returned to the octagon at UFC 3 in an event that was marketed by the UFC as the ultimate rematch between two-time champion Royce Gracie and #1 contender Shamrock. Shamrock’s first fight, now allowed to wear his shoes, was against top ranked judo practitioner Christophe Leininger. Leininger engaged for a takedown, but Shamrock blocked and got on top, unloading hard punches and headbutts until the tap out. Shamrock crossed faced Leininger so hard into the mat that Leininger admitted to being knocked out for a second, and he later was revealed to have suffered a mild concussion. Shamrock’s next fight was in the semifinals against kickboxer Felix Mitchell. Shamrock took Mitchell down and forced him to tap out due to a rear naked choke. With this win, Shamrock advanced to the finals of UFC 3. However, Shamrock refused to compete in the finals after he learned Gracie had dropped out of the tournament after his win over Kimo Leopoldo, combined with a knee injury he suffered during his match with Leininger.
On April 5, 1995, at UFC 5, Shamrock got his rematch with Gracie in a match called “The Superfight,” which would determine the UFC Champion. At the time, Gracie had a reputation as being seemingly unbeatable. Gracie had obvious concerns about his relative lack of size in comparison to Shamrock, so he came into the octagon at 190 pounds – roughly fifteen pounds above what had been his normal fighting weight; Shamrock also cut his weight down to 205 pounds for the bout. Hours before the event, the UFC suddenly instituted a 30-minute time limit, mainly due to pay per view time constraints. Both Gracie and Shamrock were upset at the sudden rule change. For Shamrock, it ruined his game plan, who had been training for months to utilize his natural advantages in size and strength to wear Gracie down over the course of two hours. Shamrock and Gracie fought for the entire allotted time of 30 minutes along with 5 minutes of overtime before the match was declared a draw due to the fight not having judges. Had there been ringside judges, UFC matchmaker Art Davie believes that Shamrock would have been declared the winner. Gracie left with a melon sized welt closing his eye, a result of a standing punch due to a sudden change of the rules in which both of the fighters were restarted on their feet. Shamrock was not satisfied with his performance against Gracie, saying “it’s certainly not a win. You gain nothing (with a draw)”. Shamrock expressed desire to fight Gracie again for a third time in 1996, saying that if it went to a draw again, he would have Gracie declared the winner and Shamrock would forfeit his UFC Superfight Championship belt to Gracie. Gracie left the UFC after his fight with Shamrock and did not return until 11 years later.
UFC Superfight Champion
Shamrock was then matched up with UFC 5 tournament champion Dan Severn at UFC 6 on July 14, 1995, to determine the reigning champion of the UFC. The “superfight”, a match presented as a fight between the “best of the best”, was still the match that would determine the UFC champion and the tournament winner would be considered the #1 contender for the newly created UFC Superfight Championship (later replaced by the UFC Heavyweight Championship when weight categories were introduced to the UFC). Their feud began at the pre-fight press conference. After most of the attention from the media was given to Shamrock, Severn got up and walked out of the door without explanation. Shamrock took Severn’s action as a sign of disrespect. Severn later said that he walked out because he felt that it would be unfair to Shamrock for him to be present in the room while Shamrock was discussing his fight strategy to the media. Shamrock became even more furious when he found a newsletter back at the hotel that explained to readers how Severn was going to destroy Shamrock. During the match, Shamrock forced Severn to tap out to a choke in 2:14 to win the UFC Superfight Championship.
On September 8, 1995, at UFC 7, Shamrock successfully defended the UFC Superfight Championship against UFC 6 Tournament Champion “The Russian Bear” Oleg Taktarov. Shamrock stated in his autobiography that he was uncomfortable fighting Taktarov, as Oleg trained with the Lion’s Den and he did not wish to injure his friend and teammate. In Beyond the Lion’s Den, Shamrock states; “In addition to being his friend, I was also trying to get him into Pancrase and if I broke his leg it would be a while before he could recover and he needed the money. I figured my best chance of winning without seriously hurting him was to beat on him with punches… If I could open a cut and get him to start pouring blood, I could get a referee stoppage. It might not have been the best plan going into a fight, but considering the options it seemed like the best option available. And it turned out fine. I battered him around for the duration of the match, the bout was declared a draw and when Oleg recovered he went on to fight in Pancrase.”
Shamrock then defended his belt against Kimo Leopoldo at UFC 8 in February 1996 in Puerto Rico. In the bout, Shamrock secured a kneebar, forcing Kimo to submit. With the win, Shamrock defended his UFC Superfight title for the second time.
The Dance in Detroit
Shamrock was then scheduled to face number one contender and rival Dan Severn at UFC 9 in a rematch of their fight at UFC 6, which Shamrock won by guillotine choke in 2:14. Their rematch at UFC 9 was marketed as the “Clash of the Titans 2” and took place in the Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan, in Severn’s home state.
UFC owner Bob Meyrowitz, referee John McCarthy and a team of lawyers were in court until 4:30 p.m. on the day of the fight battling with the District Attorney of Michigan, who was trying to prevent the UFC from holding the event in the state. An ultimatum was issued: the fight could go on as long as there were no closed fisted strikes to the head and no headbutts. The UFC, desperate to put the show on, agreed to the terms. Fighters were warned hours before the show that they would be arrested if they punched to the head with a closed fist. When Shamrock learned of the sudden rule change, he made up his mind that he was not going to fight. While training for the match, Shamrock suffered a torn lateral meniscus, a partially torn ACL, a broken nose, and cracked ribs. His injuries, combined with the rule change, meant he did not think he could win the fight because all of his weapons were taken away from him. Shamrock was also fearful that he would be arrested; the troubled boys from his father’s foster home would be watching him and he was afraid of setting a bad example. If Shamrock withdrew, the main event would have been cancelled and the UFC could have suffered substantial monetary damage. After UFC owner Bob Meyrowitz and other UFC officials pleaded with Shamrock to go on with the show, Shamrock, despite the injuries and new rules, reluctantly gave in to the pressure.
In a fight that would be called “The Dance in Detroit”, both Severn and Shamrock circled each other with little to no contact for a combined total of almost thirty minutes. “I took the center of the ring understanding that I was going to be fighting for my life and Dan never came at me,” Shamrock said. Severn later said that his strategy was purposely not to engage with Shamrock and wait for the fans to boo, hoping that the booing would affect Shamrock psychologically and force him to make a mistake that Severn could capitalize on. Finally, after over 15 minutes of stalling, Severn shot for a takedown, but was unsuccessful and following a brief scramble, Shamrock put Severn on his back in full mount. Shamrock held the mount for close to five minutes, throwing open fist palm strikes to Severn’s head and an occasional closed fist punch to the body. Shamrock felt as though he would have damaged Severn badly and perhaps finished him from this position of full mount had he been allowed to punch Severn in the face with a closed fist. Severn eventually gave his back in an attempt to get out and the risk paid off as Shamrock slid off Severn’s back and onto his back in full guard. Severn landed a headbutt to open a cut above Shamrock’s eye and followed with elbow strikes and punches from Shamrock’s guard. Shamrock eventually got back to his feet and after six more minutes stalling, the fight went to a judges decision. The judges gave a split decision win to Dan Severn, which upset Shamrock because he felt as though Severn had broken the rules by utilizing the banned closed fist punches to the head and headbutts. Chants of “boring!” and “Let’s go Red Wings!” were echoed throughout the arena during the fight. Shamrock later stated that going through with this fight was the biggest regret of his fighting career.
After taking time off away from the octagon to heal injuries, Shamrock entered the UFC’s Ultimate Ultimate 1996 in December 1996. Shamrock appeared as a guest on the mainstream American television program Late Night with Conan O’Brien to promote the event. Frank Shamrock served as Ken’s head cornerman for the event. Shamrock’s opponent in the quarterfinals of the tournament was Judo black belt, kickboxer, and Golden Gloves champion Brian Johnston. Shamrock eventually tapped Johnston out with a forearm choke and advanced to the semifinals of the tournament. Shamrock, however, broke the same hand during this fight that kept him out of UFC 2 and had to withdraw from the tournament.
After UFC 9, United States Senator John McCain was successful in pulling UFC pay-per-view broadcasts from numerous cable systems, including TCI Cable, which greatly hurt pay-per-view revenue. Combined with money drying out, the need to support his family and being burnt out from fighting, Shamrock left MMA for professional wrestling signing with the World Wrestling Federation.
Pride Fighting Championships (2000–2002, 2005)
Pride Grand Prix 2000
On January 30, 2000, at the Pride Grand Prix 2000 Opening Round, Guy Mezger, one of Shamrock’s fighters, fought Kazushi Sakuraba, who at the time was considered to be one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. Mezger took the fight on two weeks’ notice and had a broken foot going into the fight. The contract that Mezger signed stipulated that the fight would be one 15 minute round with no overtime. The fight mostly consisted of Mezger controlling the fight by stopping Sakuraba’s takedown attempts while landing strikes from the outside. The round ended and Mezger expected the fight to go to the judges, but Pride officials wanted the fight to go to overtime.
According to Mezger, Pride did not like the outcome of the fight and changed the agreement/contract on the spot in order to give Sakuraba another chance to win the fight. Ken Shamrock, Mezger’s corner man, entered the ring and an argument ensued. Mezger was then ordered out of the ring and back to the locker room by Shamrock, who was livid at the decision to extend the fight because of Mezger’s foot injury and the fact that he had taken the fight on short notice.
Mezger said, “For some reason, I had a tremendous amount of energy for that 15 minutes, but I started to kind of wilt near the end. Then they called it a draw and I’m like, “What?” Everyone blames Ken for being unprofessional. Really, Ken was protecting his fighter. We had an agreement. Sakuraba said, “I wanted to go another round, thinking it would be possible to salvage the match, but when it was decided to extend the fight, Ken Shamrock was making scary faces. Later I heard that Mezger’s contract was only for a one-round fight. I thought, “Ah, then it couldn’t be helped.” But Shamrock didn’t have to get so angry like that. Seeing Mezger getting scolded by him, I felt sorry for (Mezger).”
Later that night, the president of Pride FC made a public apology to Mezger at the Tokyo Dome for the miscommunication. Braverman added, “We had a big meeting (with PRIDE). We were able to get some concessions out of them, money and guarantees of future fights. They wanted to make it right. One thing I said in the meeting was, “Do you want me to call Kenny back in here and see what he says?” “No, no, no, no!”
In early 2000, Shamrock made a comeback to the mixed martial arts scene following his 4-year hiatus in the WWF. He signed with Pride Fighting Championships and defeated Alexander Otsuka by KO due to punches at the Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals in the superfight, his first fight back from the WWF. During the match Shamrock was able to totally knock out the tough Otsuka, a feat which renowned strikers like Igor Vovchanchyn and Wanderlei Silva failed to do. This was the first ever Pride event to be broadcast live in America and Pride strategically used Shamrock’s drawing power in America by making his Superfight with Otsuka the co-headliner of the event.
On August 27, 2000, Shamrock fought consensus top 10 Heavyweight “Ironhead” Kazuyuki Fujita at Pride 10 – Return of the Warriors. Shamrock came into the fight with Fujita noticeably smaller than his previous fight with Otsuka, dropping roughly 15 pounds of weight. During the time before the fight, Shamrock was going through a divorce and had to take care of his young kids during the day, which severely cut into his training time for the fight. Despite this, Shamrock dominated Fujita throughout the entire fight, stopping takedowns from the Japanese wrestling champion and landing hard strikes, but eventually had his corner throw in the towel because he felt like he was having a heart attack. He was evaluated after the fight and it was determined that he was suffering from heart palpitations.
In March 2001, Shamrock was scheduled to fight Igor Vovchanchyn at Pride 13 – Collision Course, but re-injured his neck during training two weeks before the fight, the same serious neck injury that ended his WWF career.
Shamrock engaged in a feud with Don Frye during his career in the Pride Fighting Championships, whose background was Don Frye‘s trash talking. In 1999, Alicia Webb (also known as Ryan Shamrock) dated Ken Shamrock until early 2003. Frye made comments to the effect that Shamrock cheated on and divorced his wife to date a young girl (Alicia Webb was 19 and Ken Shamrock was 35 when they started dating). Frye also joked that Ken’s (at the time) estranged father Bob and brother Frank would be in Frye’s corner for the fight. Ken Shamrock was enraged by Frye’s trash talk, causing a feud between Shamrock and Frye. Since then, Frye has stated that he only resorted to personal trash talk to make Ken want to fight him. Frye said: “I saw Ken Shamrock whoop him (Dan Severn) at UFC 6 and I thought, “That’s a guy I gotta fight. Anybody who can whoop Dan Severn like that has gotta be a man and I want to test my size against his size. I had the chance to talk trash and they gave me the fight; I crossed the line. I wasn’t professional about it, but Ken was and after the fight, we shook hands and went our separate ways.”
The feud ended on February 24, 2002, at Pride 19, where Shamrock fought Frye in the main event in a match that potentially had PRIDE Heavyweight Championship title implications (PRIDE FC considered giving the winner of this fight a title shot against Pride heavyweight champion Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira). Frye got the edge on a series of clinch battles, while Shamrock dropped down for an ankle lock and transitioned into both a kneebar and a toehold, wrenching Frye’s leg badly; however, despite the damage, Frye refused to tap out and managed to knock Shamrock down in a subsequent punching exchange. The bout moved to the mat, where Shamrock attempted another ankle lock, only for Frye to try to counter with one of his own and finally refusing to tap out by sheer will until the time ran out. Shamrock lost a close split decision, and the two hugged after the fight ended, putting an end to their rivalry.
Fight against Kazushi Sakuraba
In October 2005, Shamrock lost to Kazushi Sakuraba in Pride: Fully Loaded by TKO. Three minutes into the bout, Sakuraba struck through Shamrock’s guard with a left hand. Shamrock staggered back and ultimately fell into the ropes, his head hanging out of the ring and his back turned to Sakuraba. Sakuraba rushed in to follow up, but before any meaningful offense could be launched, the fight was halted by referee Yuji Shimada. Shamrock got up following the KO and protested vigorously. Opinions were mixed regarding the KO’s legitimacy, though Ken’s adopted brother and rival, Frank, stated to believe the stoppage was justified.
Return to UFC (2002–2006)
Feud with Tito Ortiz
A feud between Shamrock’s Lion’s Den camp and Tito Ortiz began to build on January 8, 1999, at UFC 18. After upsetting top UFC fighter and Lion’s Den member Jerry Bohlander, Ortiz mimicked shooting at Shamrock and put on a shirt in the octagon which read “I just f**ked your ass”.
On March 5, 1999, at UFC 19, after Ortiz won by referee stoppage in his rematch with Guy Mezger, he immediately flipped off the Lion’s Den corner and then put on a shirt that said “Gay Mezger is my Bitch”. After Shamrock saw the shirt, he yelled into the octagon “Hey Tito, don’t let me see you wearing that shirt!”. Shamrock leaped onto the top of the cage, screaming at Ortiz and angrily waving his finger in Ortiz’s face. Referee John McCarthy picked Ortiz up and carried him across the octagon to prevent the situation from escalating further. The situation was escalated to the point that police and security had to be called in to monitor the situation.
On November 22, 2002, at UFC 40, nearly four years after the confrontation at UFC 19, Shamrock returned to the UFC to fight Ortiz in a title match for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. Shamrock’s apparent size advantage did not factor into the fight, however; Shamrock experienced difficulty cutting weight for the first time and cut too much weight, weighing in at 201 lbs, 4 lbs under the 205 lb. limit. Ortiz shed light upon his feelings before the fight in his book This is Gonna Hurt: The Life of a Mixed Martial Arts Champion; “Ken Shamrock is a real good fighter. I was not intimidated by him, but I guess you can say I was a little bit afraid.”
The match garnered mainstream attention from media outlets such as ESPN and USA Today. UFC President Dana White credited Shamrock for the show’s success. White said, “the reason we did so well on UFC 40 was because of Ken Shamrock and the fact that everyone knew who he was.” Shamrock nearly scored a knockout early in round 1, buckling Ortiz’s knees with a punch and dropping him to one knee. However, Ortiz recovered shortly after and went on to dominate the fight with takedowns and ground-and-pound. Right before Round 4 started, Shamrock’s cornerman threw in the towel and Ortiz successfully defended the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
After the fight was over, Shamrock revealed that he fought Ortiz with a torn ACL. He also seriously contemplated retirement from MMA, citing the fact that he had never lost two fights in a row in his career before and he had a buildup of injuries. In 2003, Shamrock had surgery to repair his ACL. Shamrock has said that since his knee injury, he has had difficulty shooting and taking people down, which resulted in Shamrock changing his primary style from a wrestler/grappler and moving more towards a standup fighter.
UFC Hall of Famer
On November 21, 2003, at UFC 45, Royce Gracie and Shamrock became the first inductees to the UFC Hall of Fame. UFC President Dana White said, “We feel that no two individuals are more deserving than Royce and Ken to be the charter members. Their contributions to our sport, both inside and outside the Octagon, may never be equaled.”
At UFC 48 on June 19, 2004, a 40-year-old Shamrock returned to fight the 244 lb (111 kg; 17.4 st) Kimo Leopoldo in a rematch of the UFC 8 Superfight Championship match, which Shamrock had won via submission due to a kneebar. The rematch saw Shamrock once again win, this time by way of KO. Shamrock injured his shoulder during the fight against Kimo. He originally thought it was just “wear and tear”, but an MRI revealed a torn rotator cuff. Shamrock then had to have surgery to repair it.
On April 9, 2005, at The Ultimate Fighter finale Shamrock faced Rich Franklin. Shamrock applied a heel hook early in the fight that put Franklin on crutches for a week, but Franklin escaped and defeated Shamrock by a TKO.
The Ultimate Fighter: Season 3
Shamrock was portrayed badly on the show, feuding with his fighters and often appearing uninterested. Shamrock admitted to doing a poor job with his fighters: “I failed them miserably, completely. So I have to figure out a way to get this…back in the driver’s seat”, Shamrock said during the show. Shamrock responded to his critics in an interview: “I trained three fighters that were the first three (UFC) Middleweight Champions: Jerry Bohlander, Guy Mezger and Frank Shamrock. And I’ve trained dozens of guys to be champs in other organizations. In Pancrase, I had eight fighters in the top ten at one point. I was the champion and (Masakatsu) Funaki was the number one contender. The rest were all Lion’s Den fighters. My reputation doesn’t have to be spoken for or defended. The UFC and Spike TV did what they thought they needed to do for ratings, but in the end, my fans, my family and my God know exactly who I am.”
On July 8, 2006, at UFC 61, the rematch between Shamrock and Ortiz took place. Shamrock lost the rematch with Ortiz in 1:18 of the first round by a technical knockout. During the match, referee Herb Dean deemed that Shamrock was no longer able to intelligently defend himself and stopped the fight. Shamrock and the crowd were furious at the early stoppage and Dana White immediately put together a rematch on television.
At Ortiz vs. Shamrock 3: The Final Chapter on October 10, 2006, Shamrock was defeated again by Ortiz by KO after referee John McCarthy stopped the fight following multiple undefended fist strikes. Immediately after the fight, Ortiz initially celebrated his victory with a mocking “grave digger” routine and a T-shirt that said, “Punishing Him Into Retirement” after giving him the finger. However, Shamrock approached Ortiz and, after the two talked for several seconds, Shamrock said they could put all of their animosity aside as it was always “just business”, shaking hands and burying the hatchet. UFC President Dana White said the day after Shamrock’s fight with Ortiz, “Last night was a turning point for the UFC. This will further drive the evolution of mixed martial arts into a mainstream sport.”
Shamrock was rumored to fight Englishman Steve McDonald at UFC 75, but he was ultimately released from his UFC contract in June 2007. Shamrock stated that the UFC released him solely because of his decision to coach in the International Fight League. Shamrock then engaged in a feud with White in the media and ultimately sued the UFC for breach of contract, citing that he had one fight left on his deal that the UFC had to honor. Shamrock ultimately lost his suit against the UFC and was ordered by the court to pay Zuffa’s attorney fees, totaling $175,000.
Post-UFC career (2007–2019)
In early 2007, Shamrock became the coach of the Nevada Lions for the International Fight League (IFL). Roy Nelson, one of Shamrock’s fighters, was the reigning IFL Heavyweight Champion when the league was bought out and disbanded.
On March 8 at the Cage Rage 25, Shamrock fought Robert Berry, but lost in the first round by Technical knockout due to punches. It was announced on August 25 that Shamrock’s next opponent would be Kimbo Slice at Elite XC Saturday Night Fight Special on October 4, 2008. Shamrock, however, was injured before the match and could not compete for at least 45 days.
Ken Shamrock Productions co-promoted an event with War Gods on February 13, 2009, in which Ken fought in the main event against 6’6, 380 lb. Ross Clifton. Shamrock knocked Clifton down with a right hand and finished him via arm bar from side control in the first round. Shamrock was then scheduled to fight Bobby Lashley, but tested positive for steroids after the Clifton fight and received a one-year suspension. Shamrock’s attorney and former manager Rod Donohoo said Shamrock adamantly denied the allegations.
Shamrock faced Pedro Rizzo on July 18, 2010, at an event called Impact Fighting Championships in Sydney, Australia. Shamrock lost by TKO due to leg kicks. His next fight was against Johnathan Ivey for the USA MMA promotion on October 16, 2010. Shamrock earned a unanimous decision against Ivey, with all three judges scoring the bout 30-27. He then fought Mike Bourke on November 25, 2010, in Durban, South Africa for the King of the Cage promotion. Shamrock knocked Bourke down with a punch but was injured shortly after during a scramble and subsequently lost the bout via TKO (injury) in the first round, as he was unable to continue due to a leg injury.
Shamrock was scheduled to face Antony Rea at WEF 46 on April 22, 2011. Ken withdrew from the fight with Rea due to a staph infection. Shamrock was also planning on returning to MMA to take on Ian Freeman for ‘The Legends World Title’ on July 27 at the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster, England. The fight with Freeman was cancelled due to contractual issues on Shamrock’s part.
On January 8, 2015, Shamrock announced that he would fight James Quinn in the United Kingdom in a Bare Knuckle Boxing match. The match was set for April 2015, but never took place.
On February 27, 2015, during Bellator 134, it was announced that Ken would return to fight Kimbo Slice at Bellator 138 on June 19, 2015. During the fight, Shamrock had managed to take Slice down twice and the second time establish a rear naked choke. Slice refused to tap, however, and eventually wriggled free from the submission and was able catch Shamrock with one of his trademark powerful right hooks resulting in a TKO loss for Shamrock at 2:22 in the first round.
At Bellator 145, it was announced that Shamrock would face rival Royce Gracie in a trilogy fight on February 19, 2016, at Bellator 149, almost 21 years after their most recent fight. Gracie won the fight in the first round after taking Shamrock down and ending it with hammerfists. The win, however, was not without controversy as replays showed that Gracie landed an illegal groin strike to Shamrock, which resulted in him taking his opponent down. With the referee not stopping the bout, it was officially ruled a TKO victory for Gracie, the first of his MMA career. The fight ended at 2:22, exactly the same time as Ken Shamrock’s earlier fight against Kimbo Slice. On March 11, 2016, it was revealed by Texas Combat Sports commission that Shamrock had failed his pre-fight drug test. His licence to fight was revoked.
In July, 2019 via his Facebook page, Shamrock announced that he has “no plans to fight again.”
Article Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Shamrock