Attending EliteXC’s Challenger Series this past weekend in Atlantic City was current Strikeforce middleweight champion Frank Shamrock. Big brother Ken Shamrock was also in attendance to corner female MMA fighter Tonya Evinger, and to help fuel the Shamrock vs. Shamrock hype along with Frank, who served as guest commentator for the night’s event. I managed to grab a few minutes with Frank Shamrock before he assumed his place alongside the rest of the commentating crew and as usual, Frank was at no loss for words.
Eric: You’re doing a lot of promoting these days especially between Strikeforce and EliteXC, at this point in your career would you consider yourself more of a business man who fights, or a fighter who also tackles some business?
Frank: I am a fight entrepreneur…in my heart and soul I’m a fighter but the business of fighting is the business of life and the business of business. You know you don’t go into a board room and lay down and let somebody work you over, you don’t go into a board room and take a shot, you go into a board room and you fight for what you want.
Eric: Would you then say that the skills displayed in physical combat carry over into the business world as well?
Frank: Oh one hundred percent. I don’t see any difference between the two. I have the utmost respect for my opponents, my partners- everybody. But at the end of the day I’m going to do what’s best for my family, my community, myself… and you know if it brings me wealth then it’s all the better.
Eric: That being said, when you step in to fight Ken (Shamrock) next year would you say it’s not personal, its business?
Frank: (Laughs) That one will have some personal edge to it, that one for certain is a bit of a personal affair. And by personal I mean that this is something that I created, that I put together, and that Ken and I came together and we agreed on it. It’s something that we’ve always wanted to do, so for us it’s a personal thing that we love. We love fighting, and we came to love each other through fighting.
Eric: Is Ken as excited as you seem to be about this fight, or do you believe he is a little less enthusiastic about it?
Frank: Well I think he doesn’t want his ass kicked, but it’s also a chance for him to build wealth and to settle old scores…
Eric: The problem some fans seem to have with Shamrock vs. Shamrock is the idea that you want to go on television and make a profit for beating up your brother, who should probably not be fighting any more anyway, how do you respond to that?
Frank: Well first I think Ken always has a chance of winning. Ken is a true and honest fighter, that’s what most people miss. I’m a technician, I’m an artist but Ken is a real honest fighter. Ken is the type of guy that people say “he’s a fighter.” When people look at Ken they know that’s what a fighter is supposed to look like, and I’m not that guy.
Eric: So when you face off against Ken what will your strategy be? Will it be more difficult than previous bouts because you both know each others moves so well?
Frank: That’s a tough one…well when we split camps in 1997 I went the path of striking as my main study. I have no doubt that he’s going to stand up with me more out of machismo than smartness, then once I hit him a few times he’s going to make it a ground game. The problem with Ken is that on the ground he is very strong and very dangerous and very controlling, and that’s always been a bit of my weakness.
Eric: How do you see this fight ending? Do you think Ken’s cardio will prove to be a problem as it has been in the past?
Frank: Well I think I’m going to knock him out…because Ken’s not going to give up to a choke, he’s not going to give up to an arm lock or anything….and I wont try to submit him for two reasons. One is I know he won’t give up, his pride will not let him give up. And I don’t want to break his arm that’s not cool, I don’t want to break his leg that’s not cool.
Eric: Would you be comfortable choking him out?
Frank: Yea I’d be alright choking him out but Ken’s not going to give me his back and he’s not going to tap. So I think I could kick him in the head a few times, I can make him dizzy I can make him confused, and I can probably put him to sleep without really really hurting him.
Eric: Do you believe that Ken neglects the striking aspect as part of his training?
Frank: I don’t think that he neglects it, I just don’t think he understands it. I’ve been doing it exclusively for ten years and I just now get it. Striking is one of those finite sciences that takes a long long time to develop. That’s why boxers start so early and they work their way up. You know (Floyd) Mayweather started at age 3 that’s why he’s so good, and he never stopped training. That’s what you need to do to become really really good at coordinating your hands and your feet, your movement, your distance and timing. Grappling is organic, you grab somebody and wrestle its safe its organic, striking is totally different.
Eric: Ken’s been fighting at light heavyweight (205lbs) for quite some time so are you going to move up in weight for that fight or will Ken move down?
Frank: Ken wants to be 205 lbs he wants the weight advantage. I weigh 191 lbs every day and that’s what I will be fighting at.
Eric: Well before you meet Ken you’ll have Cung Le in front of you for a middleweight championship fight. Since Cung is so highly acclaimed for his striking, will you be looking for the takedown to avoid his stand up game?
Frank: I haven’t taken anybody down for a decade. Nobody has stood up with me, nobody has been better than me at stand up and I don’t believe Cung Le is that guy…at least in the stand up of MMA.
Eric: So you don’t think he will expose a stand up game that you might be lacking at all?
Frank: I don’t think I’m lacking but we’ll see.
Eric: How is your knee doing lately? I know you hurt it a while back training with Sokodjou?
Frank: The knee is good, it feels better and I’m ready to roll.
Eric: When you fought Phil Baroni how much did the knee injury affect your performance?
Frank: It affected me one hundred percent. I was exhausted and I was in horrible pain. And both of those sucked the life out of me. When I was supposed to be doing my vascular training I was on my back icing my knee. So my vascular conditioning went from 99 percent down to 60 percent.
Eric: Would you fight Cung Le in the same condition you were in when you fought Baroni, or would you postpone until you were closer to one hundred percent?
Frank: Well I’d love to be one hundred percent but I don’t think anyone is ever one hundred percent when they go out there so it is what it is you know…I’m used to it.