It’s hard to believe, but Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie are fighting for a third time at Bellator 149, almost 21 years after the last time they met, at UFC 5. While that match was ruled a draw, long-time fans of MMA believe this third fight to be the rubber match. Shamrock beat up Royce for 35 minutes at UFC 5, and Royce made Ken tap in less than a minute at UFC 1. Now, their combined age is over 100 years old, and their story will finally be finished.
It’s not every day when you get to speak to a true legend and trailblazer of mixed martial arts. Ken Shamrock was fighting before that title was even given to the sport we love. So I asked him to illuminate on old tales and paint a picture of where he thinks MMA is going under Bellator’s legend-embracing banner.
I wanted to clear the air on a 20-year-old issue: Why were you upset about Royce wearing a gi back when you originally fought him?
Well, it was the idea that he wore the gi and they took my shoes away and said my shoes were a weapon. I said his gi is also a weapon. It’s supposed to be no holds barred, no rules, and yet they took my shoes away 24 hours before I stepped in the ring, didn’t give me a chance to prepare for that fight without shoes, which was something I had never done before. That was the issue. There were just different things behind the scenes that they manipulate to put the card together the way they want the card to be put together. The time limits… the rules they came up with and it’s supposed to be with no rules. So, that was the issue.
In this fight I pushed for him to wear the gi and then they told me that it’s just not gonna happen with the rules and regulations and all of that. Obviously, if he were to wear the gi right now it would upset me, because I’ve been training for a bare back. Those were the things that bothered me. It’s not just that he wore the gi, it’s that I didn’t get to wear my shoes. Those are the kinds of things that need to be very clear.
Would you call yourself the World’s Most Dangerous Middle-Aged Man?
[Laughs] First of all, I don’t think you can name yourself. I think that a nickname is either given to you by the fans or the show, or something that happens that gives you that label. I don’t believe in naming myself. If that’s what people do, if that’s what they give me, then I will definitely embrace it, but right now? All that’s on my mind is February 19th and getting the win.
What was the genesis of this fight? Was it close to happening before or did the stars just align to allow Bellator to put this on between you two?