Frank Shamrock was the second fighter to join my all time favorites list. Royce Gracie was the first.
Frank was always a good fighter — I’d been impressed with his Pancrase wars with Bas Rutten, Masa Funaki, Allan Goes, etc — but Frank was only one of many fighters I was keeping an eye on. I remember thinking that Allan Goes would be the one to go on to greatness after their fight.
But then Frank went on a tear, after a somewhat disappointing loss to John Lober, he rebounded strong. For the next two years he was the best fighter in the (young) history of MMA.
From November 1997 when he beat Enson Inoue to September 1999 when he wore out and finally crushed a seemingly invincible Tito Ortiz, Frank Shamrock was THE MAN.
He was the first great fighter to be more than one-dimensional — equally dangerous on his feet or on the ground. And more importantly he fought smart. Where his adopted brother Ken would come in to a fight with a one-move game plan and be stymied if something went wrong — like Dan Severn refusing to go for the takedown — Frank adapted.
His range and his brains exposed the weaknesses of even the best athletes in the game at the time. Gold medal Olympian Kevin Jackson didn’t know submissions and Frank armbarred him in 16 seconds. The fierce Russian Igor Zinoviev had really bad takedown defense and 22 seconds later Frank had slammed him out cold. Jeremy Horn surprised Frank and dominated through the regular period, only to fall for a sneaky kneebar in the overtime round — Frank’s pancrase background came in handy there!
Then he had his revenge match, John Lober had out-muscled and out-meaned Frank in their SuperBrawl match-up and he was talking major trash before their UFC Brazil rematch. Frank just flat whipped his ass. Threw him around the ring, beat him standing and on the ground and in the end threw Lober’s threat to “beat him down until he won’t want to get up and take anymore” back in his face.
Frank’s glory years reached a fitting climax when he used his superior conditioning and ring generalship to wear out Tito. Tito had thrived on beating smaller opponents by getting the take down and then punishing them when they tried to fight to their feet. Frank refused to play that game. Frank conceded the takedown, went to guard and when Tito tired in the late rounds, Frank exploded to his feet and put the hurt on.
So what’s all this history got to do with 2007? Not much I’m afraid. The Frank Shamrock of today would rather talk trash about guys he won’t fight (Phil Baroni). And even worse, Frank got disqualified for illegal knees against Renzo Gracie and then TALKED TRASH AFTER THE FACT. That is so lame.
Here’s a guy who was a sure fire hall of famer and now he’s a has been.
Frank, you might want to call Pete Rose and ask him what happens when an athlete disgraces his legacy.
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