It’s been a long hard road for “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock (27-14-2). From his first appearance against Masakatsu Funaki (39-12-1) at Pancrase: Yes, We Are Hybrid Wrestlers 1 in September of 1993 to his recent dismantlement by “The Rock” Pedro Rizzo (18-9) at Impact FC 2: The Uprising in July of this year, Ken Shamrock has faced 31 separate opponents ranging from the legendary Royce Gracie (14-3-3) and “El Guapo” Bas Rutten (28-4-1) to modern era superstars “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (15-7-1) and ”Ace” Rich Franklin (27-5). He has recently fallen on hard times, however, dropping five of his last six outings and posting a meager 3-8 record since the turn of the century. This has led many fans and journalists to implore the UFC hall-of-famer to hang up his four-ounce gloves for good. Shamrock sees it differently. In fact he believes the exact opposite. He doesn’t believe that he should stop fighting, he told Sherdog.com that he should fight more…and I, for one, believe him.
Injuries aside, let’s have a look at the two major periods in ”The World’s Most Dangerous Man’s” career. Prior to his exit from the MMA scene, Ken fought 31 official MMA bouts as reported by www.mixedmartialarts.com. This means he fought roughly ten times a year for the first three years of his career and amassed an impressive record of 24-6-2. Following his return in 2000, Shamrock faced only 11 opponents, or just over one opponent a year, and lost eight of those fights. This was in part due to injuries and, according to many, his age. From looking at his record, it would seem a lost cause for Ken to compete in the new era of MMA, but when you look at his performances, a different story emerges.
Shamrock fought five times between May 1, 2000 and November 11, 2002, going 2-3 and fighting once every six months. Looking a t the losses, he showed total dominance over “Iron Head” Kazuyuki Fujita (13-8), losing due to an arrhythmia in his heart that surfaced late in the match. If you look at his loss to “The Predator” Don Frye (20-8-1), it was a 20-minute split decision that many consider one of the best MMA fights in PRIDE history, and on top of that Shamrock managed to severely injure both of Don’s knee’s and ankles. His final loss in that period came to Tito Ortiz, against whom he was seriously injured (needing surgery on both ACLs) and completely unable to shoot. He still managed to force Tito into the championship rounds, something only three men accomplished during a title reign that saw Tito finish every other opponent in the first. Many also forget that Ken rocked Tito multiple times while standing during the bout.
After losing to Tito, Ken had surgery on both knees, returned to the UFC and destroyed Kimo Leopoldo (10-7-1). After this win, nearly a year passed before Ken saw action again. He faced Rich Franklin next and lost via first round TKO after he slipped throwing a head kick. Ken was up on the scorecards up to that point, having controlled the stand up and nearly finished the fight with a heel hook that left Franklin on crutches for weeks afterward. Ken then laid off for nearly seven months before dropping a match to “The Gracie Hunter” Kazushi Sakuraba (24-13-1) then for nearly a full year before dropping back-to-back fights to Tito Ortiz.
After the third Tito fight, it was nearly two years before Ken fought again, against “Buzz” Robert Berry (12-8) in a truly horrible performance. Ken next faced non-contender “Grizzly” Ross Clifton (0-1), a massively overweight and unskilled opponent who he still managed to look bad against despite a first round armbar victory. His next and most recent fight was again nearly a year later and pitted him against former UFC champ Pedro Rizzo, against whom he looked absolutely terrible.
Fans may be asking themselves: How does any of this support Ken’s point? Here’s how. If you look over the last ten years, Ken’s only bad performances – win, lose, or draw – came after he had a significant lay-off. “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” looked better in losses to top competitors like Franklin, Ortiz, and Frye during active stretches than he did in fights against much less stellar competition following long lay-offs.
Ken Shamrock will never again be a top contender. You know that, I know that, and, yes, even he knows that, but he is still more than able to compete as a gatekeeper to the sports upper echelons. Ken is by no means as washed up as some of his recent performances suggest, he simply gathers ring rust far more quickly than most. His next opponent is set to be “Big” Johnathan Ivey (29-43), a man known more for his antics and lack of sportsmanship than his abilities. Expect Shamrock to destroy him as the fight comes less than six months after his last and more so, expect his recent signing with King of the Cage to yield a strong winning streak. I’ll be serving extra helpings of humble pie to those who have said he needs to quit by this time next year.