"The face of our sport is Dana White and out here in conservative New York, the way people think, bald-headed, tattoo'd, swearing people are just not a good representative of our brand and unfortunately people think that Dana White speaks for MMA, and they're confused," Shamrock said Monday on The MMA Hour. "They don't know he speaks for the UFC. They think he speaks for the entire sport and [they think] the entire sport is made up of Dana Whites.
"... I don't think it's all on him," Shamrock elaborated. "But we're entering a new era of social media and Dana is a very outspoken figure in every way, mostly with the f-bomb and all that. I'm a martial artist. To me, the art is the most important thing. I don't get the same thing from Dana, that's all."
There's a certain lifestyle and character of a martial artist and Shamrock says he wouldn't categorize White as such.
"I don't believe that Dana White is a martial artist," Shamrock said, never shy to dispense UFC criticism. "I don't see a martial way that he is following."
The importance of MMA for Shamrock is clearly more than just business and fandom. Shamrock struggled with a troubled childhood, becoming a ward of the State of California at 12 and incarcerated by 18. It was his involvement in MMA that Shamrock credits for turning his life around.
"I probably wouldn't have had the rough lifehood, I probably wouldn't have went to jail, I probably wouldn't have done all those things," the 37-year-old said. "Because I didn't have a way, a life, I grew up very poor, abused. I didn't know there was a better way. [MMA] is the better way. That's why I'm so passionate about it. That's why we got to do something for the arts."
To get closer where his voice will be heard, Shamrock in February 2011 will be relocating from his longtime home in San Jose to the Big Apple, where he plans on positioning the sport in a new light, one different from the UFC's, says Shamrock.
"In no uncertain terms, what [New York politicians] have said is, 'The appearance of the sport is something we're not ready for,' and the appearance of the sport is Dana White and the UFC because no one else has been here in the media and explain it and has credibility, who's done it," Shamrock said.
With competitive MMA out of his system after formally announcing his retirement in June, the former UFC and Strikeforce champ will continue announcing for Showtime as well as pushing his efforts to advance the sport. Thinking a makeover of MMA in the legislation's eyes is the answer to finding MMA a home in New York, Shamrock wants to step in as the man to do it.
"I know what the art is and I'm here to represent it," Shamrock said. "I think that's all we need. We need a different face."