Another week of Fight Master is in the books, as another pair of welterweights inch ever closer to a life-changing $100,000 grand prize.
Last night's episode featured two grinding tournament match-ups, the latter of which ended with the arms of our guest, Frank Shamrock, outstretched to the heavens once more in victory. A former Strikeforce, WEC, and UFC champion, Shamrock will join us every Thursday to elaborate on the week's episode, share stories from the set and highlight some things we may have missed.
If you have any questions you'd like Shamrock to answer next week, please write them in the comments below. Remember that rec'd comments will get first priority. And with that said, let's have some fun.
Al-Shatti: We kick off this week's episode with Mike Bronzoulis (Couture) vs. Jason Norwood (Warren). This is the first non-Shamrock fight so far, but during the training montage we see a couple shots of Mike and Jason outside running the streets. In TUF, contestants are confined to the house. Were these guys allowed to leave the set?
Shamrock: There was about a half-mile perimeter of where they could go. It was made on a running track, but other than that, they weren't really allowed out. So it was very much a high-tense, confined situation.
If you open your door and you look out, there's a cage sitting there. It's always lit. It's just waiting. Every single day, walking by the cage, it's always lit, it's always just mouth open, waiting for something. It was almost like a living being and we're just kind of getting around it. It's so surreal. You're sitting right next to a guy, and you're just like, ‘Yeah, we're going to fight this weekend.' It was an experience like I haven't experienced before.
Al-Shatti: Ultimately Bronzoulis ends up tiring Norwood out before crushing him in the third round. Looking back on your career, what's the one moment that stands out to you in which cardio proved to be such a deciding factor, either for or against you?
Shamrock: The biggest one for me would be fighting Tito Ortiz. I knew he didn't have the vascular strength to go at the speed I was going to go at, and I knew I did. I knew once he crossed that line, he couldn't go back. He was going to crumble. It just goes back to, conditioning is your biggest weapon. A lot of these guys, they don't get that yet. They saw a perfect example. Mike broke him, and then Mike just started beating on him.
Al-Shatti: When the second bout arrives, and Ishmael Gonzalez picks your guy, last ranked Joe Williams, you like the match-up from the get go. Why?
Shamrock: Joe's ranking was not based on his abilities. I saw Joe pull off some really high-level wrestling techniques in his fight against Cole Williams, so I knew he had wrestling skill. He got ranked last because he got picked last. He lost and got in on a wildcard. So he organically got that spot, and Ishmael made a huge mistake by picking him, because Ishmael doesn't have high-level wrestling. He's got high-level striking, but a poor grappling game and I knew it. I just knew it. The minute he picked him, I was like, ‘Oh, Joey, you lucked out on this one.'
Al-Shatti: Before the fight Joe said something that struck me. He told his teammates: ‘You guys just want to win. I want to redeem myself.' Is there a unique strength in that mindset?
Shamrock: Joe is such a passionate person. When he speaks, he speaks right to the heart. When he's saying stuff like that, he's bringing you into his world, into his journey. That's very powerful for these guys. They're just starting, a lot of them really believe they can't do it. If you suck, Joe's going to be like, ‘Dude, you suck.' But if you have a positive attribute, he's going to pump that up. He's going to be honest with you in a way that makes some people uncomfortable, but for a lot of people, it makes them think, ‘Yeah, maybe I could do that.'
He's a visionary when it comes to what he wants to achieve, and he's able to get that across to the guys and get them to believe in things that I don't know if they should be believing in. (Laughs.) He's one of the those guys that talks and you go, ‘Man, that sounds good. I think I want to try that.' It could be the craziest thing in the world, but he has such passion and honesty that he captures you.
Al-Shatti: Well it played out almost perfectly. Once the fight started, Joe immediately snagged a takedown into half guard. You couldn't have asked for anything better.
Shamrock: Oh yeah. I knew the minute it went down, it was over. That's why I was picking on Joe Warren and having a good time.
Al-Shatti: Oh man, I was just about to ask you that. Three minutes in, you actually started talking noise to Ishmael. That blew me away. Joe Warren's expression was classic. I've never seen something like that before. Where did it come from?
Shamrock: (Laughs.) ‘Hey, Ishmael, just come to my camp! Warren doesn't know that!' (Laughs.) You know, that was basically for Warren. He got out of the gate real strong and it gave him a lot of confidence. He went from being, ‘Oh, I don't know,' to, ‘Hey, I'm the greatest wrestler in the world.' I was looking forward to kind of putting Warren back in his place a little bit.
I felt bad for Ishmael at the time. But we're in a competition and I'm trying to win, and in know that beating up Warren a little bit in this stage of the competition is really important. I had a lot of confidence in Williams and I wasn't really worried about it strategically, so I knew that I could take the time to pick on Warren, and that would pay off as the game went on.
Al-Shatti: It actually seemed to get Warren frustrated. He started pacing around then gave up on the first round with time still left on the clock.
Shamrock: That's all I needed! Because all Ishmael needed to do was stop Joe's shots, lower himself down a little bit and create distance. If he'd have done that, he could of really hurt Williams.
So I knew I couldn't let up, because if I let up on Warren, he's going to get more and more confidence and he's just going to build Ishmael back up. I was like, ‘No, no, no. You keep picking on Warren, Warren will never tell Ishmael how to get up, and Ishmael will never get up, and then we'll all be good.' I mean, I felt bad afterwards because it was pretty aggressive, what I was doing, but I felt like that's what needed to be done in the moment in the game for my guy to be victorious.
Al-Shatti: Even between rounds, you kept it going. Be honest with me, how much delight were you taking away from this? Because I felt like your glee was radiating off my screen.
Shamrock: (Laughs.) Yeah, I was pretty happy. You know, Warren's a rough guy. He likes to play around and play pranks and stuff. I didn't know Warren until this game started, but on that stage I saw him getting stronger and stronger and stronger, building up his team, and when he really started making moves, I was like 'Wow, I was worried about Randy and Greg, and now I have to worry about Joe.' So that was my chance just to kick him hard, and you know, I kicked him hard. Then I kicked him again. (Laughs.)
Al-Shatti: The kicker for me was your last little gem, when you're yelling to Williams, ‘Joe has no idea how to teach him to get up! Joe is not a teacher!' Warren couldn't believe it. He actually stopped giving directions, then Ishmael just kind of gave up at the end.
Shamrock: He stopped everything! He, like, [accepted] it. He took the words I was telling him and was like, ‘Yeah, he's right. He's right.' He shut down. It felt so good. It really felt like I was winning all around on that one. (Laughs.)
Al-Shatti: Man, realistically, that could've backfired so hard...
Shamrock: Oh, I could've looked terrible! It was one of those gut feeling things. And it was also for Joe Williams. It wasn't about the other team. It was all about us empowering these guys, giving them words of strength and backing those up with techniques. That's what I do. Williams had all the skills but his confidence had been rattled from that loss. So I knew he needed something extra to help him believe, and that's fine. As silly as it was, it helped Williams believe, and it also made Warren crazy and it made Ishmael distracted. So it helped win the game for my whole side.
Al-Shatti: Well we end the episode with you and Randy Couture each carrying two guys through to the next round, and everyone else winless. How did you feel at that point in the game?
Shamrock: I felt pretty awesome. I knew Mike (Dubois) was going to be a tough one. He just doesn't have the skill. He fought a skilled guy, so I knew that was a one-in-a-million chance that he was going to beat Cole Williams. But I loved my team. The guys, they could see the glaring holes in their styles, and they were just like, ‘We're good. Tell me what to do and I'll do it.' Just that honesty and that faith in my vision, it was so cool to be around.
gentleway asks: Along with mind, body and spirit are you incorporating meditation with their training? Is it something any of them brought with them?
Shamrock: Yeah, I incorporated meditation, relaxation, visualization pretty consistently into my training program, which is what I do anyway. And especially for guys like Lozano, he needed an extra mental edge. Guys like Mikey who didn't have the technical prowess, but had a real strong mind, I think it helped strengthen some of those guys. I do it everyday anyway, so all you've got to do is hang out with me and I'll get you doing it.
Jamesglory asks: Given the quality of episode 4's action, would you be exaggerating if you said the fights are all of this quality, and is there still even better action to come?
Shamrock: There's better action to come, but Chris Lozano makes every fight amazing. Like, he's that guy. But yeah, you're going to see fights that are just really compelling because of the stylistic match-ups. The reason why Chris' fights are exciting is he can take an easy fight and make it exciting. He fights the fight that he needs to fight for himself personally, and the win and all of that is something extra. He's working on his own issues out there, and to watch him struggle through and fight through that is very entertaining. He just puts his heart on the line and you cant deny how awesome it looks.
Clone Of Moth Yup asks: Does Greg Jackson's ringside shouting irritate you as much as it irritates me?
Shamrock: I think it may irritate me more! (Laughs.) I mean, how hard can you yell, ‘Complete the position!' Why don't you just send a note to the judges? Be like, ‘Look, my guy is really good, guys.' I mean, I appreciate what he's doing and I understand his style, but I don't think anyone's ever seen it until now. Because you don't really hear it when you're in a fight, and here you sort of hear him real loud. People are kind of split on whether it's effective, using it in that situation.
Do you have a question for Frank Shamrock? Write it in the comments below and we'll ask him next week. ‘Fight Master' airs every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET. Portions of this interview have been abridged for concision.