After watching his top-two ranked fighters tumble out of the Fight Master competition during Thursday night's episode, it's safe to say the quarterfinals aren't exactly going as planned for Frank Shamrock. Nonetheless, there's still plenty of time left, and perhaps perennial underdog Joe Williams will surprise some folks.
A former Strikeforce, WEC, and UFC champion, coach Shamrock will join us every Friday to elaborate on the week's Fight Master 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 check in with the coach.
Al-Shatti: Right away we jump into the round of eight seeding. I remember you saying the round of 16 seeding took upwards of 8 hours last time, so I'm curious: how bad was the damage this time around?
Shamrock: You know, it was only about half of that. Maybe four and half hours or so. Clear tough guys had surfaced by this point. There was one or two guys we felt should be at the top. But everybody was still trying to move pieces around, and trying to get these coaches to acquiesce with pretty much anything was impossible. After a while we figured it out, but it was pretty rough.
Al-Shatti: I'm curious. How much of that time was spent with you three telling Joe Warren to shut up?
Shamrock: (Laughs.) I'd say a good 30-percent of it. But also Greg (Jackson) came on really strong, moving pieces and trying to confuse everybody. There were a lot of resets because all of a sudden Greg and Joe would be like, ‘My guy should be No. 1,' and then we'd have to start over. But at the end of the day we figured it out. Sort of.
Al-Shatti: Sort of? I take it you weren't pleased with the final result?
Shamrock: I kind of had some serious doubts about our No. 1 ranked guy. Joe (Riggs) was picking easy fights the whole time. I had a big argument in place that maybe Joe Riggs wasn't No. 1. That kind of stirred the pot. (Laughs.)
It was tough. I think we just accepted it out of age and experience. I don't think it was the way things should've been ranked, but it was just so tiring after a while. Everybody had sort of decided Joe Riggs deserved No. 1. I didn't really believe it, but at the end I just sort of gave up.
Al-Shatti: Afterward, No. 2 Cole Williams surprised me by challenging No. 3 Nick Barnes. Were these guys not aware of the seedings?
Shamrock: Oh no, they were aware. They had all the information. I'm not sure what Cole was thinking, but maybe he saw something that he liked. I don't know. It was getting tougher and tougher as the game went on to keep your head on straight.
Al-Shatti: Obviously it worked out because Williams dropped Barnes with his first punch. As a coach, how do you manage the disappointment when a loss comes so suddenly?
Shamrock: I just felt so bad for the kid. The only real lesson I could give him was the lesson we'd been trying to give the whole time: You've got to take your time, pick your shots. You can't go wading in there because someone's going to catch you. But I felt so bad for Nick. He's such a good kid, and he never saw it. He had no idea what happened. It's just hard to even explain it to him.
Al-Shatti: Cole Williams was pretty adamant that the stoppage was late. Do you agree?
Shamrock: Yeah, it should've been stopped the moment he hit his back. If you hit your back flat like that, you're out. It was a late stoppage. You could tell by the way he hit the canvas, his body was pretty turned off. I think it was the canvas that woke him up. But those extra 20 or 30 shots, he really didn't need to take.
Al-Shatti: Emotions were flying high leading into our next fight, Mike Bronzoulis vs. Chris Lozano. It was really the first house drama Spike has shown us all season. Was the tension in the house palpable before the fight?
Shamrock: Ooohh yeah. Couture's gym was right next to ours, so we could hear Mike training and hear his vibe. I knew these two had a nice friendship going, but the underlying current was very, very uncomfortable.
Bronzoulis was very emotional. He was using it to get him through this. He's a nice kid, but all of a sudden he turned into the meanest guy. (Laughs.) And he was just totally uncomfortable to be around. He would scream out at weird times. I know now he was just keeping himself locked in, but it was very uncomfortable to be around, and especially to train right next to him.
Al-Shatti: The fight itself was a grueling war, but heading into the overtime session it seemed like Bronzoulis was the fresher fighter and Lozano was tired. Were you worried?
Shamrock: I always worry about Chris. His attention comes and goes. We worked a lot on trying to keep his back off the cage. Sometimes when he gets tired he stops fighting smart. I was worried seeing him so fatigued.
He's one of those guys who believes when he's tired, he can't perform. We weren't able to adjust that with him, so yeah, I was really concerned going into the third round, but I was also concerned about his strategy. Bronzoulis had the right strategy. Even in camp, Chris refused to wrestle. He's an awesome wrestler but he really just didn't want to wrestle. He shied away from his strength, but he wanted to do his own thing.
Al-Shatti: Bronzoulis ultimately took the decision, but it was close and his face was absolutely battered by the end of it. Looking back, do you agree with the judges' call?
Shamrock: You know, I agree with the decision just because when I look at a fight, I look at who is dictating the fight and controlling where the fight goes and what happens. When I see that fight with Bronzoulis, he may have taken a beating while doing it, but in my opinion he was controlling it. I couldn't argue.
Like I told Chris before he went in there, ‘If you let this go into the third round, it's your fault and you'll probably lose, but only because you're going to let somebody else dictate the fight.'
Al-Shatti: Just like that, you lost your two best guys. That's a devastating blow for Team Shamrock. At that point what were you thoughts? Did you feel like Joe Williams still had a chance to win it, or did you consider that a longshot?
Shamrock: No, I always thought that Joe had a chance to win this whole thing. But to lose like that, I mean, we were on such a roll and our spirits were so high. Every time we went out we were winning and looking great. It was a big kick in the nuts. It was tough to walk back into that room, keep the energy high and be a leader, because plain and simple, we got beat up.
eric_barber asks: In the fight house is there proper conditions for weight cutting? Is there a sauna? How do the guys eat? Do they have access to healthy foods can they get not so healthy foods? Basically what I am asking is how do the guys live in the house when they are not training or fighting?
Shamrock: That's actually a really good question. There's a complete weight cutting facility there -- sauna, steam room, jacuzzi. And for the diet, they can pretty much pick and choose anything they want. They can pick their own diet and they were given a special kitchen to prepare all their foods.
forgivemyhonesty asks: Joe Warren did a great job selling his camp to fighters during the preliminary round and true to what we were told by Rebney, "Joe really jumps off the screen." However, in the first round of in-house fights, Joe's fighters got dominated. Why do you think that was? Perhaps a lack of coaching experience? Or perhaps lack of MMA experience?
Shamrock: Well, Joe was outgunned at the beginning. I mean, we've all got 10 bazillion years of experience and knowledge above Joe, so he was definitely the underdog. I just think it came down to really understanding the game. Guys who really understood the game knew what they wanted when they picked a coach. Guys with more experience and more understanding of where they were picked coaches who filled their void.
Joe got a lot of guys to come on his team because he's so energetic, engaging and honest, but I don't know if he was ready to go up against Couture and Jackson. Those are the big guns.
Jamesglory asks: Even though you attained a total victory in round one, looking back, up to that point, what do you perhaps wish you had done differently? Training wise and relationship wise? What could you have streamlined/changed, or even enhanced?
Shamrock: The only thing I would've done differently, looking back, is I think I overestimated the knowledge and experience that my fighters had. I have so much martial arts knowledge; it was shocking for me to see how little these guys had. So at the beginning I really had to shift down and kind of go back to the basics, and really start filling the tank from the bottom.
I assumed everybody knew up to a certain level. Once I found out what it really was, I readjusted. But looking back I could've readjusted even more, and after I gave them the tools, been more supportive. But yeah, everybody was learning on the fly. It was just one of those things.
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 Thursday at 11 p.m. ET. Portions of this interview have been abridged for concision.