Team Shamrock is no more. After leading three welterweights into the Fight Master tournament quarterfinals, Frank Shamrock lost his last remaining solider, Joe Williams, to the explosive assault of Team Jackson's Eric Bradley on Thursday night's penultimate episode. The journey may be over for Shamrock, but four contestants still remain, all of whom are vying for a $100,000 grand prize and a shot at an upcoming Bellator welterweight tournament.
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 in next week's final column, please write them in the comments below. Get ‘em in while you still have the chance, folks. Remember that rec'd comments will get first priority. And with that said, let's hear from Frank.
Al-Shatti: First I want to briefly ask you about Joe Riggs. He fought Evan Cutts, but beforehand he went through another one of the most miserable weight cuts I've seen. Where they really as bad as they seemed on TV?
Shamrock: They all were awful. We didn't think he was going to make it on most of them. It was just an awful experience every time. I felt so bad for him. I know that was the hardest part beside missing his family. Every time, ‘Is he going to make weight?' It was a variable. By the end he was so worn out.
Al-Shatti: Pretty quickly into that fight it became apparent Evan had absolutely nothing for Joe. Does is say more about Joe or Evan that it stretched into a decision?
Shamrock: Hmmm... I think it says something about both of them. I don't think Joe was going to finish Cutts without a serious effort, and I don't think he wanted to risk that. Cutts definitely showed his heart. I was there hanging out with Joe (Warren) after and looking at his camp. Everything they showed Evan, he tried. He was just way outclassed.
Al-Shatti: Even still, last week you made a case that Joe Riggs didn't deserve the No. 1 spot. Was his inability to finish Cutts just proof of that to you?
Shamrock: I mean, yeah. It's smart, but when it came to rankings, it's like wait a minute, we're trying to figure out who's putting forth the most effort or doing the most to try to win. I didn't feel it was him. But conversely, he was the smart guy who made it all the way through.
He had a strategy. I don't think he felt Cutts could hurt him. I mean, I might knock him but it's good fighting. It's how you have longevity, it's how you win tournament games like this. But when it goes to rankings, it's, ‘Okay, who's trying to hardest?' I don't think he was trying the hardest.
Al-Shatti: Alright, so now we have to get to Team Shamrock's last stand: Joe Williams vs. Eric Bradley. What pressure did you feel going into that fight, knowing this was your last opportunity out of three to reach the semifinals?
Shamrock: I felt a little pressure. I think, more, the pressure was on Joe. He definitely felt that pressure because we're such a tight little group there. This guy was a real tough match-up for him stylistically. He's a better wrestler and a faster puncher. I felt for him, but by this time I was so beat-up. (Laughs.) I was more worried about my guys making it through.
Al-Shatti: Joe and Eric had a history together. Eric defeated Joe all three times they wrestled in college. Were you worried about that?
Shamrock: Well, it's tough to overcome. You really have to prepare yourself and prepare your mind, make sure you shore up the reason why you were getting beat. It always lingers back there somewhere.
For me it was always like, how do you approach that moment? If I recognized this guy was a better wrestler than me and I had all these losses in wrestling, then I would bring something different. I would turn my back and or change the rules, break the traditional rules to try to expose the system. But when it's wrestler vs. wrestler and that's what you've done all your fights, it's just hard to step over that line.
Al-Shatti: Ultimately Joe just looked so stiff and tentative until the waning minutes of round two. Do you think the moment got to him?
Shamrock: Yeah, it was a big moment. But I also think when you're doing something foreign, and striking was so, so foreign to him, it's just hard. That's why I worked so hard on his confidence. Punch him in the head, punch him in the body, aggressively make him strike until he got tired, then wrestle. It was working great until Joe got kicked in the head. (Laughs.) It took him a while to recover because he'd never seen his blood before, never like that.
It's the hardest thing in the world when you're just totally into wrestling. Some people don't get it, some people's bodies function better certain ways. And his, when it came to striking, was just stiff and didn't flow well. Him matched up with Eric -- Eric is just so fast and loose. Two different body types and two different speeds in the engine.
Al-Shatti: Bradley ended up taking a majority decision, but do you think that was fair? Or should've it have gone into a third round?
Shamrock: I thought it should've went into a third round. But the one thing Joe did, he let off the gas when he got cut. It was like, ‘Whoa, whoa. Hold on a second.' It didn't look like he was in the game, allowing the perception of Eric winning to move a little higher. Had he wiped his face, wiped his pants on it and kept going, it wouldn't have been anything. But it looked like he was hurt. He took bottom position and kind of rested for a few minutes, and then he came back. But for those minutes it was like, ‘Hey, this guy looks like he's losing.' And I think that was enough.
Al-Shatti: It was such a big reversal for Team Shamrock. You had the most fighters in the quarterfinals, then a few days later the entire team was wiped out. The way Spike portrayed it, it really felt like the end of a journey.
Shamrock: I was just shocked that it was over. I thought for certain we were going to go into the finals beating on each other, and we were going to have to figure that out. We were so focused on winning. I was just devastated. I had no plans to be stopping at that point. It was just, it was unreal. That was it. The energy was so high, everybody was so focused. It was like I got knocked out. I felt bad for them. I felt like I let them down, but I didn't know how. It was just like, that's what we had, that was our skillsets, we went for it, but we just fell short.
All these huge plans of kicking all this butt, and then we're done. To me, I was still teaching, but the intensity and that hunger just goes away because you're not in the game anymore. It was kind of weird, kind of sad, but that's the highs and lows. I didn't know what to say. Just being there, meeting those guys, being a part of the whole thing was just amazing. And the fact that they believed in me, and they made it that far, I mean, that's crazy. I just wanted to let them know how proud of them I was, because no one's ever done what they did. Three fights in three weeks. I've never done that.
Al-Shatti: If you could've given a do-over to one of your three quarterfinal guys, who would it have been?
Shamrock: Probably Nick (Barnes), because he didn't get a good chance to fight. He just got caught. That's the game. I would've tried to calm him down a little more, or get him to realize the dangers of striking a little bit more. But it is what it is, that's how you learn your lesson.
Al-Shatti: Ultimately at that point in the game, who did you believe still had the best shot at upsetting Joe Riggs?
Shamrock: It was tough at that point. Bronzoulis is just like, you can't beat him. He's like a machine, but he's just not that technical. But I don't know. At that point I was just like, I can't believe we're still doing this. (Laughs.) It was so much. I couldn't believe these athletes were staying in it after going through all this, and the intense pressure of it. It's just mind-melting to be there, and I hadn't even fought anybody.
Donk Donkerson asks: I know you are retired and have had issues with injuries, etc, but seriously man, who wins in a fight, you or that midget, Joe Warren?
Shamrock: (Laughs.) Well, Joe is just training his butt off and I'm not. I have to give the nod to Joe at this point. I might be able to kick him once or twice, but I think he's going to be able to grab me and throw me down. He flipped me around a few times at the Fight Master training place. I was like, ‘This guy is amazing at wrestling.' It was mind-blowing. But yeah, I would give the nod to Joe this morning.
Jamesglory asks: Who do you think are the most dominant in the show so far, Wrestlers, or Strikers? Why do you think this is? Is it just the luck of the mix of the guys in the house, or testament to the styles/mentalities overall, of the respective coaches?
Shamrock: Hmmm, that's a good question. I think overall the wrestlers have done better as a group. And I think that's because they're just used to participating at a high-impact contact level, and wrestling is still the oldest, and probably most researched and defined, control martial art. You're trying to control somebody? Take wrestling, because that's how you get it done.
pifflove asks: It seemed like Scallan was around to watch Lozano and Bronz get into it. Was that just editing or was he really there? If so, how long are guys that have been eliminated hanging around after? Is that good or bad for team morale?
Shamrock: Everybody hung around the whole time. So every after you lost, you were there. Even if you lost first. That was the hard part, half of the house was completely relaxed and not wanting to do anything, basically stuck in an environment they didn't want to be in. The other half was still waiting to fight. You were eating breakfast every morning next to your opponent, next to your potential next week's opponent, or the guy you just beat up. The tension was just always at 90-percent. It sucks, but that's part of the game.
Donk Donkerson asks: Bjorn Rebney - is he really not that much around during the taping of these FightMaster episodes, or is he at the set just behind the scenes? With that said, do you/did you wish that Bjorn would have gotten involved on camera more than he did?
Shamrock: Well he just came in for the fights, kind of looked over stuff. But yeah, I like Bjorn, but, I mean, I don't know what he would've done more of. (Laughs.) It's a fighting show with four coaches, so, just a bunch of guys whooping it up trying to win a competition.
Do you have one last question for Frank Shamrock? Write it in the comments below and we'll ask him next week. The season finale of ‘Fight Master' airs next Thursday at 11 p.m. ET. Portions of this interview have been abridged for concision.