As recently as late last year, when the bad blood between UFC President Dana White and Hall of Famer fighter Ken Shamrock boiled over in an uncomfortable and public Twitter spat, the notion that the two sides would ever see eye-to-eye again seemed relatively far-fetched.
However, last month, that far-fetched notion unexpectedly became reality when White revealed that he and Shamrock had reached an amicable understanding over the course of a 40-minute phone call.
"It's just kind of the way things happened," Shamrock explained on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.
"I know that I had my moments where it was more personal for me, just as Dana's had his. But as time went on, it just got to a point where, it felt like no matter what I was fighting for, whether it was for fighters' pay or fighter treatment, or whether it was the way the I've been treated, or even the way the show is going, it just seemed like I was banging my head against the wall, almost. So it got to the point where it was just becoming so repetitious. It seemed like every time my name got mentioned, I got bashed. Every time Dana's name got mentioned, it got bashed. I just saw the opportunity to at least reach out and squash it, hoping that Dana had the same thoughts that I was having."
As it turned out, White did share Shamrock's thoughts of remorse for the relationship that had deteriorated into a seemingly endless back-and-forth, plagued with all sorts of unsavory insults and accusations flung from both sides of the fight.
"I said, I think we were both fighting for the same thing," explained Shamrock. "I think you're doing it from a business owner's standpoint. I'm doing it from an athlete standpoint. We see things differently. Whatever your reasons are for not wanting to expose the inner workings of your pay scales and the money coming in, I guess that's something that I'm willing to just leave alone, put aside, because it seems like we're not getting anywhere.
"We're always just bashing heads, and you're fighting for the same thing. You want the UFC to succeed. That's your baby. That's your all. I want the same thing, but I want it in a different way. But I'm sure that we can reach some terms here where we could just let it be. We both have our opinions, whether they're right or wrong, depending on what side you're on, but I think we can not fight about it. I think we can move forward and build and do things without trashing one another. And it got heated for a while.
"I think Dana feels like he owns the UFC, and that no one should pry or question the way he does things," continued Shamrock. "And to a point, I think that's why the UFC has been able to go where it's going. But it's like with me: the strength that I have is that I'll never quit, but my weakness is I'll never quit. Our strength sometimes becomes our weakness, and that's all I was trying to get him to see -- that everything he's done had been great, but what has been so strong for you is now starting to become your weakness. I didn't say it in those words, but just let him know that I have an opinion, and that I think a lot of other people are going to have some opinions the same. It's starting to get that way.
"I wanted to bury the hatchet. Dana felt the same way. But again, like I said, neither one of us relinquished our positions. I think we both still kinda feel the same way we feel, but I think that we understand that the way we were going about it wasn't the right way."
One of the UFC's early stars, Shamrock attributed his desire to repair his relationship with White to his renewed sense of faith, which also has led the former UFC champion to seek out opportunities to mentor and speak to troubled youth as a full-time profession.
Although while he expressed a profound sense of relief that the bitter war of words between he and and his former boss had finally reached an end, Shamrock maintained that the core of his stance hasn't changed, and that he was "very happy" to see Bellator MMA begin to emerge as a rival for Zuffa's market stranglehold.
"I would love to be able to see Bellator compete with the UFC," Shamrock said. "And I'm not saying that to be negative, but I'm saying that because, just like we saw with WCW and WWF going head-to-head battling with each other, that was the height of the fanbase and the interest [in pro wrestling], because they got to see two different companies with a completely different set of characters, and they were battling each other. If fighters had opportunities to test themselves and be able to negotiate better deals for themselves, they could take of their families better.
"I would love to see some competition come up so that the fanbase, one, has something more to see, they get to see some competition between organizations. And (second), you get to see fighters at least have some negotiating platforms, and also be able to see organizations be able to have ... accountability for each other by having other organizations competing with one another, so that nobody's taking advantage of anybody. I'm not saying that's what's happening, I'm just saying that, let's keep that from happening. The bigger an organization gets, if it doesn't have anybody there to hold them accountable, its going to take advantage of different situations."
Ultimately, despite any lingering philosophical differences, if nothing else Shamrock is happy to put the past behind him and, hopefully, move forward with and amicable relationship between he and the man with whom he shares two decades of memories.
"My intentions have never been to hurt the UFC," Shamrock said in closing. "Early on, my intentions were to really dig at Dana. There's no question, I got personally involved in some things I thought he did me wrong, I thought he was doing some people wrong. But I see where Dana's coming from, he wants to protect the UFC at all costs. I understand what he's doing. I didn't have an understanding of that before, so we both have a different understanding of each other.
"So I think anything's possible now. I think Dana understands that I'm not person I was years back, when I thought he did me wrong and I thought that he did some other people wrong. We're past that. It's time to move forward. Put that behind and move forward, and so I'm willing to do that. I'm sure he feels like I did him wrong, too. He has his position about what I did wrong to him, so if he's willing to put that behind him and I'm willing to put what I think he did behind me and move forward for the benefit of MMA and the fans, then I think that's the best thing we could possibly do, and I think we've done that."