Though his place in UFC history has been marginalized by his long-running feud with Dana White, Ken Shamrock's place in MMA lore can hardly be questioned. He was one of the stars of the UFC's early days as a perfect foil to Royce Gracie, and he later took part in one of the sport's first big-money rivalries with Tito Ortiz.
Since his last defeat at the hands of Ortiz though, he's essentially been persona non grata in the UFC. Part of that is due to a lawsuit that embroiled the sides for a few years, an issue that came up recently again when Shamrock spoke to ESPN about fighter pay.
At the time, White blasted Shamrock, saying he was too uninformed about current fighter pay to speak on the topic before detailing what he alleged to be Shamrock's money troubles before the UFC stepped in up his aid.
Speaking on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Shamrock said he believed the controversy was overblown, noting that "owner-player confrontation" was common in every major sport.
What he did take exception to, though, was White's statement about his financials. At the time, White said he fronted Shamrock $60,000, and ultimately paid him $2.5 million for his last two UFC bouts, both against Ortiz.
Shamrock shot back by noting that the UFC brought him in specifically for what they felt would be a box-office winner, and that he delivered with two fights that generated huge money for the UFC.
"I don't like to come in and say, 'I've done this and I've done that,' because really, it takes a village to make something happen," he said."It takes a lot of people to make it successful. And to hear Dana White say, 'I did this and I did that. It was me. And he didn't do this and didn't do that.' Well, how in the world did they get to where they were at if it was just Dana? Because I didn't see him in the ring. I didn't see Dana fighting. I didn't see the numbers go up when they had just Tito there. I didn't see any of that.
"What I saw was me getting in there, building an organization, having a feud with Tito Ortiz to help build those numbers, along with Dana White and the corporation and the company to shoot that feud," he continued. "And also to have Tito there, who was a great villain -- to have someone going against me. And that's how we did those numbers. Because we all got involved and did it."
Shamrock said his issue with fighter pay was based upon his belief that the UFC will not let anyone look at their financials to see what ratio of profit the fighters are earning.
He says even in his own case where White said he made $2.5 million, how can anyone be sure?
"They will never let you get in there and see the books," he said. "It's not open. So then they make statements like that, and it doesn't make sense."
Shamrock noted that when Zuffa first brought him back, the promotion was averaging around 40,000 pay-per-view buys. But in his first fight back against Ortiz, they generated 150,000 buys, a massive increase.
His participation in the ESPN piece was simply to offer his side of an issue that is frequently discussed, and not part of a larger campaign against his former employer.
"I set up deals, I agreed to them, so I’m not going to look back on it now and say look how much money they made and how much money I made. It's not fair. I'm not going to say that because I did a contract. I made a deal. It is what it is. But when I hear things like this where it sounds like he did all these things for me and I did nothing for them, it kind of stirs up a little fire because I'm thinking to myself, 'Where would they be if that feud didn't happen?' They were getting ready to shut the doors, from my understanding. Whether it's true or not true, that's just what I heard, that they weren't doing well. And I came in, and the numbers changed."