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Anger Management: Ken Shamrock Still Surly at 45

I've written some critical things about UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock lately, and when I talked to him on Thursday, he wasn't happy about it.

In the last week I've written that "Ken is totally over the hill," and I wrote that his opponent in his most recent fight "is a big, fat slob." I also did an interview with Scott Coker of Strikeforce in which we discussed the reasons that CBS and Showtime refuse to televise Shamrock's fights.

So given that -- and given Shamrock's legendary temper -- it should come as no surprise that when we spoke Thursday, Shamrock let me have it.

Ken responded to one of my questions with, "That's why I don't like interviews with people like you." Another query was met with, "That right there, to me, is an absolute ridiculous question." And although he acknowledged that he's past his prime, he added that, "I'm 45 years old and in better shape than you."

A full transcript of my candid chat with the outspoken MMA legend is below.

Michael David Smith: In my interview with Scott Coker of Strikeforce, I told him that I had heard CBS and Showtime didn't want to work with you, and Scott confirmed that and said that was why Strikeforce didn't pick up your contract. Do you think that's a fair assessment?
Ken Shamrock: Absolutely.

Why don't CBS and Showtime want to work with you?
All I can do is speculate because they never gave me the courtesy of telling me why. They basically took one side of something and have basically taken it for gold. In business, and professionalism, usually you give every opportunity to both sides to speak what they feel. In this case what happened is I just got undercut. The person that put all this into play was working for CBS -- not working for them but working with them -- and he's the one that scammed the whole deal.

"(Adopted brother Frank Shamrock) knows that I will not have any mercy on his ass. He knows that. He won't get in the ring with me."
--Ken Shamrock
Who are you referring to?
I can't say. I have some legal stuff going on with that so I cannot divulge any information. But I guarantee this will come out in the wash. The ones that's going to have egg on their face is CBS and anybody else because when it comes out it's going to be pretty clear what happened.

Does that make you angry?
The only thing I'm angry about is not Scott Coker, because he got caught in it just as much as I did -- I'm not going to elaborate. It is what it is. I feel bad for him and hopefully things will work out with him. He's great at promotion. He's given me great opportunities and I appreciate that. But I don't believe it's in his control whether he can use me or not because other things happened to take it out of his hands. I don't blame him for that.

But it's like this: I'm a professional fighter. I've been out there for many, many years, good and bad. People know who I am. People understand where I come from. That's not the case for everybody. Some people say what they've done, but when you do some research and not just take them at their word, things aren't as they seem.

So do you think there's any chance that you could fight on CBS or Showtime, or is that just never going to happen?
The only way that will happen is if I get an opportunity to clear myself of everything that's being said. I have not had the opportunity to defend myself. It's basically just been one-sided. Someone's got someone's ear, and that's just the way it is. I'm not a mastermind. I'm a fighter. I'm not a business guy. I don't plan and mastermind business deals. That's not what I do. So for people to give me that kind of credit that these things actually happened, I mean, I guess I say "thank you" in one way, but I'm kind of frustrated in another way that people would actually think i could put all this together?

When you say "put all this together," what all are you referring to?
I can't elaborate. I think everybody kind of knows, just read between the lines what I'm talking about.

Can you tell me, if you do get the opportunity to clear yourself, what will you say?
I won't say anything. I don't need to say anything. Paperwork speaks for itself. Whether that will be public or not I don't know. I just have to hope it will become public knowledge. But if it's not I still want the people who are working with me, the people who it's important that I can let know, because that affects my business. That will also help me.

Where you are in your career now, is you're fighting a guy, Ross Clifton, who, let's be honest: He's fat, he's out of shape, he's not good at MMA. Doesn't it make you look bad that you're fighting a guy of that caliber?
Well, I guess that depends on who you talk to. A lot of people thought it was an interesting fight. They want to see me fight, they want to see me come to Fresno, they don't get an opportunity to see a guy like me fight, so I'm giving an opportunity by going to these other places. Obviously, because of the pay, I'm not going to take an opponent where i'm going to get damaged. The whole idea for that fight was to set up the Tank [Abbott] fight. That's a fight that should happen. It's a fight I've wanted for a very long time and never got, so it's personal for me. I've entertained millions and millions of fans over the years, and I've been in more main events, probably, than any other fighter in the history of MMA. My very first fight was not a title fight, but since then, I've been a main event fighter. Since then, that's a long time and I've entertained a lot of people.

I'm out there doing something I enjoy doing. I'm trying to build a business, a promotion, using my name to do that. It sucks that people say "Don't you think you're washed up right now?" or "You shouldn't be fighting guys like that." But I'm fighting in towns where guys don't get to see big-name fighters fight. And they're so appreciative. And they thank me so much for coming to their town and fight in front of their crowd. Why would people hate on that?

Well, I think the reason people hate on it is they're accustomed to seeing the Ken Shamrock who was fighting in UFC main events, and now when they see Ken Shamrock fighitng an out-of-shape fat guy, I think it makes some of your fans sad, honestly.
Well, that may be. But the things I've heard, I've heard a lot of good things, especially being live on location where people who appreciate me being there, signing autographs, being in front of them live. Giving them an opportunity to see me. I've heard a lot of good things. You're not going to please everybody and I don't expect to. But what I am trying to do is build a business. I'm having fun and I'm enjoying myself, and if I'm offending anybody by doing that, I apologize for that. That's not my intention, I'm sorry for that. I'm just trying to do what I enjoy doing, it's later in my life, I'm 45 years old, and I'm able to get into there with a 391-pounder who's 6-8, and still able to knock him to the ground with my right hand and finish him with an arm bar and win the fight.

i thought it was something that's enjoyable, I thought it was something the fans might enjoy, and they did. But there's a lot of negativity, which is always going to happen, anything I do there's going to be negativity.

And you know there will be negativity with the Tank Abbott fight, too.
Oh, absolutely. But there's also a lot of interest, especially when it comes to pay-per-view. Because we've had people contact us with an interest in doing that show. We had casinos saying, "We want that fight." So when you're saying you're hearing things also, but we're hearing things and we're seeing people who want to have that fight.

And you're saying that fight will be on pay-per-view?
We're looking for that fight to be on pay-per-view. The deal's not done yet, but we have casinos down here in Reno that are begging for that fight. Obviously you have your opinion and I respect your opinion because everybody gets to have their own. But your opinion and my opinion are not the only ones in the world.

But you think it is possible that you fighting Tank is something that could do well on pay-per-view?
I would absolutely say yeah. Especially since I fought some fat guy, out of shape, no good, and it got over 300,000 hits on YouTube, OK? So tell me. Some big, fat, out of shape, fat guy, is going to do bigger numbers than somebody fighting a main event fighter, like [Ken's adopted brother] Frank Shamrock and Nick Diaz, who probably won't even get those numbers. And you're saying that your opinion -- which I didn't know writers had one, I thought you were just supposed to write the story -- is that because I did that, we got those numbers, we shouldn't be going out there and having those fans watch that, even though they're turning on the tube and they're pushing in the numbers on the computer to watch that thing happen?

Do you think Ken Shamrock vs. Tank Abbott is a better fight thank Frank Shamrock vs. Nick Diaz?
Absolutely. What's the difference? Frank is taking a guy, Nick Diaz, who is a 155-pound fighter. He's going up to 179 pounds, he hasn't fought in a very long time, and get in the ring and fight this guy, and he's going to come to me and say, "You're washed up, and you shouldn't be fighting." And he ducked fighting me.

It looks like Shamrock vs. Shamrock is not going to happen.
I said that when we first started this. I told many reporters, Frank has done this four times now, where he has come in, wanted to fight, talks trash, gets all the hype that he wants to build something around him, so he can go do something else. He's done that every single time. He doesn't want to get in the ring with me. He knows the anger is there. He knows the punishment I would put on this man. He knows that I will not have any mercy on his ass. He knows that. He won't get in the ring with me. We've been through it over and over and over again. And I've told him a number of times, "Do not come to me unless you're serious." And he keeps doing it. I will never, ever have another conversation with him again about a fight. Never. Unless someone goes to him and he signs a contract before we ever talk.

Frank called it "sad" to see you fighting last weekend, and he said you should hang it up.
Well, it's a shame he says that because I'm in better shape than I've been in a long time. I knocked a guy out in a minute and 20 seconds with a right hand. I know he's sloppy, fat and out of shape, but you know what? I feel good. I went in there, I did what I was supposed to do, a lot of people support me in doing that. Some don't but that's OK. I'm not going to sit on the couch and collect unemployment. That's not me, man. I'm an active guy. I want to go to places where people who are fans of MMA and fans of mine, who never got to see a fight live, can go and see a fight live. If you're saying and everybody else is saying I shouldn't do that and entertain fans who would enjoy seeing my fight live, then I say to you, you have your opinion, but there's nothing you can do to change what I'm going to do.

There's also been talk that you could fight Tim Sylvia. Is that true?
That'll never happen. That was talk.

Why won't it happen?
For one, no one ever contacted me or negotiated with me.

So it sounds like you think Tim Sylvia was using your name to generate some attention.
I'm not going to speculate on that. I don't know what his reasons are. All I know is I was never contacted about that fight. I was contacted after supposedly the fight was already on.

Other than Tank Abbott, are there other opponents you have an eye on? For instance, would you want to fight Tito Ortiz a fourth time? He's not under contract to anyone.
That right there, to me, is an absolute ridiculous question. Why would I want to go fight Tito Ortiz? He beat me three times. Would I like to? Sure, I would like to revenge that. Can I? I don't know. Why would Tito Ortiz fight me a fourth time? He beat me three times.

But that gets to what I'm saying: If a fighter of Tito Ortiz's caliber wouldn't fight you, does that tell you that you're not at a level where you should still be fighting anymore?

That's like Michael Jordan getting 36 points a game, the fans are loving to watch him play basketball, but then some of the players out there are saying, "Give it up, retire." He's still better than 50% of the players in the NBA. I'm in the same position right now. I can go out there, I can entertain, I can fight. But because I can't go out there and put a belt around my waist, I'm going to retire?

"That's why I don't like interviews with people like you, because what you're trying to do is you're trying to twist this in a way that looks bad for me."
--Ken Shamrock
So do you view yourself now as sort of like Michael Jordan when he was with the Washington Wizards?
No. Let me break it down for you: What I'm trying to say is, when you get to a certain age, you slow down. You cannot compete at a top level. You cannot compete for a heavyweight belt against the top-ranked people in the world. It's not going to happen. But does that mean you should give it up, sit on the couch and get fat, and not do what you want to do because you love the sport and you've given so much to the sport, and you still want to be involved, and you still want to fight?

Who's the one who says, "You know what, since you're not going to be able to challenge for a world title, you should go hang it up"? If that's what you're saying, you should tell about 75% of the people in MMA that they may as well just give it up. Sit down because you're not going to be a world champion.

But the difference is, you're one of the people who once was at the top of the sport, and now your skills have declined. I think that's the point at which a lot of people start to say you should retire.
I think you're wrong when you say a lot of people. I would challenge you on that. A lot of people don't say that. You have people who do say that, but you, you're saying "a lot of people," and that's not true. You don't have a fact on that. You're saying something that's false in front of people in an interview, getting people to think that that's what the majority of people are thinking, and that's not true.

Just to give one example of a name of someone who thinks that, in September, Dana White said, "Ken is way past his prime. It gets to the point where it's dangerous for that guy to still be fighting." Is he wrong?
Absolutely.

Why is it not dangerous? Shouldn't the state athletic commissions look at you and say, "We're concerned that this guy who lost five straight knockouts could injure himself"?
Wait a minute. That's why I don't like interviews with people like you, because what you're trying to do is you're trying to twist this in a way to make it look bad for me. I don't like that because you have an opinion and you're trying to sway everything one way. I just won my last fight. Whether you think he's a slob or not is irrelevant. It was a sanctioned fight by the athletic commission, and I went in and fought and won that fight. So with that comment, I had injuries in those fights. I made that really clear. I did interviews telling people what I'd been going through, and telling people when I get healthy I'm going to go out and win. I got healthy. I'm getting in the ring. I got my timing back. I'm not going to jump back in, just like any other athlete who's been out for a while with an injury, comes back and gets a tuneup fight, maybe two, maybe three, whatever it takes to get your timing back.

You're 45 now. How much longer can you go? Could you still be fighting at 50?
It depends on how my body holds out. I'm 45 years old and in better shape than you.

I'm sure that's true.
It is true. And I'm in way better shape than 50% of the fighters out there. I know that's true because I train with them. Every single one of them will tell you they don't want to get hit by me.

Do you feel like, with what you've done in the sport, people should show more respect for what you're doing now that you're not at the top anymore?
No, I'm not asking people to do anything. All I'm saying is that people like you, instead of saying that the majority of people want me to retire, instead of you making those comments in an interview with me, you should be looking at the numbers that are drawing when I'm actually out there, every single time. What you're saying goes against everything that's showing on my numbers. Every pay-per-view I've done, every TV rating that I've done, has been bigger than the last. I just did one on a house show with some fat guy and you say he's out of shape and shouldn't be in the ring, saying it's a washed-up deal, shouldn't have happened, but we got over 200,000 hits on YouTube, for people to tune in and watch -- on Sherdog, I'm sorry -- which is a record. So what you're saying, and the way you're trying to twist this, is completely against all the numbers that are out there.

Hang on a second, 200,000 hits online --
Over. Over. That was just the first couple of days after the fight.

But that's still a far cry from the kind of numbers you got from fighting Tito Ortiz.
Excuse me. You're talking pay-per-view. Guess what? When I fought Kimbo Slice, and I didn't get to fight him because I got cut, the numbers were bigger than what we did with Tito Ortiz on TV. That was just a few months ago. How's that for people who don't want to watch me fight?

How do you think your career would be different if that Kimbo fight had gone down?
It doesn't matter how that would have went. Things happen and there's nothing I can do about it. People can speculate, and accuse me and say whatever they want, but the reality of it is people will say what they want to say, and those who want to try to better themselves by throwing me under the bus, that's the only thing that happened there.

The next fight for you against Tank, when will that take place?
I don't know. Right now we're trying to set up either Fresno or Reno. I know Reno's been asking me for this fight, Fresno wants it, we haven't decided which one we're going with yet.

And you're trying to build a promotion there?
What we're doing is, Wargods has come in, they're based out of Fresno, and we've joined forces to come in and put some promotions on in California and also Reno, Nevada. We'd like to be able to put some promotions on, by using my name to fight on those things, to bring a lot of attention to it. I'm not trying to be a world champion. I'm trying to go out there and be ranked No. 1. I'm going out there, enjoying myself, having fun with what I do. I've entertained people for so long that now it's for me. I want to go out there and have fun. This is what I'm doing. I want to do something entertaining. And if I'm offending people by that, from what you say the numbers are and I say differently, well, I apologize. Because that's not my intention. My intention is to do something for myself and build something.

And you did have fun with the Clifton fight?
Absolutely. Everything leading up to that, I had a great time. It was enjoyable. It was a throwback to the old UFC days where size didn't matter, weight didn't matter. It was fun. It was enjoyable.

How many more fights could you see yourself having?
I don't like getting into it because everyone wants me to put a time limit on something. What do you want me to say? As long as I'm hungry and I'm enjoying what I'm doing and the fans still come out and watch me, I'm going to keep doing it, until my body breaks down. Right now my body's healthy. I feel good. Better than I have in a long time. That's a good feeling. People have their opinions and that's fine. You can have your opinion. But that doesn't mean because you have an opinion that you're right.

And you feel strongly that people who have the opinion that you are washed up, those people are dead wrong?
No, I'm not saying they're wrong at all. What I'm saying is they have an opinion. And their opinion is their opinion. I think it's rude. I think it's disrespectful for someone to have that kind of opinion, when they've never trained with me. They've never been in the ring with me.

But I think a lot of people have that opinion because they do have respect for you. You were their favorite fighter in 1993 and they think to themselves, "I'd rather remember you fighting in 1993 than see you fight in smaller shows now."

Don't you think that's selfish?

It might be.
It's about them, it's not about me. If I'm doing something that makes me happy, why are they unhappy? If they were really my fans, and they really have respect for me, and they know I'm enjoying myself, they wouldn't have a problem with it. But if they're not fans of mine, and they don't have respect for me, then they'll say those things.

I think that's a note we could end on. Is there anything else you'd like to mention?
I'd just like to say that I'm not trying to offend anybody. I'm enjoying myself right now in my career and building a promotion. I don't intend to go out there and say that I'm a great fighter anymore. But I will say this: I am enjoying myself. I do enjoy what I do. I love what I do. And because I won't lay down on the couch and die, people are saying bad things about me? I say this: Don't watch me. I'm not asking you to. I'm doing what I enjoy doing. The minute that the fan base drops off, and people don't watch me anymore, then that's probably it. But right now people are watching. Like I said, I'm not trying to go out there and tell anybody that I'm going to be a world champion. I've been there and done that. Now I'm out there because I'm having fun. And I'm not trying to hurt anybody or disrespect anybody. My point is I'm having fun and I would hope I would get a fair shake in this, and I hope when you print this and you do all this stuff out there, that you'll give it a fair shake, and you'll print exactly what we have said.