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Frank Shamrock Expected Change, But Not a Strikeforce Sale

Even for Frank Shamrock, the news a week ago of Zuffa purchasing Strikeforce was something the Strikeforce icon did not see coming.

"I was pretty shocked," Shamrock said Monday on The MMA Hour. "I think it was Saturday morning and we had a birthday party for a friend and I was completely blown over by it."

Shamrock has arguably been the face of the Strikeforce promotion. It was Shamrock whom Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker called upon in March 2006 to headline the promotion's initial foray into MMA. Shamrock was the first Strikeforce middleweight champion and currently works as a color commentator under Showtime to call Strikeforce events.

Shamrock was surprised he didn't receive a heads up of a potential sale from his longtime friend. However, he's able to picture the difficulty.

"if it were my business," Shamrock admitted to host Ariel Helwani. "I wouldn't have been able to tell Scott."

Shamrock, did, however acknowledge changes were likely to happen on the business end but nothing to the magnitude of an outright sale.

"I can't say I saw it coming but I know the demands of Strikeforce were high and I knew the financial partners were strained and weren't interested in the big risks," Shamrock said. "I knew change was coming, I didn't know we were going to change that much."

The majority share of Strikeforce was previously held by Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment, owner of the San Jose Sharks and the HP Pavilion, among other properties.

According to Shamrock, Coker spent a lot of money to compete in the marketplace. For SVSE, Strikeforce became too much of a risk.

"They got tired of writing big checks and not seeing the big return," he said. "For them [the older established sports model is] the kind of business they wanted to be in. They didn't want to be in the visionary, high-risk startup kind of MMA business."

Coker was the man behind the vision of Strikeforce and a part owner before the sale to Zuffa. What started as a kickboxing promotion in 1985 became a regional MMA promotion in 2006 and by 2009, a full-fledged national MMA promotion. During the Zuffa conference call last week to announce the acquisition, Coker declined to comment on the sale.

Shamrock doesn't think Coker wanted Strikeforce sold. Shamrock described Strikeforce as Coker's "baby" and it was Coker's dream to promote the biggest fights in the world and to turn Strikeforce into a billion dollar company.

"I think it was too early for Scott. I don't think he wanted to get out this early," Shamrock said. "Scott was in it for the long haul. He probably had another five years, but time and business is everything. This was the UFC's time to make a move and they did."

With Zuffa under control of Strikeforce, the promotion will already see change with the addition of elbows on the ground. Shamrock sees the uniformity of MMA as one of the positives coming out of this deal.

"It's a good one because now we're a sport," he said. "100 percent a sport. Same rules, same name, same game. It's really a sport."

At the same time, Shamrock sees MMA heading towards a different direction.

"I say no because free agency is gone," he continued. "The end of creativity as an artist is gone. Now it's about being an athlete, being well-trained, having good management and creating yourself a good business and brand."

For Shamrock, it's unclear where his future in MMA is headed. Shamrock assumes Showtime will continue supporting MMA, but that's if Zuffa and Showtime can extend a deal past 2014.

Also, Shamrock is not on friendliest terms with UFC president Dana White. Shamrock says their past differences is all business and is willing to continue commenting even though Strikeforce is now owned by an old adversary. Shamrock working with longtime rival White? Expect the unexpected.

"My whole journey has been about weird and crazy things," he said. "And MMA has always been this way. Takeovers, companies folding and companies being consumed, camps changing, it's wild, crazy, sexy fun business."