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Ken Shamrock calls for ‘disgraceful’ Royce Gracie result to be made right: ‘Don’t let me go out like that’

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Ken Shamrock waited 21 years for closure in his rivalry with Royce Gracie. Now, the situation feels more unresolved than ever before.

Shamrock and Gracie's long-awaited trilogy match ended in controversy Friday night at Bellator 149 when Gracie capitalized on an unnoticed illegal knee to the groin and finished Shamrock with a flurry of hammerfists just seconds after the foul.

"I'm still numb," Shamrock told MMA Fighting days after the loss. "I just don't know how something like this could happen. I just don't get it.

"I'm disappointed, very disappointed. I really thought that we were going to have a good night, and I could really be comfortable with where I was at with my career and my life. And all of a sudden it turned upside-down."

After waiting over two decades for a chance to fight Gracie again, Shamrock now finds himself at the mercy of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). On Sunday, Shamrock and his team announced intentions to file an official appeal to the TDLR, which oversaw the bout in Houston, arguing that the result should be overturned into a ‘no contest' because of the obvious foul that immediately preceded the finish.

The sequence itself was replayed several times on Friday night, drawing boos from the crowd inside the Toyota Center. Shamrock and Gracie locked into a clinch midway through the first round and began trading knees. A wayward shot by Gracie careened directly into Shamrock's groin, which was then followed by another knee to the head. As Shamrock reached down, clutching his groin in pain, Gracie wrestled Shamrock to the floor and secured the finish, all while referee Jacob Montalvo stood by unaware of the illegal blow.

"I see how he could miss it," Shamrock acknowledged. "I do. Because I was spinning out of the way when he threw the (second) knee, and it looked like the knee probably landed harder than it did. But it didn't, because I was turning away from it. I can see how the referee could look at that and see how that might've dropped me, but what he missed was he missed the hard shot to the groin because I didn't react to it, because I didn't show pain.

"It's a delayed reaction, and now all of a sudden it doesn't count anymore? I don't understand that. It was clearly a low blow, period."

Replays of the fight verify Shamrock's claims. While some critics have questioned the timing of the sequence, with Shamrock's reaction coinciding with the knee to the head, in real-time the entire exchange took place in little more than two seconds, and Shamrock says the moment he first reached down to his groin is the moment he began to feel the effects of the foul.

"If you look at the knee to the head, it wasn't a knee to the head," Shamrock said. "It barely touched. I mean, come on. Then when I hit the ground, I'm still grabbing my crotch because my junk was pinned between my skin and my cup. So I'm yelling at the ref, ‘he kneed me in the groin!' There's no way I'm going to fight from that point. I just can't, because my boys are not where they're supposed to be.

"So I'm screaming at the ref as he's pounding me in the head, I'm yelling at the ref, ‘he kneed me in the groin!' I'm trying to get him to give me a moment. Never got it. So to me, you look at it and it's just like come on, man. It's a pretty simple deal. Five minutes. Don't screw the whole night up. Just give a guy five minutes to recover. What's that going to hurt?"

The controversial finish closed a Bellator 149 show that had already been publicly roasted for its co-main event, which saw an exhausted Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 fight for three grueling rounds, and afterward Gracie was both dismissive and unapologetic for his low blow.

Gracie said that he was "very happy" to score his first knockout at age 49, and made several references to the early days of MMA when groin shots were legal.

"I think the more that I hear about how Gracie is handling it, the more it pisses me off," Shamrock said. "You know, when I fought Gracie the first time (at UFC 1), he caught me with a gi choke, and he let go. The referee said, ‘no, no, keep fighting.' I couldn't understand the referee, he was Brazilian. And Royce looked at me and said, ‘you tapped, you tapped!' Now Royce's version is saying, ‘you want to go again? You want to go again?' He never said that. All he said was, ‘you tapped,' and the referee looked at me, I looked at the referee and I said, ‘yeah, I tapped.'

"As much as I didn't want to say, I said I tapped. It pissed me off because I didn't want to say it, but it was real. Here we are 23 years later in a similar situation where there is integrity involved, and the way that he is handling it, to me, tells you exactly what he did."

One matter not lost on Shamrock is the fact that Bellator 149 was an unmitigated ratings success. The show shattered Bellator's previous ratings records, drawing 2.7 million people to Spike TV at its peak, and Shamrock points to the overwhelming response he has gotten over social media as one more reason why he should be given a fair shake at a fourth fight against Gracie.

"I do feel there is a demand," Shamrock said. "There's people who are on the fence, and I get it. I mean, I'm not a spring chicken anymore, but I love doing what I'm doing. I enjoy it. So I'm trying to do it as long as I can, and as long as the fans want to see it, or the majority of them want to see it, (we should see it through).

"There's an outpouring right now about, listen, whether you wanted to see us two fight or not, you saw it, and it was a disgrace. It should not have ended that way. Royce should not have won that way and he shouldn't be accepting it that way. He shouldn't be happy for it. He should be the one stepping up going, ‘I did it, it was a mistake, let's do it again. It shouldn't end on this.' That's the proper way to handle it, but it's not being handled that way. They're allowing it to be disgraced, the legacy to be disgraced."

Shamrock has been around this game long enough to know that state commissions rarely own up to their own mistakes. While he remains hopeful for his appeal to be heard, the reality is that Texas is widely accepted as one of the shakiest commissions in a country full of shaky commissions. Shamrock, better than most, understands that fact.

But at 52 years old, after committing a lifetime to the sport he loves, Shamrock is despondent over the idea that he could be forced to call it quits simply because of a missed call.

"At this point in time, I need to get past this and move forward," Shamrock said. "Hopefully, I'm hoping for the fans' sake, and also mine and MMA period, the legacy of MMA, that it doesn't go like this. It just cannot end like this. Forget about what qualities and abilities we have. We've earned that right. I've earned that right, to be able to go out with some respect. Don't let me go out like that."