Frank Shamrock has nothing left to prove in mixed martial arts. The UFC‘s first ever light heavyweight champion (at the time referred to as middleweight championship), Shamrock went on to defend the the title four times from 1998 through 1999, cementing his place as one of the organizations most dominant champions of all time. Having retired from MMA as a UFC champion, Shamrock returned to this brutal sport he has become so familiar with for one reason and one reason only, his love of the game.
The next stop on the San Jose fighting legend’s constant quest for competition will see him face off with the always dangerous UFC, Pride FC and EliteXC veteran, Nick Diaz, at this weekend’s Strikeforce event on April 11 at the HP Pavilion in Shamrock’s hometown of San Jose, California.
Although Shamrock has always fought in weight classes heavier than Diaz is accustomed to, the pair have agreed to square off at a catchweight of 179 pounds which will see Shamrock dropping six pounds from his normal fighting weight, while Diaz will bulk up nine pounds past his normal fighting weight.
Neither man has a track record of taking part in lackluster bouts and the fight between the two is sure to be electrifying from the sound of the opening bell. The fact that both have a never say die attitude in the cage, and both have an in ability to take a step backwards during battle have all of the makings of a water cooler discussion worthy battle that will be talked about for some time to come.
Nick Diaz has long been the kind of fighter that you either love or hate, although most seem to just love to hate him, but Shamrock has two entirely different opinions on the brash and talented brawler from Stockton, California. As a mixed martial artist, Diaz demands his respect.
“As a fighter Nick is a very skilled dude,” said Shamrock in an exclusive interview with FiveOuncesOfPain.com done in the days leading up to his highly anticipated bout with Diaz. “He’s well rounded with his stand up, and he’s well rounded on the ground. I certainly respect him as a fighter, I think he’s the real deal.”
Of course, Shamrock has a distinctively different opinion on the Cesar Gracie trained fighter’s antics away from the cage.
“As a personality, I think Nick has a long ways to go [laughs], to being a role model, or a leader, or a good representation for MMA, but you know, everyone has their own flavor,” explained Shamrock.
Diaz stayed true to his bad boy form at the press conference for the event when he greeted Shamrock with his trademark single finger salute during the pairs media staredown. Diaz has long been notorious for his out of the ring theatrics which are designed to get into his opponents head while Shamrock has been in the game long enough where there’s not going to be a whole lot his opponent can do to derail him from his game plan in the heat of the moment. If anything, the consummate professional with a talent for being able to sell his own fights looks at his controversial opponents pre-fight antics as a positive.
“To me, it’s just part of the game,” confessed Shamrock. “I actually like it from Nick because I need that antagonist, someone to help sell this fight besides just me. It’s nice to have someone that’s willing to extend themselves a little bit, and work for it. I certainly don’t agree with his methods, but they get the point across.”
Does the controversial nature and remarks of his outspoken foe do anything to motivate Shamrock in the gym? Not hardly. The former UFC champion has seen it all at one point or another in this crazy business throughout the course of his decorated career. Shamrock is incredibly motivated for his headlining bout on April 11th, but hs motivation has absolutely nothing to do with Diaz in one way or the other.
“Motivation for me is just the challenge, the fight, the thought of losing in my community,” explained Shamrock. “The talk, you know everyone talks, very few people can walk it. It’s good for marketing but it doesn’t affect me either way.”
“I was that guy at one point, without all of the F bombs and middle fingers, and I’ve also seen that guy come and go quite a few times over the past fifteen years.”
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and it’s this mindset that has led Shamrock to become one of the most highly regarded and well known fighters in the history of the sport. Outside of a couple minor tweaks in the routine, Shamrock is sticking with the exact same crew of guys that have helped him become the well rounded fighter he is today.
“I’ve just been training with my usual camp,” said the veteran of over thirty professional fights. “I have Eric Duce as my wrestling coach. Eric has been my coach for thirteen years now. Of course I have Tony DeMaria, who’s been my boxing coach for god knows how long. Then I’ve been training with my submission wrestling and submission fighting team which is headed up by Clint Coronel and Seth Pringle, my main grappling partner. I also added a little extra this time, I started going down to San Francisco to train at World Muay Thai USA with Kru Sam, who’s one of my good friends. So my training for this fight has been the same, just with a little different of a flavor.”
Having become accustomed to competing in the 185 pound weight class in recent years, Shamrock will have to come down six pounds from his normal fighting weight to meet Diaz at a catchweight of 179 pounds on Saturday night’s Strikeforce card. The athletic middleweight expects for the cut in weight to be a task he will have little difficulty in accomplishing.
“It won’t affect me one way or the other,” said Shamrock when asked about the possible benefits or negatives that will come from the minor drop in weight. “I walk around at 190 pounds, so for me it was just cutting out the beer and skipping out on a few meals. My natural body weight is about 183 pounds.”
While the cut won’t be as exhausting a process as many would think for Shamrock, the powerful natural middleweight is confident that the catchweight agreement should lean things slightly in his favor in the strength department.
“I think there will be advantage weight-wise from my stand point,” admitted Shamrock. “I know Nick has been packing on the pounds. The last time I saw him, he was about 180 or 185 pounds, so I think he’s going to try to get as big as he can and then cut down. I have a feeling that we will be about the same weight during the fight.”
“I think my weight is going to be more natural, and I’ll be more accustomed to moving it, which I think will be a detriment to him.”
The size and strength will surely be one department that the former King of Pancrase will hold an edge in, but that’s not to say that Diaz doesn’t come with a whole set of different problems for Shamrock. Problems that the veteran of close to fifteen years is fully aware of, and expects to be ready to solve.
“Nick is a game striker,” said Shamrock. “He throws a lot of combinations and that’s always a problem because they count. His combinations do damage and they mix up the rhythm. He’s very tall so he will have the reach advantage for knees and elbows, those kinds of things. Also, he’s a really good ground guy, and he’s a long ground guy. Me being a shorter fighter, I use a lot of short, explosive movements, but when you have length, a lot of that length is able to overpower those short movements. I see a challenge there.”
“All in all, I think we match up really well. We’re both forward moving fighters, and we’re both pressure fighters. Regardless of how it comes out, it’s going to be a super exciting fight.”
Shamrock has been around the fight game long enough to realize that any way you defeat you opponent is the best way. Whether by knockout, submission, or decision, it’s all good with Shamrock. However, he’d be lying if he didn’t say that he had a very strong theory as to how this bout with Diaz will end up.
“It doesn’t matter to me how the fight ends,” explained Shamrock. “The fight is going to go the way it’s going to go, but the odds are, I’m probably going to knock Nick out. Just because that’s where my main focus is going to be, but I’ll take whatever is given to me, I’m not picky.”
“I’m just trying to get in and out of there without breaking myself up too much.”
Even though Shamrock is completely focused on his upcoming showdown with Diaz, there are two men that he has in his cross hairs for the immediate future. Two men that Frank is no stranger to.
“I’ve got Cung on my list, and Tito on my list…..and that’s all I have on my list right now,” laughed Shamrock. “My list used to be a lot longer. I’ve fought just about everybody now, so the list is getting smaller.”
Fighter, businessman and family man, Shamrock seems to be one of the busiest men in the sport these days. While he will freely admit that it’s a major juggling act to find a balance between all of the different priorities that are constantly tugging at his strings, the proud husband and father couldn’t be happier doing it. If you spend you’re time doing what you love, it’s hard to call it work.
“My life is hectic,” said Shamrock. “It’s very hectic, but I enjoy being busy. Everything I do is connected to the martial arts. I’m doing what I love to do so it’s not really work. I don’t mind getting up early and going to bed late, because I’m doing what I love to do. Even with my commentating, a lot of people wouldn’t look at it as a form of martial arts, but I do, because I’m teaching, presenting and educating about the art. I love to do all of those things, so it’s not even like work.”
“Most people are doing something that they don’t want to do, and they’re struggling to get through it. I’m doing exactly what I love to do, and exactly what I always dreamed of doing. I just can’t believe they’re paying me for it. I really am living the dream.”