Ken Shamrock's Downward Spiral

Nate DoubleAnalyst IMarch 12, 2009

Ken Shamrock is a legend in the sport of MMA. This is not debatable. He was one of the first megastars to grace the octagon, and his feud with Tito Ortiz is one of the main reasons the UFC is as big as it is today.

Yesterday, Shamrock was suspended from MMA competition for one year following a positive test for three different types of steroids.

While Shamrock is just another name on the long list of professional athletes tarnished by illegal performance enhancers, his legacy has been eroding for a long time.

Many MMA fans, myself included, missed the early years of Shamrock when he was heavyweight champion of the UFC. Instead, I was introduced to Shamrock during his return to MMA in 2002 when he started feuding with Tito Ortiz.

Although Shamrock was not nearly as dominant inside the octagon upon his return, he provided unbelievable hype and record setting Pay-Per-View numbers for UFC 40 and UFC 61, when he faced Ortiz.

However, after Shamrock was released from the UFC in 2007, things started to go downhill.

After a failed coaching stint for the now defunct IFL, Shamrock went on to be knocked out in the first round of his comeback fight at Cage Rage 25. His next and possibly best-known downfall was the pre-fight cut that kept him from fighting Kimbo Slice at the last EliteXC event in October 2008.

Following Shamrock's last-minute withdrawal from the fight, light heavyweight fighter Seth Petruzelli was selected as a stand-in and, well, we all know what happened there.

While some fighters have had success in their later years or when coming out of retirement, Shamrock has not. If five consecutive knockouts in the first round did nothing to convince Shamrock to hang it up, it's likely that nothing will.

Shamrock has often spoken about his misfortune in being a pioneer of MMA. He fought before the blue chip sponsors, the high six-figure contracts, and big PPV bonuses the top stars now command. 

Whether the decision to keep fighting is fueled by the desire to cash in on the industry he helped build or his need to stay in the spotlight, only Shamrock can say. 

However, the fans ultimately get to decide how he will be remembered. If his legacy was recalled today, I fear the World's Most Dangerous Man would be remembered as a washed-up joke.