No More March Badness: Ken Shamrock Suspended Year for Steroids

eCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2009

Both former professional wrestlers, champions inside the squared-circle.

Both mixed martial artists, with fighting experience inside an Octagon-ring.

One an MMA legend and pioneer of the sport. The other, a three-time collegiate national champion wrestler with only one professionally-sanctioned fight under his belt.

One tested positive for anabolic steroids, the other made famous in a sport known for its steroid entertainers.

No—not bad-ass UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, tentatively set to unify title at UFC 100 soon as interim champion Frank Mir recovers 100 percent from a knee injury.

March Badness, a heavily-hyped, hybrid boxing-MMA fight card set for next week, featuring these two fighters now sits in limbo, waiting word from promoter Roy Jones Jr.

With the world's least-dangerous man Ken Shamrock now suspended from competition by the California State Athletic Commission for a year and fined $2,500, March Badness now takes its customary backseat role to college basketball's mesmerizing March Madness tournament.

Shamrock still reserves the right to an appeal. But by then we'll be writing about another wishy-washy elite athlete's one shiny black-eye sports moment, ridding all sports of their integrity and all athletes of their fans admiration.

Oh, and next year's NCAA tourney would have already tipped off by then.   

True fight fans will always remember Shamrock more for his contributions to the UFC and MMA, rather than this recent steroid convinction. Casual fans may even see the same characteristics in Shamrock that helped land Mickey Rourke the staring role in The Wrestler.

Shamrock, an out-of-touch fighter, clings one last gutsy-gory-and-no glory comeback fight. Just like we'll wait for The Wrestler 2 before Randy Robinson ram-jams the great Ayatollah, and earns Rourke an Oscar.

Now, we wait a year before Shamrock can redeem himself both inside the Octagon as a cagey veteran fighter and outside the cage as devil's advocate for the dangers of steroid abuse.

You know just because Brock Lesnar can fail at playing professional football, conquer collegiate wrestling, fake wrestling professionally, and dominate real championship fighters in the UFC doesn't mean every former elite college wrestler, multi-sport pro athlete, ex-professional wrestler, or glorified movie stuntman can do the same.

World Wrestling Entertainment superstar-wrestler-turned ultimate fighter Bobby Lashley, who was originally scheduled to fight Shamrock in the Pensacola punch-fest, now finds himself without a big-time MMA organization to fight for, without a main-event opponent to fight against, and without a defining moment to jumpstart his MMA career.

It's a damn shame Lashley won't rock the MMA landscape with a memorable win over one of the greatest fighter this sports' ever seen 

In his MMA debut as part of the Mixed Fight Alliance, Lashley, who is signed to the American Top Team fight camp, defeated fellow rookie and Jiu-jitsu fighter Josh Franklin at the “There Will Be Blood" fight card.

Towering well over 6’3" and weighing in at roughly 250lbs, Lashley with his immense size, his maniac speed, and his sheer power may be a force-to-reckon MMA world for quite some time. An amateur wrestling background saw Lashley excel to championship status. And now hardcore training sessions under the tutelage  of Marcus “Conan” Silveira, Lashley's ready to make an immediate impact in the sport.

His explosive quickness and his incredible-hulk, manic-like strength clearly covers up any lingering issues in Lashley's ground-and-pound game, and sends other MMA fighters scouring to their respective corners.

No question the comparisons between Lashley and Lesnar exists. Not only did both guys have superb amateur wrestling careers, but both were also established pro wrestlers before transitioning to the MMA. Both muscle-bound fighters were highly marketable in the WWE and will be the same within the MMA world.

We've already seen how immensely popular Lesnar has become, even before his memorable UFC title win over the legendary Randy "the natural" Couture. As easy a comparison we draw from a real fighter in Shamrock to the fictional Indy-wrestler Randy Robinson, a similar one also resonates in the careers of both Lesnar and Lashley. How early we draw such comparisons may not be fair for either fighter?

But they will undoubtedly be made as Lashley progresses and Lesnar reaches iconic status in the sport. 

Shamrock looked unimpressive in his last win over a 360-pound Ross Clifton at a WarGods event back in February. Shamrock's best days are very far behind him, and this fight did nothing to change that perception.

A past-his-prime fighter convicted for steroids will not help much either. Forget the endorsement deals—we're not sure how Shamrock rebounds from his image nightmare.

The 44-year-old Shamrock and his marketability ended promptly when UFC accepted his premature retirement at face value. His diminished skill-set puts him just one fight way from serious injury or a late retirement. He hasn't fought a meaningful fight since 2004 when his first-round TKO'd win over Kimo Leopoldo at UFC 48 ended the twos two-fight feud.

Last we heard, Leopoldo had been applying to be Executive Officer of the CSAC (seriously!), but has since been dubbed the Big Boss Man for the Long Beach Police Department and been busted for cocaine and method possession. After his win over Leopoldo, Shamrock spiraled downward the UFC ranks, losing a third-straight fight against Tito Oritiz.

Had Dana White grown tired of selling Shamrock fights? Shamrock, barely lasting longer than the first round in his last 10 fights, has just two wins since 2004, including five straight technical knockout losses.

Now, was Shamrock simply cheating to win so he could relive his past UFC glory days? Or was he resigned to never resurrecting his dying career? And while watching other fighters pass him by, all Shamrock wants is to continue doing the only thing he's ever known—professional fighting. 

Shamrock overprepared for a fight with Internet fighting sensation Kimbo Slice. He accidentally reopened a nasty cut above his eye, just hours before fist pumps, that forced a limit-minute withdrawal.

Who knows what a Shamrock v. Slice fight would have done to the UFC-dominated MMA landscape? Did the replacement fight eventually lead to the downfall the entire EliteXC promotion? What about the rise of a new, more formidable Strikeforce promotion? Who deserves more blame or more credit: Kimbo Slice, Ken Shamrock, Brock Lesnar, or Bobby Lashley?

How about pink-streaked long-haired pretty-boy Seth Petruzelli? Petruzelli, who replaced Shamrock and shocked the MMA world when he knocked out Slice in a mere 14 seconds, faces ex-WEC 205 pound champion Doug “The Rhino” Marshall at next week's "March Badness." Top heavyweights Roy “Big Country” Nelson and Jeff “The Snowman” Monson also collide for hand-to-hand combat as a featured MMA bout.

The boxing portion of the event will be headlined by Roy Jones Jr. taking on Omar Sheika.

Rumors run rampant about who will replace Shamrock and fight Lashley at the "March Badness" pay-per-view. Who will this fighter be and how will he do? It's doesn't matter what this fighter's name is because we'll probably never hear his name again and he's probably never faced a fighter as big and intimidating as Lashley.

With Shamrock off this card and even with a full-slate of action-packed fights, Golden Boy Roy Jones Jr. will have a hard time promoting this hybrid boxing-MMA show without the help of his own Oscar.