The Frank Shamrock Interview: Can He Lead Strikeforce into MMA 2.0?

Brian Oswald@@briancoswaldMMA Editor April 10, 2009

In MMA, you have your up-and-comers, your run-of-the mill-fighters, title holders that become superstars, and then you have Frank Shamrock. Whether you love him or hate him, Frank Shamrock is an icon in the world of mixed martial arts. He has earned his moniker "the legend" by fully embodying what it means to be a mixed martial artist.

I recently had the chance to catch up with Frank and got his thoughts on his upcoming opponent Nick Diaz, MMA 2.0, the Strikeforce-Showtime relationship, a likely rematch with Tito Ortiz, and the future of the sport. He also has a new book coming out.

Below is a full transcript of the interview.

Frank, thank you for speaking with us. I know you’re in San Jose right now. What’s your schedule like a week before a big fight?
A week before a fight there is a lot of sleeping; I get a few massages. I spend more time with my wife and daughter. I actually do a lot or reading. And, of course, lots of media...I am like the media man. In terms of being in the gym, that’s all done. I wrap that up about two weeks out.

I think before a fight, you should relax, clear your mind...and then it's time to go do your business. My best advice, get the hard work out the way, and then just be.

You seem to be in as good of shape as ever. How are you staying at the top of your game?
I just do what I have always done, although for this fight, I cut out a lot of the heavy weightlifting since I had to drop some weight for this upcoming fight. I went to more Olympic lifting with shorter more intense workouts. I do a lot of cardio, a lot of swimming. The key is to beat yourself up all the time so you can stay in good shape.

As far as my overall training regimen, I separate my workouts out. I do muscular training in one workout, my cardio in another, and all my MMA training in another. For this fight I focused a lot on boxing and basic wrestling to stop any takedown attempts.

I read somewhere you talking about the phrase "MMA 2.0." Call you tell us more about this? 
We are in the midst of an evolution in the sport. You can’t just be a complete mixed martial artist; you have to be a complete athlete too. The athlete has been really evolving as of late and now the art is actually catching back up. It’s a dance between the two. Right now the two are pretty hand in hand.

Georges St. Pierre is the perfect example. The evolution of the athlete and the evolution of the art go hand in hand. Where they separate is where you run into problems. It’s great to see them finally joining together. That being said, there are some good looking athletes who are participating in the sport and still being successful.

Can you tell us more about the art aspect of mixed martial arts and what that means to you?

The art I always speak of have to be able to tie this stuff together, which is life. A big part of it is living a good healthy life, respecting yourself and your body, learning how to function at a high level while you’re training all the time. Also dealing with your ego and how that connects to the pressures of the sport.

The pressures and distractions can be immense and they can take you away from what you’re focused on. 

For me, it has become important to have a holistic picture of the sport. In some ways, MMA has turned into cagefighting and I think it's mixed martial arts, which is, mixing up the martial arts.

A martial culture is important to me; having that respect and discipline and the tight knit community...all those things is a part of the art form. All of it, is one big package.

You have your fight coming up with Nick Diaz this Saturday. What are you thoughts on the "older" Diaz Brother as both a person and a fighter?
I have seen Nick fight, even commentated two of his fights. (Laughs) I know everything about him now. He is a well rounded fighter. He has got game, that's for certain. He is obviously really good on the ground.

He's not too bad on the stand up either. He is very durable, has a great chin and is in great cardiovascular shape. He is a very worthy opponent and the reason why I am fighting him.
All that being said, I am going to smash him. Diaz is used to fighting smaller guys like KJ Noons. Noons has a nice boxing punch and he stung Diaz pretty good. But that is nothing compared to fighting guys, who are 240 pounds, like I have.

They hit a lot harder and are a lot bigger. So, I am not sure if Nick Diaz fully understands what he is getting himself into here.

So in terms of your visualization techniques. How do you see yourself beating Nick Diaz?

I am going to punch a hole right through his head. I don’t just want to touch him; I am going to really hit him hard. Like I said, he is a durable guy and is used to taking punches. But if he thinks he can take my punch, he is going to go to sleep.

Your fight with Diaz is the main event on a Strikeforce fight card. Can you give us your thoughts on the new and improved Strikeforce and also their relationship with Showtime?

Sure, let’s start with Showtime. They took a huge risk being the first premium network to ever distribute MMA. They got behind it 100% and truly believe in the sport of MMA. Add to that they are a quality network that produces quality programming.

Ken Hirschman, the president, has made a personal commitment to the sport which is a very powerful thing to me.

Strikeforce has been around 23 years; not many people know they are one of the oldest martial arts promoters in the business. They have been steadily building their name promoting mixed martial arts and martial arts and building their credibility and building their brand.

Their relationship with Showtime, in my opinion, was inevitable. They are both trusted names within their business and with Scott Coker at the helm of Strikeforce...he the perfect guy to be leading the way.

He is an old school guy and when he gives you his heard it means something, and that I have a lot of respect for. At his core he is a mixed martial artist, so you know he is going to do right by you.

Not to look past a tough past a tough opponent in Diaz, but what is on the horizon for Frank Shamrock? Cung Le has said he is returning later this year and the Robbie Lawler-Jake Shields winner is out there. Have you give much thought to upcoming opponents?

I have a short list that starts with Cung Le and ends with Tito Ortiz. Beyond that, I don’t know. There are a new generation of fighters come and I am sure I will be fighting these youngsters, putting them in their place for awhile. I will be the old guy coming out and whooping on the young kids for as long as I can.

Back to Le, your fight with him was considered one of the best of 2008. You had promised to keep the fighting. In terms of the rematch, will you have a different mentality going into that fight?

Well I didn’t enjoy the broken arm...that was kind of a bummer. But in terms of the strategy I think it was a good one. I just need to take it too him more and not dance around. I like Cung Le, he is a good looking kid and I like his style.

Honestly, I could have smashed Cung Le in 30 seconds but what would that have done for his career and a rematch? I have 100 percent confidence that I will utterly destroy him the second time around.

Are you going to use your wrestling and go for takedowns this time around?

Nah, I don’t think so. Yeah, I think were going to stand up again. I think that’s what has to be done.

Back to Tito Ortiz, is it the plan for him to sign with Strikeforce so they can do your rematch?

That is the plan. Steps are being taken and Tito has committed to making it happen. He is just dancing around the money issue right now. He has told me personally that he wants to make the fight happen and of course, some of that is real and some of that is hype.

I know he wants to remain a star and stay in the limelight though and eventually he is going to have to step up and do something about it or he is going to fade away.

I am the type of opponent that is going to bring that hype, and of course, he has a score to settle with me. He is much bigger right now so it should be a good fight for him. He wants to do it a catch weight of 199.

I will go in weighing 190, which is what I almost always weight going into a fight. He will probably weigh in around 210-215.

Our UFC fight was one of the highlights of my career so I will definitely welcome a rematch when it happens. I have always liked Tito, always liked his work ethic…in his heart he is a good guy.

Awhile back we heard you mention an interest in fighting UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. Is that something you’d actually step back into the octagon to make happen or would it have to be after his UFC contract expires?
I wouldn’t care to work for the UFC again. I just don’t see that in my future unless they drastically changed their business practices. Fighting Anderson Silva would be a dream though and I would love for it to happen.

Here’s the deal. When MMA gets on primetime the whole business of MMA is going to change and matches like that will be inevitable. The market is going to force the best fighters to fight each other.

The UFC is in this to make money and when they see that they can make more money doing it one way, versus another, things will change. Eventually that point will come, fans will demand it, and don’t be surprised to see Strikeforceget big enough to where a merger with the UFC is foreseeable.

You were been named "Fighter of the Decade" for 1990's by the Wrestling Observer, "Best Full Contact Fighter", by Black Belt magazine (1998), and three time "Fighter of the Year" by Full Contact Fighter magazine. Do those accolades mean anything to you as a fighter?
Sure, some acknowledgement is always good. But I certainly didn’t get into the sport for that. I didn’t get into it for the championships and the belts. I got into it because I love the art form and I love the sport. I can’t eat the belt; I can’t do anything with the plaques besides display them.

For me the real payoff is being able to help people and be a leader in the community. That is where it’s at.

Going back to "ego" what advice would you give a young up-and-coming fighter who is dealing with ego in relation to the sport?
For me, most of that is an act. You turn it on for the cameras because that is what sells stuff, sports entertainment. I don’t go home though and tell my wife "I'm the greatest" and refuse to take out the trash because of it. That is just silly, but some people really live their life that way.

They believe the hype and all the stuff that gets said. There is a fine line; all success starts with humility and knowing that you don’t know. And knowing that someone is going to teach you and you are going to learn and be mentored. Ego is a problem when it gets in the way of good thinking and rational thought.

So to the young guys, turn it on for the camera, when the lights on you turn it on. But in the gym is about respect, honor, and humility. Even when you become successful, if you don’t have those things you will eventually lose it all. You are only as strong as your group and your community, and without that, you’re just a man standing alone.

In terms of your step brother Ken, he recently tested positive for steroids. What did that do for the prospects of you two fighting each other?
It is 100 percent done. I would love to salvage it... every fight I have wanted to make happen, I have made happen. But some things are beyond saving and unfortunately this appears to be one of those situations.

You have got a special project coming up with an MMA for Dummies Book. Can you tell us more about that?
Sure. We just finished it. I got the first copy yesterday. It’s amazing to see fifteen years of my note scribbling come together. It’s got everything: history of the sport, training techniques, meditation. It’s a book for everyone, it’s through the "For Dummies" line so its structured is simple as it can be but the content and information is absolutely fantastic.

One of my secrets to success is writing everything down and everything I have ever learned is in this book. I hope it’s a big thing for mixed martial arts; it’s a very different way of looking at the sport and a very real way that many people may not know about. It hits the shelves April 16th and right now it’s only available on Amazon.

Anything else the fans should know about?
Yes, were coming out with a new line through Tapout. It’s called Tapout Black. It’s a more upscale line, more clean-cut, but with the same energy that Tapout always brings. We are also finishing a reality show called "King Shamrock" which is being filmed by the makers of "Monster Garage" which is going to be very exciting.

Lastly, we re-did and gave it more of a social networking feel. We have a great community going there and a lot of good information. That’s about it man.


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