In their first encounter 23 years ago, Ken Shamrock felt he got robbed against Royce Gracie. It appeared to be a repeat of history all over again Friday night, as Shamrock lost to Gracie by TKO in the first round at Bellator 149 in Houston.
Gracie earned his first TKO win with two minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the first round, but it came with controversy. When the replay aired, it appeared Gracie kneed Shamrock below the belt, which gave Gracie the edge to take him to the ground and end the fight.
Shamrock went for a knee to the midsection, but it did not faze Gracie. The referee, looking directly at the action, did not make the call, via Trevor Robb of the Edmonton Sun:
A displeased Shamrock claimed Gracie intentionally hit him illegally, per Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com:
Shamrock is very upset because he is claiming Gracie "did it on purpose." He is claiming he was kneed below the belt. Just what this needs.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) February 20, 2016
When being interviewed after the fight, Gracie did not seem to be in the right frame of mind to celebrate his victory, per Helwani:
"I'm a fighter," a stone-faced Gracie says. "I'm here to fight." Shamrock is apologetic now. They embrace and are chatting now.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) February 20, 2016
In November 1993, at UFC 1, Shamrock and Gracie met for the first time. Shamrock, who wore his wrestling shoes in previous fights, was told by promoters he could not do such this time around, per MMAJunkie.com. Shamrock lost 57 seconds in the first round due to a rear-naked choke.
Two years later the two met again, only to battle to a draw in a judgeless fight that held the UFC record in pay-per-view buys for 10 years, per Dave Meltzer of MMAFighting.com.
With the fighters' combined ages at 101 years old (Shamrock at 52, Gracie at 49), and meeting for the first time in over 20 years, there was a lot of buildup to the fight. But UFC fighter Andre Fili thinks mixed martial arts took some steps back after this display, as well as the fight prior between Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000:
Kimbo vs Dada just set the sport back a solid 10 years. After Shamrock vs Gracie we may be back in the dark ages.— Andre Fili (@TouchyFili) February 20, 2016
Shamrock, a former WWE Intercontinental champion, received some support from WWE Hall of Fame commentator Jim Ross after the fight concluded:
Gracie improved to 15-2-3 in his career, albeit in a controversial win. Shamrock has now lost two fights in a row, one to Slice and now to Gracie. It's uncertain if he has any fights left, let alone if he'd want to pursue a fourth match against Gracie, and vice-versa.
Despite apologizing to Gracie for saying he kneed him on purpose, Shamrock remained adamant in the post-fight press conference that he was kneed illegally below the belt, per MMAFighting.com:
Shamrock: I got kneed in the nuts. That's as clear as it is. I don't know what else to say.— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) February 20, 2016
That did not keep Gracie from being ecstatic for recording his first knockout, per MMAFighting.com:
Royce Gracie has the biggest grin on his face. "My first knockout! I'm stoked!"— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) February 20, 2016
As for a rematch, Gracie says there's nothing left to prove.
"To me, the book is closed," he said, per MMAFighting.com. "I have no problem with him.
Shamrock, however, feels differently, saying winning like that should not be a way to end a rivalry, per MMAFighting.com:
Shamrock: In my opinion, it's not over. If it was me personally, I wouldn't want to win that way.— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) February 20, 2016