Becoming the first ever UFC Middleweight champion (later named light heavyweight) and successfully defending his belt for four consecutive bouts before leaving the Zuffa promotion is just one triumph in the career of “The Legend” Frank Shamrock. Growing up in poverty conditions, foster homes and finding himself in trouble with the law, martial arts gave him an outlet for discipline and the ability to learn a craft he would go on to help pioneer into the sport of mixed martial arts. Retired from competition the San Jose native is enjoying his role as a family man and ambassador for the sport, continuing to commentate for Strikeforce and do his best to help educated the world about MMA.
Frank was kind enough to speak with FightHub in this exclusive interview and share his thoughts on Strikeforce as a company, career accomplishments and the upcoming welterweight championship between GSP and Nick Diaz.
FHTV: First of all, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. How is retirement treating you?
FS: It is great man. I love to spend time with my wife and kids. The ability to travel and be here for whatever, whenever they need me is really nice. Never thought I would see myself this relaxed form not fighting but it’s a new me and I am liking it.
FHTV: You are still active with Strikeforce and commentating, correct?
FS: Yes I am, we have an event coming up on Showtime in a few weeks that I will be calling and that is something I want to become truly professional at. I love calling the fights, knowing what they are doing and using my background I think gives me an advantage but I want to become the best at it. Like in anything I do, always trying to become better.
FHTV: What is your opinion on Strikeforce as a promotion right now?
FS: Hmm, tough one (laughs). I really hope this thing stays around. This is a company that I came too, fought my last fights in and when I came to them, I saw it as something I could help build. They were and still are, a smart group of people, capable to make it big. I was shocked when Zuffa purchased it and had my opinions; looking back on it, from the view as a businessman, it was the smart thing and good thing for them to do.
Strikeforce can still be a good promotion, with quality events and quality fighters, I am hoping it stays around for awhile and is not written off.
FHTV: Some people may have viewed them as a lower league promotion; Given the success of the men who have entered the UFC after their time with Strikeforce, what do you think?
FS: I think if you are a true fan of the sport and not one organization that you can see who is talented and who is the real deal. Some guys have bad nights and that can happen anywhere, it does not make them a bad fighter because they didn’t win their first UFC fight. Time goes on and there is always someone to come up and get big and someone to drop down and help build.
FHTV: How do you see the Strikeforce Grand Prix ending?
FS: This fight (Barnett v Cormier) is a great fight for everyone and one I love. I love it when a fight gameplan is so simple – Barnett needs to go to the ground, Cormier needs to stay on the feet. I think that Barnett will win because of the experience he has compared to Cormier but I would not discredit Daniel at all. He has heavy hands, we all have seen that – Barnett will not take him down and anything can happen in a fight, just like what happened with Velasquez v JDS.
Cain was favored and I thought he would win myself but he looked bad that night, not the same guy we have watched. It could have been from time off, the injury, tossing out the gameplan, a lot of factors. He messed up by not sticking to his strength which was wrestling and got caught.
FHTV: When you look bad at your career, what do you feel was your greatest victory?
FS; Wow, that’s a good question – I would have to say when I won the UFC title after submitting Kevin Jackson. It was amazing to feel the accomplishment of winning a title but this particular fight, it was in Japan and here I was to show the world that Americans can fight in MMA as well and was one of the first American champions to do so. It was a sense of honor and pride for myself on what I had done, working for so long and training to become the best and showed the world that I was.
FHTV: Moving forward to your last fight with Nick Diaz, what was your mindset going into that match?
FS: To kick the crap out of this kid and teach him a lesson but that didn’t happen. I went in feeling ready and able to shut him up, there were nagging injuries but they didn’t play too big of a factor. At the end, Nick was awesome – he is a different level of fighter and I knew that after he landed the first punch.
When the fight was over and I had lost, I took some time to really look and see what I had done, where I was at and where I could go with this and then decided it was the best option to hang up the gloves. I can look back on the fights and say I am happy with my performances. Nothing would draw me back inside of a cage, the fighting is over for me. That is a weird feeling for me to have but it is the truth.
FHTV: What about a fight with Ken (Shamrock)?
FS: (laughs) Nope, not even Ken. Those days and that desire to fight him is gone for me.
FHTV: What are your thoughts on Nick Diaz and GSP?
FS: Nick is going to whoop on him. That is a fighter Georges has not faced and I think will really test him, if not beat Georges. The advantage he has over Nick is wrestling and if he decides to lay on him for five rounds, what has he proven? Diaz has better boxing, better cardio and better jiu jitsu. If the fight goes to the ground, GSP can’t take his time how he likes to, looking for a submission; Nick will be moving and looking for any submission he can get. It will be a great fight I know that for sure.
FHTV: Can you please tell us more about your nonprofit organization?
FS: Absolutely! It is starting in New York and it’s a program for troubled kids or those with nowhere to go after school to come learn MMA/ martial arts to keep them off the streets. This saved my life and turned me around and I want to be able to help kids do the same who want to.
We are looking to go nationwide in 2012 and I encourage anyone interested who would want to donate time, equipment, etc. all the stuff we would need to get this going to do so. I would love to see academies and gyms be able to help get these kids scholarships and grants, something they can use for their future, at the same time learning a life skill. If you want to know more, please feel free to visit my Facebook page here, my website or on Twitter @FrankShamrock.
FightHub is very grateful for Frank to take the time out of his personal life to speak with us and we wish him the most success on his nonprofit organization.