Lately, one of MMA's first breakout athletes, Ken Shamrock, has been making the rounds in media circles. Whether it be for his beef with Ian Freeman, or the war of words with Dana White that has been a constant over the years, Ken is definitely back in the thick of things, and creating some waves.
I recently had the opportunity to interview the hall of fame legend, where he discussed his falling out with Ian Freeman, as well as his ongoing scuffle with Dana White, his recent reconciliation with brother, Frank Shamrock, and what projects he has on the horizon. Here's what he had to say:
*Note: The British based organization that Ken had the falling out with was UCFC - UK. He currently works for BAMMA. During the interview it was never specified what the name of the promotion was. We now have the name. My apologies for the confusion on the promotion.*
Fallout With UCFC - UK & Ian Freeman
Well, Ian Freeman made a comment about how I called him out, and I supposedly said things; he got all these people calling him saying, ‘Shamrock's over here calling you out', and he's like, ‘Well let's settle it then.' If you watched the show-it was a BAMMA show-I didn't go down there with the intention to fight. I went down there with the intention to do commentary.
I had just had some surgeries, I felt great, my training was going good, so I wanted to get one or two more fights in to be able to show people my recovery has gone well, and I'd just love another opportunity to get in there and fight. I told BAMMA that, so when I was in the ring, they asked me a question, if I would be open to fight Ian Freeman, so I was like, ‘Yeah, what a great opportunity that would be. Ian Freeman is one of the first guys from England to fight MMA. He's kind of the godfather over there.' With me being one of the godfather's of MMA, we could really do some great marketing for it. I said, ‘Yeah, I'd love to. That would be awesome.'
All the sudden he's twitting, calling me a punk, saying that I called him out. I was like, ‘Wow', so one thing led to another, and I finally got it. We were building a fight, and that was cool, so I rolled with it.
I talk to my attorney to let him know what I wanted, so he could start the negotiations. My attorney comes back and said we had gotten everything we asked for. I said, ‘Great', but he was like, ‘Well, I don't know. I've never negotiated a contract where someone didn't have a single thing they wanted to change.' We weren't really asking for too much, because it was going to be a tune-up fight for me. I just wanted to get in there and show what I could do, and the next step was going to be to get a bigger deal somewhere else.
He said, ‘Yeah, I guess you're right, but even the plane tickets for four cornermen, and two first class tickets, and you've got four guys coming and you have three Lion's Den fighters on the card. They agreed to all of it with no further conversation.' I figured that they were okay with it because it was a good deal for them. So, we moved on with it.
I probably should have slowed down and listened to my attorney, but I didn't, because I wanted this. So we move forward. I said, ‘I want 10 grand before I start my training. I want to start training in a week. I need that money in the account for my training when we sign the contract.' They agreed to that. I signed my contract on video, and everybody is happy.
Then they come back to us, ‘Well, we can't do 10 grand.' We had just agreed to it. They said, ‘We'll send 5 grand now and another 5 grand before you get on the plane.' I told Rod [attorney] not to worry about it, to just get the 5 grand so I could start my training, and as long as they send the rest before I get on the plane, then we're okay. I just wanted to get started.
So they send the 5 grand out, and I went down to Vegas and hired my trainers and got started with my training. Two weeks in, I get a call from my attorney that they're not going to be able to bring up my fighters. They don't have the budget anymore. We had just agreed to it. It was in the contract. It went back and forth, and finally, I said, ‘You know what, don't worry about it. Let's just keep moving forward. Tell them I want one fighter on there, and we'll work from that.' So they agreed to that, one fighter.
We go another two weeks, and now it's the deadline for them to estimate the first payment on the ticket sales. It's supposed to go in an escrow account so that they're protected and I'm protected. There's no sanctioning body in England that will make them pay out this contract, because MMA isn't legal. None of those contracts are binding, so that's the reason we did the escrow account. We have them put it here, in the US, in an escrow account, so when I get to England, it releases into my account. There would be three installments; one on the first, and then another one before I get on the plane, and the last one would be when I got there, which would be the remainder coming from the ticket sales on the gate. That was all from the ticket sales that would go into the account.
First installment did not happen. We called them and asked, ‘What's going on?' They say, ‘We want to change the contract.' So Dana calls me, not Dana, but this reminds me of Dana, sorry about that [laughs]. Rod tells me that they said the ticket sales weren't going as well as they thought. I said, ‘We're not changing the contract. It's not my problem.'
So Rod goes back and lets them know we're not changing the contract, so they say, ‘Can we put the money in escrow in England?' That was a red flag [laughs]. That's a highway to robbery right there. I told Rod, ‘Absolutely not. Either they have it in there or we're done.'
This is how bad I wanted this fight; it went on for 26 days after the first of the month. Finally, after going back and forth with these guys, and no budging on getting the money to us, I told him the fight was canceled. I was not going to England with them breaching the contract as many times as they had already done. The bottom line is this; they did not honor the contract, several times over.
It's really disappointing me. You look at what Don King has done in boxing, and I wonder why we're going there, why we're going in that direction. Why are we allowing this sort of stuff to happen. There should be some sort of control. Fighters are not savvy. A lot of these guys don't have agents or attorneys. They don't have people looking after them.
I see a lot of these guys, especially in the UFC, that are getting screwed over because they don't actually know how much money is being made and how much money they should be making. Twenty years down the road, they've got no home and no car, living with their parents. If they knew how much money was being made and had some kind of legal representation... I mean boxing is making $100 million. Don't you think MMA is getting pretty damned close to that?
I'm not afraid to speak up. That's the reason why Dana and I are on the outs, because he lied to me. He said I was supposed to get paid for over 100K buys for that first fight with Tito. I came back from Japan, had that very first fight, I created the controversy, I blew it up, got in Tito's face, got all the main stream audience, but of course Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin get the credit for making it mainstream.
They forget that I came back. I was the one who got on The Best Damn Sports Show. Not just me, it was Tito also. Tito was a great opponent. We got it out there mainstream to where it blew up after that. Dana told me that I was supposed to get money on anything over 100K buys. I was pretty confident that I could blow it up to over 200K buys. He said nobody had been able to do that yet.
So he comes to me after the fight and says, ‘We did 99K buys.' I dare anybody to actually go and look up those numbers. It was more like 165K buys. They were ready to close the doors before I came back from Japan. The new organization was not making any money. But no, it was Dana White who did it. Dana White built it. Dana White was the one to come up with all the creative ideas. Guess what? Dana White didn't know shit.
Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin did a lot for the UFC because they were in people's homes. People thought it was such a great fight. I don't agree with that. I think it was an entertaining fight. A great fight would be head movement, counter punches, all those things. They stood in front of each other and did rock em sock em robots with hardly any skill at all, but that's okay, because it was entertaining. Let's call it what it was.
Dana White talks shit to the guys that make him money. When he decides that the guys that have made him money are done, and wants to cut the strings, he's the first one to start talking smack about them. Look at Randy Couture, look at myself. They don't want anyone else going in there asking for a piece of the PPV. They pulled all that away from these guys.
The people that are running the UFC are cutting out any history that might suggest that they didn't create this thing, that they weren't the ones that started it. Pancrase is just another one that's getting cut out of the history. It's going to continue like this, because the type of things that Dana does, that's the type of characters and fan base we're building for the future. You don't think that kids look at Dana and idolize him? This is a guy that drops F bombs left and right, disrespects people whenever he feels like, has absolutely no morals... Ask his wife. Ask his mother. I mean, how many people have their mother turn their back on them?
I want everyone to understand that I'm not hating on Dana. Somewhere along the line, he's going to have to answer for what he does, and I feel bad for him. I've gone through some times where I wasn't doing the right things, and I was brought to my knees. It hurts, and I don't wish that on anyone. At the same time, I can't sit back, because I'm one of those people that has to speak my mind.
Reconciliation With Frank Shamrock
It's been a long time coming. We'd reached out to him earlier on when my dad was sick. We reached out several times, because my father wanted to make amends. He wanted to set things right, and I wanted that, as well. We tried to get Frank to come around, but he had other skeletons and other issues that he was dealing with. It really made me angry and made our relationship even worse. With that being said, I always wanted to know why; I wanted to know his reasons for doing what he did to a man who saved his life. I wanted to know the reasons for that because I could never do that.
Frank finally got to a point in his life where he was willing to come forward and talk to me. I've always taken the stance of wanting to sit down and talk with him. I thought it was only going to happen if we fought. I figured that sometime during the interviews, I'd be able to figure out what the Hell was going on. That's why I always tried to get fights with him.
Anyway, we got the opportunity to sit down and talk, and it was enlightening. I got to understand a little bit about why, and where he was at. I didn't agree with it, but at least I know it was a reason, and not him just saying, ‘Screw you.'
He had his reasons, and that's what counts. We were able to talk, and it lifted a big monkey off my back. I've always had the stance that if he's willing to work it out, I'm willing to work it out. We're in that position now, and it's going really well. I think he's been able to move forward in life and have some relief over the situation with our father. Now we're able to work and move forward to put our differences behind us. I think he might have a little trouble because our dad is gone, and he won't be able to fix that, but hopefully I'll be able to help him do that, if he needs it.
Frank and I have a video coming out, but I can't talk too much about it at this point. I've also got a reality show coming up. We had a sizzle reel shown, and they love it. I don't want to say what station it is, but it's a big one. They love it and are looking to move on it. They want to know what the first three episodes are looking like, so we're in the process of getting all that together.
I also have a bail bonds business here in Reno, Nevada with a partner. We also run security and bodyguard detail, too. It's called Hybrid Bodyguard. We're going to be putting out the best bodyguards in the world.
In another two weeks-I can't announce it now-but I became part owner of a professional sports team. Within the next couple weeks, it will be announced, and that I will also be announced in the decision making, and promotional and marketing aspects of the business for the team.
You can follow Ken via his Twittter account @ShamrockKen