Frank Shamrock file photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
A pioneer in mixed martial arts, Frank Shamrock retired from the sport Saturday between fights at the Strikeforce/M-1 Global “Fedor vs. Werdum” card in San Jose, Calif.
“When I was 22 years old, my brother gave me two important things,” Shamrock told the audience at the HP Pavilion after entering the cage. “He gave me an ass-whoopin’ and he gave me my love of mixed martial arts. Since that time I’ve traveled the world teaching mixed martial arts, preaching mixed martial arts and dragging my poor family with me from country to country to city to city.”
Shamrock competed in MMA for nearly 15 years. He became a King of Pancrase in Japan in the mid-1990s, defeating fellow pioneers like Bas Rutten and Masakatsu Funaki. His most heralded run came in the UFC, where he blended a striking and submission game with superb conditioning to become the company’s first middleweight champion. A September 1999 stoppage of Tito Ortiz stands out as a classic performance from Shamrock, who was considered one of the first complete mixed martial artists.
Shamrock retired after that win before returning to compete intermittently over the next several years. He choked out Phil Baroni in June 2007, then lost two straight, most recently falling to Nick Diaz in April 2009.
“I’m 37 years old now, and my time has come,” he said Saturday. “The stars like Gilbert Melendez and Cristiane ‘Cyborg,’ they’re the future and I am the past. Tonight I announce my retirement. This will be the last time I walk into this cage as a fighter.”
In addition to his family, Shamrock thanked Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker.
“He dragged me back in this cage,” Shamrock said. “He was honest and he kept his word to me, and I believe in the dream of Strikeforce. That’s why I’m here.”
Shamrock also thanked the HP Pavilion, Showtime and fans.
“It was an honor to bleed for you,” he said, “to break my bones for you and to entertain you.”