Tonight's training was great. Ready for this fight. pic.twitter.com/as0qoHuQ7S— KEN SHAMROCK (@ShamrockKen) June 9, 2015
The average 51-year-old man isn’t supposed to look like Ken Shamrock.
Then again, the average 51-year-old doesn’t have to fight the world’s most famous YouTube brawler inside a cage on national television in less than two weeks. When Shamrock recently posted a post-training picture on Twitter proclaiming himself ready for his June 19 showdown with Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson at Bellator 138, his chiseled physique raised more than a few eyebrows in the MMA community.
Such is life in the PED era, when virtually everyone is presumed guilty until a thoroughly tested urine or blood sample proves otherwise. According to Bellator MMA President Scott Coker, both Shamrock and Slice are clean ahead of their heavyweight clash at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
“At the direction of [Missouri Office of Athletics Director Tim Lueckenhoff], our main event fighters were subject to pre-fight drug testing, and we were informed last week that both fighters passed their test,” Coker said during a conference call on Wednesday.
Shamrock, meanwhile, attributed his ripped look to the most traditional means possible.
“Hard work and genetics,” he said. “I think if you’ve watched me throughout my career when I tried to go and pack on weight I’m not as lean. When I don’t worry about packing the weight on and I just worry about my cardio, my speed, then I get leaner. And that’s just how my physique has been throughout my career and it’s no different now. I think the difference that you’re seeing now is I’m putting in harder work.”
The UFC pioneer figures to be at a significant weight disadvantage come fight night. Shamrock says that, despite his best efforts, his weight tops out around 215 pounds. When he is training consistently, that figure drops below 210. Meanwhile, Slice is expected to be significantly heavier. Prior to his final UFC appearance, the Floridian tipped the scales at 225 pounds at weigh-ins, and Shamrock expects his foe to be closer to 240 when they fight next week.
“My ideal weight is usually between 215 and 210. That’s just where I’m at. I try to put weight on; I’m literally trying to put weight on. It’s not like I’m satisfied with being at the weight; I’m satisfied with where I’m at and who I am. That’s just where I’m at. There’s nothing else I can do. I eat six meals a day; I’m training hard. I’m doing everything I can. The highest I got was 215. When I start training I drop weight again. At one time I was 209 pounds,” he said. “That’s all I got.”
“I believe because of my experience in the earlier days with fighting open weight classes, three or four times in a night, weight has never been a disadvantage to me.”
As he prepared for his first mixed martial arts bout since Nov. 25, 2010, Shamrock dealt with an obstacle more challenging than a simple size discrepancy: Father Time. The man who began his professional career in 1993 and appeared in the UFC’s inaugural one-night tournament initially found it difficult to hang with his younger counterparts in the gym.
“It’s been the toughest and the most difficult thing that I’ve ever had to do in my career up to this point. Most of the time when I go into a gym and I get ready to train I’m the Lion King. I’m pretty much the guy that can handle anybody,” Shamrock said. “I’ve been away from the ring for four or five years and coming back I believe has really tested my character and tested my training and everything that has to do with getting ready for a fight. The humility, the humbling of going into a gym and starting out not really knowing where you’re at and having to put yourself through different types of training and realizing for the first time in your life, not only are you not the Lion King in the gym, but you’re the bottom of the barrel. You’ve got these young kids that you’re rolling with that are just throwing you around. All of a sudden you’ve lost that strength and that confidence you had going in there.
“My ability in the ring was something that was just a natural thing for me, but I also put the hard training and extra time on top of it, which made me great. I didn’t have that anymore, and I had to go out and dig and fight and scratch for every single inch every single day not to get my ass kicked in the gym all the time,” he continued. “Now that I’ve done that I’ve put myself back where I want to be. I’m not the greatest fighter in the gym; I’m not the Lion King of the gym, but I can hold my own now.”
Ever since the bout with Slice was announced, Shamrock has had to answer questions regarding his motivations to compete. Most fighters his age have transitioned into the next phase of their lives, while the average person’s athletic endeavors have slowed to a crawl. If it wasn’t clear already, Shamrock isn’t most people.
“I’m trying to put myself on the opposite side of the question when people ask me why you’re doing it. And I keep getting the same question over and over again,” Shamrock said. “I think the reason being is it’s probably very difficult for someone to understand or embrace the fact that I enjoy sparring, I enjoy preparing, I enjoy game planning and working with a group of people to accomplish a goal. Then in the end when you accomplish that goal, there’s no other better feeling in the world than to have a group of people who set on a journey, and they accomplished the goal that they set out on together.
“It’s a feeling that you don’t want to ever lose, but you know that it’s eventually going to go away. I’m going to live this thing as long as I can live and I’m gonna enjoy it as long as I’m allow to enjoy it. I hope and I wish that people would enjoy it with me.”