Ken Shamrock hasn’t fought since 2010. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Even at 51 years old, Ken Shamrock isn’t much for a peaceful day on the lake.
On Thursday, Bellator MMA announced that Shamrock would headline the promotion’s June 20 card in St. Louis against Kimbo Slice. Not only is it the redux of an ill-fated bout between the two men originally scheduled for Elite XC “Heat” in 2008, but it marks the first fight for “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” in more than four years.
Bellator President Scott Coker came away impressed with Shamrock during an encounter at the promotion’s fan fest in San Diego this past November, so much so that putting the UFC veteran back in the cage didn’t seem farfetched.
“I said, ‘Wow, he’s in great shape,’” Coker recalled.
For Shamrock, the decision to get back to work was an easy one. Fighting is all he’s known, and he had already announced that he could compete in a bare-knuckle boxing match in April before Bellator came calling.
“I think that over the years I’ve been training to keep myself in shape and stay fit. I’ve earned the right to be able to fight for fun,” Shamrock said during a press conference prior to Bellator 134 on Friday. “I think a lot of people have a hard time understanding that I don’t want to go fishing. I don’t want to go hunting. I like being in the room with a bunch of dudes, getting ready for a fight, training, building camaraderie, patting each other on the shoulders.”
“To me, that’s the best thing in life. I love that. Besides my family and my wife, those are the things that I enjoy.”
Shamrock made his professional debut in Pancrase on Sept. 21, 1993, when he submitted Masakatsu Funaki via first-round rear-naked choke. He made a name for himself in the UFC, appearing in the promotion’s inaugural one-night tournament and forging rivalries with fellow Hall of Famers Royce Gracie and Tito Ortiz during his tenure with the Las Vegas-based promotion. Even with a long and accomplished career behind him, the Lion’s Den founder remains motivated by love of the sport.
“I hear people saying he’s doing it for the money. Of course I am. That’s what we do. I’m a professional,” Shamrock said. “I fight for money. I have my whole life. But that’s not the only reason I’m fighting – [I’m] 51 years old, I’m enjoying life.
“I’m not fighting a 27-year-old No. 1-ranked opponent in the world. I’m taking fights that are interesting to me -- ones that I think the fans will enjoy, that I definitely enjoy. I believe that I’m marketable business-wise. If these things all line up….I’m in.”
Nearly seven years ago, Shamrock’s originally proposed fight with Slice fell through when he suffered a cut during pre-fight warm-ups. Slice instead suffered a 14-second knockout loss to last-minute replacement Seth Petruzelli, and the two would-be combatants took divergent career paths -- until now.
“It arguably could have been the greatest ratings deliverer in the history of mixed martial arts TV ratings,” Coker said.
Shamrock recently inked a multi-fight deal with Bellator, but for now, he isn’t looking ahead to any potential opponents. He missed out on Slice once, so he isn’t about to let his focus stray now.
“Right now -- and I’ve been doing this my whole life -- I have to focus on one thing,” he said. “I’m a very, very determined individual, and I’ve been that way through all my training. There is no tomorrow. And so I’m focused on Kimbo and I’m focused on doing my job and I’m focused on having fun doing it.”