5 Things You Might Not Know About Ken Shamrock

By Brian Knapp May 5, 2020

Ken Shamrock was one of the Founding Fathers of modern mixed martial arts, and his impact continues to be felt nearly 30 years after his debut.

“The World’s Most Dangerous Man” rose to prominence in Pancrase and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, posted 22 wins in his first 28 appearances, founded the revolutionary Lion’s Den camp and engaged in some of the sport’s great rivalries. Inducted into the pioneer wing of the UFC Hall of Fame on Nov. 21, 2003, Shamrock was an active competitor well into middle age and actually fought twice after he turned 50. The Macon, Georgia, native announced in 2019 that he had no plans to return to the cage, leaving the stage with a 28-17-2 record.

As Shamrock drifts further and further into MMA’s rearview mirror, here are five things you might not know about him:

1. He excelled at traditional sports.

Shamrock captained the football team at Shasta College in Redding, California, where he played linebacker and became a National Junior College Athletic Association All-American. He reportedly passed on an NFL tryout with the San Diego Chargers, shifted his attention to professional wrestling and ultimately migrated to mixed martial arts. Shamrock made his pro debut under the Pancrase banner on Sept. 21, 1993 in Urayasu, Japan.

2. His star burned brightest in Japan.

Shamrock was one of eight men who captured the Pancrase openweight championship. The others were Minori Suzuki, Bas Rutten, Masakatsu Funaki, Yuki Kondo, Guy Mezger, Semmy Schilt and Josh Barnett.

3. He was a well-traveled mercenary.

A box-office draw wherever he hung his hat, Shamrock competed in 10 different promotions during his 47-fight career. He went 17-3 in Pancrase, 7-6-2 in the UFC, 1-3 in Pride Fighting Championships, 0-2 in Bellator MMA, 1-0 in the World Mixed Martial Arts Association, 1-0 in War Gods, 1-0 in USA Mixed Martial Arts, 0-1 in Cage Rage, 0-1 in Impact Fighting Championship and 0-1 in King of the Cage.

4. His bag of tricks was deep.

Shamrock delivered 22 of his 28 career victories by submission and did so through a variety of methods. He won five fights by heel hook, four by rear-naked choke, four by arm-triangle choke, two by Achilles lock, two by kimura, two by kneebar, one by guillotine choke, one by forearm choke and one by armbar.

5. He challenged himself.

The 13-men to whom Shamrock lost—Suzuki, Funaki, Royce Gracie, Dan Severn, Kazuyuki Fujita, Don Frye, Tito Oriz, Rich Franklin, Kazushi Sakuraba, Robert Berry, Pedro Rizzo, Mike Bourke and Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson—have 346 cumulative victories between them. He lost three times to Ortiz and twice each to Gracie and Suzuki.
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