On Friday, February 19, MMA fans tuned in to watch an event that could be described as nostalgic. It was on that night Ken Shamrock would take on Royce Gracie in the main event, the third fight in a trilogy that was more than two decades in the making. Joining them in the co-main event, Miami-Dade County street fighters Kevin Ferguson and Dafir Harris, respectively known as Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000, settled their supposed lifelong grudge which started back in childhood. Bellator 149: Shamrock vs. Gracie was an event fans watched just to see what would happen.
After the dust settled that night, it was evident MMA fans mostly wasted a portion of their lives watching four old-timers try to duke it out in the cage. Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 were so out of shape that after one minute in the first round, the fight became sluggish and boring. What’s sad was it lasted up to three rounds and Kimbo won because Dada was too exhausted to keep going. Ken Shamrock versus Royce Gracie was a lot quicker, but its conclusion came with a bit of controversy. Many fans believe Shamrock received a low blow by Gracie’s knee. However, officials kept concentrating on the Gracie’s legitimate knee strike, the one after the low blow knee, possibly as a means to avoid it.
Royce Gracie’s knee in question can be seen in the video attached below at the 2:09 mark. Notice how the slowed-down replay after the fight is stopped concentrates on the knee after the alleged low-blow knee.
All in all, Bellator 149: Shamrock vs. Gracie was less nostalgic and more like a freak show. However, these are the kind of fights Ken Shamrock calls “legend versus legend,” and he wants more of them to happen in MMA. Not only that, it is safe to say fans want to watch such fights whether they like them or not.
The “Godfather of MMA” and “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” made his views known during an interview with MMA Fighting. Ken Shamrock apparently sees more “Legend vs. Legend” fights in the future.
“I’ve been talking about this for a long time. A legends division, because the fans want to still see those guys. It was unique. It’s different now because everybody does the same thing, but there were those 10 years of MMA that just were very unique, and the fans locked on to them. There were a lot of legends that were created during that time, and a lot of those guys are still capable of getting into the ring and fighting. Obviously not fighting for a world title, but there are guys who, fighting other guys who are basically the legendary status, they will still pack the house because people want to see them. Royce (Gracie) did it, I did it, many other ones have done it, (Pat) Miletich has done it — there’s guys who have kept themselves in tremendous shape and can still go.”
From Ken Shamrock’s statement, Bellator MMA president Scott Coker is on board with more “Legend vs. Legend” fights. Nevertheless, Coker being on board is no surprise because he set up such a match back in 2014 when he had Tito Ortiz fight Stephan Bonnar. Let’s not forget Bellator 138: Unfinished Business, the event that most-likely solidified Coker’s support in “Legends vs. Legends” fights.
Many MMA fans tuned in for the aforementioned event just to see who would win given they couldn’t fight at their last meeting, Ken Shamrock or Kimbo Slice. To be fair, the fight was uninspiring and somewhat boring. Shamrock hardly locked in a rear-naked choke on Kimbo which in turn gave Kimbo the ability to escape. Eventually, Kimbo hit Shamrock with a jab that seem to lack power. However, Kimbo got help from the “imaginary banana peel” slipping Shamrock, the same one that Shamrock slipped on twice during his fight with Rich Franklin. That was enough for the referee to call a K.O. decision.
It sounds like anyone watching such a fight just wasted their time; but, apparently, a lot of people were watching the fight as Bloody Elbow reported an average of 2.1 million viewers for Bellator 138: Unfinished Business. That is four times more than the typical number of viewers for Bellator MMA shows.
Ultimately, Ken Shamrock is right. Whether fans like it or not, MMA fans will want to see “Legend vs. Legend” fights. Until fans actually show disinterest in fights that run the gamble of being an unsatisfying freak show, they are here to stay.
[Photo by Ross Dettman/Getty Images for IFL]