Interview - Ken Shamrock on Bare Knuckle Fighting & MMA
Bare Knuckle fighting is one of the fastest-growing combat sports in history. Very shortly after being legalized, the sport has started to produce uncanny numbers in terms of popularity. It's attracted stars from boxing, MMA and kickboxing - all wanting to compete on the stage of this new and exciting discipline.
And talking about combat sports and Bare Knuckle fighting, recently news broke of something very interesting. A true legend stepped into the light by forming his own organization. That legend is one of the greatest combat sports competitors of all time … a former WWE superstar … a former UFC Champion .... a UFC Hall of Famer … and one of the fathers of MMA. It's the man himself - the one and only - Ken Shamrock!
And his organization is Valor! A name truly fitting for someone of Ken's stature in combat sports.
FITE.TV Editor-In-Chief Ivan Spasov sat down with Ken Shamrock to talk about Valor, Bare Knuckle Fighting, the past and future of combat sports & much more.
Ivan Spasov (IS)): Hello Ken, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us! How are you?
Ken Shamrock (KS): Doing Great! How about yourself?
IS: Doing great as well! You obviously need no introduction to the fans, you're a true legend in combat sports. From MMA to Pro Wrestling, from Pancrase to Submission Fighting - you've done it all and been on the top of the game. And now here we are - you're stepping into the Bare Knuckle scene as a promoter. How did the concept for Valor come up and what made you decide to go into Bare Knuckle?
KS: What drew me to MMA, in the beginning, was the purity. Two men with no gloves, with their God-given talent! So I drew from my love of that and created Valor BK.
IS: Very interesting! The Bare Knuckle scene is very attractive to a lot of combat sports athletes. Something that's very obvious however is the pattern of MMA fighters going into the sport disproportionately more compared to other disciplines. As someone who's fought in multiple sports, what is it about Bare Knuckle that attracts these Mixed Martial Arts fighters so much?
KS: Because MMA fighters at their core just love to fight. The ultimate level in fighting is Bare Knuckle.
IS: I find it fascinating that you've been a pioneer and a true founder of MMA and now you're about to become the same for Bare Knuckle fighting. Your appearance at UFC 1, your legendary fights in the early days of the sport, your influence on fighters with the Lion's Den … everything you've done since the beginning of your career all the way to today has shaped MMA into what it currently is. And now you have the chance to repeat that all over again with Bare Knuckle! How does that feel?
KS: it feels great that I was able to start Bare Knuckle, I'm proud to come full circle and bring it back so people from other disciplines can come in and make the transition to test themselves.
IS: And speaking of your storied career - your rivalry with Tito Ortiz has produced some very memorable moments. FITE.TV aired the match between Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell under the Golden Boy banner back in 2018. Tito is still active and still kicking. How do you feel about your rivalry with him? Can it reawaken in the Bare Knuckle ring?
KS: First, me and Tito had a rivalry but it was one-sided I was 20 years older and I wanted to help elevate MMA. I will not be fighting Bare Knuckle, I want to be able to help other people achieve their goals and dreams and I get to follow mine because I get to bring Bare Knuckle back.
IS:Let's talk about some dream matches. If you could take any two fighters in history and put them in the Bare Knuckle ring, who would these two fighters be? Who would win?
KS: Me vs Royce Gracie…I'd win of course.
IS: Great! Now, another question that I think is very relevant to the time we live in. Young fighters today have so many sports they can make money in and can go after top-level competition. It's great to have so many fields of expression for a young martial artist but picking where to go can become overwhelming. If you were a young up-and-coming fighter, in what sport would you go - MMA, Boxing, Bare Knuckle, Kickboxing or maybe go down the Pro Wrestling route as an alternative? Or maybe something completely different?
KS: I'd say Bare Knuckle MMA, it's the purest form of fighting. It tests any man or woman in a ring.
IS: As we've discussed earlier, you've reached the very top in multiple sports during your legendary career - from MMA to Pro Wrestling. What lessons did each one teach you? How did each one form you both as a fighter and as a person?
KS: In the early days of no holds barred MMA, my results showed that being dedicated and working harder than the next guy got you to the top. My work ethic taught me to never settle for good but to strive for greatness in everything that you do, in and out of the ring.
IS: Awesome! We've talked about Valor but is there something else you're up to? Something you want to tell your fans about?
KS: I'm back doing Pro Wrestling with IMPACT Wrestling. They are making big moves going to AXStv and they have an incredible roster of amazing superstars! And It feels great to still be at the top of my game.
IS: Great! Ken, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us! It's been an honor!