Prior to UFC 100, SI.com had the chance to speak with many of the promotion's elite fighters -- past and present. Here's what Ken Shamrock had to say about Saturday's card, his career in the cage and much more.
As far as the things that were accomplished by myself and Royce Gracie and many others in the beginning of the UFC, it's very important that the promotion and sport succeed.
The UFC, it's come a long way. If you look at where we started and where we're at today, the athletes are phenomenal.
When we first did this thing, there was no such thing as MMA training, where you trained to take guys down, work in the clinch, sweeps, strikes on the ground, combination strikes into a submission. How do you train for that stuff? There was no such thing. So guys that were pioneers of it who had to develop their own training strategies and their own escapes and combinations, it was phenomenal.
For myself, it was all about being champion. And when I was champion, it was about retaining my belt and keeping my belt. So you don't really think past your next fight, or even your next couple fights.
The times I've had to reflect on where it has been and where it's gone were several years after I went to the WWF, and I was able to slow down and reflect on the things that I accomplished in MMA, and the struggles in MMA.
But it was worth every bit of it because of where it's at today and the success it's had. It truly explains the question of Who is the toughest guy? We all know what it is now: It's a well-trained, completely skilled fighter in stand-up and ground.
The transition from UFC 1 to UFC 100 was very poorly brought to the fans. It's almost like [Zuffa] doesn't want people to know that they weren't the ones who discovered the UFC.
You have to bring in Bob Meyrowitz. You have to bring in Rorion Gracie. They created it and made it possible for the Fertittas and Dana White to bring it to where it's at now.
The thing that will keep the UFC successful is media, people who are not controlled by the UFC. When you talk about a Hall of Fame, you can't have an organization control a Hall of Fame, because obviously it's prejudiced. It can't help but be prejudiced because it's their organization.
There's something that can never be taken away from me. The one thing I was very successful at, and some people compared me to Muhammad Ali in this sport -- obviously Ali was a great boxer and did things unique to boxing -- but when it came to MMA, and the time that I had there, I was probably one of the best self-promoters.
I always pride myself on giving credit where credit is due: The fans were a huge part of MMA succeeding in the United States. They were the ones keeping it alive when it was being pushed out and politically shut down.
One thing, and that's something I know that's been buried, or pulled under the covers, I was very proud to be the first and second crowned UFC, or even MMA, heavyweight champion.
I was watching a show Monday night, where they marked Mark Coleman as the first UFC heavyweight champion. Maybe that was a mistake, I don't know. But there's a very committed undermining of Ken Shamrock's presence in the UFC.
The toughest part is when you have a family and kids and you're raising them, and you have a wife you love whom you're trying to spend time with -- fighting takes away a lot of time you have with them, especially when you're in your prime and focused on trying to accomplish a goal. Your family definitely struggles and has to be very accommodating by not getting a lot of time with you. That's one thing that bothered me and I struggled with over the years.
The best part of being a pro fighter was when I walked around and people noticed me and appreciated the work I did in the ring. That's something that I really enjoy and something I'll probably really miss.
The biggest lesson is whenever you're going into a fight and you have an opponent, don't ever take it for granted. Just because they don't have a good record or don't look as strong as you, don't look past that fight.
The best piece of advice I've ever gotten was that it doesn't last forever. So you need to make sure that what it is you're doing lasts a lifetime. Remember the good times. Remember the feelings. And save your money. Put it away. Enjoy life.
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