(Ken Shamrock: master of the silly face staredown.)
Frank Shamrock won’t stop talking about how much he wants to fight his older brother. In fact, the older and slower Ken Shamrock becomes, the more Frank seems to want a bout with him. Weird. Now the adopted brothers are telling ESPN.com that the bout is basically a done deal, while the ever-questionable Head of Operations for EliteXC, Jeremy Lappen, sounds more cautious.
The reasons EliteXC will probably end up making this fight are obvious. At least, they’re obvious once you consider the way EliteXC thinks. The fight has a “cool hook,” according to Frank, and that’s more than enough for the people who brought us Kimbo Slice-Tank Abbott. The reasons they might not make it happen? How about a mix of financial concerns and worries over whether Ken will be engaging in any headbutting contests the day of the fight and end up pulling out at the last minute again.
Beyond those obvious risks, here are several other reasons why we can do without Shamrock vs. Shamrock.
1. It’s eight years too late. The time to make this fight was when both guys were at or at least near the top of their game. Frank’s last great moment was his victory over Tito Ortiz in 1999. Since then he’s been reluctant to fight genuinely dangerous opponents, and has usually come out on the losing end when he does. Ken had a good showing in a decision loss against Don Frye in 2002, then started to go downhill shortly after. At this point, what does it matter who wins? Obviously, it will be Frank, but still, so what? It’s meaningless beyond the tepid personal grudge, which brings me to…
2. It’s a contrived gimmick. It’s not that I don’t believe there’s some real animosity between them. Both brothers are naturally gifted at making people hate them, and there’s the issue over who treated their father with appropriate respect and who didn’t. Fine. But when you listen to them talk about it you get a sense that they’re both seeing dollar signs more than a legitimate opportunity to settle their differences. Frank can’t stop talking about what a great “story” he thinks it is, as if he’s talking about some fictional version of his life. At least Ken realizes that gimmicks only work when you pretend that they’re real.
3. The endless Cain and Abel comparisons. It’s already begun. Lappen brought it up in the ESPN article, referring to it as “a storyline everyone can relate to.” That’s fine, but here’s the thing: Cain murdered Abel. They didn’t engage in a big money prizefight as middle-aged men. There’s a difference.
4. Frank Shamrock will never let us hear the end of it. As great as he once was, Frank Shamrock is even greater in his own mind. He’s referred to himself before as the greatest martial artist of the last twenty-five years. And yet, while his sport has blown up in popularity since the turn of the century, he’s competed only sporadically. But if he beats Ken (and he will, if Ken can make it into the cage this time) he’ll never stop talking about it. He’ll be like the friend who once scored the winning touchdown in high school football. We’ll all have to hear about it every time he has four beers in him, and when you go over to his house you better believe he’ll play the tape again and again. You really want to go through that?
5. l know I’ll have to watch it. This is what gets me the most. The fact that if EliteXC makes this fight, I’ll end up watching it despite all the reasons I’ve just given. I’ll watch the same way we all turn our heads to see what’s going on whenever idiots in a bar all start shouting “woooo!” Shamrock vs. Shamrock is the “woooo!” of the MMA world. It’s a quick, look-over-here type maneuver, and it will work. The only thing worse than a gimmick is the gimmick you can’t ignore. No matter how hard you try.