This last weekend, MMA fans watched the “long-awaited” bout – I’m using quotes because that’s debatable – between UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock and Internet sensation, Kevin Ferguson – a.k.a. Kimbo Slice. After Shamrock seemingly had Slice in a rear-naked-choke, the “TUF 10” alum powered out of it and countered with a devastating right that sent his opponent to the canvas before referee John McCarthy stepped in to stop the fight.
Although Shamrock lost the fight, there’s still some potential bouts on the horizon, one being with an old rival: fellow UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie, who joined Bellator as a brand ambassador.
According to MMAJunkie, Shamrock spoke to Bellator president about the potential rematch between him and Gracie in the future – a request both “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” and the three-time UFC tournament have asked for in the past. Gracie hasn’t fought in 2007 where he defeated Kazushi Sakuraba via decision – avenging an earlier career loss – and tested positive for anabolic steroids after the fight. Despite Gracie failing the post-fight drug test, the judges’’ decision remained the same.
Gracie and Shamrock fought in the semifinals in the first UFC tournament where the Brazilian jiu jitsu master submitted the wrestler in the first round with a rear-naked choke. The two met at UFC 5 where they went to a 36-minute draw in a bout that is considered by many as one of the worst MMA fights in history. Still Gracie vs. Shamrock is kind of the first UFC rivalry. Gracie said he’d be willing to fight Shamrock again.
Shamrock vs. Gracie III makes sense from a business standpoint. From a fan’s perspective, Shamrock vs. Gracie III doesn’t offer much on paper, but it has a lot of nostalgic value which seems to be working for Bellator. Even before Coker came into power, the promotion has been banking on well-known names alongside with their established stars. On Friday, fans were buzzing about Bellator 138 in a positive way. The card itself much different than what we’ve seen in other Bellator events, yet it accomplished its goal of creating awareness for the brand.
If this fight comes together, Bellator could brag about being brave enough to put this fight together. Both UFC and Pride Fighting Championships had a chance to put this fight on their cards but chose not to for whatever reason. Perhaps it was because they didn’t see any value in it or maybe it was because the price tag for both fighters was too high.
You could build a decent event around that fight and feature current world champions, former titleholders and future contenders. With Shamrock vs. Gracie III, you’re going to get the fans who’ve been watching MMA for a long time and remember the UFC’s glory days. Stacking the card with Bellator stars brings in fans who are loyal to the promotion. You’ll also get the critics who want to what they think will be a train wreck of a fight.
But if Gracie vs. Shamrock III doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world.