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Royce Gracie vs Ken Shamrock III — Bellator gives the ‘Most Dangerous’ another chance

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Ken Shamrock
Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Bellator MMA capitalized on a bout originally promoted by EliteXC by putting Ken Shamrock and Kimbo Slice inside the cage at Bellator 138 back in 2015. The show turned out to be a big success for the promotion in general and Slice in particular; however, Shamrock — a.k.a. “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” — took his third technical knockout loss in his last five fights. Perhaps that was to be expected since Shamrock was already 51 years old at the time, but neither the promotion nor Shamrock was going to give up his name value that easily.

Shamrock vs Gracie 3 pre-fight press conference

Scott Coker offered Shamrock (28-16-2) and fellow mixed martial arts (MMA) legend Royce Gracie (14-2-3) a chance to run back their feud a third and final time. This was arguably a much more fair match age-wise as Gracie was 49 years old heading into their bout, while Shamrock had just turned 52. Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, would host Bellator 149 on Feb. 19, 2016, and give Shamrock a chance to redeem himself in the trilogy. The previous two fights had been a submission loss at UFC 1 and a time limit draw at UFC 5. Shamrock was raring to go.

Even as “Age in the Cage” was decried by sports writers who thought the fight was a big mistake, the “filthy casuals” made it Bellator MMA’s biggest live crowd to date. For Gracie it was his first MMA bout since 2007, where a win in his rematch against Kazushi Sakuraba was tainted by a wildly positive steroid result on his drug test. Gracie would need to be clean, lean and mean while Shamrock had to have more gas in the tank than his last bout. They weighed in the day before at 190.8 and 201.2 pounds respectively for the fight.

Jacob Montalvo was the third man in the cage for this main event and he had his work cut out for him. So did Gracie in fact — he refused to have his hands wrapped before the bout and somehow the athletic commission had no problem with it. That was a huge risk for Gracie though as he could break multiple bones in either hand with one bad punch. That easily explains why he was more comfortable throwing leg kicks than shots to the dome, all while Shamrock tried to both stay out of range yet get just close enough for a power shot.

At just past the two minute mark of round one things went downhill for Shamrock fast. The two men tied up to throw knees and at first glance it seemed like Gracie took him to the ground after one knee connected to the head. Viewers at home and watching the replay in the building may have felt differently — Shamrock certainly did. It’s at least plausible that Shamrock was suffering from the delayed effect of a knee strike to the groin as he wilted.

Montalvo didn’t call what he hadn’t seen though so Shamrock couldn’t benefit from a stoppage to recover, nor a disqualification for a fight ending low blow, so when Gracie started pouring on hammer fists on the ground it was another technical knockout loss for “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” at 2:22 of round one. Shamrock verbally protested and screamed “HE DID IT ON PURPOSE” and to this day insists that Gracie got away with a foul, even though he doesn’t blame Montalvo for his ruling on the night.

Shamrock’s point was rendered moot due to the fact that like Gracie a decade before he failed a drug test for steroids and was in no position to argue for fairness when the unfair advantage was frankly his. He has not fought for Bellator since and it’s for the best for all concerned.

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