Ken Shamrock has wanted this rematch with Royce Gracie for 20 years. This is the fight that many deviant MMA fans will say “this is what started me down the path to all things octagon.” I know it was for me.

We all have succumbed to the rumor mill and the barstool ramblings that have existed since Gracie first won at UFC 1 in 1993. Gracie’s rear-naked choke hold was something to behold then and has become a staple of the octagon as we know it.  Shamrock’s revenge against Gracie is now upon us in Houston at Bellator 149 on February 19.

Last we saw Shamrock, there was debate over his bout at Bellator 138, as the main event against Kimbo Slice. Allegedly fixed, the bout saw Shamrock come close to choking Slice out, only to get knocked out when the fight returned to its feet. This was a fight of convenience, to put it mildly; Shamrock needed an opponent that would draw attention to him, Kimbo Slice needed to legitimize himself as an MMA fighter (just stick to what got you here, Kimbo, and you will be fine.)  At last, the promotion team at Bellator had a side show circus act that was worthy of something close to fighting a bear and the ageless wonder.

The idea of fight fixing is not far from the realm of possibility, but in a high-profile bout like this, I call false. Shamrock wouldn’t shame himself like that, he was too pissed afterward.  Now the drama. It has been 20 years since “The  Draw” we saw back at UFC 5. Gracie thinks Shamrock is ripe for another loss after a losing to Kimbo in June.  I will give Shamrock a shot here, he has waited a long time for this. Shamrock stated, “I believe this with all my heart, not that it takes away the pain or the sting or anything, but if I beat Kimbo, me and Royce aren’t fighting, depending on how I look. But because I looked so bad going into that fight, all of a sudden Royce wants to fight. He didn’t want it before this, but now he wants it.”

It’s now been nine years since we saw Gracie compete. Gracie laughed at this presumption when he was asked about it at his own media feeding frenzy.  “He shouldn’t even earn the title to fight me, it should be Kimbo. He lost. I never saw a guy that lost try to climb back again over everybody. I will not fight Kimbo. He’s a friend of mine. But he [Shamrock] lost. He should pack his bag and go home. He came back and kept bugging.”

The lack of respect between these two is evident, despite Shamrock’s praise for Gracie for the fighter that he was in 90s and how he was “much better” than him, especially at grappling. Shamrock resents the fact that Gracie never gives him any credit (I believe that’s called earning the respect of your opponent, Ken, something you clearly haven’t done here and will come to you with a decisive win in Houston).    Shamrock has always maintained that at UFC 5 he got the better of Gracie, but Gracie has always said, “Shamrock just laid on him.”  Gracie has also said many times that he doesn’t appreciate the words that Shamrock actually does use about him.  “I don’t like Ken, because of the way he acts, He could be a cool guy. It’s nothing to do with his technique. It’s just the way he acts like he’s the tough one, he’s the sh*t. He ain’t sh*t. Be a little more humble. Be humble, man. He’s one of those guys that’s not humble.”

I think this bout borders on the personal side for Royce. Silencing Shamrock would be the feather in his hat for his contributions to MMA.  My parting shot is that regardless of the outcome, this now infamous battle of all things MMA legend can finally end. For both, this is their legacy, one needing to silence the other to finally put this thing to rest.

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Dante DeMarco