Last autumn, when it came to my attention that MMA icon and Google Alerts necessitator Ken Shamrock was offering his time on the telephone for $11.99 per minute, I thought it was a surreal sign of the times. Not only had faded MMA stars accrued enough popularity to be put on an expensive dial-an-athlete vanity line, but the MMA landscape was such that this was actually an attractive proposition.
It’s easy to mock Shamrock because of his often crotchety-and-crazy public persona, but the MMA business isn’t what many think. If your fighting days are done, your chances of transitioning into being a successful trainer or gym owner are significantly less than you think in a diluted market. An MMA t shirt company isn’t going to cut it. A flagging Pancrase hasn’t resorted to an openweight seniors circuit with the original palm-striking rules (yet), so what is a Kenneth Wayne Shamrock to do?
In the case of the recently retired Dan Severn, also a CallAChamp “featured champ” (only $9.99 per minute!), there is less to say, since “The Beast” has historically shown us that he will do anything to tuck some more greenbacks under his mustache.
However, this isn’t about Ken Shamrock, rather one of his former adversaries. I am delighted (if that’s what you call it) to inform you that former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin is now available for lunch.
Courtesy of Thuzio, a company specializing in the coordination of fan experiences, training seminars, motivational speaking events and personal appearances of all kinds, you can now spend all the personal time you want with “Ace,” providing you have the coin. Sure, you could take a private with Franklin for $600 an hour, but why not sit down for a cozy meal? That super-swank Ethopian-Italian fusion joint you’ve been dying to try? Now is your chance. Rich will (might?) love it.
Then again, for a $1,000 rendezvous, couldn’t he at least pick the place? Also, what sort of individuals are so intrigued or pathological about a given athlete so as to pay such sums to rub elbows and eat steak? If there was ever a Hollywood film about a serial killer preying on famous athletes, services like this would likely be an integral part of the plot.
These sorts of offerings -- which I assure you won’t become a rarity for MMA luminaries in their twilight -- are difficult to reconcile. On one hand, if someone wanted to pay fat stacks to have lunch with you and ask what it felt like to pulverize Nate Quarry, why not accept? I wish someone thought a 10-minute phone call with me was worth 120 bones. However, we all like to imagine that MMA greats and champs ride off into the sunset with some sense of security. They do not. Not every athlete gets to play coach or get a couple car dealerships.
What if you paid the $1,000, brought your son or daughter and simply asked Franklin to help them with their math homework?
I kid, I kid. I joke because it is simultaneously bizarre and brutal. But, seriously: does it cost more for Jorge Gurgel to come to brunch, or is there a rebate?