Tonight in San Jose, Calif. one of the greatest fighters to grace a ring or cage within the sport of mixed martial arts will return to action. And former UFC champion Frank Shamrock (Pictures) will finally land his dream of fighting a member of the esteemed Gracie Family.
Many within the sport have wondered why Shamrock has been dead set on fighting a Gracie before he finally calls it a day. In recent years Shamrock’s focus has rested on Cesar Gracie, whom he’ll fight in a sold-out HP Pavilion Friday.
“That’s actually a legitimate question,” Gracie told Sherdog.com. “You should ask Frank that. I don’t know why he has been adamant about fighting me. Ask him.”
But don’t think Gracie, Frank’s opponent in the main event, is going to sit back and allow Shamrock to steamroll him like many believe will happen.
After being dragged through the mud, Gracie hopes to prove to the world that he belongs in the cage with an all-time great. And if he should inflict damage upon a man he doesn’t exactly consider his best friend, he won’t mind.
“I wouldn’t say that I like the guy,” he said. “But I certainly don’t have any animosity towards him. I am definitely not friends with him but like I said, I can be cordial and there is no hatred or anything like that. I am just not, you know, buddies of the guy and I don’t really think that highly of him. I don’t particularly care for Frank, but I certainly don’t hate him.”
One can’t blame Gracie for feeling a bit perturbed. After all, this showdown between Frank and Cesar has been in the works for years. It’s been a wild circus of name-calling, agreements, disagreements and locations that have fallen through. To say the least, Gracie is a fed up man who was on the verge of exploding.
“I am happy that this fight is finally going forward,” Gracie professed. “It’s been in the making for a very long time and the two of us can finally move forward. All that he said-she said nonsense is over now and we can look forward to having a good fight. You have no idea how relieved I am that this fight is finally happening. I never thought it would happen but here we are.”
The name of the event itself — “Shamrock versus Gracie” — would usually send shivers down the spines of many an MMA fan. It’s a rivalry between the two most celebrated families in MMA and the promoters of the show are hyping it up beyond belief.
But it means little to Cesar.
“It’s not some sort of family rivalry with this fight,” he said. “It’s Cesar versus Frank and that’s it. Ken fought Royce many years ago and I guess they had a rivalry. But I don’t consider my fight with Frank to be a rivalry. I really don’t think there even is a rivalry between us and the Shamrock family, really. This is just a good fight.”
The main event between Shamrock and Gracie isn’t the only good fight on the card. The show is a solid one from top to bottom and the Shamrock-Gracie battle isn’t the only worthwhile match-up on the bill. Notable figures within the fight game are competing and Gracie isn’t the only one glowing over the first-ever sanctioned MMA event in state history.
“I feel really good,” Gracie said. “This card is going to be great as there are many good fighters on the card and some of my fighters representing our school. It’s an honor to represent the Gracie family by fighting on the first sanctioned MMA card in California. I am honored to be a part of it, to represent my family and to be fighting in the main event. It’s great.”
The event itself should be one for the ages and Gracie promised that he’d do his part to make his battle with Shamrock a memorable one. While he isn’t one to make absurd predictions Gracie simply promises excitement.
“I expect there to be blood,” he deftly chuckled. “There should be blood, cuts, and bruising. It should be a great fight and I believe it will end in a knockout — whether it’s me or him that gets knocked out. Hopefully it will be him getting knocked out and not me.”