J.G.’s “Knee-Jerk Reaction” Mailbag

By: Josh Gross
Feb 14, 2007
Can’t even remember the last time I did a mailbag. And that’s a shame. You guys constantly e-mail with great questions, and they deserve a proper response.

My one and only New Year’s resolution was to be better about responding to you, and this is the first effort to live up to that.

Not surprisingly, you made it really easy for me to find e-mails this week after the controversial — and important — mixed martial arts debut on Showtime Saturday.

Fans with thoughts on Frank Shamrock (Pictures)’s actions and comments (as well as mine) sent a good cross section of opinions. For the first time in 2007 — and not the last I promise — here is J.G.’s Mailbag.

Aftermath of Gracie vs. Shamrock

Congrats to Sherdog for showing post-fight interviews from both Renzo and Frank. They obviously tell two very different sides of the story. Frank hinted that Renzo was “faking” his injury to get out of the fight. Frank also claimed that he had won the first round and was about to knock out Renzo (from the bottom?).

I am inclined to think that Renzo has shown total class throughout his career and also amazing toughness. He just doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that would duck another opponent. Frank, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have fought anyone serious for several years.

So whom do you believe? What really happened? – Tony from Indianapolis

In the building it appeared as though Frank was frustrated. Three relatively easy takedowns — don’t buy that nonsense from Frank that he let Renzo take him down — put Frank in a tough spot during the first seven minutes. Knowing he could score on the feet, which he did with ease, had to add to Shamrock’s impatience as he was being controlled on the bottom.

It’s true that Frank has handpicked opponents since walking away from the UFC in 1999. I’m sure he felt he could walk in and dominate Renzo. But it was clear from the outset that he had a fight on his hands.

Frank is very intelligent and keenly aware of what his body is doing. I don’t think it’s possible he could have thrown those knees without knowing where they were aimed.

That said, only Frank and Renzo know what really happened in the cage. And I’m sure we’ll get a second chance to see the two settle their now-real differences in short order.

I appreciate the fact that Gross was open and honest about his reactions to Frank's lack of sportsmanship in his coverage of EliteXC's first card. This was a really bizarre main event and many of us are left wondering what caused such an unexpected outcome.

My belief if that Frank is so terrified of losing his overblown legacy that he will pretty much resort to anything to avoid a legitimate loss. I personally feel that Frank's legend status is only part talent and mostly hype, similar to Rickson Gracie. To claim to be the best in the sport today you have to beat the best, and Frank has not done that despite his statements to the contrary (besides Tito, who has he beat that is worthy of this claim?). His claim that Renzo was taking the easy way out is absurd … this is after all the man who got a dislocated arm from Sakuraba and did not even wince. Not to mention the fact that he was handling Frank in the first round … why would he suddenly be afraid?

The only man afraid in that ring was Frank. His statements and antics after the fight showed nothing but an attempt to overcompensate for his massively insecure ego. Say what you will about his brother Ken … at least he never resorted to dirty tactics and excuses just to save face. What do you think this means for Frank going forward? – Jason Tiefel, Austin, TX

Frank’s legacy means everything to him. Aside from injury, it’s the only reason he has not fought good fighters on a consistent basis. But that’s the rub: by not fighting the best Frank has endangered his status as an all-time great, not preserved it.

He was a wonderful fighter in his day, and pioneered training methods that today are the norm. For that reason alone he will be remembered. But past accomplishments and game-changing techniques mean little when the discussion turns to where he should rank among today’s fighters.

If he’s serious about rekindling the magic that had followers of MMA in the late 1990s anointing him the game’s best, Shamrock has to regularly fight quality opposition. And, of course, he’s gotta win. Unlike other combat sports, it appears a mixed martial artist’s prime begins in the early 30s and lasts through much of that decade.

Just 34, it appears Shamrock has all the physical ability to become great again. But one has to wonder how much he really wants it.

I know there’s going to be a ton of controversy, comments, opinions, etc over the Shamrock-Gracie ending. I can explain what happened.

First off, two things stood out to me. Cesar Gracie (Pictures)’s initial comments were a dead giveaway as to what happened. Secondly, the commentators’ comments should be completely disregarded.

I wrestled in high school, and similar rules dictated what happened. There were times that we had dual matches against another school that were going to be close. Some of the matches might consist of a great wrestler against another that wasn’t nearly as good. If the better wrestler were to use an illegal move, such as a headlock without an arm, he was penalized and the match was stopped. Even if it was incidental. The other wrestler would get two minutes of injury timeout. If he couldn’t continue, he would win by DQ. So in close dual matches, you could use that to win a match.

That’s kinda what happened in that fight. The main difference was that Renzo was hanging with Frank. But the similarity was that once a penalty was called, Renzo pretended to be very injured to win the match on a technicality. Cesar Gracie (Pictures)’s initial comments validated this. I just want to make sure no one was mislead by the commentators` comments. – Jeff P.

Not sure how you can be so positive Renzo was faking. I was 15 feet away; he should win an Oscar if he really wasn’t hurt.

It's official, Frank shamrock is delusional and pathological. I think you may have realized this during your interview if not before. – Steven

If anything, Frank backed himself into a corner and was too proud to say his comments were off base. When he should have been contrite, he was brazen.

I’ve received a lot of e-mails (some of which you’ll read later) about my post-fight comments. Fighters make mistakes in the ring. It can be a sloppy thing, two humans trying to get the best of one another. I don’t find fault in what happened. I won’t go so far as to say Frank kneed Renzo intentionally. (Really, I have no idea if he did and have no way of proving it.)

So more than anything it was Frank’s, ahem, knee-jerk antics — his pacing around the cage as if he did nothing wrong; his disrespectful comments about Renzo; his preening for the cameras; his disingenuous stance about not knowing the rules — that bothered me.

Delusional? Pathological? More like egotistical.

Hey Josh, great work on the interviews with Mr. Gracie and Mr. Shamrock. Your article was also fantastic. You called Frank out on his poor sportsmanship. I hope he gets a suspension for blatantly breaking the rules like that. What kind of disciplinary action does a fighter face after getting a DQ under such conditions?

Keep up the good work, the sport needs more great reporters like you to educate the fans. – Mike, from Montreal

Mike, thanks very much for the props. According to Mississippi Athletic Commission chairman Jon Lewis, Frank won’t face any disciplinary action stemming from his DQ loss. Lewis told me Saturday night that he didn't think the knees were malicious, so the commission wouldn't levy any sort of fine or suspension.


Dear Josh, I just want to say that you don't know squat about fighting at all. Gracie was never, and I repeat NEVER IN CONTROL of the bout. How do you suppose that Henzo made Frank look bad in the opening five minutes of the bout and also in Round 2? Taking down your opponent and laying on top of him, and not taking advantage of being on top by striking your opponent is not being in control. Henzo was ever in control because he didn't capitalize when he was laying on top of Frank. If you've seen any of Frank's past fights you can plainly see that fighting while on his back is part of Frank's game plan and that he is very comfortable fighting from that position (ala Frank vs Tito). Frank Shamrock (Pictures) controlled Henzo and the fight from the very start. Frank was fighting and staying busy, even though he was on his back. Do you know what ring generalship is? Obviously you don't. Frank struck first and often. He backed up Henzo at will and he allowed Henzo to take him down to the matt as part of Frank's game plan. You can also tell that every time Frank hit Henzo, Henzo was getting hurt by those fists and kicks.

As for the knee to the back of the neck. In my opinion when your in a fight you should be protecting yourself at all times. Even if Frank wouldn't have fouled Henzo, you could see that Henzo was getting hit with some hard shots and that that those shots were taking there toll on him. It's my opinion he would've been knocked out before the end of round 2. The decision to disqualify Frank was terrible. It should've been ruled a "NO Contest".

I think you are a Frank Shamrock (Pictures) hater, and Gracie worshipper. – Mario E. Espinosa

When Frank fought Tito he suffered from a 20-pound deficiency against one of the biggest, youngest, most talented light heavyweights in the sport. Fighting actively from the bottom was genius.

Frank out-weighed Renzo by five pounds and was in no way physically inferior. If it was actually his intention to use the same game plan against Renzo that won him a five-round championship fight against Ortiz then he needs to revisit his strategy as much as his post-fight comments.

There’s no doubt Frank had a major edge on the feet, making his claim that he allowed Renzo to score takedowns so the 39-year-old Brazilian would get worn down while working from the top all the more inane.

Which would seem more effective:

Shrug off takedowns, score with punches and knees from the outside and frustrate an increasingly fatiguing opponent that can’t get the fight to the floor — the only place from which he could have won?

… or …

Give up takedowns from the clinch, get your guard passed to side-control and knee-on-belly, from where a submissions expert would methodically work on a limb?


(And about this “protecting yourself at all times” business … why not just have fighters wear bulletproof vests?)

I’m speaking in regards to you Gracie-Shamrock article. The second knee lands on his neck at best and it was more like his back for one. For two that was the most one-sided article I’ve ever read. It was an anti-Shamrock article. Gracie rolled off of him, Shamrock leans over him asks him if he’s ok, checks on him. He also apologizes to the refs. He claps when Renzo leaves. That knee was so weak if it gave Renzo a concussion he should not fight.

As far as him dominating you obviously did not watch the Din Thomas (Pictures) verse Clay Guida (Pictures) fight. Guida took down at will but then Din gets him, dominates stand-up and wins the fight. Renzo took him down excellent what did he do with it? He gave him no punishment, no advancement of position mostly and he got stood up for stalling. Shamrock stayed active the whole time, landed nice shots while standing up.

Sure those knee were illegal and I’m all for the rules but Renzo flaked out I know what it looks like when someone has a concussion and that’s not it. He looked worn out. The fake display of him trying to stand and not being able to was Pathetic at best. I cannot believe Sherdog would post that pathetic article you wrote. I wanna see the rematch so you can see Renzo get tired and shamrock dominate him on there feet. That was such a lame fight. That was such a lame ending. I like how you portray him as being tough by referring to the "arm snapping in two" other wise known as dislocating his elbow. Your article was terrible and I thought you should know that.

As “pathetic” as you think my story was, please re-read it. Not once did I say Renzo dominated Frank.

What they showed on television and what went on in the ring aren’t necessarily the same thing. Yes, Frank checked on Renzo, but after that, all he did was attempt to save face. That clapping as Renzo was helped back to his dressing room? Mocking at best.

Hi Josh, I just want to let you know that I think your story on the EliteXC card was exceptional. The first two paragraphs capture perfectly what was at stake — and what was demonstrated — by Shamrock's ultra-disappointing performance, and the succeeding paragraphs make all the necessary points to understand and evaluate the DQ: Frank had been warned; Frank had to be familiar with the rules; Renzo, by his own standards and certainly by MMA judging standards, was dominating the fight; given Renzo's position, the prohibition against knees to the head was to Frank's, not Renzo's advantage ("I thought we were here to fight" BS notwithstanding); and Renzo's character as a fighter as exhibited in the Sakuraba fight.

After I witnessed last night's events, including Frank's outrageous claims, I couldn't wait to read your story — knowing that you would get it right. You didn't disappoint. Thanks for being the best journalist in MMA. – Alex Epstein, Laguna Hills, Calif.

Many thanks, Alex. People can say this fight didn’t matter much, but judging by the passions it sparked on both sides, there’s still a lot of life left in the Shamrock-Gracie rivalry.

More thoughts on MMA on Showtime

No comment on the stupid dragon?

No comment on Bill Goldberg's performance? How about mention of his 173-0 record?

The show did comment on UFC and Pride, but I didn't get the sense they were trying to be open, I think they were trying to gain credibility.

Overall, think it came off cheesy and I was disappointed. Hell, the only exciting fight was Carano v Kedzie, and I don't really dig seeing the chicks fight.

With Showtime's money, I doubt they will be the next WFA, but they sure are trying. – Kevin, Chicago

Ever been to a fancy seafood restaurant? Well, for some reason leftovers are wrapped up in gold-colored foil in the shape of swans and rabbits or whatever. That’s what the dragon reminded me of. I’m generally dismissive by “production values” to begin with, and lame stuff like that only reinforce my opinion.

Goldberg is a favorite of former WFA boss Jeremy Lappen, who is now affiliated with EliteXC. I think he's a fan of the sport and is passionate, which three years ago would've been enough to qualify someone as a color commentator on an MMA broadcast. But arent we at the point now that the sport deserves some quality broadcast journalism? I don’t think that’s Goldberg’s cup of tea, though I’m sure there are people out there that appreciate his presence.

Carano-Kedzie was a solid fight. Hopefully Gina fights girls that can match her size, and really push her. She can be had on the floor.

Showtime is already light years ahead of what the WFA offered. I still believe their presence in MMA is incredibly important.

Just watched the EliteXC show on Showtime. Save Frank Shamrock (Pictures) and Bill Goldberg's performances, it was a great show.

But why was Bill Goldberg on the broadcast team?

After a "downed" Renzo received a concussion due to illegal knees to the head, Bill Goldberg made the very irresponsible comment that "concussions were no big deals," and it was obvious that he wanted the fight to continue. I was surprised the idiot didn’t start chanting "USA! USA!" like the fans in attendance.

Why is Bill Goldberg still being involved in MMA broadcast? Just because he says he is a long time fan doesn’t mean he should be on the broadcast team. What can fans do to voice their displeasure, and we have a right to do so because we support the sport and keep it alive.

Keep up the great work. – Jason in Tulsa

I actually asked Goldberg about his concussion statement after we returned to the hotel. He said he’d experienced multiple concussions and didn’t think it was a big deal. We spoke about former New England Patriots’ linebacker Ted Johnston, who last week said he was suffering the effects of concussions, including depression. Goldberg didn’t seem to buy the comments. I couldn’t argue, as I’ve had my brain rattled far fewer times than Bill.

Let me say this about the Showtime broadcast, especially after the DQ: it was the best display of broadcast journalism I’ve seen in MMA.

Jay Glazer did a tremendous job of speaking with everyone involved. Showtime did its best to keep viewers apprised of Renzo’s status. We saw backstage as Renzo pleaded with EMT’s not to be strapped into a stretcher. Attempts were made to interview the concussed fighter.

Major props to Showtime for more than exceeding my hopes for the broadcast. It is a great sign — and quite honestly it was the main reason I felt it was incredibly important for a network like Showtime to broadcast MMA.

Now if only we can move away from MMA organizations controlling their broadcasts and get much more journalism on air, the sport will be far better for it.

Hi Josh, it was hard not to notice Brandon Vera (Pictures) cage side on Saturday night during the EliteXC show. Were you able to catch up with him and find out any details regarding his contract or where he will be fighting next? Thanks, Dan

Unfortunately the only chance I had to speak with Brandon was in the Memphis International Airport. It was short and sweet, but not so deep on news. Brandon wanted to speak with us after asking his manager, Mark Dion, if they were going to do interviews. However, the timing didn’t work, as I had to catch my flight back to L.A. shortly thereafter. We’ll do our best to get an update on Brandon.

I do have it on good authority, though, that Vera will fight Jake O’Brien. All signs point to the UFC doing anything it can to leave a black mark on Vera as he appears headed in another direction.

Got my back

Josh, there was a thread on the forums bashing you. Most of the dorks had the decency to pose an argument as to why they disliked you but this guy dizzeldel didn't, so I replied to him.

I got double yellow cards for it because it was a hateful comment. My perspective is that his comment was hateful and mine was full of love. Oh well, we all suffer for what we believe.

Good luck battling the morons Josh, you're doing great so far. I appreciate your work. You provide wonderful insight and even provide a little more hilarity than TJ sometimes. Congratulations and good luck. – “heyseuss”

Thanks for looking out. That stuff doesn't bother me. I'd be a hypocrite if it did. People should be free to express their opinions — in a world without double yellow cards.
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