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Ken
Shamrock
may not wind up on many
figurative Mount Rushmores
, but his influence on mixed martial
arts can still be felt long after he was a relevant competitor.

“The World’s Most Dangerous Man” rose to power in the Pancrase and

Ultimate Fighting Championship
organizations, recorded 22
victories across his first 28 outings, founded the revolutionary

Lion’s Den
camp, partook in several of the sport’s most heated
rivalries and even went on to spread the
MMA gospel into the world of professional wrestling
. Shamrock
was enshrined in the pioneer wing of the UFC Hall of Fame in 2003,
fought beyond the age of 50 and exited the stage with a 28-17-2
career record.

As Shamrock continues to drift into the past, a look at five of the
moments that came to define him:

1. When Stars Align

They now seem cosmically linked by their rivalry, but Shamrock
locked horns with Royce Gracie
for the first time in the UFC 1 semifinals on Nov. 12, 1993 at
McNichols Arena in Denver. The historic encounter lasted less than
a minute but nevertheless managed to propel Gracie forward on his
march to becoming the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first
superstar. Shamrock sprawled on a takedown and moved toward top
position, only to become entangled in the lanky Brazilian’s spidery
guard. He then made a pass at an ill-advised heel hook, left his
neck exposed and found himself trapped in a rear-naked choke.
Shamrock tapped 57 seconds into Round 1 and sent Gracie to the
final, where he dismissed Gerard
Gordeau
with the same choke.

2. Peak Performance

Shamrock’s most feat may have unfolded over a 48-hour period in
1994, when he defeated four of his contemporaries to become the
first openweight champion in Pancrase history. The 16-man
tournament began on Dec. 16 at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo,
concluded the following day and included Matt Hume,
Frank
Shamrock
, Bas Rutten,
Vernon
White
, Jason DeLucia
and Masakatsu
Funaki
, among others. The elder Shamrock turned away Alex Cook
with a heel hook and eliminated future UFC heavyweight champion
Maurice
Smith
with an arm-triangle choke to reach the semifinals. Once
there, he submitted Funaki with an arm-triangle choke, then earned
a unanimous decision over Manabu
Yamada
in the 30-minute final. Shamrock successfully defended
the openweight crown on one occasion, tapping Rutten with a kneebar
in March 1995.

3. ‘Beast’ Mastered

The anticipation was palpable when Shamrock locked horns with the
once-beaten Dan Severn for
the inaugural superfight championship in the UFC 6 headliner on
July 14, 1995 at the Casper Events Center in Casper, Wyoming. A
two-time All-American wrestler at Arizona State University, Severn
outweighed “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” by 35 pounds and
figured to have the inside track on the $50,000 prize that was to
be awarded to the winner. However, despite being six years older
than Shamrock, he had 16 fewer fights under his belt—and experience
played a pivotal role in the outcome. The two men spent much of
their time engaged in a neutral clinch in the center of the
Octagon. Shamrock evaded an attempted trip and allowed “The Beast”
to bully him into the fence. Once there, Severn dropped into
position for a double-leg takedown, only to be met with a
guillotine choke from his savvy counterpart. After a brief
struggle, he raised the white flag 2:14 into Round 1.

4. Blood Feud

Shamrock aimed to avenge Lion’s Den stablemate Guy Mezger’s
technical knockout loss to Tito Ortiz
three-plus years prior when he challenged “The Huntington Beach Bad
Boy” for the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship light
heavyweight title in the UFC 40 main event on Nov. 22, 2002 at the
MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The traffic was of the one-way
variety, as Ortiz secured three takedowns, connected on 107 more
strikes than Shamrock and forced a corner stoppage between the
third and fourth rounds. The aptly named “Vendetta” pay-per-view
drew upwards of 150,000 buys, which was considered a windfall for
the promotion in 2002. Shamrock had absorbed such a hellacious
beating across 15 minutes that he was barely recognizable by the
time it was over.

5. Last Hurrah

It will go down as the last meaningful win of Shamrock’s
hall-of-fame career. “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” returned from
close to a two-year absence to rematch Kimo Leopoldo
in the UFC 48 headliner on June 19, 2004 at the Mandalay Bay Events
Center. Shamrock had undergone reconstructive knee surgery to
repair a torn ACL in 2003 and was just four months removed from his
40th birthday when he entered the cage against the hulking
Hawaiian. Leopoldo—who had submitted to an ankle lock from the
Warner Robins, Georgia, native at UFC 8 in February 1996—swooped
into the clinch behind two jabs at the start of the match but found
little success. The two men remained tied up as they traded short
punches and knee strikes at close range, moving around the cage in
concert. As Leopoldo pressed the action to the fence, his
counterpart snuck in double underhooks and slammed a perfectly
timed knee into his exposed face. He collapsed upon impact, and
Shamrock cut loose with a few follow-up punches before the stoppage
was called 1:26 into Round 1. The Lion’s Den founder lost nine
times in his ensuing 11 appearances, including a 0-3 mark in the
UFC. There would be no storybook ending.


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