UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock meant no disrespect to Jorge Masvidal or Nate Diaz when he criticized the “BMF” title created by the UFC. He couldn’t help himself.
As an MMA pioneer who’d repeatedly fought multiple times in one night with few rules and no gloves, he found the idea of declaring the winner of a fully sanctioned fight a “bad MF,” well, quaint.
“I’m not taking anything from them, because all these guys would whip my butt right now,” Shamrock told MMA Fighting. “All I’m saying is compared to what we had to go through, getting kicked in the face, punched in the back of the head with no gloves, no rules, no time limit, four times in one night, yes, it’s funny.”
Shamrock believes his opinion created a stir with MMA fans because they don’t know what he and others went through in the old days of MMA, and so many defend the heroes they know. Others, meanwhile, are quick to recognize the contributions of the old guard.
Shamrock stresses he doesn’t really bear any grudge toward Masvidal or Diaz. In fact, he’d like to convince “Gamebred” to go bare-knuckle.
As the promoter of a new glove-free startup, Shamrock knows the value of name-dropping a UFC star, protected as he may be by a long-term contract.
“I don’t think we need a belt to tell people there’s a ‘BMF’ – I don’t understand that,” Shamrock said. “Masvidal fought bare-knuckle. He did backyard brawls just like (Kimbo Slice). So I say if that’s the case, why doesn’t he try his hand at Valor? We’d love to find out how bad he is.”
Masvidal, of course, awaits his next UFC booking after a doctor called off his fight with Diaz in the third round due to a cut. UFC President Dana White has promised big things for the breakout welterweight star, all of which involve four-ounce gloves, safety measures, and other things Shamrock considers a watered down version of old-school MMA.
Shamrock clarifies that bare-knuckle doesn’t necessarily mean the be-all “BMF.” Until training methods evolve and the promotion expand, he said, that title is shared with MMA. What there are, he said, are a lot of fun fights that offer crowd-friendly action.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s my opportunity to bring back what I fell in love with, which is bare-knuckle,” he said.
For an event on Jan. 11 in Florida, Shamrock said the fighters will be even more bare-knuckled when the promotion ditches hand wraps. That will force the fighters to be more selective about the punches they throw, he said, but it will make the action more pure. There are also penalties that await combatants who move backward, as in collegiate wrestling.
In other words, he said, all the obstacles to entertainment are being removed.
As for the safety measures in place to protect the fighters, Shamrock admits he’s in a similar boat as the industry-leading MMA promotion. He disagrees with the doctor’s decision to stop Masvidal vs. Diaz. But it’s the price to pay for promoting BMFs.
“In my opinion, Diaz and Masvidal, you’ve got to let guys fight,” he said. “These guys are both skilled fighters. They have a lot of fights under their belt, and they both know what they’re in for.
“It’s just like with some of my fights that were stopped – it was just ridiculous. Oh yeah, I get it. They want to try and keep people safe. But don’t do that with guys that are veterans. The guys that have been in there a whole long time, you’ve got to give them a lot of leeway.”
There was little but leeway when Shamrock first made his mark in the octagon as a submission-savvy shootfighter. He’d like more fans to remember that when the UFC lays claim to the baddest MFers.