(A girl drink drunk is the worst kind of drunk.)
Frank Shamrock is on a little media tour promoting his new autobiography, and he’s been talking a lot about the Strikeforce that is and was. Frank helped build the promotion from the ground up, headlining their first ‘Strikeforce: Shamrock vs Gracie’ card. I’m sure a lot of people expected Ken and Royce rather than Frank and Cesar, but sales is sales and Strikeforce managed to hold the North American MMA attendance record for a while with 18,265 tickets sold off that fight. (Frank whupped Cesar in 20 seconds, by the way.)
Since that day, Strikeforce was his baby – he fought for them, promoted for them, and was basically one of the key Strikeforce cheerleaders. He used the league as a pulpit from which to battle with his mortal enemy Dana White, and as a platform for the Frank Shamrock brand. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that he was slightly distraught when the UFC bought Strikeforce and gutted it:
“I can’t pin my drinking issues on the sale of Strikeforce,” he said. “It’s a genetic disease I’ve been fighting my whole life. But that was certainly the pinnacle of coming to the realization I shouldn’t be out drinking. But I think it’s because I fought so hard, and we had fought so hard against the unbeatable adversary, the UFC. I had so much personally invested in the vision or the dream or the chance of Strikeforce. It was my whole life. I didn’t have another life. That’s all that I did. This whole experience and journey saved my life. It was a dark day. It was honestly a dark day when it was sold.”
Shamrock says that after the company changed hands, he found himself with more time. And where he was once involved in business meetings and charting the future, he was suddenly out “golfing and drinking all day.”
“I always thought that the barrier of me not being an alcoholic or having problems was not wrecking a car, killing somebody or drunk driving, ” he said. “I thought if you weren’t doing that, you were just fine. It turns out, I had a problem for years.”
Shamrock has since addressed the problem through sobriety meetings, and while he still works for Showtime as an analyst, he admits that it’s not easy for him to look at a company he helped build struggling under new management. But it’s not because of who’s running it, but because of what they have done to it.
“Strikeforce is alive. It has a great soul but they’ve been picking the soul out of it and taking the talent out if it, and now it’s a shell,” he said. “It could definitely be rebuilt. Strikeforce was amazing. The idea of it still has value but the way it’s being treated, they’re plucking all the value out of it.”
Frank is right – the idea was great. Make a star a partner and build cards around them, concentrate on selling tickets (what a fucking crazy concept) instead of chasing rapey TV deals, and build a solid foundation in one region rather than jetting around pretending you’re a national promotion. The blueprint is there if someone wants to follow it. All you need is one of those elusive fighter stars not signed with the UFC. A Rampage Jackson, perhaps? Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy you wanna partner up with.