Shamrock headlines Strikeforce's first solely promoted event on Showtime cable television Saturday night. The San Jose mixed martial arts company has enjoyed great success since it launched in San Jose in 1995. In 2006 Strikeforce staged the first sanctioned mixed martial arts event in California history.
But earlier this year the company acquired the assets of Pro Elite for $3 million. The purchase, which included the contracts of many of Pro Elite's fighters, was a huge coup for Scott Coker, the entrepreneurial founder and CEO of Strikeforce.
Coker and Strikeforce also worked out agreements with Showtime and CBS to air Strikeforce cards. While the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is still the most recognized mixed martial arts brand, Strikeforce has emerged as bona fide competitor.
"This is a major step forward for us," said Mike Afromowitz, Strikeforce's communications director. "This is our biggest event as a true national brand. This is going to be an amazing experience."
Shamrock will compete against another Mexican-American, Nick Diaz. The 25-year-old is a star on the rise, a powerhouse puncher in the cage, and medicinal marijuana activist in his private life. Diaz poses a legitimate threat to the 36-year-old Shamrock.
Diaz grew up without his biological father on the streets of Stockton California. Diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, Diaz is an avowed user of medicinal marijuana, and even claims he knows how to pass drug tests.
Shamrock doesn't like Diaz's flagrant display of his personal choices.
"I don't think medicinal marijuana and mixed martial arts go hand in hand," Shamrock said. "I want to be a good person because I know it's important. That's why Nick's flippant way of combining things is so wrong. Some little kid somewhere is saying let's go smoke some pot and then go wrestle and that's the wrong direction."
At a recent press conference to hype the fight, Diaz greeted Shamrock with a middle finger.
"Frank can talk all he wants, but I'm going to beat him up," Diaz said at the press conference. "Let's see how much he fights back.''
Shamrock, who has a stage presence unmatched by anybody in mixed martial arts, fired back later.
"I want to thank Nick Diaz for the opportunity and just warn him that when I punch his head and he lands in the second row he'll need someone to catch him," Shamrock boomed.
In a candid interview with HispanicBusiness.com, Shamrock opened up about his return to glory and how he's bouncing back after suffering a broken arm in his last fight a year ago.
While Shamrock clearly relishes the spotlight, behind the scenes he's a man who values who place in life.
"I feel I have a tremendous responsibility not only to our youth, but our entire race," Shamrock said. "I never got into the sport to be a star or celebrity. I got into the sport to be really good and take pride in our work. A lot of people look up to me."
Long before UFC became a household word, Shamrock was its biggest star. In 1997 he became first UFC middleweight champion and holds impressive victories over big names such Tito Ortiz and Bas Rutten. He has won virtually every honor and distinction among his peers, including "Fighter of the Decade" in the 1990s by the Wrestling Observer and "Best Full Contact Fighter", by Black Belt Magazine, in 1998.
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