Shamrock looking for the next MMA superstar

As usual, Frank Shamrock doesn't pull any punches: MMA needs another superstar to emerge. Fighters aren't beer-swilling bar fighters. And he's itching to get back in the ring again. Sherdog

Updated: July 31, 2007, 2:52 PM ET
By Danny Acosta | Sherdog.com

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Frank Shamrock opened the doors to his sun-drenched Shamrock Martial Arts Academy a week ago Sunday for a reality show casting call, which also served as an opportunity to join Shamrock's Submission Fight Team. The living legend welcomed four newcomers into his world: fighting, the art -- not the act.

The former UFC champion walked around his facility like a NFL running back on Monday morning. Knee problems prevented him from taking the fighters through scrambles, striking, clinching and submissions before putting it all together in a "flow."

Shamrock still directed the fighters on the mats as soon as possible.

"I think we should just sword-fight," said Shamrock, who sat on a plyometric ball swatting the mat with a foam sword, all the while saying "please" while instructing the fighters.

Participants showcased their talents against Sean Bassett, a Shamrock student and Strikeforce veteran, as two television producers watched. One nicely executed wrestling switch prompted Shamrock to burst out: "That was awesome!"

The former King of Pancrase interjected fight philosophies in his coaching.

Frank Shamrock
Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.comFrank Shamrock is keeping active with workouts in his own club.

"Every time you get hit in the head, time slows down just a bit," he said with his permanent smile before teasing, "You didn't expect to work so hard on a Sunday."

Despite the demeanor of a bright-eyed kid with ADHD, Shamrock did distribute advice in more serious tones: "If you don't flow, you're not entertaining."

For four amateur fighters, the brief workout with the multi-time champion was invaluable. And it was over.

Shamrock's accomplishments did not deter him from playing host. He brought out water from behind the bar. He invited the fighters to come back whenever they wanted. When they left, there was still a scorching Sunday afternoon that needed his attention.

That is, of course, after he dealt with a guy named Wesley, who came in off the street for an audition of sorts.

Wesley, a lanky street fighter with luminous tattoos and finger-sized holes in his ears from gauged earrings, straggled into the gym after training ended. Despite Wesley's tardiness and lack of any formal training, the San Jose Razorclaws commander expressed an interest in the kid:

"How many street fights have you had?" said Shamrock.

"Too many," Wesley said, laughing.

"More than 10?"

"Yes."

"Have you been hit in the head with a bottle?"

"Yes."

"You're not what we're looking for, sorry. Thanks for showing up though!"

Shamrock went right back to light-hearted exchanges with Ralph King, the Academy's general manager, and Bassett. Every mood -- as long as it's positive -- is found around Shamrock.

Life -- and it wasn't always this way -- is good. Sipping Xyience Xenergy, relaxing on a couch, the 34-year-old martial artist examined himself and the future of the sport he entered 13 years ago.

"It feels stronger and I have less pain," he said of his injured knee. A damaged MCL/ACL could keep him out a nine-month minimum. Shamrock hopes to rehab the knee and skip surgery.

He wants to fight soon.

Accused by nemesis Phil Baroni among others of picking his fights, the Strikeforce middleweight champion intends to keep his fight card full.

"I want to fight Renzo; I need to fight Renzo [Gracie] for the fans and for myself," Shamrock said. "He's definitely the next guy. I want to fight until the body says 'no.' I've got a plan to '09."

A divisive figure for his untimely retirement and supreme confidence, Shamrock believes there are few appealing fights for him. Tito Ortiz's soon-to-be expired UFC contract, however, is attractive to Shamrock, who would like to fight "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" again.

"I think that we're kind of at a lull in the sport where there are no superstars. I'm sort of waiting for someone to pop up and be a superstar," he said, slipping into his most serious tone of the day. "It's not Nick Diaz, I can tell you that. I'm sure somebody will show up and make a good story, good fight out of it."

He then expressed the grievance about a sport he cradled in its infancy that digs into his chiseled frame.

"What mixed martial arts is being marketed as is not the truth," said Shamrock. "We're not a bunch of idiots in a cage drinking beer all the time. It's a lifestyle, but it's a positive lifestyle."

Psychology suggests one's living space is a reflection of one's mind. This rings true for the Shamrock Martial Arts Academy -- Frank Shamrock left his Strikeforce championship sprawled on his desk, competing for space among the paper clutter. After all, this is just a business; titles and recognition -- as suggested by a Full Contact Fighter Fighter of the Year Award perched on the bar -- are not important.

Fighting -- the art -- is what is important to Shamrock. That is why the in-between time is just fun. That is why his only words for fans are, "Keep training."

Danny Acosta covers mixed martial arts for Sherdog.com.

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