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5 Planned Ken Shamrock Fights That Never Happened

Ken Shamrock: Some big fights didn't happen
Ken Shamrock: Some big fights didn't happen
Paul Benson

Ken Shamrock is one of the most famous Mixed Martial Artists of all time. A pioneer, Shamrock first appeared at the inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championship event way back in November 1993 where he reached the Semi-Finals of the eight man tournament only to be defeated by eventual winner, Royce Gracie.

Shamrock returned to the UFC where he reached the final at UFC 3, before withdrawing due to injury and earned a measure of revenge against Gracie when he pounded the former three time UFC tournament champion into submission at UFC 5's Superfight.

The bout was declared a draw due to their being no judges but Shamrock had usurped Gracie as the top star in the promotion.

He became the company's first ever Superfight Champion at UFC 6, when he defeated Kimo Leopoldo and held onto that title until UFC 9 when he was edged out on a Split Decision versus Dan Severn.

Shamrock soon joined the World Wrestling Federation in early 1997 and the World's Most Dangerous Man ascended the ranks quickly, winning the Intercontinental Title, Tag Team belts and the 1998 King of the Ring.

However, despite his international fame as a wrestler, Shamrock yearned to fight again and signed a lucrative deal with the Japanese PRIDE promotion and made his comeback in May 2000, crushing Alexander Otsuka in a stunning performance.

Shamrock's next classic fight came in February 2002, when he took on former UFC tournament champion, Don Frye, in another PRIDE event, aptly subtitled "Bad Blood." In the best fight of the year, Shamrock and Frye pounded each other for 20 minutes and ended the bout with both fighters having locked one another in brutal ankle locks.

Frye later explained that he could not walk for a week post-fight. Shamrock lost the fight via a razor close Split Decision, but that took nothing away from his stunning performance.

It was probably the last great performance of his career. Shamrock re-joined UFC later that year and enjoyed mixed results for the remainder of his run as an MMA fighter.

However, Shamrock's career fight statistics of 28-17-2 would have been greatly enhanced had some of the planned super fights that were originally booked had taken place.

This slideshow looks at five such bouts that were planned but cancelled for a myriad of reasons.


#5 Tank Abbott

Tank fights Don Frye in the final of the Ultimate Ultimate 1996
Tank fights Don Frye in the final of the Ultimate Ultimate 1996

Ken Shamrock and Tank Abbott were two of the biggest stars of the early era of the UFC. Their electric personalities and entertaining fighting styles mean they were two of the top drawing cards for UFC events in the 1990s.

However, somewhat surprisingly, Shamrock and Abbott never crossed paths with each other.

Why didn't it happen?

There were a couple of windows for this fight to happen, most notably in 1996 and 2003. However, it never did. Abbot made his UFC debut at UFC 6. Shamrock was Superfight Champion while Abbott was competing in UFC tournaments. Abbott never won and therefore never earned a shot at Shamrock.

The best opportunity for the clash to occur would have been at the Ultimate Ultimate 1996, in which they would have fought had Shamrock not broken his hand in the first round versus Brian Johnston. Shamrock won that bout and likewise Abbott won his first round fight and the pair would have met in the next round had Shamrock not withdrew.

There were rumours of a bout between the pair as recently as 2009, albeit outside the UFC which likely would have materialised had Shamrock not tested positive for steroids following his victory over Ross Clifton.

Who would have won?

Whatever the era, Shamrock would have won this fight. It would be at its least competitive in 1996, when Shamrock's knees were still healthy enough for him to take Abbott down to the mat. This match would have played out similarly to Shamrock's victory over Kimo at UFC 8, with Shamrock the winner by submission.

#4 Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman: Backed out of proposed Ken Shamrock fight
Mark Coleman: Backed out of proposed Ken Shamrock fight

PRIDE FC were desperate to promote a marquee dream match between the biggest draw in MMA history at that point in Ken Shamrock and the winner of the 2000 PRIDE Grand Prix tournament, Mark Coleman.

The bout would have been a monster attraction on pay per view had it occurred as planned in December 2000.

Why didn't it happen?

Coleman refused the bout. The "Hammer" was offered the fight on short notice after his Grand Prix win but cited a lack of preparation time as the reason he didn't accept acknowledging that a fight with Shamrock would need a lot of preparation time.

Who would have won?

It is clear that Coleman was overawed at the prospect of facing Shamrock meaning the battle was already half won for the "World's Most Dangerous Man."

Shamrock still had plenty in the tank in 2000 and Coleman, despite being victorious in the PRIDE 2000 Grand Prix was still massively inconsistent as a fighter with questionable cardiovascular conditioning.

Shamrock had no such issues and many, many more weapons in his arsenal with which to defeat Coleman.

Reports have surfaced over the years that Shamrock had KO'd and submitted Coleman at will during training camps, therefore there is little reason to expect a different result inside the ring.

Shamrock would have earned a submission win here had the fight took place.

#3 Ian Freeman

Ian Freeman: Drew with Vernon White at UFC 43 instead of facing Shamrock
Ian Freeman: Drew with Vernon White at UFC 43 instead of facing Shamrock

Ken Shamrock versus Ian Freeman was supposed to take place at UFC 43 in June 2003. It would have marked Shamrock's second UFC return fight after he had fought and lost to long time rival, Tito Ortiz at UFC 40 in November 2002.

Why didn't it happen?

Injury. Shamrock blamed his defeat to Ortiz on a torn ACL and underwent surgery to repair the issue and therefore withdrew from the Freeman fight.

Freeman took on Vernon White on the card instead and the fight was ruled a Draw on the judge's scorecards.

Who would have won?

Shamrock would have been the favourite for this bout and in all likelihood, he should have won it too.

Freeman's strength as a fighter was his immense power, but Shamrock's knees hadn't quite deserted him in 2003 and he should still have retained the capability to take Freeman to the canvas and force a submission.

Standing up, Freeman would be the favourite but the "World's Most Dangerous Man" would have known the mat was the only way to win this fight and would have done everything possible to ensure that is what would have happened.

#2 Igor Vovchanchyn

Igor Vovchanchyn: Unbreakable
Igor Vovchanchyn: Unbreakable

In 2001, Ken Shamrock versus PRIDE stalwart, Igor Vovchanchyn was a dream bout of mega proportions and would have been a difficult fight to predict.

Why didn't it happen?

Injury. The bout was set to occur at PRIDE 13 in March 2001, but Shamrock withdrew two weeks before the fight after he injured his neck. The fight was never re-scheduled.

Who would have won?

This is a very tough call. There is every chance that the powerful and impervious to pain, Vovchanchyn could have withstood Shamrock's offence.

Standing up, there were few fighters that could compete with the Ukranian.

This fight could have gone a very similar way to the 2000 fight between Shamrock and Kazuyuki Fujita at PRIDE 10.

In that bout, Shamrock dominated the early exchanges but punched himself out as Fujita was able to withstand the assault. Shamrock simply wore himself out to the point he could not continue and had to throw in the towel.

Vovchanchyn was a very similar prospect and a superior fighter to Fujita. It's likely Shamrock would have been faced with the exact same issues.

Maybe the Fujita experience would have given him the opportunity to devise a better gameplan for Vovchanchyn.

A bit of a coin toss this one, but Shamrock may have been undone by the raw power and fierce invincibility of Vovchanchyn.

#1 Bobby Lashley

Bobby Lashley: Denied the opportunity to take on fellow WWE alumni Ken Shamrock
Bobby Lashley: Denied the opportunity to take on fellow WWE alumni Ken Shamrock

The most intriguing Ken Shamrock fight that never took place was the scheduled fight between him and current WWE Superstar, Bobby Lashley.

Why didn't it happen?

Suspension. Shamrock had turned the clock back with an impressive submission of the giant, Ross Clifton on a February 2009 card, he promoted himself.

Shamrock has smashed Clifton with a huge right hand and then locked him in an armbar while the big man was down.

However, following that bout he tested positive for steroids and was subsequently banned from fighting for 12 months, forcing the proposed encounter with Lashley to be shelved. Permanently as it turned out.

Who would have won?

Well. This would have been fascinating. In 2009. Shamrock was 45 years old and his days as a top line fighter were behind him. Lashley had only had one MMA fight at that point so was inexperienced but nevertheless was 265Ibs of pure muscle and at 32 years old was younger, faster, bigger and stronger.

Shamrock had been soundly defeated by Knockout by past it veteran, Kazushi Sakuraba four years earlier and decimated by no name Robert Berry on a Cage Rage card in 2008. It is hard to see how the battle scarred veteran with knackered knees and reduced punching power could have taken down Lashley.

This would have likely been a one sided defeat for the legendary Shamrock.

Edited by Alan John

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