CONFERENCE CALL QUOTES
FRANK SHAMROCK, RENZO GRACIE & GARY SHAW
Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007
Celebrated former five-time world champion and MMA pioneer Frank Shamrock and world renowned, revenge-minded Brazilian Jiujitsu expert Renzo Gracie will usher in the next generation of Mixed Martial Arts with EliteXC when their match-up highlights an explosive MMA fight card airing live for the first time on premium television.
The battle between the two legendary fighters will transpire in the main event on SHOWTIME, Saturday, Feb 10, at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast) from the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Miss.
Shaw: Welcome to “Destiny’’ – Shamrock vs. Gracie. Two world famous names from the two first families of MMA. Took 14 years to make this fight (but it is happening) and we are so excited to be working with SHOWTIME (for this historic event) in Southaven, Miss., on Feb. 10. We are going to stream the entire undercard for the first time live in real time starting at 7 p.m. eastern time. You will get to see every undercard fight, get in the dressing rooms and do the things that have never been done in this sport before. You are going to see a great card and obviously, the main event, I believe, is history making. For me (to go from) boxing to mixed martial arts, it is unbelievable that I am involved with Shamrock and Gracie on my very, very first promotion for EliteXC. So on behalf of ProElite, our public corporation and everybody that has worked hard to put this together, we are very excited and I thank you so much for being with us.
Gracie: It is a great pleasure to be joining this amazing event that ProElite is putting together with SHOWTIME and it is a great pleasure to be fighting Frank Shamrock. I cannot wait until Feb. 10. The best thing of all is I will have the best seat in the house.
Shamrock: Thank you for (participating on this call) and supporting our event. This is a monumental time in mixed martial arts, not only with Shamrock and Gracie, but also with the inclusion of SHOWTIME, the first major network to experience mixed martial arts. It is going to open it to a whole new group of people. It is going to bring a whole new crowd and appreciation of the sport of mixed martial arts. This is the world’s oldest sport and one of the most beautiful things you can experience, especially when you see it live and/or live on SHOWTIME. Fighting Renzo Gracie has always been a dream of mine and I will bring 100 percent of my game. I am pleased to show you guys my soul when I fight that man in the cage.
Question: Describe briefly the family history between the Gracie’s and Shamrock’s.
Gracie: I think we are the two biggest fighting names in America. We have been fighting since 1993. I hope one day I will see my grandson fighting Frank’s grandson. Even though it looks like it is a feud between families, it is actually just a feud between athletes and a chance to measure ourselves against each other and test our skills.
Shaw: (Joking) Gracie, do not claim to now suddenly be an American. Shamrock’s the American. You are the Brazilian. You may live and eat here.
Gracie: Just to let you know I was accepted as a citizen a month ago.
Shaw: Welcome as a citizen, but you will be walking into the cage holding a Brazilian flag.
Gracie: No problem. Give me that thing; I will hold it up in the highest standards as possible.
Question: Frank, there was some questions when the fight was announced. Apparently, the contract with Strike Force was to fight in April. There were some questions to whether that fight could impact this fight on Feb. 10. Has it been straightened out?
Shamrock: It has been straightened out. Strike Force and I have a really good business relationship and we have been able to see past the points. We are all in a very healthy relationship together. So I am very much looking forward to not only fighting on Feb. 10 and opening up SHOWTIME, but also fulfilling my obligation to Strike Force.
Question: Explain the crossover from boxing and what is the appeal for you to be in MMA?
Shaw: Thrilling. I have been watching this space since the late 1990’s when I was a regulator in New Jersey. I had an interest in buying it when I was Chief Operating Officer of another company. The last two years, my son kept saying to me, ‘you’ve got to get into this space.’ I kept telling him I was a boxing promoter and to leave me alone. Then one day he said to me, ‘You know, you have got an A personality and you can go to the train station and you are not going to be the engineer. You are going to be standing there watching the caboose pull out.’ That really resonated with me. Then I put on probably the best fight in the last decade – Corrales and Castillo. When we only sold about 3,000 seats and I had to do a lot of papering and I am looking at all these local and regional mixed martial arts shows doing 2,000 to 5,000, I said, ‘There is either something wrong with boxing or something very right with the MMA.” I just kept watching it and I saw it grow and I saw the pay-per-view numbers. When I put all this together, I knew I needed to get into that space.
It did not mean that I was abdicating my responsibilities tending to my boxers or to what I do in the boxing arena, but I felt that this was a spectacular opportunity for me personally with EliteXC and all the great people here to be involved in a public company and to try to bring this to the next level and to bring a real U.S. competitor onto the field that was dominated strictly by the UFC.
I am not looking to put them out of business. I am just looking to be a good competitor as the space in boxing is for (Bob) Arum, (Don) King and myself. There is enough space and enough fan appeal. This is a sport with the demographics that everybody says is 18-36. I challenge that. I believe it includes those way past 36. I will bet that if you spoke to Renzo and Frank and other guys that have schools you will find out what the real demographics are and they have a lot of people in there past the age of 36.
Mixed martial arts also has a rabid fan base. In boxing, the demographics are (different); we do not have a rabid fan base. In boxing, we are looking for the easy fight. There is something wrong with a sport where a guy fights two hard fights and then everybody says you have got to give him an easy fight. He fought two hard fights. I do not get that because everyday when people go to work, I do not think they tell the boss, ‘I worked hard the last two days so for the next two days I should not have to work hard.’ It is upside down.
The other thing great about MMA is a loss is not career ending. You look at champions and they are 14-4 or 18-6, whatever the case is, and there is nothing wrong with submitting. Everybody goes in there to win, but there is no embarrassment in a loss. These are great athletes with great discipline and it just gave me a wonderful opportunity. I am glad to be the first major boxing promoter that crossed over into this space. Obviously, what made it extra special for me was being able to do a three-year deal with SHOWTIME.
Question: Gary, can boxing co-exist with this sport?
Shaw: No, I would not go so far as to say that boxing will be over the edge. Boxing has survived a lot of black eyes – a couple that I had on my own face. But it will be here long after I am gone. It just may not be here in the same way that you see it today. I believe that the mixed martial arts space will start to cannibalize, both from SHOWTIME and from HBO. You may see a lot of mixed martial arts on HBO and a lot on SHOWTIME and sporadic boxing — maybe only the big fights or the huge, huge pay-per-views. I think that is where you are going to see it upside down. The other difference between us and everybody else besides us streaming live Internet, real time fights, is the fact that we are free. Everybody else for the big fights now are putting everything on pay-per-view. Anybody that has SHOWTIME can see us. I think that is important. If mixed martial arts is going to hurt themselves, it will be the same way that boxing has hurt itself. For free, you can watch Joe against Bob; but for a real fight, you have got to give us $49.95. That is why with SHOWTIME we said we had to do X amount of cards that were not pay-per-view.
Question: Frank, what is it like now being on a major network and what are your thoughts as you see the sport progress?
Shamrock: I have always known the sport would be what it is today and I have always known that when people see what is really going on, when society grew up and realized that there was nothing wrong with it and it is people expressing themselves, I always knew that it would be where it is. I am just glad to be a part of it. I am 34 years old. I am nearing the end of my physical prime, but my mind, spirit and soul are stronger than ever. When people see that, when people see Renzo express himself and when people see me knock him out, it is going to be a whole other level of fan base.
Question: Gary, you mentioned how this MMA experience is going to be different for fans with the streaming video on the web. Can you talk us through more details on that?
Shaw: We are really excited. The President of our Internet site is Kelly Perdew, who was the winner of the second season of “The Apprentice’’ and worked for Donald Trump for 18 months. Anybody who can do that can really work with us. The streaming is going to be live. Some have given you webcasts and some have given it to you after the main card is over. We are giving it to you real time live. You are going to see it in the quality of an actual television broadcast. That is the exciting part. We will be going there, giving you all the things, taking you backstage, talking to the fighters. Not only those on the Internet, but we are going to take you into Renzo’s dressing room, Frank’s dressing room, watching them come in, watching their camps, getting the stuff that the average fan always wanted to see. Even when I watched boxing matches, I always said, “Boy, I wish I could have been at that press conference.” We are going to film the press conference. We are going to do the weigh-in. We want to give everybody a total 100 percent complete feel as if they were part of the EliteXC team. Ultimately, what we want to do is grow this sport. The hope of everybody at EliteXC is that in 2012, and it may be a really lofty wish, that we can make this an Olympic sport. You can only do that by going to the masses, by showing everything and showing what wonderful athletes these are. In the 1990’s, this was an underground sport. (Not so anymore). In boxing, we say styles make fights. The same thing here. You have a Brazilian jujitsu expert or maybe a black belt, and maybe you have a striker – a guy that is more like a boxer or a kick boxer. So it is real strategy. To see all this, to give us the opportunity to bring to you young guys that will be on the Internet with millions of eyeballs that would never get this chance (is a thrill). Their big chance is to move from the Internet to SHOWTIME. We are going to go around the United States and run some tournaments with prize money and the big prize will be to get on our Internet show. Then if they show who they are, right from the Internet, we go right on to SHOWTIME. We are doing something I do not think has ever been done. Also, we are doing a half-hour preview barker show for the show that will run on SHOWTIME. People from SHOWTIME can tell you when it is actually going to start. But it is a spectacular preview show. We are spending our money and putting it where our mouth is by bringing to the fans everything that they have not seen. That is what the Internet is all about. We are going to build web sites for the fighters. We are doing things that haven’t been done. We want to be fighter friendly. We want every fighter to know that it’s not a promoter versus boxer, but we are a team. So we are going to build web sites for them at our own cost, do chats, all those type of things that have never been done for the fighters in this sport.
Question: How many fights will be part of the SHOWTIME telecast?
Shaw: There will be five fights on SHOWTIME and five fights live on the Internet. If we run out of time, I will go in the cage myself. That is a joke.
Question: Gary, does Gina Carano have an opponent yet?
Shaw: Yes, she does. Her opponent is Julie Kedzie. That fight is signed, sealed and delivered. Gina Carano, looks-wise, is a 12 to a 15. I went to lunch with Gina. I told her I wanted her to be the woman’s face of MMA because she is beautiful inside and outside. She let me talk like a promoter for 20 minutes and then she leaned over and I thought she was going to kiss me. Instead, she stuck her finger by my nose and said, ‘I heard you, but let me tell you something. I can fight.’ Gina will be the first woman that will ever be featured on SHOWTIME live – and that’s boxing and mixed martial arts.
Question: Frank and Renzo, what led you to this fight?
Gracie: I have been training a lot over the past eight months and I had two fights. Then I received the proposal to fight Frank on SHOWTIME. It is such a big happening, I could not say no even though I was looking forward to a little vacation in Greece with some sun and a nice margarita in my hand. It will be afterwards that I will be having my vacation.
Shamrock: For me, I was the Michael Jordan of this sport when nobody was watching. I beat everybody in the world. I beat every world champion. I fought in 10 different styles, and unfortunately, at that time, it was not the popular thing to be doing. So I sat out of the sport and I started some businesses and built some wealth for my family and I continued to train in martial arts. As the sport grew and as I watched the idea of MMA become accepted in our society, I grew more and more excited about fighting. I have fought for promotions in the past – some of them good and some of them bad. I have built and launched quite a few promotions and I have launched quite a few shows. I am very interested now in reestablishing my name as the name for mixed martial arts. I believe, and whether everyone else believes it yet or not, I believe that I am the greatest fighter in the world and I am just looking forward to showing that to everybody. I let my fists and my feet and my actions do the talking. If you know me, you know that I do not let anybody down.
Question: You both are heavily involved in the International Fight League and Frank has an event Friday. Has it been difficult to juggle those responsibilities with preparing for a fight?
Shamrock: It has been for me. It has been both a blessing and a minor curse. It takes a lot of energy to build a good time and to guide them to victory. It takes a lot of you and a lot of discipline to give of yourself each day to them while at the same time needing a lot of time to train. But it has been a blessing because I have my boys there everyday and they want nothing more than victory and they bring it to me as hard as they can. So it has stepped my game up a level and it has been worth the sacrifice.
Gracie: Yes, it is a blessing to have them around because I am actually pushing them as I push myself. So I am sweaty and suffering together with them and I see no problem at all in coaching them. It is actually a blast because that keeps me in shape and keeps me sharp because they are all fighters. To have the chance to train with them and spar with them and do everything with them not only drives them forward, but they are driving me too. So it has been a great time. The best time of my life actually.
Question: You have both been involved in this sport since the beginning and I am sure you both will always be involved in MMA. Renzo, how much longer do you see yourself taking fights as opposed to just permanently coaching or something of that sort?
Gracie: I really do not know. I feel like I am in the best shape of my life and I feel when I train with the young guys like I can still have a top game. Even though you need a lot of time to dedicate yourself towards fighting — and I have a lot of business going on right now – my school has 560 students and business is booming and I need to expand – but I enjoy so much to fight. Since my childhood, it has been my aim to become a fighter. This is a dream come true. I never expected to make my living out of my teaching and I can fight. For sure, I will be involved in this for the rest of my life.
Shamrock: I will probably fight until I am about 45 or so. My body is in great shape. I have always taken care of it. I am a professional martial artist, so this is what I do each and every day of my life and this is what I will continue to do until I am too old to stand up. Then I will sit on the ringside and yell at my grandkids and tell them what to do. But martial arts is a way of life for me and as long as they will let me fight, I will keep fighting.
Question: Gary, can you explain what your thinking is behind the 15-second ground rule and if that will be enacted and how? Then I would like Frank and Renzo’s thoughts.
Shaw: The rule basically right now in mixed martial arts is if there is no action on the ground, the referee has the right to stand them up. All I want to do is to allow the fans, both on television and in the arena, to know what is happening. I am not looking to change the rule. I am not looking to hurt someone that has a spectacular ground game. All I am looking to do is to educate and to keep the fight moving in action. Keep bringing the fans action and the fan base will keep growing. So all we want to do is mic the referee so you can hear the referee say to the fighters, ‘Come on, guys. If I do not see any movement, I am going to stand you up’ or whatever the referee says. We are not scripting the referee. At a point where he feels that there is going to be a lull in the action, he can say, ‘I am putting you on the clock.’ Both fighters at that point know that within 15 seconds, if there is not real movement or fighting or change of position or whatever, the ref is going to stand them up. Then everybody in the television world and the people in the arena will know, and at the end of 15 seconds it will go. The point is that everybody will be educated and not trying to figure out what is happening on the ground.
Question: Renzo, do you feel that will affect your game?
Gracie: No, honestly I think it will be the same fight style. I am very active when I hit the ground and if I hit the ground, I will be working, and I do not see any reason to bring the fight up. I think it was a little misunderstanding when Gary said for the first time the 15-second rule; people thought (it meant that) just the moment you hit the ground, (you) count to 15 seconds and then get up again. But it is not that. It will be actually 15 seconds of inactivity. So if you are just sitting there, it is better to bring the fight up and throw some bombs to see what happens. That is better for the people, for the television, and better for the show.
Question: Gary is this something that you have discussed with the athletic commissions and have they been receptive to that?
Shaw: I have not gone around to 20 or 21 states. Whatever state we bring our show to, we will always abide by the local commission rules or regulations. It does not mean that I will not ask them for an exception to a rule or regulation. But wherever it is allowed, we will do it.
Question: How can the sport is going to gain national acceptance and how long will it take?
Shaw: I do not know every reporter that is on this call right now. But I know a couple of boxing writers are on here and I know I have talked to a couple of boxing writers as well as some boxing web sites. Those are the things that let me know that everything is changing. I think what is going to happen with the boxing writers, it will start off with a boxing column with notes on the MMA, and little by little, it will switch. I believe the editors of the newspapers will be telling their sports writers to start covering mixed martial arts. In the last two weeks alone, 60 Minutes did a complete piece on mixed martial arts. I believe CNBC is running a three part series of which I saw the first one on mixed martial arts. I can tell you the Los Angeles Times had a front- page story, two full pages, on MMA. The New York Times last week. So I think that speaks for itself. I see it turning quickly. The fact that SHOWTIME has now gotten into this space will create other writers to now write about it and travel. I do not know how many writers we will have in Mississippi for this fight, but I guarantee that by the end of the year it will be a question of which writers sit in front row and press row and who sits in the second and third rows. I think that is going to be the change. We are a writer friendly corporation. We will credential everybody. We will feed you all first class. We will take care of you first class and you will have a first class experience with EliteXC and ProElite.
Question: Renzo and Frank, what is your ultimate goal and what do you think about the future of EliteXC on SHOWTIME?
Gracie: I do believe it is such a beautiful sport and such an interesting sport to watch and so appealing. I really look forward to seeing one day MMA as big as boxing. I do not look down on boxing at all. I think it is an unbelievable art and I admire all the great fighters that I have watched through my whole life. I definitely think MMA fighters should be on the same level. I see the sport taking off and being on the same level that boxing is today.
Shamrock: I see this sport being the next greatest sport and if it takes over boxing, I do not think that is as important as the people involved or as the idea behind it. It speaks about our society. It is an American sport. It is what we do. It is man on man and it is beautiful when you look at it and you understand it, and you understand the people, and you understand the reasons. When you live a martial lifestyle, it is a beautiful thing. I think EliteXC is going to be tremendously successful in promoting that idea of a martial arts lifestyle into the mainstream and into the masses. I am glad to be a part of it.
Question: What is your ultimate goal personally?
Gracie: My ultimate goal would be to be teaching this art which I love so much, and pass it to future generations in my family, in order to bring this sport to a higher level. To be involved in such a gift, my goal is to actually teach the art that I excel.
Shamrock: My goal is to make a difference in people’s lives, to change people’s lives for the better through martial arts. That is what it has done for me. And if I can teach that and do that and help people and teach people to do that, then that would be my ultimate goal. That is what I am doing it all for.
Question: Gary, you said you wished to encourage more cooperation between all of the existing mixed martial arts promotions, especially when it came to the sharing of talent. Now that you have your card done and you are a few months in, how has that worked out?
Shaw: Well, it worked out great. The fact that Frank and Renzo came on board to fight on our first card really legitimized me and ProElite and EliteXC. For that, whether I last one fight in this career or 100 years, I will always be eternally grateful to each one of those two gentlemen. They both have a friend for life in me. As far as working with other promoters, I believe to grow this sport, you need to work together because when a UFC fighter or a Strike Force, etc., hold up those belts, they are only a club champion. They are only the champion of those fighters in that organization. My dream is when someone gets in the cage, to hold up that belt and truly say, “I am the world champion.” And the sport is growing and it is big, but it could bust out. It could hit stratospheric levels. If we could put a UFC fighter against a Pride fighter, etc., that is how you grow this sport. Then the fans are going to go crazy for this sport. That is how you will do a $2 million pay-per-view. Being inclusive instead of exclusive is how you will really grow this sport.
Question: What has been your experience in the last couple of months suggesting that to the existing mixed martial arts community?
Shaw: I have not had the real opportunity to sit one on one with anybody, but hopefully I will in the near future. I have just been focused on Feb. 10. I think everybody sees the light and I think everybody needs to see us put on a show. They want to know how long EliteXC is going to be around. It is going to be around a long time and there a lot of very smart people in this company and it is a public company. There are a lot of people putting their faith and trust in us. I think we will get a lot of cooperation. Ask me after Feb. 10 and when we do our next event, and I will be better able to answer.
Question: Frank, you said it has always been your dream to fight Renzo. Could you elaborate?
Shamrock: I think Renzo is the best of the Gracie’s. He has always taken the tough fights. He has always presented himself as a respectful martial artist, as a mixed martial artist, as a warrior. A lot of the other Gracie’s have not. They have taken easy fights and have worked hard to protect their name and name value. I understand the business side of it, but when I think of a Gracie, I think of Renzo. He is the only one as I see that has the potential of that family, of that clan, to beat me and the only thing that gets me up in the morning after 13 years of being a professional fighter is the fear that somebody might actually beat me.
Question: Gary, you talked about the appeal of mixed martial arts based on the high ratings, the large crowds and that type of thing. In boxing, everybody recognizes those numbers, but there is still controversy over the legitimacy of MMA as a fellow combat sport to boxing. Talk a little bit about the sport aspect?
Shaw: I am a former regulator in the state of New Jersey, and I was one of the regulators who turned down MMA in the 1990’s when I thought it was the wild, wild west. Since that time, there have been some rules, medical regulations that have gone into effect, and I have come to appreciate this sport more by watching and studying it – I cannot say as a fan, but as a business venture – and then to see these athletes and to see how well trained they are and how difficult their disciplines are. If you get a really great athlete, you can possibly turn them into a boxer in a very short time. I do not know that you can get a ju-jitsu black belt in a year or to have the skills that Shamrock has in a year. That is an example. But you can get a real talented athlete to start to box and to move. So I think what I could bring to the sport is, as I go around from town to town and talk to more and more press and more and more people, I think I can explain what this sport is about, what it brings, why it should be an Olympic sport. I am not sure I can understand the explosion myself. I think part of it is that this generation grew up with these video games and X-Boxes and computers and things that you and I did not have. Growing up with all these video games, they appreciate the MMA. I was in the video game business. I sold a lot of these games. I collected a lot of quarters out of machines. The most that I ever collected were out of games like Mortal Combat and video games like that. So I think the fan out there is an extension of the video game. The other thing that this sport has that boxing does not is when you look into the arena, you see guys with girlfriends, you see guys with wives, and you see girls with girls. It is different than in boxing. You do not see that type of crowd. I do not know why. If I stick my foot in oil and I feel it slide and I can smell that oil, I know I hit pay dirt. I know in the MMA with EliteXC and ProElite, I hit pay dirt.
Question: One big difference from a business standpoint is that your company will work with Don King Productions or Top Rank in boxing. That does not happen in the mixed martial arts. Everybody has their own organization that has its own set of rules and champions and rankings. Why did EliteXC decide to take that structure rather than more of a boxing structure?
Shaw: EliteXC really, under my tutelage, is trying to do the boxing structure. I am not trying to sign people to exclusive contracts with EliteXC that says I own you and you cannot fight anywhere else. To the contrary, I want to encourage the fighters that fight with EliteXC to go fight in a Pride event or a K1 or whatever it is. I am trying to say that as big as this sport is right now, one and one will always only equal two. If we do co-promotions, one and one will equal three. That is the word I have to get out and the best way to get it done and to get people to cooperate is through the writers. Beyond the writers, it is the fighters themselves, so that the UFC fighter or K1 or Pride or anyone else finally says to their promoter, ‘Hey man, I want to fight on SHOWTIME. I want to fight that guy. They say he is the best. I want to fight him.’ That is the way to do it. When you get that going, then I will show you $2 million in pay-per-view, and I will show you standing room only in a 20,000-seat arena. Maybe by then, we can then go over and get a European against an American. It just changes the whole sport.
Question: Frank and Renzo, can you guys talk about how it is being in EliteXC compared to UFC or some of the other organizations that are out there?
Shamrock: Speaking on my behalf, my experience with the UFC was not as pleasurable. EliteXC is very professionally run and organized. They obviously have a lot of forethought into the future of mixed martial arts. So far it has been a very pleasant experience and they treat talent like talent. When I train six hours a day, I do not want to go home and worry if my plane ticket is booked and if things are done. EliteXC, being a public company and a public entity, I do not have to worry about that stuff. They are straight up businessmen. Regarding co-promotions, at the end of the day, the people are going to demand that the best people fight the best people. The fans are going to say, ‘I want the best to fight the best.’ If you have 58 million shows and everybody is claiming to be the best, there can only be one greatest fighter in the world. There is only one Muhammad Ali and what Gary is trying to do is the right idea. We need to find the best fighters and bring them to one show and have them work together to get it done.
Question: Renzo, how is it working for you?
Gracie: I am a very lucky guy. Every experience I have had was great. I never had the chance to fight with UFC, but every experience I had fighting was always great. Even the riots that we had in Brazil were an unbelievable and unforgettable experience. I think fighting is my business and is what I love. Every organization that gave me the opportunity to fight is a great organization for me. I am biased because I love fighting so much that I can only see the good side.
Question: Gary, when you were deciding on what your offering would look like and ways to differentiate your product from the UFC, did a team-based fight league ever occur to you guys?
Shaw: Yes, I looked at it before I teamed up with ProElite and EliteXC, and there is nothing against the IFL because I believe anyone that is legitimate in this sport helps the sport. However, I do not see this sport as a team sport. It is a one on one effort. I have been approached in boxing on several occasions, including this past year, about doing a boxing league. I just do not see it. Frank Shamrock worked long and hard for 13-14 years to be where he is today — Renzo Gracie the same thing. I do not see putting a team together. I think what the sport is all about is man on man, one against one, let it all hang out. As Shamrock has said over and over, he is going to bare his soul. For me, I do not see this is a team sport. I do not see it as a tag team. I see it as one on one, both walk in the cage, and only one walks out the winner. That is what I think is the real attraction for the fans. I have nothing against the IFL. I hope they have huge success because the success that everybody can have on the professional and amateur level will only help the schools that Shamrock and Gracie have, and only help the sport, and in 2012 I hope that I will be somewhere saying I was a part of getting this to be an Olympic sport.
Question: What brought the venue to Mississippi for the first show?
Shaw: Everybody expected us to take the show to Las Vegas or somewhere in California. I have always believed that the best way is to see, touch, feel, smell, and when you do that you increase the fan base. I have done mid-South. I helped do the biggest boxing promotion in the world in Memphis in Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson. I went to Mississippi because it is legal. The arena is 15 minutes from Beale Street, which is like Bourbon Street in Memphis and about 20 minutes away from all the casinos. We will know if it is a good decision by me or you will write what a bad decision it was on Feb. 11.
Question: Renzo, what strategies will you use that you would care to share?
Gracie: Actually, this fight is different from other sports that all they do is bash each other and try to talk down their opponents so they can shine. I think it comes down to exactly what you say. It comes down to both of us in the ring and the referee to be the mediator. We like our action to speak for ourselves and we do not need to downgrade anybody in order to look better. We are both gentlemen. Our sport is a family sport. In that stadium, you will see kids, wives and grandmothers there. It is a family sport.
Question: What are we going to see from you in the ring?
Gracie: I am going to give everything I have. I am looking to submit Frank the same way that he is looking to knock me out. The sport will come down to both of us in there. Nothing we say now will actually count.
Shamrock: I have more respect for Renzo than most of my family members. He is an honorable man, a martial artist. Anybody who lives this life and teaches and gives back and creates a community is a good man. When we fight, we fight. I say I am going to knock him out because that is what I believe. But I harbor no feelings, negative or otherwise, against him. I respect him more than anything and that is why I am fighting him. What you are going to see from me in the fight from a technical standpoint is I am punching with power. I am going to try to knock his head off and then he is going to try to get me to the ground and twist off my limbs and I am going to smash him for doing it and pop back up and get back into my game. I fight a very fast, effective counter wrestling, counter jujitsu and striking game, and I am also a submission expert. So I go with whatever the flow gives me. Everybody knows what style Renzo has. His expertise is on the ground. He likes to do a little standup. I love to bang and I love to fight and I love to make people tired and doubt themselves and then I like to smack them in the head.
Question: You do not think ring rust is going to be an issue?
Shaw: I do not think it is. It has never been a problem in the past and I think these people that talk about ring rust do not go to the gym everyday and spar for three or four hours and train their boys. I do this everyday all day long. I am now going and doing it on SHOWTIME with somebody that I respect and somebody that I think can beat me, which makes me train even harder
Question: Renzo, do you have any closing comments and a prediction on this fight?
Gracie: If I can do any predictions, I would actually play the lottery. Last week was $125 million. I really do not. The beauty of this sport is it is a surprise, to be there and see what happens. I can tell you what happened only after Feb. 0.
Question: Renzo, you make light of the fact Frank is going to beat you up and obviously you are joking. Seriously, deep down, you are coming to win and expect to win, right?
Gracie: Definitely. I know Frank is an extremely dangerous opponent and that is the main reason why I took this fight. But I am coming in to win. I am going to give everything I have to win. It is going to be a battle. It is going to be a wonder to watch. If I did not have the best seat in the house already, I would be sitting there to watch that fight.
Question: With all your experience, do you feel pressure?
Gracie: No, not at all. I know what my capabilities are and I know my knowledge. I can perform according to that. I definitely have a big heart and have proven that many times. I know all these things combined make a great fighter. I know I have those qualities and I know it always shows when I fight.
Question: With all that is at stake, is there any revenge or family feud type things you are trying to settle?
Gracie: Actually, I do not even think about revenge. I just let everything be a blank and I know I can control the techniques that I know. I let everything be natural and just happen. I am going to be looking for whatever Frank gives me so that I can use that to improve my chances to win and to look for a finishing hold or something like that.
Question: Frank, any your closing thoughts?
Shamrock: I want to thank everybody for being supportive of the MMA. I know it is new and different and I know that it is intimidating to some. I truly believe in my heart and soul that it is the purest expression of the human being. Renzo knows this. When you are in there and fighting, and you are fighting with your spirit and your soul, there is nothing that makes you more complete or makes you closer to another person and to the human race than just letting it all hang out. When I go in and fight, there is nothing on my mind but winning and victory and doing the most amount of damage with the least amount of energy and the least amount of effort. Whoever walks out of that ring the winner on Feb. 10, everybody is the winner – SHOWTIME, MMA, ProElite, Renzo, me – everybody is going to win out of this because we are the first families of mixed martial arts. And for us to be back in there again at this stage of the game, it just means that this sport has been reborn and the future is beyond imagination.
Shaw: Thanks to Frank and Renzo and the first families of MMA. We have a great supporting cast for them as well. Thank you all for being on this call for us.