The Shamrock-Gracie rivalry revisited!

The latest chapter in the Shamrock-Gracie rivalry will unfold at Strikeforce, when Frank Shamrock meets Nick Diaz on Saturday, April 11, 2009 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.For decades, most of the United States and Canada has used 411 as the telephone number for local directory assistance. On 411 of 2009, the MMA world will use it as the date that will direct us to the latest chapter in the longest and most famous family rivalry in the sport. The latest chapter in the Shamrock-Gracie rivalry will unfold at Strikeforce, when Frank Shamrock meets Nick Diaz on Saturday, April 11, 2009 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The fight will take place at a special catch weight of 179-pounds and will be the featured main event. This is the first Strikeforce event, since they partnered with the Showtime cable network. It will be broadcasted on Showtime at 10 p.m. EST/PST.

The significance of this bout lies in its origin. The Shamrock-Gracie rivalry and bad blood dates back to the inception of MMA in this country in 1993. It started at UFC 1 with Royce Gracie tapping Ken Shamrock. Ken never really admitted defeat and the rivalry carried over to a superfight at UFC 5, which was ruled a draw after 36 minutes. Frank Shamrock, who is Ken’s step-brother, started out training with Ken in the Lion’s Den and Nick trains with Cesar Gracie, who is the grandson of Carlos Gracie, who founded Gracie Jiu-Jitsu with Royce’s father Helio. The rivalry continued through the years, particularly heightened due to both Frank and Cesar’s camps being based relatively close to each other in northern California.

Finally, after a brief stint in Hollywood, Frank returned to MMA at Strikeforce’s inaugural MMA show in March 2006 against none other than Cesar Gracie, who had never fought a MMA match in his life. Frank, who had 28 fights to his credit at the time and was widely considered the pound-for-pound king of MMA for years, won the fight quickly over the MMA debutant. However, he was not so gracious in victory. A series of ads were run by his clothing sponsor VAS stating “Shamrock over Gracie in 21 seconds”. They never cared to specify which Gracie it was over. Cesar was a manager and coach, who had never done MMA.

Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with the rest of the Gracie’s and Renzo Gracie jumped at the opportunity to avenge the family name against Frank at EliteXC’s inaugural show in February 2007. There were plenty of words exchanged in the media leading up to the fight, as both men have colorful personalities and were looking to establish who came from the more legendary MMA family. Renzo was a much tougher test for Frank than Cesar, since he was a veteran of 20 fights prior to that bout. In the fight, Renzo was getting the best of Frank on the ground before Frank threw illegal knees to Renzo’s head from under Renzo’s side control. The fight was stopped and Renzo won via DQ.

That brings us to our current situation with Nick Diaz, who along with his brother Nate, Jake Shields, David Terrell, and Gilbert Melendez make up a core group of top MMA fighters, who are all trained by Cesar Gracie. Nick, who has fought most of his career at 170-pounds and recently at 160-pounds in the now defunct EliteXC, has been calling out the much larger Frank Shamrock since he fought his instructor Cesar. Nick doesn’t seem to appreciate all of the stuff Frank has said over the years and had even asked EliteXC for this fight. Now that this fight is finally coming to fruition, it’s only fitting that Strikeforce is having this event in San Jose, since Frank and Nick are both based out of northern California.

Frank, who has fought upwards to 200-pounds and more recently at 185-pounds, will have the clear size advantage since he will only have to cut 6-pounds. Meanwhile, Nick has to pack on about 10-pounds to reach the agreed catch weight of 179-pounds. Even with this weight stipulation, Nick did not hesitate to take the fight. He will look to use his height and reach advantage to counter Frank’s size and strength. It’s shaping up to be another classic battle of “Shamrock” power and wrestling vs. “Gracie” technique and jiu-jitsu. The timing of the Strikeforce deal with Showtime couldn’t have been any better either. The level of intrigue and history behind this fight is huge, which means old and new MMA fans alike will be exposed to something that has all the ingredients to be one of the most epic grudge matches to date!

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