Shamrock Faces Biggest Test Since Return in Le

Frank Shamrock interviews Cung Le after his win over Sam Morgan at Strikeforce: Four Men Enter, One Man Survives. Photo by Jon Swenson.

Assuming that the reports are true and the potential fight between Frank Shamrock and Cung Le actually goes down, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Shamrock will be facing his toughest test yet since returning to active competition a little less than two years ago.

In his three bouts since March 2006, Shamrock has faced Cesar Gracie, Renzo Gracie, and Phil Baroni in consecutive fights.

Well I think we can write off Cesar Gracie from the start. His fight against Shamrock was his first professional fight in mixed martial arts and it was clear that was the case when Shamrock knocked him out only seconds into the fight.

Renzo Gracie has the credentials without a doubt. He’s one of the most talented ground specialists in history and has fought many a tough opponent. However this isn’t the Renzo Gracie of the 1990’s that was submitting his opponents left and right. While he’s still capable of holding his own against anyone, he’s not the fighter he used to be. He was doing well against Shamrock but most likely would have lost a unanimous decision had Shamrock not been disqualified.

That brings us to Phil Baroni. While Baroni is as heavy-handed as any striker in the game, he’s a one-dimensional fighter and his ground game is relatively non-existent. Even worse, Shamrock beat him at his own game in the fight, even going as far to tell Baroni that he was going to put him to sleep before he knocked him down with a combination.

So why is Cung Le, a guy with only five professional fights to his credit and whose toughest test came against an aging Tony Fryklund, Shamrock’s biggest test this time around?

Well if you’ve ever seen Le fight, you already know that he’s shown tremendous potential and a solid all-around game. While his striking has developed from the martial art of Sanshou and remains unorthodox, it’s proved to be difficult to defend against. I’d definitely give Le the edge on the feet.

Which means that Shamrock must have the advantage on the ground, right? I think that goes without saying. Shamrock has been a wizard on the ground throughout his career. Le is no expert on the ground but he’s no slouch either. While he hasn’t faced an opponent that was a serious threat on the mat, he hasn’t looked bad at all during his fights that have gone down to the canvas. I guess wrestling in college probably helped Le in that regard.

Basically Le is the most well-rounded fighter Shamrock will face since returning to the sport. I’m not going to go into detail about Shamrock’s selection of opponents in recent years because he’s defeated many decorated names in his career and a win over Le would only add to that list.

There’s no doubt that the weeks leading up to this fight are going to be filled with storylines. Frank Shamrock can sell a fight. Period. The pre-fight trash talking is going to begin the second after this fight is officially announced and it’s going to be fun to follow.

My advice? Don’t be concerned that Shamrock might be taking this fight lightly. Despite what you might think, he always comes prepared and aware of what his opponent is capable of, no matter what.

It’s going to be an interesting fight and definitely a bout that everyone should plan to watch in March.


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