Ken Shamrock has no respect for Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson.
During a heated Thursday teleconference, Shamrock railed against the famed Internet streetfighter and the establishment that has pitted the two against each other at EliteXC “Heat” on Oct. 4 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. Shamrock realizes much of the mixed martial arts community views him as little more than a stepping stone for EliteXC’s biggest box-office draw.
“That is absolutely what this is,” Shamrock said. “I’m absolutely taking it as an insult, and I’m going to smash it back in their face.”
Those are sharp words from a man well past his prime who has not tasted victory in more than four years. Shamrock will enter his bout with Ferguson on a five-fight losing streak, a loser in eight of his last 10. The 44-year-old has not survived the first round in any of his last five matches.
“All I’ve got to say is that I apologize for my last couple of performances,” Shamrock said. “I have no excuses. On Oct. 4, I will shut everybody up and make amends for those [losses] by putting Kimbo’s lights out.”
Shamrock (26-13-2) then directed his ire at Ferguson.
“After it’s over,” he said, “I’m going to shave your goatee.”
Ferguson (3-0), a man of surprisingly few words, shrugged off Shamrock’s rhetoric.
“I’m not a s–t talker,” he said.
Three bouts into his professional MMA career, the 34-year-old Floridian, it could be argued, has already exceeded Shamrock in terms of mainstream fame and stature. Still, he holds his foe in high regard — at least publicly.
“I grew up watching Ken,” Ferguson said. “I’m honored to fight a guy like him. If I beat Ken’s ass, I’m good. This guy has the ability to f–k somebody up. I’m not taking this s–t lightly. I want a guy who’s going to try and kick my ass, try to knock me out, try to break my leg. He still has the ability to pull something off. I don’t underestimate anybody.”
The difference in experience between Shamrock and Ferguson borders on the absurd. Ferguson, who stopped his first two opponents in less than a minute, has spent exactly 11:40 inside the cage as a professional fighter. By comparison, Shamrock battled Yoshiki Takahashi for more than 12 minutes in his second match in 1993. He downplayed the advantage he will carry into the cage next month.
“When you fight a guy like Kimbo, experience is irrelevant,” Shamrock said. “I’m not walking in thinking I’m smarter than him or that I’m going to outskill him. I’m going back to the old Ken Shamrock. I’m going to beat you down and ask questions later.”
Even at this advanced stage of his career, Shamrock feels he has much to gain should he become the first man to defeat Ferguson.
“It’s a huge thing for me and my career,” he said. “I can taste this one. I want this bad. He’s a fast-rising star, and this is an opportunity for me to get in the ring and revive my career.”
Ferguson last fought in May when he stopped Pride Fighting Championships veteran James Thompson on third-round strikes at EliteXC “Primetime.” His performance was widely criticized, as he looked out of sorts when Thompson pushed the action to the ground. Did he learn from his missteps?
“Every fight makes me a more complete fighter,” Ferguson said. “I’m prepared for a lot of s–t. Losing’s not an option, but if it happens, I’ll learn from it and come back from it. Ken’s really going to have to be Superman to beat me.”
Ferguson will have the added advantage of having MMA legend Bas Rutten in his corner. Rutten fought Shamrock twice during his storied career, and though he lost both times, he can provide the kind of insight to Shamrock’s mind few others can.
“Obviously, I don’t like it,” Shamrock said. “He knows everything I do. He knows me inside and out, but I’ve got a few surprises for Bas and Kimbo.”
A knockout victim in seven of his last eight defeats, Shamrock made it a point to question Ferguson’s punching power.
“I don’t respect his power,” Shamrock said. “The only time he’s knocked anyone out is when they were tired. At this point, I have no respect for him at all. I’m going in there to whip his ass.”
Ferguson laughed and offered to give Shamrock a “chin shot” when the two meet.
In wake of Ferguson’s TKO victory against Thompson, post-fight hype centered on a potential matchup with fellow unbeaten heavyweight Brett Rogers. That fight failed to materialize, however, leading many to speculate that Ferguson’s handlers believed him to be ill-equipped for Rogers at this point in his career.
“I fight whoever they put in front of me,” Ferguson said. “I have not turned down one name. My promoter lines them up, and I knock them down. I’ll fight anybody.”
Shamrock, meanwhile, has faced public outcry suggesting he should retire. His last fight, against British journeyman Robert “Buzz” Berry, ended in just 3:26. Shamrock — who has not won since he knocked out Kimo Leopoldo at UFC 48 in June 2004 — did not mount any offense of note in the bout.
“People are asking the question, ‘Should I be in the ring?’” Shamrock said. “I guarantee I’m going to answer the question and put a period at the end of it.”