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Elite XC Inks Frank Shamrock vs Renzo Gracie for Showtime

By Robert Rousseau, ExtremeProSports.com
When the first Ultimate Fighting Championship ( UFC ) aired back on November 12, 1993, there was a Gracie and a Shamrock on the card. Namely, Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock.

And ever since then it seems that someone with the last name of Gracie or Shamrock has been in the MMA spotlight.

Back on that initial November night Royce Gracie defeated Ken Shamrock via rear naked choke in only 57 seconds. Later in the UFC's first Super Fight on April 7, 1995, the two fought to a draw ( early UFC encounters did not utilize score cards; you either stopped your opponent or there was a draw ).

Perhaps because of that unresolved battle, the public's appetite for another Gracie - Shamrock encounter was never sated. For that reason, it seems that anytime the two names are mentioned together, excitement follows. Such was the case when Ken Shamrock's younger brother, Frank Shamrock, tore through Cesar Gracie in a Shockwave event on March 10, 2006 with a 21 second knockout.

That leads us to the here and now.

In short, a new page to the Gracie - Shamrock saga is about to be written. And even better, it looks as if there's a new mixed martial arts powerhouse on the block that's going to put the pen to the paper. The name of the new MMA organization?

Elite Xtreme Combat ( EliteXC ).

Who is Elite XC?

Elite Xtreme Combat is a new mixed martial arts venue that is coming to us through the joint efforts of Pro Elite Incorporated and Showtime Networks. That's right, mixed martial arts has now made its way to the Showtime Network.

And if you're thinking it's just one event- think again. It appears that Elite XC will put on several events over the next few years in conjunction with Showtime. In fact, in an interview with BoxingTalk.com, President of Elite XC Live Events Division, Gary Shaw, indicated that, "we'll probably put on six events in 2007, eight in 2008, and ten to twelve in 2009."

Word of advice: think up your argument before opening your mouth to the wife about getting Showtime. You may only get one chance.

On hand at the December 14 press conference announcing Elite XC were Shaw, EliteXC.com President Kelly Perdew ( that's right, the winner from season two of the Apprentice ), Chief Executive Officer of Pro Elite, Inc., Doug DeLuca, and Senior Showtime Networks' Vice President / General Manager Sports & Event Programming, Ken Hershman.

If those heavy hitters and Showtime don't sound like enough, consider this. Elite XC has inked wrestling personality Bill Goldberg and former Saved by the Bell cast member, Mario Lopez, to be part of the announcing team.

Impressive, huh?

And we haven't even identified the main event for their inaugural show on February 10, 2007 yet. As was indicated earlier, it will be another epic Gracie versus Shamrock encounter.

Renzo Gracie versus Frank Shamrock at the Desoto Civic Center in Southaven, Mississippi.

Unlike the most recent Gracie - Shamrock encounter between Frank and Cesar, this one seems worth the ticket. After all, when Frank Shamrock took on Cesar Gracie, he was in effect battling a man that had never stepped foot into an MMA ring or octagon.

Renzo Gracie has a heckuva lot more MMA experience than Cesar, not to mention a pretty nice resume. Frank Shamrock also brings a ton of experience to this one, and remember: even though he hasn't fought much in recent years, there was a time when people believed Frank Shamrock was the best mixed martial artist on the planet.

Is he still that good? Don't know. However, here is what we do know about this upcoming battle.

Renzo Gracie

What Gracie brings to the table. - Renzo Gracie brings an overall MMA record of 11-6-1 to this bout with two (T)KO's and seven submission victories to his credit. In short, he's a Gracie.

That means he has elite Brazilian Jiu- Jitsu / submission skills.

Along with this, he's only been submitted once during his career at the hands of a great one - Kazushi Sakuraba. What's more, Gracie proved his toughness in that encounter by never tapping ( his arm literally broke and the referee stepped in ). Quitting just isn't in his nature.

Though Gracie's stand up skills are stronger than many might think, they are not upper echelon. However, he's proven to be difficult to stop ( he's only been knocked out once during his career by Dan Henderson ). Reinforcing that point, remember that this is a man that not only managed to avoid being knocked out by legendary striker Maurice Smith; he actually ended up submitting him.

Unfortunately, Renzo Gracie's best days seem behind him. He's lost six of his last eight bouts. However, in his most recent fight on September 23, 2006, Gracie came through against Pat Miletich, via guillotine choke.

Frank Shamrock

What Shamrock brings to the table. - Frank Shamrock brings an overall MMA record of 21-7-1 with two (T)KO's and 13 submissions to his credit. Still, he's only fought twice in the last six years against in mixed martial arts competitions. Further, in those two fights the competition left something to be desired ( Bryan Pardoe and Cesar Gracie ). Thus, when discussing his fighter profile we'll be talking about past successes.

This, of course, could prove to be his downfall.

Still, Frank Shamrock's resume reads like a Who's Who of Mixed Martial Arts. Fighters like Elvis Sinosic ( decision ), Tito Ortiz ( submission strikes ), Jeremy Horn ( submission- kneebar ), Igor Zinoviev ( KO- slam ), Kevin Jackson ( submission- armbar ), Vernon White ( submission- Achilles hold ), and Bas Rutten ( decision ) have fell at his hands. Further, he's won his last ten fights and hasn't been defeated since January of 1997.

Not bad, huh?

When in his prime, Frank Shamrock was one of the best fighters that mixed martial arts has ever seen. He was a physical freak of nature with great power ( if you want to see some of that patented power in action, see his KO slam against Zinoviev ). Further, Shamrock always displayed excellent wrestling skills and outstanding submissions back then.

He was even a better than average striker with nice power.

In other words, Frank Shamrock had it all. Question is, does he still?

In Sum

Elite XC may be about to change the MMA landscape. When you look at the powerful executives involved and factor in the Showtime contract, one has to think that they're going to quickly become a factor in MMA.

So move on over UFC and PRIDE. By signing with a major cable network, Elite XC wants a piece of the pie, and it looks like they have the stuff to get it done.

Inking two legendary fighters to their first main event was the first step. Though it's not like they signed Liddell versus Ortiz, by getting Frank Shamrock to step in and fight an experienced Gracie, Elite XC has said the following.

We may not have a Liddell or Ortiz yet; but we want them.

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