Royce Gracie earns controversial win over Ken Shamrock at Bellator 149

ByBrett Okamoto ESPN logo
Saturday, February 20, 2016

HOUSTON -- Ken Shamrock has been bitter for 20 years over the circumstances of his first two fights with Royce Gracie.

That's unlikely to change following their third meeting.

A trilogy bout between Gracie (15-2-3) and Shamrock (28-17-2) ended in controversy at Bellator 149 on Friday, as Gracie was awarded a first-round TKO after it appeared referee Jacab Mantalvo didn't see an accidental knee hit Shamrock in the groin.

After a lengthy feeling-out process from both fighters, Shamrock worked into a clinch with the 49-year-old Gracie. As the two jockeyed for position, Gracie threw a knee that grazed across Shamrock's cup. Shamrock, 52, immediately crumpled to the floor and lowered his hands toward his stomach. Gracie knelt over him and landed a series of punches until Mantalvo stopped the fight at the 2:22 mark.

The victory marked the first knockout of Gracie's career.

The result adds to a long list of complaints Shamrock has had regarding his fights with Gracie. When the two met at UFC 1 in 1993, Shamrock says he was told at the last minute he wouldn't be allowed to wear wrestling shoes into the cage. They met again at UFC 5 two years later -- and again, Shamrock claimed Gracie received favorable treatment when he asked for (and received) an overtime period after the bout reached its time limit. The fight was eventually ruled a draw after 36 minutes.

"I'm disappointed," said Shamrock, who yelled in the direction of Gracie and the referee at the conclusion of the fight and accused Gracie of striking low on purpose. "I came here to fight and I was ready to go however long it went. I don't know what else to say. I was wrong for getting upset. That's just the way it is. I really wanted this."

As the crowd gave a mixed reaction inside Toyota Center, Gracie seemed a little disappointed in the controversial ending but defended his actions.

"I'm a fighter. I'm here to fight," Gracie said. "We come from the beginning. No gloves. No rules. No time limit. No weight divisions.

"Groin shot was allowed. But it did not catch his groin."

There really was no other action to describe. Both legends were very conservative at the start. Gracie, who hadn't fought since 2007, came out in a very upright stance, targeting Shamrock with the occasional kick. Shamrock, who trained for the fight in Dallas, stood well out of range for the first few minutes, waiting for the right opportunity to come forward.

After the accidental knee, Gracie used an outside trip to plant Shamrock on his back. It was very different from their first two bouts years ago. Gracie submitted Shamrock at UFC 1 quickly, via rear-naked choke. In their second meeting, Shamrock took Gracie down but was extremely cautious from top position, resulting in a slow, tedious bout in which he essentially laid on Gracie the entire time.

Officially it's the 11th knockout loss of Shamrock's career. Former UFC welterweight champion Pat Miletich (29-7-2), 47, told earlier in the week he had interest in fighting the winner.

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