Frank Shamrock is not a circuit or trench fighter. He doesn't buckle down into camps two, three or four times a year. For him, fighting has become an annual event. Matched against someone who shares that level of apathy (Cung Le, Renzo Gracie), he can help orchestrate some compelling fights. Matched against someone hungry (Nick Diaz), he tends to get pureed.
Whether promoters realize that determines how he'll look in a March return, a date floated by Shamrock during "The MMA Hour" radio program. If it holds up, it'll mark nearly a year's absence from competition.
"Whoever brings ratings. I need ratings. I just need some ratings," Shamrock said. The obvious choice would be a match with Scott Smith, who just came off the latest in a series of upsets that have defined his career, this time against Cung Le.
Smith is unlikely to tackle Shamrock -- avoiding the test of Shamrock's decimated knees -- and his striking is powerful but not technical. It's a good fight, and one Shamrock can win. (And if he comes out relatively unscathed, Strikeforce can pencil him right in for spring 2011.)
Anyone harboring hope that he'd get a crack at Kazushi Sakuraba before they both turn to dust is probably going home disappointed. A DREAM rep tells me that placing a travel-averse Sakuraba on a plane to the U.S. is highly unlikely: getting him into California for a fight with Royce Gracie in 2007 was, in this man's words, "an act of God."
Funny, that's probably what it's going to take to get Sakuraba out of the ring, too.