Shamrock/Ortiz battle puts reality show in the past

JOSE RODRIGUEZ -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:12 PM ET

Ken Shamrock has a word of advice for fans of The Ultimate Fighter 3: The true reality-show goes tonight with UFC 61: Bitter Rivals.

The 42-year-old coach of the runaway Spike-TV hit has taken it on the chin over his performance on the program.

Critics have called into question his training methods, his ability to fire up his fighters and, most notably, his short fuse in dealing with rival coach Tito Ortiz -- once the most-hated man in the UFC.

Shamrock, whose crew of fighters were destroyed by Ortiz's team during the program, admits he went into the show looking like the good guy and came out looking like a chump. Tonight, Ortiz and Shamrock will settle their differences in the eight-sided ring -- and that's the only reality show that matters, says Shamrock.

Though the UFC hall-of-famer admits he didn't do himself any favours on The Ultimate Fighter.

"I can't change how things look on TV," says Shamrock. "All I know is that my God, my family and my friends know who I am and what I'm about and whatever it looks like on TV ... I can't go back and change that."

Shamrock and Ortiz have a long-standing feud which began when Ortiz beat one of Shamrock's Lion's Den fighters five years back and flipped off their corner. After the fight, he put on a T-shirt --with words not printable in a family newspaper -- mocking the man he'd just beaten.

Shamrock lost it and the back-and-forth war of words culminated in the pair's first battle at UFC 40, in 2002. Ortiz won by TKO leaving Shamrock's face looking like hamburger. It seemed the war was settled.

But not for long. A few months after the fight, Shamrock began telling media the only reason Ortiz won the fight, was because Shamrock wasn't 100% healthy.

So the back-and-forth verbal barbs began anew. But it was the always cocky, over-the-top Ortiz who led the charge. The showboating Ortiz lost fans with his big-mouth and outrageous stunts to ridicule Shamrock.

Since the TV show, however, all that has changed. Ortiz has come off looking like a caring coach while Shamrock appeared a hothead.

For his part, Shamrock says he only acted out to motivate his fighters.

"I know what it looked like on TV," he says. "Let me mention that everything I did on that show was because we were losing and I was trying to fire up my guys."

Except for, of course, that final scene between the two after Ortiz had clearly proven himself the better coach and all the attention began to shift to UFC 61.

"At the end, that was more or less to get into Tito's head," Shamrock says of the pushing and shoving incident. "He's played so many games with me and said so many things about me, that it was payback time."

The real payback comes tonight.

FIGHT NOTES:

- At 42, this may be Ken Shamrock's last fight, though he won't admit it. He skirted the question the same way Randy Couture did before announcing his retirement at UFC 57. My feeling, tonight, we'll see Shamrock in the Octagon for the last time.

- My picks for tonight's pay-per-view: Arlovski over Sylvia; Ortiz over Shamrock; Frank Mir over Dan Christison; Josh Neer over Josh Burkman (though that one may be a toss-up) and Yves Edwards over little Joe Stevenson.

- The cast of The Ultimate Fighter 4 series has been set with Canadian Georges St. Pierre and UFC legend Randy Couture serving as advisors. For full list of fighters, check out The Scrapyard blog.

- Former UFC fighter Lightning Lee Murray has been arrested in Morocco in connection with England's largest cash heist. More than $100 million Cdn. was taken from the Securitas depot in Kent last February.

- King of the Cage promoter Keith Crawford has resigned from his post with the company to seek out greener pastures. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Keith. Best of luck.


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