February 24, 2002
Two legends collided in the center Saitama Super Arena in a fight that would have a lasting effect on both mens career. Don "The Predator" Frye vs. Ken "The Worlds Most Dangerous Man" Shamrock was a battle fans had ached to see since the early UFC tournaments. However, these two wouldn't meet on American soil. Their battle would take place on Japanese soil during PRIDE19.
The build up for this fight was incredible. Frye pulled no punches in the trash talking department, taking shots at various members of Kens family. Frye even went as far as claiming Shamrocks father and brother would be cornering him on the night of their fight. Once the men stood before another in the center of the ring, it didn't take long for the scrap to start. It would take quite some time for it to end however. Both men were pushed to their breaking points. Frye found himself caught in several leglocks, but refused to tap. Years later he would go on to say:
"I talked a bunch of trash, so I had to back it up. I couldn't walk away after talking all that garbage. You're damn right it hurt. He messed up both my ankles real bad. That caused me to start taking the pain pills and I got a little dependent on the pain meds for a couple of years."
Once the final bell rang, both men stood up and shook the others hand. While Frye would go on to win the battle, both of these pioneers lost in one way or another. Following the fight Shamrock would find himself back in the UFC. He would go a lackluster 1-7 before Zuffa sent him his pink slip. He continues fighting to this day, though not nearly at the level he used to.
The Predator would come back only a few months later at PRIDE21. Frye walked right up to and traded blows with Yoshihiro Takayama for about 6 minutes before the referee called a stop to the fight. Frye would go on to face lackluster competition until his eventual retirement in 2009. Fans of Frye can currently find him doing commentary for promotions such as Shark Fights.
Take time, whenever you have the chance, to watch these two put a beating on one another. Whether it's your first or fiftieth time, it will not disappoint. You'll see two of the sports pioneers battling each other in what was essentially the last important fight of their careers, and they left it all in out there in the center of the ring for all of our eyes to see.
Cross-posted @ BloodyElbow and Cageside Seats from my personal blog