When Marketing a Legend Isn’t Enough

Posted: July 20, 2010 in Marketing, PR, UFC

This weekend marked the fall of a legend. Ok, maybe this legend fell years ago and just descended further.  Ken Shamrock, “The World’s Most Dangerous Man,” has lost six of his seven last fights.  I can honestly say I have not seen a decent Ken Shamrock in action since his 2005 loss to Rich Franklin at the end of the Ultimate Fighter Season 1 finale.  However, promoters keep dragging him out of ‘retirement’ to make a quick buck off a name that used to mean something to the sport.  I’ve discussed how you can market two legends, but what happens when you need to market one – and one that is far passed his prime?

  • Hurt the Image of MMA – The sport has enough opposition from mainstream curmudgeons.  We don’t need the same battle of aging fighters seen in boxing to take the center of the Octagon.
  • Loss of Fans – At best we will only seen fans fall away from an aging star, at worst people can be turned off altogether by watching a once superior athlete fall time anda gain.
  • Loss of Brand Interest – With fans come advertisers.  If the fans start to flock away due to disinterest, so will the large brands who pay for the promotions.
  • Tarnish “The Legend” – Like any sport, if you stay in too long you defeat your own mythology.  Unfortunately in this instance I no longer here any reverence from fans when discussing Ken Shamrock.  I instead only hear him referred to as “Scamrock.”

Since I’ll always have a soft spot for the Shamrock brothers for being pioneers of MMA, let’s focus on some more positive aspects.

Ken Shamrock:
Record 27 – 14 – 2
Wins 2 TKOs
23 Submissions
2 Decisions

The Stats:

  • Shamrock is a UFC Hall of Famer and also a former WWE professional wrestler.
  • Shamrock has headlined over 15 main events and co-main events in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Pride Fighting Championships during the course of his career.
  • Shamrock was the first UFC Superfight Champion; the title was eventually renamed the UFC Heavyweight Championship when weight categories were introduced to the UFC. He was also the first MMA Heavyweight Champion in Japan, winning the title of King of Pancrase.
  • Shamrock was also ranked by Inside MMA as one of the top 10 greatest mixed martial arts fighters of all time.
  • Shamrock is the founder of the Lion’s Den mixed martial arts training camp. The Lion’s Den was one of the most successful camps during the early days of the UFC.

What’s Next?
I hope that with this latest loss that Ken will learn from his younger brother Frank and retire.  There is more potential in Shamrock as a coach and teacher (despite his ‘stellar’ showing on The Ultimate Fighter) than there is for him as professional fighter.

What do you think, should Ken keep trying or hang it up?

  1. Ryan Korzeniowski says:

    It saddens me to see a UFC Hall of Famer descend to being a punchline (“Ken Scamrock”) in MMA jokes (i.e. Shamrock v. Ortiz III post-fight “Tito we just made a lot of money” comments). It would be optimal to see Ken go out with a win and fade into the sunset of being a coach and figurehead of a sport that he pioneered with others in the early 90’s. No true MMA fan is looking to see Shamrock become the Randy “The Ram” Robinson star of MMA – that didn’t end well in “The Wrestler” as I recall.

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