Two of the biggest names in the history of the UFC and mixed martial arts will meet for a third time when Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock fight in the main event of Bellator 149 on Feb. 19 at the Toyota Center in Houston. Here’s a look back at their previous fights, both of which occurred more than 20 years ago.
Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock I
The first Gracie-Shamrock fight occurred at the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event on Nov. 12, 1993. The two future UFC Hall of Famers met in the semifinals of a one-night, open-weight tournament. Few rules existed (despite the marketing slogan of "There are no rules!").
Gracie opened the fight by immediately shooting in on Shamrock, who sprawled to stop the takedown. But, the fight remained on the ground. Shamrock eventually rolled over, exposed his back and tapped out to a choke from Gracie 57 seconds into the bout. "He got me in a choke hold, I was trying to go for a leg and I forgot to guard my neck," Shamrock said after the fight.
In the quarterfinals, Gracie had submitted boxer Art Jimmerson in 2:18, while Shamrock needed 1:49 to submit Patrick Smith. Gracie went on to win UFC 1, beating Gerard Gordeau via submission in 1:44.
Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock II
Gracie and Shamrock's second meeting was for what then was called the UFC's superfight championship at UFC 5 on April 7, 1995. Gracie and Shamrock grappled for 36 minutes and six seconds before the fight was ruled a draw.
There was a 30-minute time limit originally, but the fight lasted 31:06 before referee John McCarthy stood both fighters up and sent them to their respective corners. The five-minute overtime began with both fighters on their feet, and Shamrock landed a solid right hand that caused Gracie's right eye to begin to swell. The match then went to the ground and stayed there for the rest of the overtime.
The fight as a whole was more a test of endurance than anything else. Within the first minute of the bout, Gracie and Shamrock went to the ground and the grappling began. Viewing the 21-year-old bout through the lens of today's sport, the fighters would have been stood up quite a few times.
Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock III
Gracie and Shamrock are the main event at Bellator 149 on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016.
Gracie, 49, hasn't fought since 2007 when he won a decision over Kazushi Sakuraba. Afterward, Gracie (14-2-3) tested positive for anobolic steroids. Gracie has fought five times since the summer of 2000 but has been involved with Bellator as an ambassador of the sport since 2014.
Shamrock, 51, returned to MMA last June after a five-year layoff and lost via TKO to Kimbo Slice at Bellator 138. Before that, Shamrock (28-16-2) fought three times in 2010 and lost twice.