10 YRS AGO: ASK PWTORCH – Was Ken Shamrock’s fame a product of timing and antics or skills? Plus Boxing vs. MMA pay, Half vs. Full Guard, TUF 3

Ten years ago this week, MMATorch launched the “Ask MMATorch” feature with some compelling topics. Check it out below, and if you have questions for our team for a future Ask MMATorch article, send them to askmmatorch@gmail.com.

This is the first edition of our new feature called Ask MMATorch.com. If you have a question about the world of Mixed Martial Arts, we will attempt to answer them in this space in the future

Drew Ste. Marie of Burbank, Calif. asks: What is difference between half guard and full guard and what submissions can you work from either of those positions?

Randy Rowles and Mike Jarsulic answer: The full guard, which is also known simply as the guard, is a ground grappling position. It occurs when both fighters are on the ground, with one fighter lying down with their back to the mat. Guard is any position where the fighter on his back has his opponent between his legs. There are quite a few variants of the guard. Wrapping your legs around an your opponent and crossing your feet is closed guard. An open guard is a position where the feet become uncrossed. Butterfly guard is a variant of the open guard where the feet are placed underneath an opponent’s thighs. Spider guard consists of the feet being placed on the opponent’s biceps.

In the half guard, the fighter on the bottom has both their legs wrapped around only one leg of their opponent. The fighter lying on the mat is said to have their opponent in either their guard or their half guard.

Transitioning from the full guard to the half guard is called passing the guard. When a fighter is in the full guard of their opponent, and is able to get one of their legs around one of their opponent’s legs, they have passed the guard from the full guard to the half guard. If a fighter were to free both of their legs from the leg entanglement of their opponent and move to a perpendicular position, they would then be in the side mount position, or have side control. The half guard is the step in between the full guard and side control.

In the full guard position, the fighter on the bottom is in an advantageous position to go for joint locks, leglocks, choke submissions and sweeps on their opponent. The fighter on top can strike or try for leglock submissions or neck cranks. The priority of the fighter on top, though, would be to pass the guard.

A priority of passing the guard is to pass directly into side control, without getting caught in half guard. From half guard, the fighter on the bottom does not have a great set of submissions to work, but there is still a threat of a toehold or calf crank. The big disadvantage of being caught in half guard, is it opens up a whole new set of sweeps for the fighter on the bottom.

In side control, the fighter on top is able to attempt armlocks or choke submissions. In side control, the priority of the fighter on the bottom would be to stand up or to trap one of their opponent’s legs with their legs to get them into their half guard, or trap their opponent’s entire body to get them into their guard.


MMATorch reader Luke Baumstark asks: Is Ken Shamrock’s fame entirely a product of his timing in MMA? Is it because of his WWE-style antics? Or does/did Shamrock have some real fighting skills?

Jesse Houser answers: I would have to say yes on all accounts. It was due to his timing, his personality (or lack thereof), and he was once a very skilled fighter. Coming from Pancrase (Hybrid Wrestling according to their website www.pancrase.net) he had the skill set to be very good in most MMA competitions. Looking back at his career he’s always fought some of the best fighters no matter what organization he was competing in. Ken will be once again competing against a great fighter in Tito Ortiz on October 10. Will today’s Ken Shamrock be able to defeat Ortiz? I doubt it. Would Shamrock in his prime be able to do defeat Ortiz? That’s a bit tougher of a call.

Shawn Ennis adds: In his prime, Shamrock beat Bas Rutten – twice, by submission – in Pancrase, and fought Royce Gracie to a 30 minute draw at UFC 5. Shamrock is 26-11-2, with six of those losses coming in has last eight fights. So Shamrock has been on the decline in the last 5-6 years for sure, but he was one of the best in his day.


MMATorch reader Jason McCants asks: I have been following MMA for only a few years now. It seems to me that the athletes get paid peanuts compared to boxing. Is boxing really that popular still? Does boxing pull in that much more money than UFC? I read about Oscar De La Hoya making $20 million plus then guys like Forrest make like $30 thousand per fight? What gives?

Shawn Ennis answers: The Las Vegas Review-Journal actually had a good article on this back in August. I’ve seen the subject brought up time and time again on forums and on websites, criticizing the UFC for paltry salaries and such. I’m not going to give my opinion on what I think is right or wrong, because frankly I don’t think I have enough information to do so. But I’ll give you this quote from the article (and here’s a link to the whole thing – I’d recommend checking it out):

“[Lorenzo] Fertitta said the business model of the UFC is dramatically different from boxing’s and that affects the pay structure.

“‘If I’m a boxing promoter, HBO will come in and tell me that they think a fight will sell a certain amount on pay-per-view and they’ll come in and guarantee me that and write me a check up front,’ Fertitta said. ‘The boxing promoter has no risk. He knows he has this amount of money coming in and he says to the fighters, ‘You get x, you get y and I’ll take what’s left for my profit.’ He doesn’t have a risk. All the production and marketing of the pay-per-view is handled by HBO.

‘But in our model, I’m HBO. I’m paying for the production. I’m paying for the marketing. We get no site fee. So what we tell our fighters is that we can’t pay them as much up front, but if the fight performs well and produces numbers, they’ll get a nice piece of it. Both Randy and Chuck did very well off their (third) fight.'”


MMATorch reader Jarrod Miller of Salem Ore.: What happened to the deaf fighters from season three of The Ultimate Fighter. Tito was really pumped on him. I expected to see him again, but have not so far. I did see him training with Tito after the show was over, but not fighting.

Randy Rowles writes: Matt Hamill will be fighting on Spike TV on October 10 at UFC Ultimate Fight Night, as part of the televised undercard for Ortiz vs. Shamrock III. Hamill will be taking on Seth Petruzelli, who was on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. In TUF 2, Petruzelli beat Dan Christison via unanimous decision, but then lost to Brad Imes via split decision in the semi-finals. Petruzelli is probably most remembered for his incredibly swollen ear, after his fight with Imes.

Matt Hamill currently trains with Tito Ortiz and Team Punishment. Hamill beat fellow TUF fighter Jesse Forbes at the UFC Ultimate Fighter 3 Finale, and is 1-0 in MMA. Hamill will be looking to remain undefeated this coming Tuesday at UFC Ultimate Fight Night live on Spike TV. Team Punishment is looking for this to be a big night for their team.

CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS 10 YEARS AGO FLASHBACK: Keller’s review of an MSNBC one hour special on the rise of “Extreme Fighting”

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