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by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
SHAMROCK-GRACIE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS RIVALRY TO BE SETTLED AT HP PAVILION AT SAN JOSE 


Mixed martial arts oldest family rivalry will resume on March 10 at HP Pavilion at San Jose when former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight king, San Jose’s Frank Shamrock (20-7-1), collides with undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Cesar Gracie (14-0).

On the undercard, undefeated world San Shou kickboxing champion Cung Le (16-0, 10 KOs) will make his highly anticipated mixed martial arts debut, while rising star Josh “The Punk” Thomson (10-1, 1 no contest) and seasoned veteran Eugene Jackson (12-7-1) will return to action in the first mixed martial arts fight card sanctioned in California since the sport was officially legalized in January.
 “This guy came out and challenged me, hid behind his name, hid behind his students and, now, I’m finally gonna get a crack at him,” Shamrock said of his opponent and the feud that has been brewing between the two for the last two years.  “I’ve always wanted to fight a Gracie and they’ve always run from me but, suddenly, this one’s gone nuts so I’m gonna take care of him.”

The 33-year-old Shamrock is recognized as one of the greatest forces in mixed martial arts 12-year history. During his career, he has defeated the likes of former UFC light heavyweight king Tito Ortiz, Bas Rutten and 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist Kevin Jackson, who was stopped in a world-record 14 seconds by way of armbar submission. Shamrock’s victory over Japan’s Minoru Suzuki in January 1996 earned Shamrock the prestigious King Of Pancrase Championship. 

The matchup with Gracie will be Shamrock’s first since March 27, 2003 when he easily submitted Bryan Pardoe by way of armbar in less than two minutes.

In 1999, Shamrock temporarily retired to pursue a career in Hollywood. His small screen credits include “Oz,” HBO’s hit prison drama series, CBS’ “Walker Texas Ranger” starring martial arts legend Chuck Norris and a commercial for Burger King. Later this year, Shamrock will be on the big screen in the cage fighting drama, “No Rules,” starring Gary Busey, Pamela Anderson and Tom Sizemore. Shamrock will also appear in the movie with mixed martial arts legends Randy Couture and Don Frye.  

Gracie, who lives in Pleasant Hill, is a veteran of more than 200 Jiu-Jitsu contests. Gracie has become a mixed martial arts fixture in this Contra Costa County town. Gracie, as a trainer, has produced a host of world-class talent by imparting the teachings of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, the progressive combat style conceived in the early 20th century by his grandfather, Carlos.

“This is a great opportunity for me to showcase my skills,” Gracie said. “Of course, there’s a lot of pressure in terms of upholding the family legacy but, ultimately, the only person I can represent is me and I’m going to do that and show the world what I’m made of when I come face- to-face with Frank.”

The Shamrock-Gracie feud began 12 years ago when Gracie’s cousin, Royce, defeated Shamrock’s brother, Ken, en route to becoming the first-ever UFC champion. The two fought to a draw during a rematch a year-and-a-half later.
 
Le’s transition from the world of stand-up combat serves as a response to fight fans who have long beckoned the 185-pound Vietnamese-born fighter to test his superior technique in the fiercely competitive waters of mixed martial arts. 

Le’s last start came on June 4 at HP Pavilion when he earned a unanimous decision over Shamrock protégé Brian Ebersole in a bout contested under San Shou rules. Le is also a four-time victor of K-1 “Superfights,” which is staged in Las Vegas. 

Thomson is a veteran of both the UFC and Japan’s Pride Fighting Championship. His last start, a Muay Thai rules on the Le-headlined June 4 card, saw him quickly stop Toshiyuki Nakagawa only 54 seconds after the opening bell rang. 
 
The matchup between Shamrock and Gracie was originally scheduled for last Oct. 1.  A delay in the proceedings necessary to ratify the bill sanctioning mixed martial arts in California, however, caused a postponement of the bout.
The first preliminary bout will begin at 6 p.m.    
 
UPCOMING EVENTS AT HP PAVILION
Pac-10 Women’s Basketball Tournament                     March 3-6
San Jose Stealth vs. Nashville                                         March 11
San Jose SaberCats vs. Los Angeles                            March 12
San Jose SaberCats vs. Georgia                                    March 17
San Jose Stealth vs. Portland                                          March 18
U.S. Hot Rod Monster Jam                                               March 24 & 25
San Jose Stealth vs. Buffalo                                             March 31

Tickets to all HP Pavilion at San Jose events are available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office, Ticketmaster Ticket Centers located in Wherehouse Music stores, Tower Records, Ritmo Latino and select Rite Aid stores throughout the Bay Area, online at ticketmaster.com, or charge by phone at 408-999-TIXS, 415-421-TIXS, or 510-625-TIXS.  For more information, check out the HP Pavilion Web site at www.hppavilion.com.    
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