It’s very likely that you never saw Ken Shamrock fight in his heyday. After all, the age of the average MMA fans means they would’ve been in diapers when Shamrock was taking on Royce Gracie at UFC 1. But none of that matters, because Shamrock is taking on Kimbo Slice in what could possibly be Bellator’s biggest event ever on Friday, and the wizened old “shootfighter” will be climbing into the cage for what is hopefully his last ride into glory.

Which pretty much makes this piece on Shamrock by veteran scribe Jonathan Snowden must-read material. If you know Shamrock from back in the early days, or if you only became cognizant of his existence around the time he fought Tito Ortiz, he’s got a compelling story. And Snowden gets it.

Damn does he get it.

Here’s a sample:

The motivation for Shamrock is simple.

“I don’t want to be disappointing again—to myself or my fans,” Shamrock says.

He’s open about his last several fights failing to live up to his own high standards. His problems go all the way back to a fight in Japan in 2000, when he was forced to quit during a fight he was winning handily, asking Williams to stop the bout with the haunting cry of, “Petey my heart.”

“No matter how tough you are or how much willpower or determination you have, if there’s something wrong with your body it’s going to shut down and stop,” Shamrock says. “It’s good to have those qualities, but it’s important to know what you’re pushing against. And I almost pushed myself into the grave. I was frustrated. I was disappointed. I was depressed. This is not me. This can’t be all I have. This can’t be it. But there came a time when I had to accept that it was.”

Please, go read the rest. It’s worth it.