by Joe Szyc
When Hall Of Fame running back Jim Brown gives you the nickname, “The Beast”, you must be an opposing force. Dan Severns’ athletic career is that of legend. With a record of 101-19-7 in mixed martial arts documented and another 15 to 30 undocumented matches, “The Beast” is a fitting name. Making these numbers even more impressive is that Dan was 35 when he started in MMA at UFC 4 where he won his first two fights before losing to Royce Gracie by triangle choke.
“The Beast” is very proud of his athletic accomplishments, that include but not limited to, winning the main event at WEC 1, UFC 5 tournament winner, winning “The Ultimate Ultimate 1996”, being the first and only Triple Crown Champion and his induction into the UFC Hall of Fame at UFC 52. With 101 MMA victories, over 100 combined titles and record in amateur wrestling, Dan understood what it took to win. When I thought of “The Beast” in the ring, I was excited by his dominance and missed how brilliant his in fight strategy was/is. How many athletes do you know with a crooked nose, busted ears or are missing a few teeth? When you look at Dan Severn, he looks directly at you, smiles and you do not see someone with 127 plus fights under his belt. Many of those early fights were of the bare knuckle, no holds barred type of fights. When the rules were simple. No biting and no eye gouging. Dan put it in simple terms “I’m a thinking man’s fighter. If you want to stand and exchange blows, I’m going to stand outside your reach or keep you close. Eliminating the space that 90% of fighters need to effectively strike.” It is worth noting that in an era and sport where fighters seek an illegal advantage (steroids/HGH) and others that find themselves in legal troubles more than they find them selves fighting. Dan Severn has not failed a drug test. At 57, almost 58, Dan was in the gym preparing for a March 20th bout against Ken Shamrock only a few weeks ago. Sadly this fight did not take place, but Dan was ready after completing a full camp.
In todays MMA, Dan does not see how anyone will reach 100 wins or even take the beating necessary to make it to their 100th fight. As he puts it, “todays top fighters are well rounded fighters” forcing fighters to take more punishment today than someone like Dan was taking in the past. With more fighters being versatile in their experience, the chance of injury increases or at a minimum the time necessary to prepare for someone with multiple disciplines is greater. Dan was competing during a time that 3 or more fights in one night was common place. Now you are lucky if the athletic commission will approve you to fight 2 months after a cake walk victory. Being very self aware Dan hopes, that his current health will continue and that he will not experience side effects like what Mohammad Ali has experienced post retirement.
Ken “The Sham” Shamrock as Dan Severn kindly calls him, has become a big disappointment late in his career. It might be the need to get that next paycheck or maybe he wants to go out on top. Whatever it is that drives Ken Shamrock, caused Ken to abandon what he once was. An obvious difference between 2 iconic fighters is that one appears lost, while Dan Severn is comfortable with the footprints he’s left and the ones that he plans to place. If actions speak louder than words, than Dan is an ALL CAPS kind of guy. Starting in 1971 Dan started to teach, coach and train others. To this day Dan travels all over the world to motivate, educate and prepare anyone invested in enhancing who they are. From teaching college courses at his alma mater Arizona State University, to training law enforcement on defense and escape tactics. The footprint of Dan Severn is felt world wide.
Why Dan has not been hired by the UFC or another promotion to serve as there Goodwill Ambassador is somewhat shocking. If you’ve had the pleasure to meet Dan at a MMA event, he is as engaging a personality as there is. Through his experience, Dan has relationships, along with a clean reputation that would go a long way for organizations like the UFC to increase their footprint in places like China and Russia. With vast experience educating others, who better to help young up and comers or highly talented veterans that have a knack for finding trouble (Jon Jones). “The Beast” cares about the sport that helped extend his step. As he is in the cage, Dan is calculated, strategic and operating with a plan. As important as it is to win, it is more important that Dan can look at himself and be happy with what he sees.
As far as next steps, Dan is coaching and developing people every day. Will Dan fight again? Royce Gracie is a fight Dan would like to see happen. After recent events with “The Sham” Shamrock, the likelihood is not as high, but who would pass on the opportunity to slap Ken around the ring? Dan is looking to set the record straight with a few rubber matches. I’d watch!
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years. And get pats on the back as you pass, but your final reward will be the heartaches and tears If you’ve cheated the man in the glass. – Dale Wimbrow