Dan Severn’s extremely long and storied MMA career started back in the early 90’s at UFC 4 and the mustachioed monster has been involved in some facet of the sport he loves ever since. From running a promotion to refereeing, competing or judging, Dan has been there. When history books are written 50 years from now about the greatest sport in the world, Dan Severn will have a chapter dedicated to him. Now 17 years after his debut and in the twilight of his career, The Beast is looking for one more big match and atonement for his first loss in his ‘self directed retirement tour’ and he wants it to be a rematch against Royce Gracie when the UFC visits Rio de Janeiro this summer. We were able to catch up with The Beast to talk about his campaign for Rio. Dan Severn has 99 MMA wins. Jay Z has 99 problems. I don’t think I have 99 anything.
So have you been waiting for this? A retirement match around 100 wins? Well not necessarily that, what I’m looking at is that there is some unfinished business or I guess a better way of saying it is some people have regrets in their life and they can’t go back and make any changes to that. There are only a few matches left I want to do and I’ve spoken to two out of the three. I want one more match with Coleman, Mark Coleman. One more match with Ken Shamrock and one more match with Royce. I’ve already spoken to Ken and Mark and they have agreed to a match but I have just had no way of getting in touch with Royce. So it was brought to my attention that he has recently indicated that he would like to be on the card on Brazil and so far it has been my understanding that there has been no opponent selected for him, so I basically am reaching out about potentially being his opponent. It’s marketable, you got 2 guys who are in the UFC hall of fame, you got two guys who are probably AARP card carrying members, but I think that it should be part of Rio. You have 2 guys who are much more grappling orientated. I would stack the rest of the card with the exchange of kicks and punches. You wont really seeing that stuff from us unless Royce added it to his repertoire since we last shared a cage together.
What about the weight difference? Well that would probably be the only discrepancy that takes place. Can I get down to his weight? No. But they have had catch weights in the past or some kind of compromise. I wouldn’t expect for him to come up in weight to meet me but they may be some sort of a compromise between the two.
What would you say to a non sanctioned no record bearing special rules match? Lets say one 20 minute round. Would you be open to a different rule set to make this match happen? Oh yes, I would be VERY accommodating.
Would you let him wear a GI? Sure.
So you are pretty much open for anything to get this match made? I know I’m going to have to give a whole more concessions to make this match come to life than what he will probably want.
Have you talked to Dana about this… What you have to see here Jason, UFC 4 was my first outing I had never raised my hand in a fist to my fellow man before that. I was in tough man competitions before but that was in the name of competition. When I was finally told I was in the UFC, I only trained for five days an hour and a half a day and I did just fine. You find another person alive or dead for five days an hour and a half a day and go into my world of amateur wrestling and get the same results, it doesn’t exist. So yeah, I would like another shot.
Do you keep up with the UFC and the MMA world? To a certain degree, do I watch it all? No. I think that’s a little too much TV viewing time.
It seems like lately the 10 point must system has favored wrestlers… Do you think so? I think it favors more the stand up.
Really? I’m one of the top referees in MMA and I recommend to all MMA athletes to take the judge and referee class, it might be surprised how you think you win a match is not how you think. There is much more weight given to stand up rather than to getting taken down. Weight is given to strikes, especially strikes that do an especially evident amount of damage and they will give you the highest point totals you will ever get.
Would you accept Coleman or Shamrock in Brazil if not Royce? Those are the three that I would like to do a match with em. I think it’s going to be the same aspect of weight discrepancies, I talked to Mark Coleman and he said ‘you have to get your big butt down to 205’ I said well that probably wont happen but a compromise of at least halfway down would certainly help. Around 230-235 I can do that, I can drop that weight. But to go from a 250-255 guy to 205 weight class…That’s not happening.
What has been your favorite most memorable moment? The one that probably stands out the most was my run at The Ultimate Ultimate, you know it was still the NHB era and it was an 8 man tournament format and out of a 2 hour PPV I was in that Octagon cage over an hour between my 3 opponents.
I watched that last night when I found out I was going to interview you. My cardio was off the charts at that time.
How do you think you would fare against today’s competition. Your prime style and if you had to go in the cage today. Well I’m a 52 year old man, but in my youth, I would do jussst fiiine.
With 99 wins I would think you may be able to beat someone on the UFC’s current roster… Well I don’t know what to say to that but I love to compete, I’m a competitor, but the reality is and I’m pretty much making it public knowledge now, that I will no longer be competing past 2012. If I am, I will learn to live with it I guess…I just have other interests and the reality is that I’m getting older and I’m not the same athlete I was 10 years ago, that I was 20 years ago, that I was 30 years ago.
What are those other interests? I do a slew of things. I’m currently speaking to you from my training facility Michigan Sport camps and we teach amateur wrestling, we teach pro wrestling, we teach MMA we have boxing coaches, kickboxing coaches. We are looking into potential expansion into Battle Creek about 45 minutes from us but a much more populated area. We promote, I have had an MMA company since late 1999. I have been involved with law enforcement, special tactics air marshals, border patrol. I do speaking engagements with juvenile centers and high schools and junior highs. I have a teaching certificate from Arizona State University and every fall I sign up as a substitute teacher for my county. I’m probably one of the most in demand subs due to sheer size and they know through association that I get the job done and I get the productivity out of their students better than the original teacher gets out of them because I know how to ask questions and I try to keep those subjects that maybe aren’t that interesting kind of fun and easier for them to swallow.
So as a substitute you teach all subjects, correct? Yeah, as a sub you usually go into just about anything. There are certain times I’ve been brought in and it may not be a strength of mine, but as a sub there is not a lot of teaching that takes place it’s more or less you walk in there and say read this chapter and answer these questions and that’s what goes on for the next 55 minutes. Probably one of the most interesting periods I had was for about a month and a half, a teacher went out on maternity leave, so for about 6-7 weeks I was a second grade teacher. So I had all subjects! That was probably one of my most interesting times! (laughs)
What is your favorite subject to teach? My teaching certificate is actually in the industrial arts. I was into drafting, woodworking, metal working in high school I had all the shop classes and in college I started in the construction engineering program at Arizona State and I switched to technology and left with a teaching certificate. I only needed a 120 credit hours but I ended up with 146. I took classes for business and other self interests. I’m kind of like a Curious George I guess. I like to figure out how things work, the Discovery Channel, I enjoy those programs.
What does MMA have to do to get regulated in all 50 states? It will, if you simply look at the economic impact that a UFC would have. One of the most recent attendance records and economic impacts was recently at the Palace at Auburn Hills. I believe that’s the last attendance record, but come the end of this month in Toronto that will blow the previous record out the water with Georges St Pierre headlining that UFC event. So again, I’m going to use the analogy of pro wrestling for success in MMA. There is still a lot of room to grow yet. Some people think it has peaked out, no it’s still growing and until we have hit the point where we can have a Wrestlemania or a Super Bowl type of an event, when you have to rent out a football stadium and you have in excess of 100,000 people and a million plus PPV buys…That’s when the sport truly has arrived. So there is room for growth and those things are on the horizon.
Would you do pro wrestling again? I still do. A lot of people think I look at MMA and that this is just an opportunity to do one more match and they are wrong, I’ve been doing this all along. They just aren’t televised or not on PPV, not visible. To one of your earlier questions, I’ve always been a goal oriented person and to hit this mark of 100 victories, that has been one of my goals and I will be hitting that soon. A lot of people have regrets in life and would like to do some thing over, so I look at this like my own self directed retirement tour. Will I get all my matches no, but if no one knows about it no one will care about it. Maybe it’s just me who cares? I think the match is marketable, especially Royce in Brazil where the Gracie’s are from and we have history that stems from 1994. At that time the average fight was 4 minutes and we went just shy of 16 minutes. So you’re asking would I allow 20 minutes? Jason, I say throw the clock out the window and let the athletes decide amongst themselves as to who will emerge victorious.
With PPV broadcast times I wish we could do that, a 20 or 30 minute match, but I’m sure they want to get as many fights on there as possible… I understand and I agree with what you are saying and back in 94 they had that problem. They only had allocated the two hour PPV and our match went 16 minutes so some households and broadcasters did not see the finish to that match. The various PPV cable companies were bombarded with people wanting their money back and things started to tighten and they wondered how long could a match actually go. When the UFC was in it’s infancy, the average match went 2 minutes and 22 seconds. Some of the matches went so quick that they went to the color commentator booth and they didn’t know what to talk about. They didn’t have the material. There have been a lot of growing pains in this industry on the production side as well.
What are your thoughts on the Zuffa purchase of Strikeforce? Good for the sport? Scott Coker could have said no. It’s his choice, to do it or not, I can see both sides pros and cons. The con is the athletes don’t have as much negotiating power. You can leverage the organizations to get better contracts when there are two or three powerful companies. When you have one powerful company they can dictate the going rate. That’s just business, gas prices. Supply and Demand.