Despite having a pretty impressive film career, Steven Seagal has emerged as a popular figure of ridicule amongst some hardened fans of MMA. That may or may not be fair. But assuming, for a moment, that it isn’t, how does one explain that negative reflex on the part of normally discerning fight enthusiasts? Consider for a moment that it may be a matter of a stigma endured by Hollywood actors: a hesitation to allow the “real as it gets” atmosphere of the UFC to intermingle with scripted fantasy. It explains the loathing some fans have for professional wrestling, for instance. By IMDB default, men like Steven are perpetually under skeptical siege.
Short of leapfrogging like Brock Lesnar to the UFC and actually rolling around inside a cage, is it possible for a man to overcome the stigma? I suppose Bruce Lee may have done it. He’s an unlockable character in the EA UFC video game after all. But as a general rule, you don’t see men like Jet Li or Jason Statham glitching their ways towards button mashing victories on popular gaming consoles. As a preliminary rule, the stigma forbids it. And even if you are lucky enough to resemble Georges St. Pierre, it’s unlikely you’ll avoid a quarantine of disbelief in the minds of territorial fight fans. Deal with it. You have been Van Dammed.
That philosophical discussion aside, the human being who has been theoretically most unfairly punished by fans in the history of mixed martial arts may be Steven Seagal. Because despite offering training notes to some of the UFC’s highest-profile fighters, even teaching a devastating front kick to Anderson Silva, his life as a martial artist is inexplicably a running joke. And just yesterday, we learned that Daniel Cormier has not only trained with Seagal in the past, but he’s accepted Steven’s invitation to teach him “some stuff . . . he believes will work against Jon Jones.”
“I did [train with him ]once at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel,” Cormier explained. “I went to his hotel room and he showed me some holds that were pretty effective. I can honestly say that I’ve used them. This was July, two years ago.”
Now attempt to square that difficult truth against all those Seagal jokes at the gym water cooler. I personally cannot. Sure, guys like Lorenzo Lamas and Channing Tatum probably have it coming. But at this point, Seagal should probably be above the stigmatic law.