I had the opportunity this week to speak to UFC Hall of Famer, Former WWE Superstar and NWA World Champion Dan Severn ahead of the URFight card that takes place this weekend. Severn was originally scheduled to fight Ken Shamrock and later Tank Abbott, who both withdrew from the show. The card also features Michael Bisping vs. Chael Sonnen in a grappling match, Roy Jones Jr boxing, and Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle in a pro wrestling match.
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You're a part of this wild URFight Show on March 20, and you guys are attacking every demographic.
"I'm just one of the pieces of the puzzle for this. It's a brand new internet network known as URShow.TV. To my knowledge there has never been a show like this in the sense that you have four different things. A four ring circus taking place. There's a lot of moving parts. Some people will like some aspects and not like some aspects, depending on what your background is. There's going to be a professional boxing match with Roy Jones Jr vs. a fan, who obviously had to have credentials and pass by the Arizona State Athletic Commission. There's a grappling match between Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping, a professional wrestling match between Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio and an MMA bout between myself and Tank Abbott. There's still an undercard on top of that which will be showcased, which are all MMA matches."
On a lot of MMA cards or any combat sports cards, there's only one fight or match that has familiar names or gets fans interested. There's certainly more than one on this show.
"You might have people that like grappling, boxing, MMA or wrestling. You have a network that's thinking outside the box. How many different demographics can we reach out to?"
You're facing Tank Abbott, but you were originally scheduled to face Ken Shamrock. That had to be changed for obvious reasons.
"Let me ask you, Sean. What are those obvious reasons?"
Well he just failed a drug test, and got TKO'd in an...interesting fight with Royce Grace. Did you watch that fight and how did you feel about it?
"(Laughs) That's why I pursued that route of questioning. So the match stunk in a lot of different ways. Ken crying foul. The camera shows he got kneed. Sean, you're a man that has testicles, how quickly does it take for you to respond? I question the delayed reaction. "
How did the athletic commission allow Royce Gracie to go out without his hands wrapped?
"I will dispute that to you, because I did not like having my hands wrapped. The two times I had my hands wrapped and the athletic commission pressured it upon us, I asked what the bare minimum was, and they said one piece of gauze and one piece of tape. I said 'fine,' and it was literally sliding off as the glove was coming on. I was appeasing their rules."
I want to get your thoughts on the Dada 5000 vs. Kimbo Slice fight.
It's sort of weird. Unfortunate what happened to Dada, but now the fight has been overturned due to a drug test of Kimbo's. So Dada's heart literally stopped in the cage and he didn't lose.
"Wow. That's quite a perspective you can put on it. I watched the match and thought it was rather comical. I hate what has happened to Dada 5000, but I kept wondering what Dada 5000 meant. I thought the match should have finished, they were so tired, the only thing holding them up was the cage wall. Wild swings at each other. They should have stepped in and called the fight a no-contest. That's how is should have finished. In the wacky world of pro wrestling, that's how it would have been finished."
You've Ken Shamrock (and Tank Abbott) pull out. Did that change your preparation?
"It did. I had retired in January of 2013, but I retired with a clause. I said if one of these three names stepped up -- Mark Coleman, Ken Shamrock, Royce Gracie -- if I could get one more hurrah against those guys, I would. I have no ax to grind with anybody else. I know my place on the food chain, I'm not that young guy anymore. Once you're 50, you're a senior citizen in most places. I'll be the senior statesman out there. They contacted me in the middle of November and said 'would you be interested in facing Ken Shamrock again?' and I said 'you have my interest.' I said they'd better get him under contract ASAP. He was never under contract. I was not a happy camper. I wasted a lot of my time preparing for one person. It has affected my match and affected my gameplan."
How were you informed that Ken Shamrock was out?
"URFight contacted me and said 'Ken is injured now.' You saw him in the ring. He cried foul, walked out on his own, never complained of anything. I thought, 'hmmm, okay.'"
You've been around for a long time and fought a lot, too.
"I've been an amateur wrestler since 1969, a professional wrestler since 1992, and a no holds barred fighter since 1994. It's my way of saying I won my first national title in 1972. In MMA, there are only a few people with over 100 fights, I'm one of those four, only a few with 100 victories, I'm one of those four. I have faced the other three, defeated the other three, and the closest to my age was 15 years my junior. I'm in a category all by myself, I'm lifetime chemical free. I take a lot of pride in saying that because I do a lot of speaking engagements with kids. "
How'd you get your nickname, and what were the early days of the UFC like?
"The ring name of "the Beast," was bestowed upon my by the legendary football player Jim Brown who was one of the play-by-play commentators for the UFC. The first UFC press conference, Ron Van Clief and I were the only two to show up in a sports jacket and tie. We sat beside each other, with a bunch of guys wearing tank tops. They pulled up a ping pong ball machine with 8 balls with 8 names on them. They spin it around and you found out less than 24 hours before who your first opponent is. Now you're watching to see who the other matchups will be, who could possibly be matchup number 3? To do three matches in one night, it helped make me the only triple crown champion in UFC's no holds barred era. They said it's against the law to do now, so I'm it."
"I was competing in no holds barred, the predecessor to MMA. A lot of your listeners might confuse no holds barred with MMA. No holds barred, there were only two rules -- do not bite your opponent, do not put your fingers in someone's eye sockets. In the first UFC, my guarantee to walk into the cage was $1,000. In the contract was 'in the event of an accidental death.' There's a whole lot of ways to take a man's life without ever violating those two rules. "
I remember seeing you with an NWA and a UFC title in the cage. At the time as a child, I didn't know that was something that could happen.
"Oh, but I thought Brock Lesnar was the only person to have done this. I say that facetiously because I did it almost 20 years before him."
Are you surprised more people haven't done it?
"No, if you look at it weight class by weight class, where did they come from? About 8 of them will come from amateur wrestling. I'm a little biased, because that's my background. I coached at Arizona State, Michigan State, I used to referee. Some were so high skilled that they negated each other, they could not score on each other, and you could see the level of frustration on their faces, and they would break into fisticuffs. Now I think it's a no brainer in the UFC for wrestlers to just go in there and take people down. 99.9 percent of all of these fights end up on the ground, and many still end in ground and pound. It's very barbaric. You take your fist and bludgeon someone around their face region. Number two is a choke hold. Number three is an armbar. I've always been a stats guy, and these are the top three things you watch out for and work on defensively."
Was there anyone in MMA or pro wrestling that you saw and thought their skill set would cross over well?
"Yeah, I came across people who had bigger than life personality. They'd be good or average wrestlers, and that's the sad part. It's tough to make a life in amatuer wrestling. Between my cage fighting, professional wreslting and amateur wrestling career, my professional wrestling career paid the best. I'm almost ashamed to say it, but that's the fact of it all."
What other projects do you have going on?
"The website is DanSevern.com, there's so many things I don't have the time to get around to do, but that will be updated, I'm going to put my actual athletic resume up there. The things I bragged about to you are just the tip of the iceberg. I have over 100 state, national or international titles or records. I don't think there's anyone close to me. That's between folkstyle wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling. I've done judo, professional wrestling, mixed martial arts."
How many matches and fights would you say you've had?
"I've had people ask if I know how many matches I've done, and not really. It's something that would probably be pretty easy to do if I had nothing else better to do, to tabulate it up. In my junior year in high school, I was one of 8 kids. I would have never thought of asking my parents for money, because it was not there to have. By my Sophomore year, I was getting the attention of coaches saying I could get scholarships. My junior year, I went in the 18 years and younger categories, and went in three weight classes, 190, 220, open. You can't do that now, but rules were different then. I would be wrestling match number one, on deck for match number 2, and in the hole for match number 3. You would have five minutes to report to the match before you would be disqualified. You'd finish match number one, go do match number 2, pin that guy, and go to match number 3 before you're disqualified. Add that all up. One day, three weight categories, seventeen matches later I walked out with six gold medals and got the attention of college wrestling coaches. By the time I graduated in 76' I was the most recruited college wrestler in the United States and had the academics to go with it."
Are you still doing speaking engagements?
"The website has the emails (for contact info). Because of this upcoming show, emails, phone calls, smoke signals have piled up, so I'll probably get back to you in April. I have my priorities straight, and I like to put on the best product as possibly. I hope to be rocking the more iconic darker mustache once again."
Anything else you want to tell the fans?
"Anyone listening who wants to check out this wild show, go to URShow.TV. You can get tickets or order it up on internet PPV. It's a company trying to do something totally different than what's ever been done before. Four styles of matches, all to take place in one ring. That's crazy."
You can download the full audio of the interview at this link, or you can listen to it in the video player above or the audio player below.