Dan Severn imparts trade secrets in PH MMA seminar

Nissi Icasiano
Dan Severn imparts trade secrets in PH MMA seminar
MMA legend Dan 'The Beast' Severn says Filipino fighters have great potential but needs to work on being multidimensional

MANILA, Philippines – Proving that old school fighters remain relevant in the field of mixed martial arts (MMA), Dan Severn spearheaded a seminar last Saturday, December 6 at the Goat Locker Gym in Marikina City, Metro Manila.

In partnership with Gavin Williams and Gareth Hobbs of MMA Seminars, Team Goat Locker brought the MMA legend to the country for a 3-hour colloquium that was attended by professional competitors and practitioners alike.

Unleashing ‘The Beast’ in MMA

Severn, a 56-year-old MMA pioneer who is known for his stints under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) banner, began his prizefighting career in December 1994 when he participated in the UFC 4: Revenge of the Warriors tournament.

“I never told my family members about it. My parents found about it because of my uncles who were there to watch my very first UFC. I was turning 37 years old at that time, but my dad chewed me out when he finally got hold of me,” Severn told Rappler about his UFC debut.

The man known as “The Beast” competed three times at the aforementioned event, defeating Anthony Macias and Marcus Bossett with a rear-naked choke before yielding to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Royce Gracie in the finals by means of a triangle choke.

“Now, you know who you’re fighting. Fighters have 6 or 8 months ahead of time to prepare. Today, you can even see other fighters’ matches on the internet. But back then, you just have to show up at the weigh-in and wait for the draw in the raffle to see your opponent. 24 hours later, you’re fighting that guy inside the cage,” he shared.

Severn rebounded from the disappointing setback to Gracie by capturing the tourney crown in his next attempt at UFC 5: Return of the Beast in April 1995.

Three months later, Severn was booked to square off with Ken Shamrock for the inaugural super-fight championship at UFC 6: Clash of the Titans, but he failed to bring home the belt as he was submitted with a guillotine choke in the first round.

Diverting his attention from the submission loss to Shamrock, he then entered the Ultimate Ultimate 1995, where he thumped the likes of Paul Varelans, David “Tank” Abbott and Oleg Taktarov all in the same night to be declared as the winner.

As a reward for his victory at Ultimate Ultimate 1995, Severn earned a title shot and rematch against Shamrock in May 1996 at UFC 9: Motor City Madness and won by split decision to claim the super-fight strap.

Severn faced Mark Coleman at UFC 12: Judgment Day in February 1997 to determine the promotion’s first heavyweight champion, but he succumbed to Coleman’s neck crank submission.

The 6-foot-2 native of Coldwater, Michigan had 13 UFC bouts, including his last Octagon outing versus Pedro Rizzo at UFC 27: Ultimate Bad Boyz in September 2000.

Although he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in April 2005, Severn still made sporadic appearances in various organizations such as PRIDE, World Extreme Cagefighting, Pacific Xtreme Combat and King of the Cage, to name a few.

Severn decided to hang up the gloves for good in January 2013 and left the sport with a record of 101-19-7.

“I never thought I would go that long. I only planned to do one event originally,” he stated.

Even if he continues his involvement in the MMA scene as a coach at the Michigan Sports Camps training facility in his hometown, Severn expressed that he is willing to come out of retirement for three persons.

“I was attempting to do my own self-directed retirement tour in the last couple of years, reaching out to only three people: Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock and Mark Coleman. I would consider to come out of retirement if they’re willing to face me. But if it’s thirty years younger than me, it’s a big no. That’s not very smart on my part,” he said in jest.

Severn’s interaction with Filipinos

There were 25 participants in attendance at Severn’s seminar, which prompted him to segregate his class, with some of who had to be in the ring and others inside the cage.

A two-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Arizona State University, Severn emphasized the importance of utilizing the legs and body weight in the execution of grappling techniques.

“The legs have more muscle than your arms, and it can release or generate more power. Meanwhile, body weight helps you in conserving energy. Instead of exerting too much effort, there’s a way applying force without using too much power that would tire you out in the process,” he quipped.

Severn also edified how to incorporate strikes and slipping submission holds while doing the pummeling drill.

Aside from teaching the effective manner of defending and scoring takedowns, he stressed the significance of position shifts and body weight applications in a submission, using the anaconda vice, a choke and crank from scarf hold.

“You have to consume your energy in a bout because you will never know how long it will take. It could go 3 or 5 rounds. When you’re in a situation that allows you to lock a submission, you got to have better positioning and proper distribution of your body weight,” he pointed out.

According to the MMA veteran, he perceives great potential in Filipino fighters but sees most of them as being one dimensional.

Due to the continuous evolution of the sport, Severn strongly recommended that Pinoy combatants must be resilient in every aspect of the game.

“Most of the time you look at what strength does this athlete have on the table. You still see that Filipino fighters are suited in one area when you should be good in all areas. I see great potential in them. MMA is in progress not only in the United States and the Philippines, but everywhere. It is still going to evolve, and they have to adapt to it,” said Severn, who was invited to watch ONE FC: Warrior’s Way last Friday, December 5.

Severn concluded the workshop with a poem that he wrote entitled “Match Promise” with these poignant lines, “I am not average, not like the rest. I will rise above and become the best! It is my goal to reach the top. No matter what, I will not stop.” – Rappler.com

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