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“Ask Dan” #2: Fighting Royce, Body Paint, Ping Pong, and Drunks

(Beast-Mode: He invented it.)

Thanks to everybody who submitted questions to Dan Severn last week! Today’s installment of Dan’s no-holds-barred Q&A column is loaded with classic stories and grown-man wisdom, so get comfortable and read on. You can support the MMA living legend by visiting and Dan’s Facebook page, and you can support us by kicking in a few bucks to CagePotato’s Movember Team Page. Keep growing them mo’s, and post your latest moustache photos on our Facebook wall

skeletor asks: Did you ever feel bad during the no holds barred/no weight classes days destroying guys that were so much smaller then you?

Dan Severn: I never felt bad because of size difference but I did sort of feel bad in general because it was not in my nature to be violent. For example, when I had Oleg Taktarov in the cage and was dropping knees on him, and he couldn’t defend himself. The match wasn’t being halted and he didn’t have the rational mindset to tap out. Even my first loss against Royce Gracie, I was staring right into a man’s soul realizing what crude submissions that I knew weren’t working and recognizing that I was going to have to strike this guy. So I struggled more with my conscience then I ever did with an opponent. I think I am cut from a different cloth than a lot of different fighters who came from checkered pasts and were used to getting into fights. I wasn’t used to that. For instance, if you look at the fight between me and Ken Shamrock, he was adopted and grew up on the mean streets fighting. My upbringing was completely different. I don’t really understand that mentality.

When I was inside Royce’s guard, from my perspective I was in the dominant position because as a wrestler, I was used to being on top. As I am fighting I can see Royce looking over to his father in his corner, and I could see exactly what was going through his mind. His mind was saying, “Hey dad, I’m hanging in here but if you want to throw in the towel, I wouldn’t hold it against you.” Helio actually had the towel in his hand and lifted his arm up a little bit and then shook his head no. I remember thinking, you old bastard…you would sacrifice your kid for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

bgoldstein asks: Can you please explain what you’re wearing in this picture

This was for the Arnold Shwarzenegger Classic. That is actually body paint, as I was dressed up as one of the Predators. There was something going on in which they were honoring Arnold and they had the different characters that he had gone up against and I was in this tanning salon supplies booth and they asked if they could airbrush me to be the Predator. It was probably one of the kookier things that I’ve been involved with in terms of standing there in my trunks and letting someone airbrush paint me in front of everyone. Later in the evening, there was an event in which they brought up the various Predators on stage as a tribute to Arnold. It was kind of cool because they did such a good job — it looks like I’m actually wearing a costume.

Luiz Alexandre asks: When you are not fighting/coaching/giving seminars, what do you do to chill out?

I play a mean game of ping pong. It seems that at all the different wrestling camps that I attended, there would always be ping pong tables set up. So once training was done and you were just sitting around trying to kill time, there was always ping pong to play. We’d always set up tournaments with the other campers. Actually my kids are pretty good ping pong players as well. That comedy movie Balls of Fury that came out a few years ago is one of my favorites. I’m more of a physical type of game player than a video gamer. I do like the new version of the Wii games because it gets people moving instead of being sedentary — something that I have against the boob tube, computers, and hand-held devices which have literally helped contribute to the U.S.A. becoming one of the most obese countries on the planet. We are the land of plenty, which is good, but at some point you’ve got to learn to say no.

bgoldstein (again) asks: How did you feel when Tom Lawlor came out dressed as you for the UFC 113 weigh-ins?

I laughed and thought it was really funny. It’s cool to know that people respect me and impersonation is a part of that. The fact that he chose to wear the small shorts and the mustache and do that signature scream that I do, I thought it was great. I actually had quite a few friends send me the link to this when it happened.

BuckWild asks: Was there ever someone you were afraid of that you had to fight? Even a little?

I was probably more afraid in my younger days but fear was never really something I struggled with. I was calm…perhaps too calm. Big John McCarthy refereed some of my early matches and before the fights he would always go over the rules with each of the fighters backstage. So when he asked us in the cage if there were any questions, he usually didn’t expect fighters to have any last-minute questions. However, when he asked me I would always try and say something corny like, “Where did all that money go that my parents paid for piano lessons?” He said that when he heard it, he looked back but he could not believe that it was me who said it because I had my game face on.

The next time I came up I said, “You know I wouldn’t need to do something like this if you’d just give me the winning lottery numbers.” Each time, I had my one liner in there which was one of the ways that helped to keep me relaxed. I got to know Big John and his wife Elaine McCarthy pretty well — she was the travel agent for the UFC back when Art Davie and Rorian Gracie owned it — and during one of the matches I actually started having a conversation with Big John. He told me later that I was one of the scariest guys he’d ever met because I was carrying on like it was no big deal. There are referees and rules and regulations so there really isn’t a lot to worry about.

Situations outside of competitive sports can be scarier sometimes. I’ve actually been in more confrontations in the last 17 years or so than I had in the previous 17 years. That’s because I do a lot of appearances at sports bars and they tend to have a patron there who may have had too much to drink and they start being ignorant. There were probably three occasions where a drunken person was being rude enough that a fight could’ve actually happened. However, what I did to either defuse the situation or let them know my intentions, I would whip out my business card, write down the number to the UFC and hand it to them. I’d simply tell them that I’d never fought for free and I didn’t plan on starting any bad habits now. I’d say the nice thing about fighting me in the UFC is that there are rules, a referee and you won’t be more than 40 feet away from a medical practitioner at any time. I’d tell them that if this was going to go down right now without a referee and rules, you are going to want to make sure you at least have medical attention. Luckily, I never had to fight anybody because I guess that they could see I was a man of my word!

Brad Falk asks: What’s the best way to kill a bear?

I don’t think a person is going to be able to kill a bear using their bare hands. So either it has a heart attack in the process of it killing you or it chokes and dies as its eating. One way or another, it’ll get you. I’ve never heard of a human being victorious over a bear in hand-to-hand combat. My advice to you, Brad, is to stick to the city, don’t wander into the woods.

Cagepotato Comments

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intercept440- November 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm
dude i already got the answer for us mid thirties slightly out of shape guys question....
drink more beer..
fight dirty
the end
RwilsonR- November 11, 2011 at 11:15 am
I'm sure after a lifetime of athletic competition you have some lingering physical issues, but do you ever feel any long term mental injury due to having had so many fights? If not (hopefully), is this a concern of yours if you choose to continue to compete?
chzhgg- November 11, 2011 at 11:06 am
Sex service
welcome to
TheWarsawExpress- November 11, 2011 at 10:51 am
Please learn the difference between then and than. Thank you and goodevening.
flyingogoplata- November 11, 2011 at 5:51 am
Your stache versus Chuck Norris' beard...who wins and how?
myklhoey- November 11, 2011 at 4:39 am
@ rwilsonr
that bret farvecomment haf me rollin
RwilsonR- November 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm
Does it irritate you when some punk kid waiting tables at Red Robin or trying to peddle mobile plans at a cell phone booth at the mall addresses you as "chief" or "boss"?
RwilsonR- November 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm
Team Edward or Team Jacob?
RwilsonR- November 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm
What advice would you give to young aspiring athletes who would like to begin a professional career in MMA?

What about for mid-thirties, slightly out of shape people who lack the requisite training, but still want to begin a professional career in MMA?
RwilsonR- November 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm
How do you actually pronounce your last name? The way it is spelled I want to say "Sev-URN", but most people say it either "Sev-REN" or "Sever-EN", so which is it?
Also, do you think this would be a bonding point between you and Brett Favre if the two of you ever met?
2DaDeath- November 10, 2011 at 9:52 pm
Does Don Frye pay you any royalties for stealing your look?
RwilsonR- November 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm
Have you ever been to Thailand? Because I think you'd like it there. Like you, the Thai people enjoy fighting, and also doing interesting things with ping-pong balls.
2DaDeath- November 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm
That was hilarious! Keep 'em coming!
RwilsonR- November 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm
You said you don't watch much TV, but I'm sure you watch some. So what's your favorite show? Is it Glee?
RwilsonR- November 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm
If your testosterone levels at the same low level of Chael Sonnen, would it basically just turn you into Tom Selleck?
RwilsonR- November 10, 2011 at 9:16 pm
What did it smell like in Royce's guard?
intercept440- November 10, 2011 at 7:56 pm
Mr. Severen.
why is it everyone runs to twitter and facebook and all this other social media shit when they have some stupid ass point to make..
and then once they get a bit of negative feedbaclk they go the opposite way and then say oh..oh.. wait im sorry...

dan i guess what im saying is why dont people ever just say what the fuck they mean, and not back down from it regardless of some negative feedback??
would you ever back down from something you said because you got some negative feedback?.
ccman- November 10, 2011 at 7:23 pm
I would submit questions but it will be trumped by one of BG's anyway
danomite- November 10, 2011 at 7:04 pm
Big Dan, considering that no one really knew what the 'guard' was back then, when you were lying in Royce's guard for almost 15 minutes, did you ever think to yourself, "This is the longest time I've ever spent in the missionary position" or "if he were my wife he'd be making me a sandwich already"?
danomite- November 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm
Big Dan, can I call you Big Dan?
DARKHORSE06- November 10, 2011 at 6:27 pm
Dear Dan:

What is the worst injury you ever received?

How many teeth have you had knocked out?

To your knowledge did any oponent that beat you ever recieve a $70,000 bonus for getting you out of the Octagon in a hurry for wearing those tights?
Get Off Me- November 10, 2011 at 5:47 pm
"When I was inside Royce’s guard, from my perspective I was in the dominant position because as a wrestler, I was used to being on top. As I am fighting I can see Royce looking over to his father in his corner, and I could see exactly what was going through his mind. His mind was saying, “Hey dad, I’m hanging in here but if you want to throw in the towel, I wouldn’t hold it against you.” Helio actually had the towel in his hand and lifted his arm up a little bit and then shook his head no. I remember thinking, you old bastard…you would sacrifice your kid for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu."

Heard Dan say the exact same thing before.
Q:Hey Dan, what do you make of Chael Sonnen testing positive for steroids? Do you believe Chael is a better wrestler than you?
dim mak- November 10, 2011 at 5:43 pm
Hi Dan!

What is the most underrated element of success? i.e., footwork, conditioning, game planning, etc.

Listening to your previous answers, it sounds like you're not a big fan of ground and pound. Do you prefer pancrase to the MMA unified rules? What about the Pride rules, which allowed knees to a downed opponent and soccer kicks?
BuckWild- November 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Being a world famous fighter has to provide some interesting and unusual moments. Please share one or two with us.
danomite- November 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm
Big Dan, anyone ask you what your favorite fight was yet? if not, what was it?