Opinion: Exit of “The Beast”
By Jesse Heitz
The sport has lost yet another legend recently. Legend may be an understatement; icon might be the better choice of words when one is attempting to accurately describe one of MMA’s pioneering superstars. Dan “The Beast” Severn has graced the inside of a cage or ring as an active MMA competitor for the last time, or so it seems.
Severn retires at the often debated age of 54 after 18 years of professional competition, with some 127 professional fights under his belt, comprising a beyond impressive career record of 101-19-7.
Severn made his MMA debut at UFC 4 in on December 16, 1994, at the age of 36, defeating Anthony Macias by way of rear naked choke. He went on to defeat Marcus Bossett later that night, before losing to fellow UFC Hall of Famer, Royce Gracie, in the tournament finals. After that, Severn went on to lock horns with fellow 1st generation legends: Oleg Taktarov, Ken Shamrock, Mark Coleman and “Tank” Abbott. Since his final UFC fight against Pedro Rizzo at UFC 27, Severn has fought all across the globe and in seemingly every conceivable promotion, capturing championships in many of them.
While Dan Severn is 12 years removed from his last Octagon appearance, the man’s menacing enthusiasm, much less his infamous belly-to-back suplex, still resonates throughout the corridors of the UFC. As the first true pioneer to fully incorporate a wrestling-based style into MMA, his footprints can still be seen to this day, where the lion’s share of fighters possess excellent amateur wrestling backgrounds. This trend can easily find its origins in Severn, whose wrestling honors included 13 AAU wrestling championships, who proved in his legendary bout with Gracie that dominant wrestling could give the then infallible Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu serious problems.
The retirement of “The Beast” is a bittersweet moment. In a sense I’m pleased that such a longtime staple of the sport could achieve his 100 victories and finish out a distinguished career on a winning note, but being that he was the first fighter that I latched onto as a young MMA fan years ago, it’s sad to see yet another familiar face disappear into the shadows of retirement.
As his retirement crept closer, Severn maintained that he still wanted to go out with a bang, ending his career against one of his foes from the glory days, either Ken Shamrock or a long-awaited rematch against Royce Gracie. And while the fight he sought never materialized, as in any combat sport, the possibility of one more fight is still on the table. As Severn said himself, “If there was a ridiculous amount of money involved, I’d come out of retirement, I am a wrestler after all.”
As not only a staunch fan of “The Beast”, but as a general aficionado of MMA nostalgia, I wouldn’t mind seeing Severn tussle with another icon in what could be considered a fitting retirement fight. Yet, if such a fight never comes to fruition, I’m content to simply reminisce about the early days and revel at the incredible career of Dan “The Beast” Severn.