Opinion: Steven Seagal Crosses The Line
By Jesse Heitz
Over the past year or so, Hollywood staple Steven Seagal has made a plethora of interesting and often bizarre comments about MMA. At first, his comments either made a modicum of sense to the masses of MMA fans, or in the event they didn’t we were able to simply laugh them off as they were nothing more than the ramblings of the man that had been choked out by “Judo” Gene LeBell.
When Seagal told the MMA world that he was in fact responsible for teaching UFC Middleweight Champion, Anderson Silva, the front snap kick. Undoubtedly, very few of us had been convinced that the greatest striker and dare I say greatest fighter in the world was taught something as simple as a front snap kick by Seagal.
Then, something came along that blows the ridiculousness of the snap kick controversy out of the water. Seagal made the undeniably absurd statement that current UFC Welterweight Champion, Georges St-Pierre, commenting in an interview with Ariel Helwani that,
“I think [St-Pierre] is a really nice guy. I think he is a good fighter and a good martial artist. Would I call him great? No, I just think he’s a wonderful and good martial artist and good guy. Some people are born with greatness, and some people sort of acquire it, but I think with time, he will become better and better.”
I’m not sure how anyone could take such an inherently preposterous statement seriously. The man has held the UFC Welterweight strap for nearly five years, beating all comers. You don’t accomplish such a feat by being merely a “good martial artist”; you accomplish such things because you’re a great martial artist.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Steven Seagal tops himself, this time calling out former 5-time UFC Champion, Randy “The Natural” Couture, after the latter made a good-spirited joke about only being willing to come out of retirement to face Seagal . Speaking to The MMA Hour, Seagal stated,
“I always thought that Randy was my friend and a gentleman, I’m kind of confused as to why he would say that. All I can say is, I’m here. Anybody can find me anytime and anyplace. If Randy really wants to fight me, he can fight me anytime he wants. It’ll be for free, and it’ll be someplace where there are no witnesses. I don’t play by rules. That’s not how I fight.”
Couture seemed to be almost bewildered at the hostile and defensive response, yet shrugged it off by stating to CagePotato that,
“I’m the one that started the joke as an off-handed comment I made to Jay Glazer — that I’d only come out of retirement if it were to fight Seagal. Obviously now somebody has talked to him about it and it has gotten some legs. I’m not surprised that he wants to do it in private, remote location where nobody could see it happen. Obviously I intended it as a joke. I don’t think it would really happen.”
I cannot explain why Seagal has so prominently injected himself into the MMA limelight by making such outlandish claims. I don’t know if this has something to do with the existing rivalry between “traditional” martial artists and those that practice and develop hybrid styles that incorporate effective techniques specifically geared for combat, whom we would label “mixed martial artists.”
Perhaps it’s simpler. That a man who was once considered by the movie-going public to be one of the most dangerous men on the planet, has had his image eclipsed by scores of mixed martial artists, and he’s eager to regain his lost image by purporting to be the teacher of the sport’s most elite fighters.
In the end, we can deal with his delusional comments about teaching world champions striking techniques. We can even laugh off the comments about GSP not being a great martial artist. Yet, challenging Randy Couture to a fight is far from an impressive gesture, but rather a foolish and perhaps suicidal one.