Daily DDT Interviews WWF Superstar/UFC Hall of Famer Dan Severn


With sports like Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association having record books that last lifetimes, it’s rare to be able to talk to one of the true pioneers of any sports league. With UFC being so young in comparison to these other leagues, we are lucky enough to hear stories about the early days of the promotion. Dan Severn, a UFC Hall of Famer and one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts, also spent some time in the WWF. He recently talked with Daily DDT about his time in both places.

Brian Rzeppa: In college you tore your ACL. Do you think anything would be different had you not had suffered that injury?

Dan Severn: There are a couple of things that would have affected what my career was. My first ACL tear was one of those; I think I was on a Cinderella freshman career. When I finished up my high school career, not only was I a two time high school champion, I set and held 8 national records simultaneously. That’s what I accomplished as a high school wrestler going to a small, class-c school. College recruiters never looked at class-c, so I had to do some thing that would get their attention. One day I had 17 matches in a variety of weight classes.

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You fought in the UFC, as well as the first WEC and Pride cards. Why did you decide to jump around from promotion to promotion rather than have a string of fights in one promotion that could have led to a title shot?

It was just as offers came in. The best-built MMA company is UFC. There’s a lot that has changed over the years; it’s so popular. The UFC is running all the time; there are 6-10 opportunities every month to watch it. It wasn’t always that way, though, and people forget that. 

How did you decide to make the transition into wrestling?

That was actually my first profession. I was in the ‘92 Olympics and they said that they would allow you to be able to compete both professionally and as an amateur as long as you weren’t in high school or didn’t have college eligibility left. Some guy from Nashville, Tennessee came to me and asked me if I would be interested in professional wrestling. Three days later I got a phone call, 10 days later I had a tryout and in 30 days I was in Tokyo, Japan in front of 20,000 people. After a couple of times getting kicked in the ring, I decided that I didn’t like getting kicked, so I just dismantled him.

Looking back, what are your thoughts on Brawl for All?

When they first had it, they had a talent meeting and they talked about the concept of it, and they said the only people who wouldn’t be allowed in it were Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn, so I kind of just tuned out the rest of the meeting. It was several weeks into this Brawl for All; I was in the locker room when one of the road agents asked if I wanted to be in it. I didn’t want to wear any gloves, because I wanted to go out there and show the talent that I had and show what a real wrestler can do without having to throw a single punch.

Which WWE superstar, aside from Brock Lesnar, do you think would have the most potential in the UFC?

The crossover has already been taking place. You have several professional wrestlers that already go back and forth, like Ken Shamrock or Rampage Jackson or Tito Ortiz. As far as current wrestlers, someone like Kurt Angle had a phenomenal amateur-wrestling career, so he would definitely have a chance. He had a couple of fights already, but Batista could be dangerous in the cage.

”After a couple of times getting kicked in the ring, I decided that I didn’t like getting kicked, so I just dismantled him.”

In regards to his MMA career, Severn also released a bit of surprising information, especially considering he’s one of the best fighters in UFC history. “People are surprised to hear me say this, but MMA was a hobby to me. I picked it up at a late age and although I was very serious about it while I was doing it, I never really thought of it as my career.”

Along with that, Severn also dispelled the notion that professional wrestling is “fake.” It may be scripted entertainment, but the toll that is taken on each wrestler’s body is very real. “I was hurt worse from professional wrestling than I ever was in a cage. When you’re fighting, you just go out there and do your own thing as opposed to wrestling, where you have to put your trust in another person that they won’t hurt you. Trusting someone in a business like that is tough, too, because it’s the worst business that I’ve ever worked. With that being said, I learned a lot from professional wrestling and it gave me a lot of experiences that I’ll never forget.”