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WWE Wrestlers in MMA - Dan Severn: First famous wrestler to enter the world of UFC

Dan 'The Beast' Severn
Dan 'The Beast' Severn

The world of MMA and UFC that we know today, was not always the same. There was a time that this now globally accepted sport was one of the most controversial things to be taking place, and was looked down upon by all and sundry.

The sport was banned in most states, and Senator McCain famously labeled it "human cockfighting". The prejudice arose from the fact that there were very few rules in place at the time and being sidelined finally forced the sport to put in place several rules, that have made it the sport that we are familiar with today.

During this time, when the sport was still looked down upon across the globe, Dan Severn entered the fray to become the first-ever globally known wrestler to enter the cage. In this article, we will be taking a look at his time in UFC and MMA, as well as glancing at his time outside MMA in WWE.


Dan Severn in Amateur Wrestling

In 1976, a young boy named Dan Severn won both sports' national championships for his high school in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling. From the very beginning of his life, his preparation had started to become the outstanding athlete he is known for being today.

Dan Severn was an accomplished amateur wrestler
Dan Severn was an accomplished amateur wrestler

By the time he was 18, he was 6th in the nation in the open division and was placed in the Olympic Trials. Unfortunately for him, he failed the Olympic Trials in both 1984 and 1988, albeit in a controversial manner. Despite never making it in the Olympics, he would win several National Wrestling Championships until 1994. Other than amateur wrestling, he also trained in judo during this time.


Dan Severn in Professional Wrestling

Before he would join WWE, Dan Severn join UWF-I, the international version of the Universal Wrestling Federation. During this time, he would win several matches and gain recognition, before joining AAPW ( All American Pro Wrestling).

Dan Severn
Dan Severn

He would defeat his former coach Al Snow in one of these shows. While he continued to gain worldwide recognition in wrestling, he also made his debut in MMA in 1994.


Dan Severn in MMA and UFC

Calling Dan Severn a WWE wrestler might be doing disrespect to his heritage as a Mixed Martial Artist, but 'The Beast' Dan Severn always paid homage to both of the careers while taking part in either.

Severn first competed in 3 fights at UFC 4 in December 1994, but this was only just a tiny glimpse of what was to come. While he continued to wrestle outside the UFC, he continued to fight as well.

In April 1995, he competed at UFC 5 and won the tournament. UFC 6 would see him lose to Ken Shamrock. With a record of 5-2 at this time, his only losses had come to the pioneer of modern MMA, Royce Gracie, and Ken Shamrock.

Dan Severn
Dan Severn

Nine fights and nine wins later, he had gotten wins against several top fighters, including his revenge against Ken Shamrock in a pitched battle that saw the Split Decision in his favor.

While his time in the UFC came to an end with his battle against Ken Shamrock, Dan 'The Beast' Severn continued to fight throughout the 1990s and the 2000s. Finally, it was 2013 by the time he announced his retirement, with the extraordinary total of 127 fights of which he had won 101, lost 19, and drawn 7.

He was supposed to return to the cage in 2016 against Ken Shamrock, but the fight fell through and did not take place.

He holds multiple accomplishments, as a part of several Hall of Fames, including the UFC's, as well as being the first-ever fighter to be awarded a UFC title belt and the first-ever and only UFC Triple Crown Champion.

Given his respect for professional wrestling, when he would walk out to fights with the National Wrestling Alliance Worlds Heavyweight Championship, essentially a part of both sports.


Dan Severn in WWE

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Compared to his time in MMA, Dan Severn spent a minuscule time of only 2 years in WWE. He made his first-ever appearance for the company in 1997 with the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship to commentate on a Ken Shamrock match. The two had a stare-down after the match was over. He debuted in 1998 in WWE, when in a storyline the NWA invaded the company.

He would carry his UFC and other MMA Championship belts out to the ring when competing in WWE. While he was shown to be a villain, he was extremely over and feuded with Ken Shamrock, with their UFC history being brought into the storyline. He was also paired with Jim Cornette during his time with the company.

Jim Cornette
Jim Cornette

Unfortunately, he would leave the company in 1999 due to differences of opinion over his creative direction in the company. He would not win a single Championship during his run in the company despite his success outside.

He was inducted into the NWA Hall of Fame in 2010.

Dan Severn's contribution to both wrestling and MMA is one of the reasons that the two forms of entertainment are so inexorably tied together to this day, and in a sense, he was a pioneer of the modern trend of athletes from both sports to jump to the other at times.

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Edited by Alan John
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