When we talk about the greatest fighters in mixed martial arts history there is one name conspicuously absent from every list. Of course I'm talking about the man, the myth, the over the hill direct to DVD action star himself Sensei Steven Seagal.
Granted Seagal has never competed in martial arts, let alone tested himself in an MMA fight, but don't let a little technicality like that blind you to his greatness. The only reason the Glimmer Man never stepped foot in a cage is because it would have been impossible to find an opponent who would stand a chance against him. If you don't believe me, just ask him. Who's going to step to a man feared by Anderson Silva himself?
Fedor Emelianenko may have gone undefeated in Pride but his unprecedented accomplishments in the sport of MMA are nothing compared to the time Segal beat up all those terrorists on a nuclear submarine in Under Siege. Here is a man who has gone undefeated all the way from 1988's Above the Law to this year's creatively titled Maximum Conviction. You're trying to tell me there's an MMA fighter alive with a record like that?
Despite Seagal's peerless credentials, UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture was foolhardy enough to mention in an interview last August that a match up against the seventh degree Aikido black belt would be enough to coax him out of retirement. Naturally, Sensei didn't take this challenge lying down.
"All I can say is, I'm here," he gallantly informed the world on this week's episode of The MMA Hour. "If Randy really wants to fight me, he can fight me anytime he wants. It'll be for free, and it'll be some place where there are no witnesses."
Attempts to reach Couture for comment have proven unsuccessful so far; likely because he's busy drafting a letter of apology to the self proclaimed "warrior" Seagal. After all, what multiple time UFC champion wouldn't be shaking in his boots at the prospect of facing a pot bellied sixty year old behind closed doors?
Anyone who has followed Sensei's career knows just how dangerous an AARP member can be. Gene Lebell allegedly choked the butt kicking Buddhist unconscious on the set of a film the two were working on back in 2002 when Seagal got all up in the then seventy year old Judo legend's grill. The kicker? The ever composed Seagal lost control of his bowels along with his consciousness as he was put to sleep by the septuagenarian Lebell.
They say the mark of a true warrior is how many times you pick yourself up and dust yourself off after a fall - or in Seagal's case stumble to your feet and run to change your underwear - so it should come as no surprise that Sensei didn't let this bump in the road slow him down. He continued kicking ass - and no doubt bullying stuntmen - in such cinematic tour de forces as Today You Die and Pistol Whipped until that fateful day when he received a memo from UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. Allegedly the Spider begged Seagal to teach him some of his "deadly stuff." The rest, as they say, is history.
Sensei cemented his place as not only a martial arts legend but as one of the all time greatest coaches in MMA history when his prized pupil Silva knocked out Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 and when his student Lyoto Machida starched Randy Couture at UFC 129 by utilizing some of Seagal's "deadly stuff." While critics have noted the hitherto obscure technique used by both fighters resembles a regular 'ol front kick, Sensei remains adamant the lethal maneuver is his own original invention.
This knack for coaching has given Seagal the perspective needed to critique not only his own pupils, but also the most successful champions in MMA history. Case in point Georges St. Pierre. The Glimmer Man hasn't been impressed with GSP over the past few years, going so far as to call his UFC 129 performance against Jake Shields "atrocious." According to Seagal, GSP is a "wonderful" martial artist but not a "great" one.
You may be wondering to yourself just who Seagal is to pass judgement on a man who has successfully defended the UFC Welterweight Title eight times, but let me ask you this: has GSP ever won a bar fight in his life, let alone as many as Sensei has? Do you really think St. Pierre wouldn't turn tail and run for his life if he spied the dough bellied star of Mercenary For Justice walking towards him down a dark alley?
OK, obviously I'm being facetious here. Steven Seagal is nothing more than a cross between that strip mall ninja with the American flag sweat pants immortalized in Napoleon Dynamite and a message board troll. His opinions on athletes who get in the cage and put their well-being on the line are about as valid as those of a drunk at the end of the bar who still considers Kimbo Slice the baddest man on the planet.
However, I'm the type of person who gets a kick out of unintentionally hilarious celebrities, which is why I'm usually amused by the nonsense that falls out of Seagal's mouth when he talks about MMA. There's nothing quite like laughing at a pompous windbag when he makes a fool of himself by spouting off about a subject he doesn't understand. Seagal's brand of vainglorious buffoonery is particularly amusing in that he seems completely oblivious to the fact we're all laughing at him rather that being wowed by his mastery.
After his MMA Hour appearance though I'm wondering how much longer we're going to be laughing. Fatuous blowhards like Seagal may be easy fodder for ironic guffaws, but who's going to care what this self-infatuated nitwit has to say once the joke has played itself out?
Perhaps more importantly, for all Seagal's credentials in the world of Aikido, who's going to remember him as anything more than a self-aggrandizing clown?
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