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July 18, 2011

MMA legend goes for his 100th win

On a warm summer night at a mixed martial arts school northwest of Baltimore, there stood the living legend Dan “The Beast” Severn, far from the huge arenas and UFC events he headlined in the ‘90s. He still sports his signature mustache and the barrel-chested physique of a 1960s-pro wrestler.

He first entered the octagon at 37 in 1994, as one of the most intimidating fighters in the world. In the early days of MMA, fighters would fight up to three matches to make it to that day's championship. The bouts were advertised as “no rules” matches. “MMA has approximately 37 rules today. Part of those rules include weight classes, time limits and gloves. Back in the ‘no-holds-barred era,’ we had two rules: No biting and no eye-gouging. Anything else was fair and I mean fair,” said Severn.

Many rules in MMA have changed since Severn first fought, but he said he thinks there are still some changes that need to be made. “I think in the next 3 to 5 years that elbow strikes will be the next thing to go,” said Severn. “Because right now I teach my athletes to let them take you down, and as they lay in your guard, reach back and land that elbow (on the crown of their head), and it’s checkmate.”

These days Severn travels the globe giving seminars on MMA, amateur wrestling and grappling. He was in Maryland to do a 2-hour seminar and to promote his fight with John Shaddock, the owner/coach of Shaddock MMA Academy in Eldersburg. The fight is scheduled for early 2012. Severn has an MMA record of 99 wins, 18 losses and seven draws. He is trying to get his 100th win and hopes that Shaddock will be that victim.

Severn has fought five times this year, winning three but losing his last two bouts by TKO and KO (punches). “I hope to stand on my feet and move a lot and use my speed,"Shaddock said. "At 43, I’m the younger fighter, so I have youth on my side."

Watching Severn play to the crowd of students throughout the evening, you can see his charisma. Throughout the night, he mentions his website and items you can purchase, including a faux mustache -- his No.1 seller. He knows how to market himself.

In the corner of the school he displays four of his championship belts: the NWA pro wrestling belt; the Ultimate, Ultimate Fighting championship; UFC World Superfight championship; and the UFC 5 World championship. Looking closely at the belts, you can see the small cosmetic scratches because of the thousands of armchair warriors who have handled the belts.

Also, there are a half-dozen photos of Severn for sale. In the background, you can hear him giving instructions to students on how to defend a guillotine choke. It was a guillotine choke by Royce Gracie that cost Severn his first championship at UFC 4. If he could have won that bout, one can only image how his life would have changed. Instead of millions of students learning Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, likely they could have had the Severn Fighting System. “It cost me $82,000 in one night to learn the valuable lesson on how I should have defended the guillotine choke. It has never happened again,” said Severn.

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 6:16 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Video

July 4, 2011

MMA's next 'Phenom'



If you look in the dictionary under the letter "P" you wouldn’t find the name of mixed martial artist Sergio Pettis. But what you would find is his nickname, "Phenom."

A phenom is often a young prodigy -- a person or thing of outstanding abilities.

This best describes this 17-year-old MMA fighter from the Southside of Milwaukee. Many fans also know him as the younger brother of former WEC lightweight champion and current UFC fighter Anthony “Showtime” Pettis.

Even though he’s only 17, Sergio Pettis is no stranger to competing and fighting in the ring.

“When I was 13 and 14 years old, I mostly fought kickboxing fights, and when I was 15, I had my first amateur MMA fight. I won with a head kick knockout and in my second fight I won by guillotine submission,” Pettis said.

Pettis is scheduled to make his professional debut Sept. 10, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada under the Canadian Fighting Championship banner. He just returned from Sacramento, Calif., training with Team Alpha Male.

Pettis was asked to come and help prepare former WEC Featherweight Champion and current top UFC bantamweight contender Urijah Faber for a title match at UFC 132 against UFC champion Dominick Cruz.

“They brought me out there to work with Faber, because I do a great Dominick Cruz impersonation,” Pettis said. “It was awesome training, being able to train with the top level of my division where I’m going to fight at 135 (pounds). It was just a great experience. You see how hard they train and what they put into it.”

Even though Sergio is still considered an amateur, he is no stranger to sparring with pro fighters.

“Me and my brother, we go at it hard, we destroy each other. I haven’t gotten hit so many times in the head in a while,” Sergio said.  “[Wednesday] night we stepped it up and we went at it. It was awesome. Sparring with Anthony, we push each other and we’re brothers so we are comfortable at doing that. We hit each other as hard as we can, we laugh about it and we enjoy what we do.”

Anthony and Sergio are the youngest of three boys, and Anthony sees a bright future for his younger brother.

“He’s my main training partner, and he’s only 17 years old," Anthony said. "Whether it’s me, Erik Koch or Danny Downes, Sergio is holding his own against all of us in training. He’s going to be a monster, and he’s going to do huge things in MMA.”

Very few amateur MMA fighters get to spar and hold their own against former world champions. And even fewer amateur MMA fighters can be called The Phenom.

Who are some up-and-coming fighters in your state?

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 7:26 PM | | Comments (1)
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Kevin Richardson has been a fan of mixed martial arts competition ever since UFC 3, when 600-pound sumo wrestler Emmanuel Yarborough was beaten by Keith Hackney. Kevin will cover the world of MMA — in Baltimore, nationally and internationally. He plans to take readers into the locker rooms and MMA schools, where they'll hear from local fighters and trainers. If you have a news tip or suggestions for the blog, please e-mail him.


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