Dan Severn and his glorious mustache turn 65

Dan Severn is a combat sports icon ... and so is his mustache.
Dan Severn
Dan Severn /

This article is a part of a new series by FanSided MMA honoring milestones and memories from the past. Watch for a new flashback feature every Thursday.

Living legend Dan "The Beast" Severn and his glorious mustache turn 65 on June 8. You might be thinking that for that to be true he would need to have been born with his distinguished lip warmer. At the time of publication of this article, I have yet to uncover evidence that he wasn't. In all seriousness, Severn has one of the most distinguished careers in all of combat sports and deserves to be celebrated.

Severn began his martial arts career as a two-time Michigan high school state wrestling champion. He would continue his wrestling career at Arizona State University where he was a two-time All-American. During his time at Arizona State, Severn began training in judo. This would pay dividends when he later transitioned into mixed martial arts.

After leaving college, Severn was an alternate for the U.S. Olympic wrestling team in 1984 and 1988. He would continue to wrestle competitively while also coaching at his alma mater and later at Michigan State University. Eventually, Severn would transition into mixed martial arts.

Sporting his trademark black wrestling trunks, Severn made his MMA debut at UFC 4. He submitted his first two opponents by modified rear naked choke and arm triangle, respectively. Though he would lose in the tournament finale to Royce Gracie, Severn showed that elite-level wrestling was a formidable base for mixed martial arts.

Severn returned to the Octagon on April 7, 1995, for UFC 5. He was the favorite to win the eight-man tournament and he did not disappoint. Severn secured a takedown in the opening seconds of his first bout against Joe Charles. From there he used knees on the ground to soften Charles up before sinking in a rear naked choke and forcing the tap at the 1:38 second mark of the fight.

In the semifinals, Severn faced "The Russian Bear" Oleg Taktarov. Taktarov was a master of sport in the Russian martial art of sambo and outside of Gracie, the most experienced competitor that Severn had ever fought. That experience didn't matter.

A brief timeline in the career of Dan Severn

Severn took Taktarov down in the opening seconds of the fight and started unleashing a new element to his game, ground and pound. Eventually, Taktarov grabbed ahold of Severn's arm and threatened with an armbar. Trapped in the submission, Severn used a tactic to escape that would get him quickly disqualified in today's UFC. Severn grabbed the cage and using it for added leverage rained down headbutts and knees on Taktarov's head. As to be expected, several large cuts opened up on Taktarov, forcing referee John McCarthy to call a halt to the action at 4:21.

Severn was once again in the tournament finals and this time he was taking on fellow wrestler and judoka, Dave Beneteau. The two fighters clinched early and Beneteau had some success with uppercuts from the single collar tie. However, Severn would eventually trip Beneteau down to the ground and immediately started peppering him with punches and headbutts. After a barrage of strikes, Severn was able to secure a key lock, forcing the tap. In only his second night fighting in a mixed martial arts competition, Severn was the UFC 5 tournament champion.

Severn would go on to win the Ultimate Ultimate 1995 Tournament (later referred to as UFC 75) en route to a remarkable 101-19-7 record. He last competed in mixed martial arts at the age of 52, having never lost more than two fights in a row. He was just the third man to be enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame and fought five other hall of famers during his storied career. Throw in his professional wrestling accolades and movie roles and Severn (and his mustache) have had quite the 65-year run.


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