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Back when accidentally killing someone was a concern

As UFC 100 week is finally upon us, it means that many sites are going to be doing “lookin’ way back” segments. I kinda feel like all the super-early UFC stuff has been done to death – I’m more interested in hearing stories of Dana White back before his hair fell out due to excess evil – but it’s still funny to hear about how no one knew what was going on or what to expect. Here’s Dan Severn talking about the worry of killing people back in the early days:

MMAWeekly: During the early days of the sport, when it was not regulated by state athletic commissions, how real was the threat of being seriously injured or death?

Dan Severn: The first time I signed the contract, I saw in black and white, printed on the contract, “In the event of your accidental death,” I was thinking, “Wow, as long as he doesn’t bite me or stick his finger in my eye – which were the only two rules – he could pretty much do anything else he wanted to.” I was thinking that there were a lot of ugly things I could do to an individual, and take his life, if I so desired.

I actually had one particular match against Oleg Taktarov (at UFC 5) where I had him pinned up against the cage wall, and I’m raining down with knees and I had split him all open. He had so much blood running off his forehead that it had filled up his eye wells that he couldn’t even see me.

He eventually turned his head to the side and I thought if I throw a knee now right into his temple, with my power and strength level, using my body weight and mechanical leverage, I could have hurt him really bad. I could have crushed his skull and killed him, but that’s not why I’m out there. I’m looking to secure victory the nicest way possible in a not so nice sport.

Going back and watching the early UFCs with a firm understanding of the Unified Rules is a whole new experience. From seeing fighters land dozens of unanswered strikes to the neck to seeing them repeatedly kneeing their opponents in the spine, it’s a testament to how badly we can take a beating without dying.