Steven Seagal has entered the MMA consciousness of late thanks to his presence by the sides of Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida prior to them scoring big wins over Vitor Belfort and Randy Couture respectively.
Both of them used an upwards front-kick to score the wins, which Seagal took credit for and said he had taught them, or at least refined their knowledge of it. The more cynical fans think that there is some vast troll job going on, with Seagal playing an unwitting part, but others think there might be something to his claims .
Seagal appeared on The MMA Hour this week to be interviewed by host Ariel Helwani, who was celebrating the show’s third anniversary. Here’s what he had to say about Anderson:
On whether he will corner him:
“I don’t know if I will be in his corner but I am planning to be there [at the fight]. I just trained him recently. I think he is in Brazil right now but as soon as he comes to America, I am going to jump in with him and give him a bunch more stuff.”
On Anderson’s retirement plans:
“In my own way we have talked a lot about that. For example he has told me that when all this is over he probably wants to become a police officer. So that goes a long way to show what he is really thinking.”
“He has said to me that he is only going to do a few more fights. He was talking about what he was contracted to do and I don’t remember how many fights there were on the contract but I would be surprised if it was more than five.”
On how he relates to Anderson:
“With me he is always very, very, very, very humble. He either fears me or pretends to fear me and certainly has a lot of respect in him relating to me. He is just a consummate gentleman, humble and a great student and a great friend.
“I have never seen him behave arrogant in any way or form. He is just how I would like any of my students or friends to be.”
More gold was provided in the form of Seagal discussing Gene LeBell.
LeBell - or ‘Judo’ Gene LeBell, to give him his full name - is a legend in the judo and grappling world, numbering the likes of Karo Parisyan and Ronda Rousey among his students. For many years a story has circulated that he and Seagal had an altercation on the set of a movie they were both working on.
The story has it that Seagal riled LeBell up to the point that LeBell ended up choking him out, at which point an unconscious Segal promptly pooped himself. Seagal bitterly denies that there is a shred of truth to this story, as Helwani found out when he asked him:
“I don’t even know if he is still alive. Is he still alive? I never knew this about him - either he is a pathological liar or he had somebody making up these stories. He came over to my trailer and I was with a guy called Conrad Palmisano who is still a legend, one of the greatest stunt co-ordinators in the history of Hollywood.
“[LeBell and I] were standing there talking about moves and stuff like that and we were just doing some stretching and he was showing me how you can stretch … he wanted to stretch my back and then I kind of flipped over the top of him and said ‘thank you for that.
“There was never any confrontation with him ever. In any way, shape or form. And I swear to god on my children - and they are the most precious thing in my life - if he is saying that he is a pathological scumbag liar. I keep answering that [question]. Either he made up this lie or someone made it up.
“When I first heard it was dumbfounded and so was Conrad Palmisano, who you are welcome to talk to, he was standing right there. He’s probably the most famous stunt co-ordinator in our business and a Vietnam veteran, a great salt of the earth and an honest, upright non-lying man.
“Gene Le Bell has never even said anything impolite to me. When he has seen me he has been extremely polite to me and just acted like a friend. I think you know the truth here and everyone else knows the truth and if Gene is saying shit like that he should be ashamed of himself.
"And after I heard this I did start to think of some other things he had said, like he said to me he had beat the shit out of Bruce Lee and I started to think well maybe this guy is a pathological liar. He should never make up these kind of sick… you know… It just makes him look like a total asshole. It makes him look like a demented child.”
Watch the whole episode here - Seagal section starts at 2:55:00