Spectacular front kick knockouts by Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida have made Steven Seagal an overnight sensation in the MMA world. Many, if not most MMA fans, didn't buy into what Seagal was selling, though.
Now, Seagal may have been exposed as a fraud after claiming to provide advice to UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who the actor called a friend. After Jones attempted a number of front kicks in his bout with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 135, Seagal attempted to claim credit.
"Him and I did talk about that," Seagal said in an interview with MMA Fighting, "but he hasn't learned it yet."
Days before the fight, Seagal contacted Jones and asked if he could speak with the champion in the dressing rooms before his fight. Judging by his last-minute request, without knowing all the details behind the conversation, it is beginning to seem as if Seagal—an actor—is trying to leech onto MMA fighters for his own benefit.
While Seagal's mainstream popularity is beginning to dwindle, MMA is growing by leaps and bounds. Clearly, there was little Seagal could help Jones with in the moments leading up to the fight that renowned trainer Greg Jackson could not.
"He was wondering if he could come and talk to me backstage before the fight, just give me some words of encouragement," Jones told the media at the post-fight press conference. "I didn't think that would be a good idea. My training staff works very hard on me. I'm their prodigy. I wouldn't want to disrespect them by welcoming someone else's master into our room, into our house, into our family."
By attaching himself to these rising superstars, it appears that Seagal is putting his own ego ahead of what is in the best interest of these fighters. Seagal does have a legitimate background in martial arts, but he isn't displaying the humble nature that martial artists should when he attempts to take credit for the accomplishments of others.
After speaking of his possibly fictional friendship with Jones, Seagal proceeded to rip into some of the other fighters on the UFC 135 fight card. While several of the heavyweight fighters appeared to run out of gas, the thin Denver air likely played a large part in that.
"I thought there were some very poor performances," Seagal said, "didn't you?"
In response to the idea that altitude was to blame for those performances, Seagal said, "We can't be saying that. If you come here, get into shape, get out there and bring it. I mean, come on. That's a bulls--t excuse."
Seagal included Jones in that group of fighters who didn't perform at their best. When MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani brought up the fact that UFC commentator Joe Rogan was impressed with Jones' performance, Seagal attempted to discredit anyone in disagreement with him.
"I'm a fighter," Seagal said. "I've fought all my life. You can listen to him (Rogan). Maybe he knows more than me. I don't know."
Seagal has had a very successful career as an actor. He likely had many people riding his coattails along the way, but he should have learned from those individuals. Instead, he is becoming one of them by latching onto flourishing fighters like Jones.
Seagal should take Jones' unwillingness to welcome him into the locker rooms as a sign to step out of the MMA limelight. "The Undertaker" and any other B-list celebrities looking to feed off of the success of the UFC should follow close behind.
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Sean Smith is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. Sean has also had his work featured on UFC.com, LowKick.com and TheMMACorner.com. For the latest insight and updates on everything MMA, you can follow Sean on Twitter @SeanSmithMMA.