One day, in all of our lives, there comes a moment when we must face the tough questions. Today is that day. Ladies and gentlemen, kindly and respectfully rev your engines, for this is the moment we find out which titan of our time will reign supreme.
In the red corner, Jean-Claude Van Damme. The Muscles from Brussels is one of the world’s foremost authorities of side splits and kicking bad guys in the face in inventive ways, as well as of navigating the many hurdles in his personal and professional life. On the blue corner, Steven Seagal. The aikido master and Russian Special Envoy has been known to wreck a wrist or sixteen in his day, and though his personal life escapades have often been even stranger and more ludicrous than many of his movies, he historically remains in the pantheon of action heroes.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if these two giants of the fighting movie industry clashed for real? Well, wonder no more! Today, we take a look at what would happen if Jean-Claude Van Damme fought Steven Seagal.
The case for Van Damme
Jean-Claude Van Damme has been a great many things. Sure, he was once massively hooked on cocaine, and he’s had plenty of personal and professional problems over the years. On the other hand, he’s also a very, very good fighter. Before movies like Bloodsport and Timecop focused his considerable talents on popularizing spin kicks and crotch punches as means to dispose your enemies, he was a black belt karateka and a noted competitor in semi-contact karate and full-contact kickboxing. He also has a background in ballet, which came in handy when he routinely executed moves that could — and, by all rights, should – sprain significant portions of the average man’s body. To top it all off, he has also practiced bodybuilding, and has a Mr. Belgium title for his troubles.
If Van Damme has a drawback in this match-up, it’s his comparatively lithe frame and small size. Celebheights estimates his peak height at somewhere in the 5’9″ region, and when you combine that with his toned, elastic frame, he’s operating in a completely different weight class than Steven Seagal.
The case for Seagal
On paper, Steven Seagal has a great many weapons at his disposal. He’s a black belt in no less than four martial arts — karate, kendo, judo and, of course, aikido. Depending on how many of his assorted statements you choose to believe, he may or may not be a former (?) CIA stooge, a reincarnated Tibetan Buddhist tulku, a secret trainer of legendary MMA fighters, and even a blues guitarist. On the other hand, if you believe what others have to say about him, he’s a loudmouth who may have crapped his pants when actual martial arts legend “Judo” Gene LeBell put him in a chokehold once.
For the purposes of this battle, though, it does seem that the Seagal does have a bit of an edge. Celebheights assures us that his peak height is around 6’4″, and when you combine this with his … robust physique, he does have a significant size advantage against Jean-Claude Van Damme. Also, while they’re both karate black belts, Seagal can also boast several others. Besides, if his movie aikido is any indication, he can break Van Damme-sized guys in pieces with a lazy flick of a wrist. Surely, this is a done deal?
A wild Sylvester Stallone appears
In the end, our matchup is not settled by careful analytics or fanciful guesswork. Instead, it’s settled by none other than the alpha action man of our heroes’ heyday, Sylvester Stallone. In a 2006 interview with Ain’t It Cool News, Stallone answered questions from his fans, and a dude called Craig Farkas asked him why there hadn’t been a mega-movie featuring all the great 1980s action stars. Stallone, who of course went on to make that fantasy a reality with The Expendables, confirmed Farkas’ suspicions that everyone in the scene had pretty bloated egos, which made working together quite impossible at the time.
However, the man behind the Rocky and Rambo franchises then relayed a neat tidbit, telling story about Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. According to Stallone, the year was 1996 or 1997, and he was hosting a wild party with a number of stars in attendance. Two of these people happened to be Van Damme and Seagal, and Van Damme just so happened to be completely and utterly through with Seagal. What happened next was … pretty amazing, to be honest.
In the end, there can be only one
Apparently, Sylvester Stallone’s late-1990s party hit a speed bump when Jean-Claude Van Damme turned out to be mightily tired of Steven Seagal, who had reportedly been going around saying that he could beat Van Damme. Stallone describes the tender relationship between the two in no uncertain words: “[Van Damme] went right up to [Seagal] and offered him the chance to step outside so he could wipe the floor with him.” In response, Seagal … made his excuses and made a hasty exit to a nightclub. However, the Muscles from Brussels wasn’t even slightly done with the aikido man. “Van Damme, who was completely berserk, tracked him down and again, offered him a fight, and again, Seagal pulled a Houdini,” Stallone describes the events.
Well, that round goes to Van Damme. But what would have happened if they’d actually thrown hands? According to Stallone, not anything good, at least for Seagal. “Who would win? I have to say I believe Van Damme was just too strong and Seagal wanted no part of it. That’s just my opinion.”
Sure, it is just Stallone’s opinion. Still, assuming that these events happened as described, is there anyone you’d trust to referee a fight between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal more than Sylvester flippin’ Stallone? Yeah, let’s just say that Van Damme takes this one.