Though most people will know him from the funniest gif of all time, Jean-Claude Van Damme was once actually an action star, leading in such classic combat flicks as “Bloodsport” and the less creatively named “Kickboxer.”
In light of that status and his persistent yet tenuous grasp on relevance, a few months ago he paid a visit to UFC training gym Team Alpha Male. The meeting with a handful of UFC stars resulted in an accidental kick to the face of former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt, as well as Van Damme’s subsequent tears.
“Finally he was like ‘I want to show you this kick.’ It was kind of a variation on the teep and you twist it at the end,” Garbrandt told Bloody Elbow of the incident back in December. “So I do it like three or four times on him. I put it down and then got in this fight stance and I saw in his eyes like ‘You wanna go?’ And I was back against the cage. So he started playing with me, acting like he was going to throw some kicks, and he started throwing hands like slapping at me.
“I was like ‘What the hell?’ Then he f—king kicked me with that hook kick right in the teeth and I was like ‘motherf—ker.’ I was pissed, I was so mad. I looked over at Rob, then I looked over at Jean and I was like ‘Rob, keep this motherf—ker away from me.’ He kicked me in my teeth, dude. He kicked me in my teeth just playing around. Like how many times have we punched at each other and we can pull our punches? This dude just straight kicked me in my teeth. I’m not going to lie, he has some fast ass kicks, but I was demonstrating the kick he showed me to get it right. Then I put my foot down and he kicked me right in the teeth. I went black.”
The incident had lived solely in story form for a few weeks, until this week, when video of Van Damme’s kick to Garbrandt’s face surfaced.
Doesn’t look too bad from that angle. But, regarding its severity, I’m going to go ahead and take the word of a man who professionally strikes and gets struck.
“I was like ‘I’m going to rip his head off, but it’s Jean-Claude what are you supposed to do?’ All of a sudden he looks at me, drops to his knees and starts crying and is like ‘My champion!’ and starts crying like that, so I felt hella awkward.”
This guy wouldn’t last a day in the Kumite.