MMA journalist subdues crazed man on a plane with rear naked choke
Who said watching countless hours of mixed martial arts wouldn’t come in handy one day?
An MMA journalist helped subdue a crazed man on a plane over the weekend with a rear naked choke after flight attendants failed to restore order on their own.
The out-of-control, drunk man allegedly assaulted three flight attendants and spit on a fellow passenger, according to the New York Daily News. The male attendants were not able to get control of the man. One was punched in the face and given a bloody nose, one was kicked in the groin and another was kicked in the stomach.
When Michael Stets, who works for the website MMA Mania, saw what was going on, he offered his assistance. While the man was still flailing about being held down in a seated position, Stets approached.
"I went over and said, 'Do you want me to subdue him?'" he told FOX Sports. "I'll just go over there and choke him out and this will be over."
The flight attendants agreed and Stets, who trains in combat sambo in New York City under Stephen Koepfer, applied a rear naked choke to the seated man. It wasn't the most technical of submissions, but it got the job done. The man stopped trying to wriggle free, allowing the attendants to strap him down fully.
"I didn’t put him out," said Stets, who hosts MMA Mania's D'Arce Side Radio podcast. "I just did enough where I got his attention."
Stets, who had just been watching the movie "Die Hard" in his seat, was thanked by the flight attendants and later gave a statement to the FBI when the Turkish Airlines plane landed in New York. He was coming back from covering a Glory kickboxing event in Turkey.
"I knew enough to help out with the situation," Stets said. "It's not like I saved a baby from a burning building. The funniest thing in hindsight is when I went over, one of the attendants was like, 'Are you a soldier?'"
The crazy passenger, identified by the Daily News as Shahbaz Khan, was charged with assault and intimidating flight attendants. He was released on a $25,000 bond signed by his mother, who was also on the plane. Khan, a 30-year-old Pakistani national who is also a U.S. citizen, must refrain from drinking as a condition of his release.
“The stuff he was saying, either he was on meds or drugs and alcohol. He had some kind of medical imbalance. He was definitely off his rocker.”
Stets, 37, said flight attendants feared Khan would try to yank on an emergency exit. Apparently, the whole thing started when Khan accused another passenger of stealing his laptop. He then spit on the accused man. When flight attendants tried to get things under control, Khan fled toward the back of the plane, running over an entire row of seats -- and people's laps.
"The attendant told me he had been drinking," Stets said. "The stuff he was saying, either he was on meds or drugs and alcohol. He had some kind of medical imbalance. He was definitely off his rocker. … He was speaking coherently, but he wasn’t making any sense. He was just irrational."
Ironically enough, UFC star Rashad Evans and Glory champion Tyrone Spong were on the same flight coming back from Istanbul and an event in which Spong broke his leg. Evans and Spong were seated toward the front of the massive 777, out of ear shot of the incident.
Stets told FBI special agent Aaron Carp when the plane was on the ground that he would testify if needed. The attendants thanked him multiple times and so did law enforcement.
"I just feel like I did my job in helping the situation," Stets said. "I wouldn’t call myself a hero. It's not like I disarmed a guy with a submachine gun. I helped get control of a guy and helped quell the situation from getting worse."
John McClane would be proud.
"It was basically a citizen's arrest in the air," Stets said. "So I have that going for me, which is nice."