Cleat Geeks

Who’s the Bas?

This week it was my privilege to be able to spend some time with MMA legend, Bas Rutten and get some insight into his view on some trending subjects such as MMA judging and scoring, failed drug tests, fighter legacies and some fun stuff like what we would find on his playlist. First, allow me to share some information about the man known as “El Guapo”.

Bas Rutten was born in Tilburg, Netherlands on February 24, 1965. He initially got involved with martial arts after discovering the great Bruce Lee. He started training in Taekwondo, then moved on to Karate and Thai boxing. Bas had trouble making childhood friends, as he suffered from asthma and also eczema. As a result of bullying, Bas became an avid tree climber often fantasizing about being the superhero Spiderman. Unbeknownst to most, Bas excelled at Track and Field including high jump, long jump, javelin, discus, shot-put, and 400 meters until knee injuries forced him to stop. Bas also spent 4 years as a bouncer until his fighting career took off.

Get active with Bas Rutten!

Get active with Bas Rutten!

While primarily known as a striker, Bas prides himself as a skillful self-taught grappler who owns 13 submission victories and was even asked by reknowned BJJ Black Belt Ricardo Liborio of American Top Team if he could teach ground fighting seminar at his gym after he saw Bas rolling and exchanging submissions with other fighters. Bas was 3 Times King of Pancrase, UFC Heavyweight Champion and has a career record of 28 wins, 4 losses, 1 draw with notable victories over Kevin Randleman, Maurice Smith, Guy Metzger, Funaki, and Frank Shamrock (twice). In fact, he went an incredible 22 – 0 in his last 22 fights! In 2009, Bas proudly became a United States Citizen. Bas has also starred in many movies and shows including Paul Blart: Mall Cop 1 & 2, Here Comes the Boom, Punk Payback, Zookeeper, Sinners and Saints, The King of Queens and Shadow Fury. He has also been very actively involved in the promotion of keeping kids active and healthy, and anti-bullying as well. He has done several public service announcements for The Cartoon Network speaking out on these topics as well as the importance of properly washing your hands. See here!

1. I’ve read that you trained exclusively with Leon van Dijk in Holland. How did you two meet, and what impact did he have on the advancement of your skill set?

I trained with Leon till I left to the US, here I had 7 more fights. I met Leon around September ‘94, we started training together (he was a great striker) , both had no clue what to do on the ground, but we would watch fights, see a finish, “bring” that finish to the gym and work on it, but we still focused a lot on striking. After I lost my last fight against Ken Shamrock (Leon lost to Ken as well two months before me) we got angry and said: “Lets turn this around”. We started training 2 even 3 times a day solely on ground fighting, breaking everything down, trying to make it better than the way we saw it, finding counters, different set ups, my whole house had little “post it’s” everywhere with combinations on it, and that was it for me, I never lost a fight anymore. So he had a HUGE impact on my skill set! I could get him like three or 4 times in the same submission, but then he would know, so that forced me to find a different set up, and that went on and on, he was very talented.

2. Growing up in Holland, did you ever have the opportunity to meet or train with the great kickboxer Ramon Dekkers? What are your memories of him?

The great Ramon Dekkers had quite an influence on Bas

The great Ramon Dekkers had quite an influence on Bas

I started training at the same gym as Ramon because of Ramon; I was his biggest fan and loved the way he fought. Ramon only sparred with the other lighter weight guys, almost never with us heavier guys and that was probably better for me, haha. Ramon and I hang out a bunch of times after fights, even in Japan, he was also a guy who liked to push things to the limit, so we clicked and became friends. My memories of him are having a great time partying, but more important, the way he won fights, like the first time he fought Coban in Thailand and knocked him out which never happened before, those memories are of course much better.

3. What are some of your fondest memories from fighting in Pancrase and commentating for PrideFC in Japan?

Bas with "The Fight Professor" Stephen Quadros

Bas with “The Fight Professor” Stephen Quadros

Just the fans and fighters, we were all such a tight group, everybody liked each other. If you had a to fight each other you wouldn’t hang out before the fight, but afterwards we would all go out and have fun. Also the fans being quiet when you fight is so calming, nobody says a word, its weird for the first time you fight. At Pride, of course to see Sakuraba, Wanderlei, Cro Cop, Fedor, and Nogueira Bros., all these guys at the peak of their careers.

4. With all of the debate regarding the current state of MMA judging, do you feel that the criteria the judges follow should be altered? Should the 10 point must system be changed?

Yeah, a half point I think is good to do, there is always somebody a little bit better in a round, this way draws will be gone as well. I also think they should score a submission guy who goes for submissions, even when he doesn’t get them, they should give him points for that. It’s the same as on the feet, when you are the person throwing more strikes and are attacking the whole time, even when you can’t hurt him, they will give the fight to you, so why not do the same on the ground?
When somebody takes you down and doesn’t do anything with the takedown, so just lays on you, don’t count the takedown. Because when you take somebody down, there has to be a reason for you doing that, when you just lay on the guy, why did you take him down? Because you were afraid on your feet? And when you don’t move on the ground are you afraid to get submitted? See what I mean?

Bas is still heavily involved in the world of MMA

Bas is still heavily involved in the world of MMA

I would even go further, when they repeatedly keep doing that and just hold the person, start taking away points for takedowns that lead to nothing.

5. In the wake of all the recent pre and post fight drug test failures, with some very notable fighters included, should these results affect the way that we regard a fighter’s career?

For sure, when you do this on Football and you are in the hall of fame there, they take you out of that HOF; they should do the same with MMA. Do you still look at Lance Armstrong the same as you did before you knew he cheated? Not me.

6. Are there any fights that you have seen, in any organization, that really stand out to you as all time great fights?

Sakuraba fights, Cro Cop, Wanderlei, all these guys in the Pride era were freaking awesome. Last week I saw that fight again between Erick Silva and Matt Brown, man, that one is so badass as well.

7. Do you feel as though it is just a matter of time before you are inducted into the UFC Hall of fame, or that you deserve to be?

Bas is very open and honest with his fans

Bas is very open and honest with his fans

I don’t know, I leave that up to them, I just fought two fights in the UFC so it’s understandable when they don’t. I try to plug MMA everywhere I can as well, spread the word, and I have been doing that for a while, I am also a commentator, so who knows, there are commentators in the HOF as well! We will see, I am totally fine with everything.

8. Are there any notable fighters that you have seen that you strongly feel could have been better if they had simply been more dedicated to training?

A bunch of them, don’t wanna mention names. But fighters who are gonna fight a weight class lower “Because my last opponent cut more weight than I did and that’s why he was stronger and won”, guys like that, guys who never see the problem with themselves, it’s always “something else”, never their stamina or technique. Same as with PED’s “Oh I only take them because they are all taking”, or “I only take them because my last opponent was taking PED’s and that’s why he won”. NO, just train harder and spend more time on the area’s that you are not as good at, its all YOU, don’t look for excuses.

9. I have read that you are a professional chef. What would you say that your specialty dishes would be?

Boeuf Bourguignon anyone?

Boeuf Bourguignon anyone?

Ha, anything French I am pretty good at. I make big dinners on special occasions, Christmas etc, for the rest I like to BBQ and make things like a “Rutten butter”, which I am not allowed to bring to parties anymore where they have dinner because everybody stuff’s themselves full with bread and that butter and are full before dinner, haha (It’s very good!).

10. What artists would we find on Bas Rutten’s music playlist?

One guy from Japan came to interview me at my home one time, he asked “Can I look through your music collection? This way I can see what kind of person you are”, haha, he called me a “psychopath”. I have everything from Macbeth to Rage Against The Machine. The only music that annoys me is modern jazz, I always think it sounds like everybody is doing a solo at the same time. And that screaming hard rock, where you can’t understand anything the person says because they speak (scream) worse than Christian Bale in Batman. But I love opera, classical music, trance, house, Dutch drama, Japanese drama songs, a song like Paradise from Cold play really catches me, Frank Sinatra, you name it!

11. What exciting things are you working on currently, and what can your fans expect to see from you as 2015 continues?

The revolutionary O2 Trainer

The revolutionary O2 Trainer

The o2trainer, my lung training device I invented when I was like 14 years old, the results are freaking awesome, the tests that they are doing are blowing people away. Hopefully some more movies, I am working on something for TV, which is really fun and educational. The Body Action System PRO is coming out, which I have HUGE plans for, my new “workouts” are coming soon, recorded already 12 of them, 6 more to go, stuff like that

12. Finally, my colleagues wanted me to ask you what types of relationships you have or maintain with some of your contemporaries like The Shamrock brothers, Gary Goodridge, Don Frye, Mark Coleman, Royce Gracie?

We all have great relationships; there is nobody that I don’t like. When we see each other we always have a great time, we were there paving the way for all these new guys, and now to see it all helped pushing this great sport, I am very happy about that. I often think about what would have happened when MMA wouldn’t have been there for me? I really don’t know what I would have done, but I do know that I have SO many friends now all over the world, it’s just crazy, all because of MMA. I can literally go to pretty much any country on the planet and I won’t need a hotel, meaning, I can stay at friends (Which I don’t do because I never wanna be a burden) but the fact that I CAN means that I made a lot of incredible fans.

InsideMMA is the longest running Mixed Martial Arts show on tv

InsideMMA is the longest running Mixed Martial Arts show on tv

A reporter asked me once, if you could, who would you like to have been? Bruce Lee? Ali, Tyson, a movie star, who? And I remember me saying (and meaning 100%) that I wanted to be me, everything I went through in life, my skin disease, severe asthma, was being bullied because of that, starting to fight in Japan, move to the US and have a wife who supported me in everything I did and still does, who I truly love each day more (not just saying this to add drama, trust me), I really have an incredible life, great kids, three daughters, no, I wouldn’t wanna change it with anybody else. (When I gave that answer to the reporter, it caught myself my surprise because 25 years ago I would have said “Bruce Lee” for sure!).

Thanks again to Mr. Rutten for taking time from his hectic schedule to talk with me, and I hope that we can do it again in the future! Please make sure to check out http://www.basrutten.com for Bas’s blog, instructional videos, the revolutionary O2 trainer, and other amazing gear and accessories. Tune into AXStv every Friday night for the longest running Mixed Martial Arts show on television, InsideMMA with Bas, award-winning reporter Kenny Rice, and the venerable Ron Kruck. Also be sure to catch Bas commentating on World Series of Fighting 19, March 28, 2015 along with Kenny Rice, and follow him on Twitter @BasRuttenMMA.

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