El Guapo. Liver-Shot Bas. Bas Rutten.

Bas RuttenBy Katrina Belcher (

He’s all three and so much more!

Recently I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing Bas Rutten. Yes – THE Bas Rutten…that incredible martial artist known as “El Guapo” and the “King of the Liver Shot” from Holland! Always the consummate gentleman, this interview was especially noble of Bas, because right before we started he injured his foot and was in a lot of pain! I found Bas to be a man with a great sense of humor and enormous wit – and I look forward to speaking with him again in the future!

In this interview, we talked about his recent Citizenship, Bas Rutten CD’s (1, 1-2, 4, SPRAWL!), Ken Shamrock, Kimbo Slice, early stoppages, Women’s MMA and…well, all sorts of good things. Sit down with a nice cup of your favorite beverage and take some time to enjoy! We’ll do half the interview today, and half in a few days – so enjoy!

TUFF: First I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk with me and grant this interview. Three things: funny video of you and another karateka, spoofing on sparring at some tournament quite a few years ago. Probably one of my favorite funny videos.

Okay – now…1, 2, 3, 4, and sprawl…I used to hear that in my sleep! Just had to bring those up and clear the air before we talk about anything else!

BAS: Hah – yeah, I hear this same story all over the place. Everybody who did this, after the first night, everybody tell me they have the same experience. Yeah – I hear the same story all the time and people tell me this all the time and say “man at night time I’m trying to sleep and I keep hearing your voice” and everybody tells me same thing! Chuckles… “Okay give me a good left hook! Hahaha!” (After a command for a couple of knees and a sprawl we finally got back to our interview.)

So yeah I have a new system coming out. Simple instructions but more difficult combinations. You’re not going to get it in just four or five times; it makes it a little more interesting to do the workout you know? People will love that because it’s a CD with not only knockout combinations on it but I got drills, stretch and a lot of other stuff is gonna’ be on there too. You know I never really trained submissions other than watching the shows and the fights. I had to train myself, and so these CD’s can help that type of person who is learning on their own like I did. You can find the CD’s at Bas Rutten’s website.

TUFF: By the way – congratulations on your recent Citizenship!

BAS: Oh yeah, thank you, thank you very much! Yeah – I should have done that sooner, but I had no time and I kept thinking I have to do this, but just no time.

TUFF: So what made you decide to come over to America and become a Citizen?

BAS: Well you know when I was a kid, this is funny, I made a drawing when I was about 6 years old, and there was Noke, Noke the bird, and he went to America – chuckles…and I think at that time I already wanted to go. You watch the American movies and I remember one time I was visiting America and it was in November. And in Holland in November it’s really bad – the weather. and I called my wife from the beach drinking a tequila shot with a Heineken and I told her “start packing, we gonna’ move here, because it’s really good here”! And I had a lot of good opportunities here, and they wanted me here and you know they thought I was going to do good here in entertainment, and that’s it really. But my wife got pregnant, so we said “okay – let’s have the baby in Holland and then move over to America” and that’s how it happened! So we’ve been here for like 11 years now and we love it.

Yes – and that video…oh – I remember that. What we used to do is we started doing a lot of shows in Holland and in Europe, and I started fighting. I lost one fight and I had won one by knockout. And then I lost a fight because I miscalculated something – they called me like 5 weeks before the fight and I really did not train for that fight; I didn’t really remember them calling and asking me to fight and I hadn’t really trained for two years. So they called me and said “where do we send the posters?” and I said “what posters?” and they said for the fight…and I go “what fight?” and they said “well – you said you were going to fight” and I said “really – okay, well thanks a lot!” and I really didn’t want to pull out you know. And so I did my best and I was all set to fight, but the audience was really disappointed because I didn’t do well and lost. And so I basically said you know, that I wasn’t going to fight over in Holland, and I’m not going to give ‘em any entertainment anymore. But then I thought well, what can I do like for comedy? Like Martial Arts comedy shows like at big events. And that’s how it started! We started actually in bars and uh, in nightclubs. Yeah – we would have a karate show with music, and we would time things to music, break dance and everything, and once we realized that at the end of the show the audience liked it, we put a little bit of comedy in it, and we started to realize that people liked that part the best. So we just put on some of those shows and people loved them.

TUFF: Some fighters, like Ken Shamrock, are still trying to live up to their past glory. While that glory was well-deserved, do you have any advise for such individuals who perhaps should concentrate on the business side of MMA, instead of continuing to compete, or do you feel they should keep fighting?

BAS: Yeah – you know you reach a certain age and then you know you have to start being really smart, and you’re fighting people younger than you and you have to train 2 to 3 times what you did before and your body just can’t take it anymore, you know? And you gotta’ really train smart, like only 4 times a week you can go really hard, and all the other times you got to deal with a lot of injuries that are piling up and, uh, you know I’ve been really fortunate with my record…I didn’t lose in any of the last 22 of my fights, and that was a really nice way to stop. But he (Ken Shamrock) started losing and you know it’s kind of hard to finish your career with a lot of lost fights you know? And I don’t think that any fighter wants that; and you know he tells me he just likes to fight and I believe him, and why would you lie about it? I’ve known Ken for a long time and he’s a great guy. But I just, well inside you know I would think maybe it’s just better to stop, because you know he had such a great name, and this way when it goes wrong at this time, it just kind of brings his good name down and he shouldn’t have to go through that, because he’s a great guy!

TUFF: If there’s one thing I know about Bas Rutten, it’s that he is a very honest person. You don’t hide or make excuses for the way you are, and you speak your mind. Has this gotten you into trouble or have you ever regretted speaking your mind and telling it like it is?

BAS: No because I’ll tell you sometimes I say something about fighters but they you know I don’t say it to put them down but to help them. Especially if in their last 3 fights there’s a problem, if the fighter comes to me I’m going to say something. And you know that happens a lot, and then they say “Bas why did you say that?” and I tell them you know, “because I’m telling you the truth! Look at yourself and tell me that I’m not right!” and each and every one of them has told me “you know – you’re right” and I just say “well, you know, I just said that and so use it!” you know. And maybe I should have called you, but it has way much more impact if I say it on air, you know? And I want to help them, and now after that a fighter will want to prove to the people that I’M wrong and that he’s going to start working on it, right?! And that’s why I kind of do that – (chuckles!)

It’s kind of like a kid when you tell them they aren’t doing it right, and then they say “oh yeah – I’ll show you” and then they go do RIGHT it in front of a lot of people to prove me wrong. It just makes them better. If I go and tell just him, uhhh…it’s not as effective as when I say it to him in front of a class. And you know I don’t do it right away – I give ‘em warnings; if you listen to what I say I tell them “listen – you should work on this” and then I give ‘em another warning and then the third strike with me is always a talk. And if I have to then I do it in front of the class. I say “Listen, I’ve been doing this a long time”, and I tell them “do you want to learn or you don’t want to learn? Why would you waste your money coming here to train if you don’t do what I say?” You know but I make suggestions to them to improve and tell them things that will make them a way better fighter. But you know a lot of these kids want to do the cool stuff that absolutely doesn’t work instead of the basics, you know? So I have to help them with that.

TUFF: So tell me about Kimbo Slice – how do you feel about his decision to move to boxing after he completes his contract?

BAS: (Deep breath!) Well, I…you know…No – no, not really, because now in MMA yeah. Well you know I put him out because of a reason, you know, because he wasn’t 100% Kimbo anymore, and I told him 6 weeks before his last MMA fight uhh, that he became an asshole, and that uh, he wasn’t the same Kimbo anymore. And then he apologized all day long and he even called me a couple of times and said it would never happen again, but he starts coming back again, and uh, you know, I put a lot of time and money in him and people say “ahh – Bas spent a lot of money, but come on now you’re going to make a lot of money off him and get your investment back.” But you know, I get 10% which I share with another guy, who I let him train him in the evening because I know I don’t have time to train him (Kimbo) in the night time, and 24 hours a day, so I make $5,000 off of Kimbo after 6 weeks of training and after all that complications and stuff I actually lose money! So uhhh, and then to NOT do what I say and tell him to do that for me is very disrespectful, and then you know once you’re out with me you’re out. He couldn’t come back with me to spar if he came back with a million dollar contract in his hand and he tried to give me 20% or 30% it’s not going to happen, so you know I just want to leave it like that because I don’t want to talk bad, or do anything like that and so that’s all I want to say about Kimbo – and let’s move on to the next question!

(Note from Katrina, TUFF interviewer – when Bas Rutten says to move on…you say “yes sir” and move on, so next up…)

TUFF: What do you think about the cries of “early stoppages” by ref’s that we’ve been hearing lately or late stoppages? (a la the recent Josh Koscheck and Paulo Thiago fight!) Do you agree, or do you feel the fights were stopped appropriately?

BAS: You know – the referee has to protect the fighter. And if he you know listens to the fighter it’s not good; he has to look at the fighter and look at his eyes and he’s up close; and if he sees the eyes going from side to side they stop the fight. So you know the ref is there to make the best decision for you. You know he’s there for your help so you know I can totally understand why a fighter would complain, but on the other side if the referee stopped it, it wasn’t you, the fighter or the fan, and you know you haven’t stopped or tapped out you know, or submitted, but if he sees it and you need him to stop the fight, I don’t really see that as a bad thing you know? If you have to, you can call a rematch you know? People should understand?

And also when somebody’s on the floor, and he gets mounted and his opponent starts raining down punches, and he doesn’t do anything for like around 10 seconds, and he doesn’t try to get out of the situation, for at least 20 seconds, then the ref will actually stop the fight, and they get warned for that in the Rules Meeting before the fight. The ref tells them “we will STOP the fight if you do not intelligently defend yourself; we’ll stop the fight.” And then some guy is laying on the floor and they put their hands up over their face, sooner or later they’re going to get knocked out and he’s (the ref) not going to take that, you know? It’s going to be over then. And they (the fighter) says “Oh – but I was not knocked out!” okay but you know what – it was going to happen! It actually was going to happen! “Yeah – but I wasn’t knocked out yet!” Well, in the Rules Meeting we told you very clearly…if you don’t try to get out of that type of situation, we’ll stop the fight. Done, you know? That’s the end of the story. Next time listen to the rules; you should have paid attention, you know?

It’s the stupid guys that the day before a fight they go to some shady McDonald’s super place or whatever you know and the get the food poisoning you know and they can’t punch and aren’t in control. And so you know what – you’re a moron a person like that!! You know, I mean come on — that’s included in your training! You gotta’ watch out in your training and watch what you eat you know? Like the mouthpiece – that thing with Karlo Parysian when he loses his mouthpiece you know I get REALLY aggravated by that kind of thing. It’s your PROFESSION to get a really good mouthpiece; it’ll save you and it’s not that it’ll fall out the whole time you know? You see those things I get really disturbed myself because people who train or have to fight in another country I say “you get your stuff, and you better pack your stuff in the carryon, and that’s where you put your mouthpiece, that’s where you put your gear, and for all the stuff you wear for your fight that’s what you put in your carryon because if the bag (checked luggage) gets lost, you know, and it was all in there, then you don’t have anything to fight with! And you know these days people don’t think about that kind of stuff, and you know then they complain if something happens! I mean – they just say “oh – I’ll call my insurance!” you know!

WOW – Bas is definitely enthusiastic about his sport, and he’s got a good idea of what a fighter should or should not be doing to be successful. Be sure to visit again next week where we take a look at female MMA fighting and enjoy more thoughts from Bas Rutten.

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