When MMA fans discuss the pioneers of our beloved sport, the term ‘legend’ is typically used when describing the athletes who paved the way for todays champions. For most, these names include the likes of Royce Gracie, Frank Shamrock, and Sakuraba just to name a few, but one individual should stand out among these greats for two simple reasons; his character and fighting career. The individual that should immediately come to mind is none other than “El’ Guapo” himself, Bas Rutten.
The three-time King of Pancrase and former UFC champion was one of the first mixed martial artists to display the devastating power and technical brilliance of Dutch striking in MMA’s earliest days. After impressing us with his ability to render an adversary unconscious with a palm strike and break a mans liver with a single well placed kick, Bas continued to impress as he evolved and began to use the same grappling that once was his Achilles heel to submit his opponents with a creativity that captivates MMA enthusiasts to this day. His continuing contributions to the sport are as vast as the day is long and with his charismatic and comedic demeanor he remains one of MMA’s greatest ambassadors.
Bas was recently featured on BJPENN.COM’s Late Night Cage Side Radio, where he shared stories, knowledge and opinion for over an hour in an interview that could only be described using the word epic.
Rutten had long spoke about his interest in the science of stem cells and using its treatment to rejuvenate a body that had known only combat for decades. Rutten was finally able to undergo the treatment recently and appeared to be beyond pleased with its results so far, telling LNCS listeners, “Things are going really well, everyday I am feeling better, I always had this ache in my stomach when I ate and that is gone. I had that for like seven years or something and it gave me a really annoying feeling, and I didn’t even go for that, but miraculously its gone. I am actually getting a lot of energy when I eat now, when I drink a glass of water I get energy, I can bend my knees now, and this is just the beginning. They say within six or eight weeks is when it really starts making a difference.”
With stem cell research still clouded with controversy in the United States, Bas was forced to seek his treatment in not only another country, but another continent, as he took part in the long-awaited procedure in Panama. “With Panama, what happened was a friend of mine, a famous guy but I don’t want to say who, we were at a barbecue and his doctor was there as well. So we started talking about my neck and everything and he said, ‘Hey I can set you up with the Mayo Clinic.‘ So they set me up at the Mayo Clinic and it had like seventeen appointments in three-and-a-half days in Arizona where they check everything. They said I could train and that I still had pressure on my nerves, but first they told me it was brachial plexus, and with brachial plexus that means you can’t train until they give you the okay but it could be go up to seven year, so I thinking, ‘shit-shit.’
“Anyway, I came home and there was another barbecue, because you know these people like their barbecues, and I heard a story there. The famous guy had a dad that was ninety-three years old, he also went to the Mayo Clinic and they were almost giving him his last rights. He was going to die, there was no way he was going to live because he couldn’t move anymore and he was in a wheelchair. This same doctor said, ‘Why don’t we go to Panama? I hear great things about stem cells in Panama.’ So they take the father over there, he turned ninety-five a few weeks ago and he doesn’t use his wheelchair anymore, he just walks. He even has some hair growth coming back and he is ninety-five years old, it is the craziest thing ever. That was pretty much it for me.”
“Also that same friend, his sister went for the treatment and she was like sixty years old or something, I saw her a few weeks later at yet another barbecue and she looked so much younger. She said you to me, ‘Bas I feel like there is energy coming out of my hand.’ I actually had that feeling in Panama after my third treatment, I started having a feeling like I could throw a power ball you know? There was this energy coming out of my hands and out of my feet also. That was the beginning and now I am just waiting for the fifth or sixth week to kick in and see what happens.”
Stem cell treatment is a fascinating yet radical idea in the scientific and medical fields, but as the evidence continues to grow in its favor, and the means of obtaining stem cells becomes less controversial, one can expect this modern marvel to reshape everything from life expectancy to overall health. Bas explained how the treatment was administered and where the stem cells derive from, telling Kinch and Chase, “They use stem cells from umbilical cords of babies that go through high quality testing, apparently those cords are loaded with stem cells but because they aren’t in the baby yet, they have no receptors on them. So they are blank so to say, and when they inject them into you they become your own stems cells, they call them ‘adult stem cells’ actually. The day you get there they test your blood, then they take the proteins out of your blood I believe, then mix that with those stem cells and that is what you get injected with. The first day was a Tuesday and they injected both my knees and intravenously, Wednesday they did like seven shots in my neck and intravenous and then on Thursday they just did intravenous. That was the day everything started glowing with a weird kind of energy, it was pretty cool.”
Following the news of his positive treatment results and his tendency to appear at barbecues hosted by the rich and famous, it was only right that the LNCS crew discuss other famous friends of Bas, Mel Gibson and Mickey Rourke. Rutten’s Twitter feed was sporting a picture of the Dutchmen with Gibson and Rourke enjoying drinks and each others company. Gibson, who is a close family friend of Bas, has repeatedly been the target of attack for mainstream media who portrays him as a anti-Semitetic psychopath. When asked if Mel Gibson deserves this constant attack on his character, Rutten had this to say about his long time friend, “I was interviewed a while ago after his wife recorded him and I said right away it was a setup. It’s Mel Gibson you know? Why would she record the conversation? If you live with a person, and you know when they start drinking you can say something to them that will get them very angry, then the cat is in the bag, that is an easy one right? You are going to record the conversation and let it ‘leak’ to the media? Come on. How many times do you guys wake up in the morning after a night of getting drunk and look through your text messages, Facebook messages, twitter or whatever and pray to God that you didn’t text something weird? A lot of the time you did right? Everybody has this fear when you had no clue what you were doing, and the police officer brought a camera, why do you think he brought a camera? He was drunk, she tried to rile him up and I believe that officer got fired.”
“It is all who you get, I remember two times in my life I got drunk on tequila and I really messed up. One time was with my wife but thankfully I could patch things up. Another time, it was my friend’s wife, another famous guy, but it took them a half hour to convince me that I actually did what I did. Apparently I said the darkest shit to her, I got really dark and I scared the shit out of her. It was something that in my wildest dreams I wouldn’t imagine myself saying, like when something really evil comes out and I have no idea why I did that. That was the last time I did that and I think everyone has those episodes and if you pick the right guy and put a camera on him then it goes south. Mel is nice guy man, my kids love him, I think they just caught him in a bad spot.”
Keeping in line with the topic of television and acting, “El’ Guapo’s” long running MMA news show Inside MMA broke the 300th episode mark in recent weeks. The AXS TV broadcast is one of the stations top rated programs and attracts viewers from a diverse array of demographics. With so many memorable episodes to choose from, Bas was asked to recall some of his favorite guests from the show and his thoughts on its success, to which he replied, “Ah man, there are so many. Boom-Boom Mancini was one of my favorites and Ed O’Neil, but there is so many. We have shot over three hundred shows now and the time flies so fast, it has already been six years. I never expected that you know? actually, I did. We had a deal for thirteen episodes, then the next thirteen came and the next thirteen. My wife has also said that it is a fun show to watch, and anywhere I go, even people that are not MMA fans stop me in the airport and tell me that they watch the show not because they like MMA, but because they liked the show and they became an MMA fan. You would be amazed man, it ranges from kids growing up to seventy year old guys, guys you would never expect. Cowboys like Don Frye saying ‘Hey there partner, I really like Inside MMA,’ it’s really cool.”
Speaking of cowboys and Don Frye, one of the funniest/graphic/offensive episodes of Inside MMA was the Halloween special that featured Frye making jokes about glass, genitals and masturbation. When asked how he and co-host Kenny Rice were able to keep that interview under control, Bas had nothing but high praises for his partner in crime, stating, “Kenny is really good with that. Sometimes I am a really nice guy and I try to stay nice, but then the drop goes over the bucket as we say in Holland, then I explode and become a total dick, but they really would have to push me four or five times. I will try to be nice but when I start people freak out because I become the total opposite and I won’t stop, Kenny has that filter, he can do it right away. He is always honest, I always tell him, ‘Man I wish I could be like you and speak up a little faster.’ When you don’t speak up right away or you try to be nice about it people start thinking, ‘Wait a minute, he’s not such a tough guy,’ and then I start wondering if they are saying that because they think that about me, but Kenny is always the moderator so to say. Like with Matt Mitrione and Tito Ortiz, Matt started saying stuff and right away Kenny steps in and says this, ‘We aren’t going to do this, we aren’t going to talk about people’s families,’ and he said it in a split second. Whatever Kenny wants to say, he says man. And he says it right on the spot, he keeps the show together you know? I think he is a really good guy for that.”
It is undeniable that Rutten has natural acting abilities and specializes in the comedic realm of that profession. The acting role that truly put Bas into consideration for some of the big time gigs he has had the pleasure of taking in recent years was a film called The Kingdom of Ultimate Power. A short film about a young aspiring writer who is convinced to write an over-the-top action screenplay for an eccentric and mentally unstable cage fighting champion. Since t-shirts of the films logo are available to purchase on BasRutten.com, you can assume that it remains popular, and when asked about its popularity Bas responded, “My wife loves that comedy. That comedy actually gave me the green light for Here Comes The Boom because Kevin said that he wanted me but they (movie executives) said I was a just fighter. Kingdom Of Ultimate Power won first prize at the New York Film Festival, so Kevin showed that movie and they said okay we’ll take him. My wife thought it was the funniest thing ever and this is when I just started my business and my was handling all the clothing stuff, so she just went to town and said ‘We are going to make t-shirts of it.”
Now that Bas has co-starred along side Kevin James in a major film that was released in theaters nationwide, it would be safe to assume that his popularity has grown exponentially since Here Comes The Boom hit theaters last year. Bas was very pleased with the public reception to his breakthrough acting debut, telling LNCS, “It has been insane, the reviews I got for the movie were so good. The William Morris Agency called my management after seeing it and they wanted to represent me. Even in Variety Magazine they were talking bad about the movie but still said a few good things about me but I also thought what kind of person doesn’t like this movie? Not because we are in it but because I thought it was a really fun family movie. People say it is the same as Warrior because he is a teacher or whatever but it is not even close. It is also the build-up to the end, I have people saying ‘Bullshit he just comes in and fights for the title,’ you didn’t watch the movie dude. Kevin got the blessing from Dana and Dana loved the movie when he saw it because of course, his number one priority was that the UFC has to look good and you can’t make a mockery out of it. Kevin trained for sixteen months, he lost like seventy pounds or something like that and I think he looked fantastic. When you see him on the focus mitts that is his speed, that is not sped up or anything that is really him doing everything that you see.”
With all the positive press following Here Comes The Boom, many anticipated that Rutten would begin to appear in major Hollywood productions more frequently. Bas on the other hand remains realistic about the situation, telling listeners, “It’s funny how that goes, they all promise that you’re going to be the next big thing, but I stopped listening to that a long time ago. All the movie deals they promised me, I guarantee that it was over thirty where I was going to get in and something always happened. So after five times, it’s already like ‘Okay whatever man, I will be happy when I sign and the money is in the bank.’ I am just focusing on my stuff, I want to work on my recovery and get my stock strength back up so if something comes along I’ll look better. If it’s possible I want to stay with comedy, I really enjoy comedy, I used to do comedy martial arts shows in Holland and for European TV even. Making people laugh and then get paid for it? That is even better.”
If you are asking yourself why the Late Night Cage Side crew had yet to discuss the viral video that made Bas a household name, fret not Penn Nation. The video that most of you are likely thinking of is a web video that brings smiles to all who watch it and features memorable one-liners from beginning to end. The Bas Rutten Self Defense blooper reel stands among great viral videos like Winnebago Man and Charlie The Unicorn, and like the rest of us, Bas still finds enjoyment every time he watches it again. Rutten explained the what he loved most about the video to BJPENN.COM, “You have to understand it was not scripted, just like Punk Payback, that was a non-scripted show. I would see the videos literally the day before, we would try to shoot for a day and I would just try to go over it in my mind. Not one take was the same, I would always do something funnier and they could pick and choose which one they thought was the funniest, it was all improv comedy. If you have seen the DVD, my favorite part is when I am showing all of the dangerous weapons at the bar. Like the ashtray, at the time you could still smoking allowed, and I said you smash and stab and I go around the bar to all these little things. Then I get to the thing that you put the receipts on and I just pick it up and say, ‘Well I don’t have to tell you what you can do with this one.’ It is those little things that I think are hilarious because I wanted to say what you could do, but it was self-explanatory, do whatever you want to do just start stabbing. I love it.”
From stabbing livers in a bar, to breaking them in the ring, Bas lives and breathes MMA. His illustrious career spans over two decades, and while his active MMA career lasted but a decade, his accomplishments are still held in high regard in the MMA community. Bas still remembers his career like it was yesterday and recalled his favorite victory of his career, telling LNCS, “That would have to be the rematch against Funaki. My first fight with Funaki, I had just knocked two guys out in my first two fights, one to the head and one to the liver. So Funaki knew not to stand with me, he took me down and put me in a toe hold. I didn’t even know what a toe hold was at the time, I knew that it hurt and that it was very painful. Then they waited until I became the title holder and the last fight I had on my contract was against Funaki. They all thought that he was going to beat me again and that would help them with the negotiations for my new contract, or that is how I saw it at least. That made me already angry, then when he comes in the ring he slits his throat like Josh Barnett always does, but he did it before and in front of me. Dude, I looked at my manager, I never had a coach because I train myself, I look at him and I go ‘I am going to kill this guy.’ My manager is going ‘Stay calm! Stay calm!’ and I said I will stay calm but when I rock this guy I am going to town on him, I was so angry from that.”
“My game plan was to go fifteen minutes with Funaki because he had never fought for more than fifteen minutes and it was a title fight so it was thirty minutes and I figured that if I bring him past the fifteen minute mark and he hears when they announce fifteen minutes passed that maybe it would do something mentally to him. Like ‘what the hell, this guy is still here?’ That is when I was going to start fighting, but around twelve minutes in I am sitting on my knees and he kicks me in the head which is an illegal move and that pissed me off. So twenty seconds later I think he goes down, so right away I start attacking him and from there it all goes down hill for him. But it was so cool that he kept getting back up, my palms were bruised, my knees were bruised, I broke both his cheekbones, his nose was flat on his face. The last knee I gave him I literally grabbed his hair and drilled my knee in his face as hard as I could and that was it, but every time I dropped him I thought, ‘Will he stay down?’ Every time I knocked him down the whole audience would chant, ‘Fu-na-ki, Fu-na-ki,’ and then he would get up and start cheering to the audience. I was like ‘Dude!’ because I was getting tired, every time they cheered him I felt like I had to kill the guy. I wanted to finish him and that is why I threw the big knee.”
Early in his career, submissions proved to be the most viable option for defeating the Dutch kick boxer, but after studying the art of ground fighting, he too became a force on the mat. Kinch asked Bas about his creativity when it came to his submission attack to which “El’ Guapo” replied, “You have to understand man, when I lost my last time against Ken I really did not like that. I had no one to train with, I could have gone to Amsterdam but it was a two-hour drive to train and two hours training and then drive two hours back. Then sometimes people would show up and sometimes they didn’t, so I started getting vocal and I found this one guy, Leon Van Dyke. This guy knocked out Evan Tanner with a front kick to the body in Pancrase, this guy was a freak, he did bicep curls with 125 kilos, that is 280 pounds guys. If I had him in an arm bar I had to literally have everything perfect because he would simply curl out, that is how strong he was. We trained two or three times a day, I would come home in the middle of the night from partying and I would suddenly think, ‘Okay this would be cool,’ I could call him and he would always go to the gym, he would never say no. Even when he was asleep he would jump in his car, go to the gym in the middle of the night and we would start rolling.”
“When I would submit him it would work maybe four times, and on the fifth time he would know the setup to the submission. So I started creating a different setup and then he would know that one and I would create another one. Soon enough, for every submission we had four or five setups, so I would switch between them and eventually one would hit. We would always be creative, I have talked about this before in other interviews, my whole house would be covered in post-it notes of different combinations. I would wake up in the middle of the night and I would put my wife in a submission that I just had a dream about, during the day I would put her in submissions, so I just lived and breathed it. I got crazy about a submissions, I would work on them three or four times a day and I won my next eight fights by submission, one was by decision but that was over Frank Shamrock and it was because of my ground control, it worked really well.
“The icing on the cake was when B.J. called me, I didn’t know B.J. at the time and it was when he was getting ready for Matt Hughes. He said ‘Hey Bas this is B.J.,’ I said ‘B.J. who?,’ and he said ‘B.J. Penn, I am watching your instructional video and it is the best instructional I have ever seen.’ He was blown away with it and that did it for me because I never had a coach, I would see a move on TV and write it down then go to the club and see if I could make it better.”
One of the most notable instances where this creative submission excellence is displayed comes from Pancrase: Truth 2 back in 1995 where Rutten tapped Guy Mezger with a heel hook variation that is both incredibly painful and brilliant. Rutten was able to push Mezgers toes clockwise towards the mat from a figure-four leg position, Bas explained the move stating, “What happened with Guy Mezger was that people get injured with heel hooks, I saw a heel hook on a big screen the day before a fight once and in the fight I was in that position. So I figured I would try it, I grabbed the guys heel, I fell back and I snapped the guys shinbone in half. The reason was that if I would have done it before in training and I would have known how much pressure I was putting on his shin, but I didn’t. I grabbed and let my body fall backwards and obviously that is not a smart thing to do, only if you want to break somebody’s leg I guess. So after that they said no more heel hooks, I needed a creative way to still do a heel hook and the position we were in I said, ‘I could do exactly the same thing as a heel hook from here,’ it is such an easy thing to do and it is actually way worse than a heel hook because of the torque you can put on it, you can almost put a 180 on that foot.”
Another one of Rutten’s most memorable fights pitted him against one of his main rivals, Frank Shamrock. In his third and final bout with Shamrock, Rutten had opened a cut on the eyebrow of Frank and began to work the cut in an attempt to open it further. While on the ground, Shamrock held onto a leg lock attempt and proceeded to taunt Rutten, making faces after each strike Bas landed, even sticking his tongue out. Bas told LNCS listeners about Shamrocks taunting, “I said this before a while ago, I wasn’t trying to knock him out, I had just hit him with a back fist and his whole eyebrow was opened. So when I saw that cut, I started focusing on the cut and I figured that when I started focusing there, he would put his defense up. I wasn’t trying to hit hard, I was trying to open the cut more, if you watch the fight you can see that I am not loading up on my strikes and you can see me looking at the cut as I strike. He started making faces and I was like, ‘Whatever dude, I’m not hitting you hard on purpose,’ then he started sticking out his tongue and I hit him with a closed fist, I kind of lost my cool. That was the last time he made a face.”
This concludes the first half of our amazing interview with Bas Rutten. Still not satisfied? Stayed tuned to BJPENN.COM for part 2 of this epic adventure!
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Aslo be sure to follow “El’ Guapo” @BasRuttenMMA!Tags: AXS.TV, Bas Rutten, Bas Rutten Stem Cells, Bas Rutten Surgery, frank shamrock, Funaki, Guy Mezger, Here Comes the Boom, Inside MMA, Kevin James, Kingdom of Ultimate Power, O2 Trainer