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Monday, 11/04/2013, 10:55 am

EXCLUSIVE | Two Epic Hours With Bas Rutten Part 2 | Late Night Cage Side Radio

In our second installment of the incredible interview with Bas Rutten on Late Night Cage Side Radio, we focus solely on MMA and we continue to extract what we can, like a sponge, from the well of knowledge that is “El’ Guapo.”

Bas is famously known for brining popularity to the phrase “liver shot,” and rightfully so. Finishing several of his opponents with vicious body strikes, and on more than one occasion breaking a liver, Bas has become synonymous with the left hook and left kick to the body. With that in mind, the LNCS crew asked Bas who he felt executes the body shot most effectively in MMA, and why he thinks it  is still so underutilized. Rutten replied, “More and more people have started using it now. Mark Hominick used it when he would fight, Sam Stout also uses it but they were also working under  Sean Tompkins, rest in peace. The problem is guys land to the liver and then all they do is focus on the liver. When you hurt somebody there, right away you want to go upstairs, he is going to want to protect his liver, so hit him hard in the head so he is forced to bring his hands back up, then go to the liver again.

“This is the way I teach, if he is hurt to the liver, distract him and go to the head and when he is hurt to the head distract him with the liver and then to go back to the head. My first fight when I dropped the guy with a palm strike, he gets back up and his hands a high defending his head, so the first thing I do is throw the liver kick as hard as I can to show him that the liver kick is coming.  I want him to block it, I want him to see it as a hard strike and he has to block it, and when the hands go down, boom, back to the head. I feel a lot of fighters still don’t think that way and it is really hard to control in the beginning because your mind plays tricks on you when you are fighting. Your mind tells you to go for the head, they always think the head is the weak spot,  but it’s not and as soon as you can control that, you’re going to be really good. Like Rory MacDonald against B.J. Penn, when Rory hurt him with a body shot, right away he went back upstairs. See, now this is a young kid who is already thinking, he could go very far in his career.”

Another fighting virtue that Rutten lives by is the idea that if you throw a strike with power and bad intention, the other fighter is forced to block or get knocked out. While this moniker is evident in Rutten’s fight career, we asked “El’ Guapo” who he thought used this block or be bludgeoned style best in the fight game today, Bas responded,  “Jose Aldo. I used to be a huge fan of Ramon Dekkers, also rest in peace, and my whole style was formed around Ramon Dekkers and I think that Jose Aldo is the Ramon Dekkers of Mixed Martial Arts. This is a very basic concept that I am saying, hit somebody really hard in the head and his hands need to go up, that means something else will open up. When I see people kneeing and kneeing, not trying to stick a fan up my butt here, but try to find a fight where I throw more than one knee, you won’t. I give one knee, fight’s over. I time them; I am looking and I see them breathing and when they breath in I try to time that moment. It is all about one very powerful and well placed knee. That’s it, that’s the fight. In Pancrase I think I had five body knockouts and it would be from a knee where I just picked my shot. And what are the knees to the thighs? Like Hammil and Silva, Silva kept throwing the low kick and when they get to the clinch, not one knee to the thigh. If you throw a knee to the thigh like I do, one, maybe two and the fight is over. Also the side mount, why don’t we see anybody throwing knees from the side mount? I throw them is such a way that if you can land two or three knees it’s the end of the fight, just stand up and walk away and the guy can’t walk anymore. When you attack a relaxed muscle it’s the ultimate charlie horse.”

One of Rutten’s most successful students would have to be Duane “Bang” Ludwig. Ludwig trained under the tutelage of Bas for much of his career and captured some of his most impressive wins during that time. Duane’s admiration for his biggest professional influence is so profound that Ludwig gave his second son the middle name Bas. Since retiring from MMA, Ludwig has quickly become one of the most highly touted coaches in the game with Team Alpha Male. With Duane being the obvious shoe-in for Coach Of The Year honors, the LNCS crew asked Rutten why his former protégé is able to teach so effectively. Bas said, “What he is doing is he is listening. When I teach classes now on Tuesday and Thursday I am always going back to the basics, and one time this guy tells me, ‘You know what’s funny Bas? What you are teaching me now you have taught me fifty times already.’ I go, ‘Really? You are about to hear something even more funny, you’re still doing it wrong.’ He looked at me and I told him that is why I was doing it. Sometimes I get angry after a class and I really scold them out like why are you here? Why are you wasting your money and your time? If I was somewhere training I always brought a notebook and I was always writing things down, I would be busy with it. But I teach them an arm bar and sometimes three weeks later I try it out and seventy percent of them have to be retaught.

“With Duane, whatever you tell him he does. I want to say four or five times I told him the winning combination in the dressing room. I would say ok this is what is going to happen, that is how we knocked out Jens Pulver and how we got the fastest knockout in the UFC. You can see me hanging over the cage and I am saying, ‘I am telling you, I don’t know why but he is going to come straight at you, hit him with a right straight.’ You hear me repeating it, sure enough the guy comes straight out of the gate and boom, Duane knocks him out. I had a time with Duane where I told him the guy was going to start with a low kick, counter it. He blocked the kick but he didn’t counter and he looked at me like, ‘Fuck!’

“It was the same with Jens, he was left handed and he was always standing in one line. That is why I don’t like to stand in one line like normal boxers, not like Mike Tyson, he stood square like me so he could have almost equal  power in both hands. Traditional boxers stand in one line and that was what Jens used to do and he loved to open up with a right hook. So I told Duane if he opened with a right hook that I wanted him to land a right straight in his face, the fight started and Jens threw the right hook and Duane looked at me like, ‘Fuck I missed it.’ Jens does it again and boom Duane lands it, then the combination that I told him and he added a right kick to the face and that was it. He was the first guy to knock out Jens Pulver. He is just listening, I see him with notebooks and I am the same way, I don’t want to waste my time or money so I am writing things down. I think really it is like a video game, I would say left hook, cross, liver and in a second he threw that combination. He brings that to his teaching and he is super passionate about what he is doing, you always see him writing things down and that is because he is passionate about teaching now.”

Changing gears, the conversation briefly shifted to current events and hot topics in MMA. The first item on that agenda was a topic Rutten is very familiar with, leg locks. Former UFC welterweight Rousimar Palhares was axed from the promotion after the Brazilian held onto a heel hook on Mike Pearce for a considerable time after the ref stepped in to stop the fight. That marked Palhares’ second offense after being harshly warned by UFC executives, and Palhares publicly pleaded with the MMA community to forgive him. In regards to the Palhares debacle, Bas stated, “A lock like that, especially with a guy like Palhares, it’s a career killer. It can really tare the knee up and when you get to a certain age you start to heal way slower, so that could be your last fight. If it was the first time I would give him a big warning, don’t give him the submission bonus, he would have won that by the way because he had the only submission, but it was the second time. The first time he had a big warning, on Inside MMA we talked about it and we had a statement from his manager that said they had been working with him on it really hard to see if he could stop doing it and that it was because he was excited. If you have already done this before, and your camp tried to un-teach you this, and you do it again, then I guess it didn’t work. I say it was the right thing to do although it hurts me to say it because I used to fight, but I would have done the said the same thing.”

Another topic of interest in recent weeks has been the decision for the Jones vs Gustafsson bout at UFC 165 and who should rightfully have the light heavyweight title. Both men fought in what we all believed would be a Fight Of The Year candidate until Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez engaged in a war of the ages just a few weeks later. When asked to give his opinion on the fight between Jones and Gustafsson, Rutten said, “That is one of those cases where if you want to beat the champ and it goes to a close decision the champ always gets it. You have to win convincingly and I thought it was too close for that. I thought Gustafsson won the first two rounds but then suddenly Jones started coming, and with that big elbow, if that big elbow would not have landed I think Gustafsson would be the champ. That could have been a 10-8 round because Jones really hurt him, he showed that he had a lot of heart man, he just kept turning it up. Also Gustafsson because he was super tired but just kept fighting, the real power and snap was gone but he just kept going. Jones had a little more power in the last rounds and I think that is really what did it.”

While on the topic of judging and bad decisions, the LNCS wanted to know what Rutten thought about judging and how to fix it. Since Bas had fought under both Japanese and American rules, his insight on this matter was sure to hold its weight with most. Bas told BJPENN.COM, “It’s hard because sometimes you get scorecards that are totally opposite than the other ones and I wonder how can anyone even come close with that? What fight were they watching? They should be second guessed now and put on a list to make sure it doesn’t happen again and then three strikes they are out. Like the old woman who did the Pacquiao fight and then the Mayweather fight, they let her go now. In MMA we still have it and it’s a shame, we should have some kind of quality control and the same with referees. If they make a mistake you give them a little check mark, same with fighters, if the do something wrong they get a check mark. Look at Palhares, they give you a warning and now you have to work on it. Do something, go take a class, if you don’t understand the ground game go learn it, that’s the only thing to do. One time at a fight back in the IFL days, they asked me at the end of the night how they did and I said horrible. They were in shock and  I told them give me addresses and I will send them for free my Big DVD of Combat and it will fix everything.

“I even mentioned that B.J. said it was the best instructional, I always say that now, but they didn’t give me an address, they didn’t even want to learn. This is what happened at that show, there was a referee who two times stopped a guy that had a full on triangle choke. The guy did not know what a triangle choke was and he broke them up. Another thing is, if you watch GLORY,  the referees. When Saki got kicked in the armpit and the ref said it was an eight count, he just took that round away from Saki. That is why I say in boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts you need to have instant replay. When a fighter says, ‘Please it was under my armpit,’ it would take them literally ten seconds to that tuned up because as soon as it happens most of the time in the production truck they already marked it. All they have to do is a push a button at that moment and it automatically goes five seconds back. They could go through it really fast, give the fighter his point back and it’s done, I think sometimes that needs to happen because in a three round fight, losing one round is a big thing.”

Another combat discipline that Bas is very familiar with on a professional level is kickboxing. With the rise of GLORY and Lion Fight Promotions in the U.S., it looks like kickboxing and Muay Thai are finally receiving their long overdue recognition from mainstream America. BJPENN.COM asked Rutten what he thinks of these promotions and what they need to do to become big in the States, Bas replied, “I really like the GLORY promotion, they are doing a really good job and I think they need American champions. I think it is important for GLORY to have American champions because the reason that Pride went down, sure they had all the Yakuza stuff, but it was because they had no more Sakuraba. There was not a Japanese guy who would come close to winning the whole thing and the same thing with K-1. It’s ok if four years in a row a foreign guy wins but eventually people want to root for their own. In America they want to scream for an American who wins the whole thing, and if he makes it to the finals that will be good. If he gets canceled out and doesn’t even go to the final eight, that is not a good thing. Another promotion I really like is Lion Fights, they are doing Thai Boxing and it is a really good show.”

The name GLORY and the discipline of kickboxing have a deeply rooted history in Dutch fighting, and the long famed striking gym Golden Glory has produced many of todays best strikers. From Tyrone Spong to Semmy Schlit, and one of Rutten’s former friends, Alistair Overeem. Since the ugly split from Golden Glory, Overeem has been inconsistent to say the least and LNCS wanted to know why Bas thinks “The Reem” hasn’t looked like the same man that won the K-1 Grand Prix with ease. Bas told Kinch and Chase, “I think it’s because he’s not training with the top guys in Holland anymore and I think he changed his winning game plan. When got knocked out so many times one after another in Japan they suddenly said he was cutting to much weight and he moved up to heavyweight, but they didn’t only do that, they changed his fighting style. When you see him fighting from that moment on, he only throws single shots, since he is so freaking powerful he only needs to connect with any of them. It doesn’t really matter with what, kick, knee, everything he throws is hard, but he would always have one hand on his jaw.
“He steered away from that in the Bigfoot fight, his hands were lower and it was like he had no respect. I don’t have any inside information here, but that tells me that he gets to choose who he trains with and that he schools all these guys, there is nobody that can really put a hurting on him. So that built up his confidence, but when you fight a beast like Bigfoot, who will wait till you are gassed and then he goes for it, if your not being pushed in the gym your stamina will not be there. Stamina on the bag or stamina on the Thai pads are great for stamina, but that doesn’t mean you have stamina. With fighting you throw punches and kicks like you do with a bag, but then your opponent comes back with punches and kicks and that disrupts your breathing. With a bag you are controlling your own breathing so you can keep going, just like the Thai pads, you take a break and then you continue with another combination.
“When I used to spar I would get my partners tired just with movement, for instance with Mark Kerr. I said I could get him tired without evening throwing punches and all I would do is fake; fake a punch, fake a shot, and every time it would interrupt his breathing pattern and I told him he needed to be more relaxed. You need to just get used to that feeling, once you get used to it and know how to deal with it stamina will come. Some guys are just very calm, look at Sakuraba, Sakuraba smoked, I think he was in the hospital with a liver problem because he was drinking too much, and this guy could fight for hours.  It was because he was totally relaxed, that’s the biggest goal in fighting, explode then relax.”
Speaking of Mark Kerr, yet another one of the most memorable moments in MMA involves Kerr, Rutten and former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez. A video surfaced in which Kerr expressed to Bas that he wanted him to teach Ricco a lesson. Bas proceeded to drop Ricco while sparring and apparently, this is not the whole story. “The true story is that Mark Kerr came to me, and they only show you the end of the conversation, it was taken out of context. I never met Ricco, I had heard about Ricco, but Mark came to me and said, ‘He told me in the car that he is going to knock you out, I am just warning you that is what he said.’ I said, ‘Mark, he is going to try to do that to me in my gym?’ Mark said yes,  and I said, ‘You understand that I am going to beat him up right?’ Mark said please do then he said for me to teach his friend a lesson, that is how the whole story went. So we get into the class and he starts throwing hard punches and I thought okay, then I dropped him, and I actually dropped him 3 times, they only show one in the documentary. The other two were liver shots by the way.” We would not recommend upsetting Bas in his own gym, it might be hazardous to your health.
Not only is Bas Rutten an icon, a father, a husband, a coach, an actor, and a pioneer, but he is also an entrepreneur. The O2 Trainer is a device that restricts an athletes breathing when they inhale and in turn, strengthens the diaphragm and respiratory muscles. The only product on the market of its kind, the O2 trainer was the brain child of Bas dating back to when he was just a teenager. Rutten explained“Believe it or not, I invented that thing when I was thirteen or fourteen years old. I was an asthma patient, a real asthma patient, meaning when I had an asthma attack it would mean a week in bed, peeing in bed, shitting in bed and I couldn’t eat because I couldn’t breathe. I could barely drink, I could only sip out of a straw, so it was very bad. I would lose weight, I was a very skinny kid, and I always did track and field because my father was very good at it and my brother as well. I would always break my running time after an asthma attack and I always thought why is that? Maybe it was all the medication, the cortisone, the inhalers, maybe they open my lungs more and I didn’t figure it out until I was in my lung doctors office one day and there was a drawing of the lungs on the wall. That’s when I saw what a lung infection was, and it blew my mind because I thought a lung infection would be in the lungs but it is in the lung pipe, the bronchioles are really affected. Your lungs and respiratory system have to work really hard when you have lung infection to pull the air through the infected part. So I thought ‘oh my God that’s it,’ because I would have to work really hard for seven or eight days until that lung infection is gone and then it is really easy for my lungs to pull that air in. Okay, why don’t I come up with something to control the air intake? That was it, it was born.
“At first I used coins from Spain that had a hole in them, all different sizes, I did that until I realized how dangerous it is because I could fall down the stairs choke on it and die, but it was always in my head. Then when Wanderlei Silva came on TV with the UFC and he was using the snorkel to restrict his breathing, I had about seven phone calls that night from people I had always told about that. The Ruttenizer was the official name, that was what I was going to call it, and all these people told me I need to make the Ruttenizer and that somebody has got to come up with it. So I did a patent search and all the other lung training devices control air in and air out, I never believed in controlling air out because when you are breathing if you have resistance when exhaling, you will inhale before you completely exhale and it gets you breathing really high in the chest. Breathing is done by your chest muscles and your intercostal muscle and your diaphragm, everybody thinks your lungs do it all but it’s not.
“Between your body and your lungs there is a space and when you breath in and it creates a vacuum between the body and the lungs. If you can completely deflate your lungs, you can suck in way more air and that means you work your respiratory system much harder. Man, it is catching on quickly now and I am always hearing from my patients who haven’t been using their inhaler. I haven’t used my inhaler in nine months. I have used my inhaler in the very peak of my career, in the dressing room when I would start kicking and my lungs would close, I would spray them open and I could go for hours, but I always needed to spray them open. I haven’t touched that thing for nine months and I do hill sprints no problem, I can sneeze three times in a row now, and every asthma patient knows what I am talking about. It is working really well, I have a medical company buying a bunch every month, I am stoked man. It is for singers, people who play horn instruments, anyone who does anything with their lungs, including asthma patients of course, will all benefit from this thing. Right now I can not medically claim that asthma patients will be helped, but all the reviews from people, those are all real reviews by the way, and a lot of them say they don’t need the inhaler after two weeks.”
One successful invention is quite the accomplishment in itself, but two successful inventions within years of each other is another feat entirely. The Body Action System or BAS is “El’ Guapo’s” latest venture in the world of product development. Another one of a kind product, the BAS maximizes muscle activation while you learn practical striking techniques that could be used in the street or cage. Rutten explained the device and how it went from idea to reality, “A long time ago I got a call from somebody who said they wanted to show me something, and I saw it and I thought I could make this thing much better. The funny part is I was still drinking at the time and I came in with a hang over, so I walk in there and I say, ‘First of all you are going to smell a bit of alcohol, don’t worry about it I know exactly what I am doing.’ I told them I thought I can make it better and that I will call them back tomorrow to let them know what I think, and they were looking at me like I was some crazy guy.
“I called them the next day saying, ‘This and this have to be changed, I think you should put a head on there and a body with targets on the body,’ and I had this whole list of things and they were like, ‘Whoa we thought you couldn’t even think because you were so hung over.’ I told them no and that I really was thinking about it and then we started working on it, it took over two years to make because I broke lots of them. I said I do not want this thing on the market if you can break it if you use it the correct way, listen if you start kicking the stand then of course it will break but you can kick the head. I kick the head and it doesn’t break, so I am pretty sure anybody can kick the head and it won’t break, but you need good technique. Another great thing about it, I developed tendonitis and towards the end of my career I would train for about forty-five minutes before it hit me and then I would be in excruciating pain.
“So I figure that maybe a fighter who is about two weeks out from a fight,  and he doesn’t want to take any risks hitting a heavy bag, get the Body Action System. You can do uppercuts, hooks, and you actually have to aim your punches which is something you don’t have to have on a bag. It is so important in fighting to hit the correct way, like to hit the solar plexus because if you hit three inches lower, you can kick me there as hard as you want. But if it is three inches higher, you can’t hit me there, it’s the same with the liver shots and the same with the head. If you hit the forehead you might break your hand, but if you hit the jaw you’re going to knock somebody out. We have a pro version coming out soon that is really going to impress people, we are bringing it to a few gyms and it is really badass, people are going to love it.”
In conclusion to what can only be described as an epic interview, the LNCS crew decided to finish up with a story about one of Rutten’s good friends and idols, the late Ramon Dekkers. Dekkers is a god in the kickboxing world, with almost every striker you ask expressing that he was their  favorite to watch. Not enough could be said about “The Diamond” as an athlete and fighter. A sentimental Rutten did not disappoint as he said the following, “I have a lot of really great memories with Ramon. A funny one that comes to mind is when Ramon and I were on our way home from Japan, this was around Christmas time and we always stayed at the Tokyo Hilton. Any of the Pride fighters will tell you that the Tokyo Hilton had the best breakfast. Now we always ate with all the regular people but at a certain point we got moved to a special room and the reason we got moved was me. When you walk into the lobby there was like a twenty-foot Christmas tree, it had very high ceilings with a balcony so they always put this huge tree up. There is people around it eating and I was messed up so I say let’s go back down and get something. Ramon thought maybe we should stay in the room and eat there, I told him, ‘No I’m okay,’ and we head down. I am walking in between people and I fall  into a table and the table falls and then I spin around and fall into another table and as I am falling backwards I grab the Christmas tree.
“A bunch of people came out and grabbed the tree and that was the last time Ramon and I ate with the regular people. Another time I remember Ramon wrote a card for me because at that time it was hard for me to get in contact with my daughter in Holland, this is a long time back, and I always wrote her cards. Ramon wrote her one that said why he thought I was a good father and it was really nice, I still have that card. He was a special guy, he was a guy that I looked up to. I guarantee you there will not be one person you can find that dislikes him, he was the nicest guy on the planet.” 
Rest in peace Ramon.
BJPENN.com would like to thank Mr. Rutten for this incredible interview and being so generous with his time.
Follow the show on Twitter @LN_Cageside and follow Bas @BasRuttenMMA!
To catch the entire 2 part interview with Bas check out the LNCS archives here.
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