Bas Rutten is one of few true undisputed legends of the sport of mixed-martial arts. He's best known as the former three-times King of Pancrase champion and for his flawless run in the UFC, where he captured their Heavyweight title belt as well.
These days Bas has been managing his two gyms, his IFL team The Anacondas, and trading verbal jabs with the Vice President of PRIDE Fighting Championships Jerry Millen or fellow MMA legend Frank Shamrock. In the following fourty minute, multi-part interview with “El Guapo”, we talk about these subjects and more in great detail.
Make sure to visit MMANews.com the next few days for further installments from the entertaining talk our own Luis Cruz conducted with Mr. Rutten on Wednesday, March 14, 2007.
BAS RUTTEN INTERVIEW – PART ONE
Luis Cruz of MMANews.com: This is Luis Cruz of MMANews.com and I'm joined here today with “El Guapo” Bas Rutten. Bas, what's up?
Bas Rutten: I'm good. How you doing?
MMANews.com: Not too bad, not too bad. Before we get into it here, how's the gym doing?
Bas Rutten: Ahh everything's good. And you know I got actually two – I got one in my hometown of Thousand Oaks and the one with Randy Couture in Hollywood and they're both doing great.
MMANews.com: Awesome. Now the first thing I wanna get to is the IFL. This Saturday your team is facing off with the Razorclaws, but before we get to that – there was a lot of negative feedback on “Battleground,” the IFL show you will be hosting which airs Monday on MyNetworkTV. What happened, what's your take on things?
Bas Rutten: Well, a mistake that's what happened you know? And the IFL with the stretcher, they didn't know or want it in but it happened and there's nothing they can do about it. And they say the only thing we can do about it is – and this is a team so it's everybody's same fault – but we're gonna listen to the fans and we're gonna make sure that this mistake never happens again. So that's what they're gonna do and next Monday we're gonna see no more stretchers [begins laughing], no more 9-1-1 calls [laughs more]. It was crazy, but trust me – we all had the same feeling when we saw it. What happened was it was such a short amount of time that we had to work on it and then like four days before the date – the producer got changed on top of that. So for some reason, they slipped it in, they said they didn't wanna stick the finger out to anybody – it's a team concept so it's everybody's fault.
MMANews.com: Now my quick opinion on that is I was cringing throughout. I mean right from the beginning we hear the flatline, I was like “oh man.” And then it kind of looked like it was thrown together real quick.
Bas Rutten: Oh yeah, absolutely. It looked like one big informercial right? But that's …you know, you learn from your mistakes and that's what they said. We're open for constructive criticism, so everyone out there please keep coming with all the stuff and they're gonna work on it. They're gonna do what the fans want to do. They already know what the fans want. But this was the first show you know, c'mon. It's a new thing, network TV, new people – everything. So, you know, it just got a little side-tracked.
MMANews.com: I give them big kudos for listening to the feedback and acknowledging it publicly. Putting out a press release and stuff to let everybody know they heard them. That was cool.
Bas Rutten: Yeah, they're really good guys.
MMANews.com: Now that you've been coaching, have you got any itch to actually fight in the IFL?
Bas Rutten: No, I can't. Like I announced after my last fight, I got the problem with my leg – the combo package. The thing is really f*cking with me. It's really …I can't do anything. I'm standing outside, if I stretch my leg any my knee hurts. If I move side-to-side, my knee hurts. I mean the thing is so bad. I can't even train. So now it is out of the question for me [to be fighting].
MMANews.com: Yeah, there's definitely no need to risk hurting yourself. Now your Anacondas. Your boys will be taking on the Razorclaws this coming Saturday. Now with the Razorclaws, I'm sure you've already been asked a ton about this thing with Frank Shamrock [their coach]. He made some comments that you said yes the first time he asked [for a fight against him] and then you changed your story and made excuses even after he offered you a million dollars.
Bas Rutten: Yeah, yeah. From what I know, first off, Frank Shamrock doesn't have a million dollars and it was his company. He said, “Bas, my company that I'm gonna fight for, they're willing to give you a million dollars if you fight.” Now I know already because I announced to the world (so that's very strange already that he said in his story) that I was not gonna fight anymore. But still you know he wants to come up with a bullshit story, that's his thing. Then he says that it was against him. Ok, now let me see. You left the UFC because of me because I went down to Middleweight. He said to the former owner Bob Meyrowitz that he was gonna fight Tito [Ortiz] first. Because he left the UFC, Bob Meyrowitz then says “ok Bas, then you and Tito are gonna fight for the title.” I wanted to be the first guy in history to hold the Middleweight and the Heavyweight title. So I started training in Japan. Then Bob Meyrowitz gives me a call and says, “Bas, Frank heard it and he said 'nope I'm the champion, I will come back to the UFC. If I beat Tito, then I'm gonna fight Bas.'” He beats Tito then he grabs the microphone and everyone is standing up and cheering and then he says, “yeah, there's no more fighters for me left, so I feel that I gotta retire.” So that is a typical case of yellow fever – that's what I call it because he didn't wanna fight. So now there's this story when I got my knee smashed, I can not fight anymore and then suddenly he wants to challenge me? That's just a strange thing to do. Total lie. And I know Frank and I'm okay with everything because I know the way he promotes things and that's just his way. So I'm cool with it, I just wish he'd do it with the truth and not with lies. I mean, c'mon.
MMANews.com: Now does his self-marketing and the like actually irritate you? Does it genuinely get to you or is it not that big of a deal?
Bas Rutten: Nah. For me it's like for one thing I gotta defend myself. Then the other side I go on the internet and people are like “Bas why do you even defend yourself, everybody knows he's full of crap anyway.” I'm still like …I'm a fighter and I gotta do something back. And he started it so I'm like if he started it, I got to have an answer back. And that's my answer back. Like I said I have no bad feelings towards him it's just why would you come up with these things? There's something definitely wrong with him. The same thing he says, “oh Bas I don't wanna fight Bas,” this was in the past because I was supposedly too heavy or because I was too old. So there I go ya see, he's got another problem in his head. He goes, “if I lost two pounds I'd beat him up,” or I was too old. The age difference is exactly the same as it is now so I never got that either. You see what I mean?
MMANews.com: Now does this in any way add to the fire of the team match up you guys have coming up this Saturday night?
Bas Rutten: No. I think that he wants to do that. I'm not gonna put pressure on my team. My team doesn't need that kind of pressure. This is something between my team and his team. This is not something between me and Frank because I've already did that three times and I won three times. Although they let me lose the first time, the president from Pancrase came to apologize and said I won. But it was just the first time we fought. He was the brother of Ken Shamrock [and] they needed him to make an impact so they let him win the fight. In my heart I beat him three times instead of two times so there's nothing to prove for me here, you know? Three strikes is out, that's what they say.
MMANews.com: Alright now let's go ahead and get to the teams. Real quick before I get to your team. Do you feel there is an advantage in the IFL to a team that's been together pretty much from the beginning as compared to a team who consistently changes members on their roster?
Bas Rutten's “Anacondas” challenge Frank Shamrock's “Razorclaws” this Saturday
Bas Rutten: Yeah, but there we go again. This is a team concept, which means they're a family. Which means my boys – they're my boys. And if a guy loses for me once or twice he will still be on my team and apparently with him [Frank] it's not. If you lose once or twice [with him] you're out of the team. See that says a lot about his bonding. There is no bonding. I think a steady team, a solid team is way better then changing everything all around because what you're gonna do to all the team members is make them insecure. They gonna think “oh my god I better not lose because if I lose – they gonna boot me!” That is not a good way to walk into a fight, I'm telling you. Because that's a lot of pressure. You better perform because if not, you're gonna be out. So I think that this actually works in our favor.
MMANews.com: Now how was your team put together originally? How did you decide everything in the beginning?
Bas Rutten: A friend of mine in Vegas, she helped me scout. And I had Shawn Tompkins, one of the best if not the best striking coach in the world. Long-time friend of mine who teaches exactly the Bas Rutten system. He spent a long time with me when I came to the States to get the system down and then he started adding his own stuff in it and he's doing phenomenal. So he brought Chris Horodecki in and he brought in Krzysztof Soszynski. Jay Hieron and Alex Schoenauer were right there and we had Mike Pyle also in the beginning because that was a buddy of Jay. Mike was just difficult to fight at 185 lbs. because he walks around at like 180 lbs. So he had to train and do a lot of weight training. It was very difficult. He says, “Bas do you mind if I leave the team?” I said, “of course not if you feel more comfortable at 170 lbs. please go.” We're still friends and sometimes when we train he's still with us. We even went on a fishing trip together. So he's a great guy. But the good thing was I could get Benji Radach and he was my first choice in the beginning, but since he had a neck injury and surgery on it and his knee, I couldn't get him at that time. But now as soon as Mike said he could not do it anymore, I was on the phone one-second later with Benji Radach and said “man if you want, you're on.” And he said “of course.” So now I have the original team that I really wanted. Although don't get me wrong, Mike is a phenomenal fighter but it's just I feel we have a very strong and solid team right now.
MMANews.com: Now your team is obviously on a roll. Aside from your Anacondas who do you feel is the next strongest team at this point?
Bas Rutten: Well that's so difficult to say. I think Renzo Gracie's got a great team. Ken Shamrock's got a great team. Pat Miletich has a great team. I mean it's so even. Maurice Smith – he's also changing a lot of times his teammates. But I mean, Marco Ruas. It's difficult. All of the coaches, they know what to do. I can't give an answer to that ya know it's …that's the team concept, you know? That's the thing you might say oh him and him and him, but it's the team and you never know. This guy could be expected to win and then he'll lose, this guy could lose or win, anything can happen. It's just very difficult to say with the team concept.
MMANews.com: Alright going back to this coming Saturday's team bout between your Anacondas and Frank's Razorclaws, who do you feel is your best match-up on that card and which one do you feel is not your best match-up?
Bas Rutten: I really think it's all a good match-up for us. I think we're gonna do really good, I have a good feeling about it. The fight I'm really looking forward to is Krzysztof Soszynski because the opponent [Dan] Christison, he's the only guy who beat Ben Rothwell and Krzysztof – he lost to Ben in his first fight. But that was a total different Krzysztof than we have now. And Krzysztof really wants to have this rematch but he had his arm, oh no he had a rib pop out last time. So he couldn't fight Ben Rothwell and he was really sick of that. He needed arm surgery but he postponed the arm surgery now and said, “no I want to fight Christison” because if he beats him, ya know? Now he's 265 lbs. and Krzysztof is 230, so it's gonna be a nice one. He's in shape and he really wants to go for this fight. So I'm really looking forward to that fight. For the rest, all my guys – I think we have a really good chance. But for Krzysztof to fight the guy, I mean yeah for him it's kind of like a rematch, you know? Even more than a rematch because he'd beat the guy that he lost to so that's why I'm looking forward to that.
MMANews.com: Now moving on to the next controversial topic. I know you read our interview with Jerry Millen here at MMANews.com.
Bas Rutten: [starts laughing]
MMANews.com: Everybody's been all over this, but apparently there's maybe a little bit of fabrication in what he told me regarding your situation and the other announcers at PRIDE and that's why you're here.
Bas Rutten: It's a total fabrication.
MMANews.com: For the people who don't know – I'm going to recap it just real quick about some of the things he said that involved you and [Stephen] Quadros and [Mauro] Ranallo as well. Now you guys all pretty much pointed the finger at him being the reason of your departures. He claimed to us that he had only worked one event before Quadros was fired and that they just didn't want him. He said that you left on your own because you had some personal problems or issues with the Japanese management or something and also that Mauro decided to leave. That's what he said and that he wanted professionals in his booth and…
Bas Rutten: …let me cut you off.
Make sure to check out MMANews.com tomorrow for part two of our exclusive fourty minute interview with MMA legend Bas Rutten.