Exclusive Interview: Bas Rutten – MMA System Master
By Dave Carpinello
PDG: Thanks for taking the time today. It sounds like you are pretty busy training some fighters in the gym right now.
Bas: Yes, I was right in the workout with some of the fighters but someone is taking over for me. Don’t worry about that, thanks for having me.
PDG: The regular season of the International Fight League just ended and your team the Anacondas had a really good season. How was the overall experience as a coach and mentor?
Bas: The overall experience was very good. I am really hooked to the whole team format that is used in the IFL. You know with all of these guys there is a lot of camaraderie. If one guy is late the whole team is going to be late. If one guy is tired the other ones will pull him through. Sometimes a fighter will have a secret or special move that they don’t like to share with the fighters they are training with but here they want their teammates to win so everyone is sharing all ideas and moves. Its mixed martial arts but you know as well as I do that each fighter has their own strength whether it be striking, wrestling or submissions. The fighters are able to pass their individual strengths onto the other teammates. I think that this is why the team format really works.
PDG: The IFL Grand Prix is coming up in November. Which of your fighters should fans be looking for to make an impact?
Bas: All of them. In the upcoming GP, the four strongest fighters in each weight class from the IFL will be competing to find a champion. Out of our team of five we have four fighters competing in the GP. We have the most fighters in the tournament and all of those guys are doing really well. I have very high expectations for all of them. Chris Horodecki who just turned 20 years old a couple of days ago is doing phenomenal. I think that everyone of them can win the belt in the GP.
PDG: You also have the open tryouts for the IFL coming in October. Can you give some insight on how those will be run and the criteria for choosing a fighter for the IFL.
Bas: They are going to be chosen on many things. First will be how their skills are in mixed martial arts and competing. Then on top of that they will be put on camera to see how they react to being on camera and how colorful of a fighter they are. You know if you have the whole package as in being a very good fighter and on top of that you are very colorful. Then I think you will be the first pick.
PDG: On to other training and seminars that you are involved in. There is another Paradise Warrior Retreat coming up in November. How are those types of seminars? Is the experience good?
Bas: They are great. The beauty of those things is that for the people that sign up they have about six classes per day. All different classes like Benny “The Jet” Urquidez striking class and then like last time Shawn Tompkins came in to help with striking. The participants can choose from many different instructors among different disciplines. We have instructors there doing submissions, yoga, meditation and everything else that has to do with MMA.
PDG: What is the level of talent that is usually at this type of retreat?
Bas: These are guys that are already involved in martial arts that want to broaden their horizons. Like the strikers will come in to work on submissions and so forth as a way to build up their skills.
PDG: Earlier you mentioned Shawn Tompkins. He was the coach of the Anacondas for most of the season. Why did he step down thus putting you in the position to take over again?
Bas: The reason was that Shawn is in very high demand. The coaching demands of the IFL were starting to affect other parts of his career. So he and the IFL decided it would be the best interests of both parties to part ways. He loves the IFL, the team and the fighters but he had to make a choice. You know he took the job as head striking coach for Randy Couture and that is a full time job. So I think they both (the IFL and Shawn) made the right decision as to not have a negative affect on the team.
PDG: Tomorrow night on the History Channel you will be appearing on their new big show the Human Weapon.
Bas: Yea I just got that email so I will be taping the show. I really enjoy the show and I’ll tell you what. When I first came to the United States about nine years ago I pitched that exact same idea to a major writing agency. I thought it would be great to go to Brazil and train Capoeira there. Then compete against those guys and then train Brazilian jiu-jitsu and also fight. Then go to Holland for kickboxing, Thailand for muy-thai and Japan for karate. I thought it was a great idea so when they came up with the Human Weapon show. I was like see I knew it was a great idea back then but the sport of MMA in general had not yet caught on. Now the sport has become so big a show like that is very popular. The show tomorrow night is very good as it features Randy Couture and Dean Lister among others.
PDG: So then with all of the training that you have on your schedule. Are fans going to see your return to the ring or cage anytime soon?
Bas: No, I am so busy right now. I just recently started a new show on HDNet that is called Inside MMA. We are filming that every Wednesday; I have the IFL show and its promotional stuff. My schedule is just very busy right now. I am bringing the Anacondas to the GP and I am training Kimbo Slice for his upcoming fight. I am just happy to have the time to train. I only started training again about three weeks ago. I am going to focus on everything else for the next three months except for me fighting. You know because you really have to commit if you are going to fight and I don’t have the time for that right now. Also, I am 42 years old now and even though Randy has been successful he hasn’t had the career that I have. Randy is very methodical and very good at working around injuries. In the past when I got injured I would keep fighting and now my body is showing that. Randy is doing great because he took better care of his body throughout the years. He makes us old guys look good.
PDG: You mentioned Kimbo Slice. How is he progressing in his training?
Bas: He is doing a phenomenal job in his training and he will be fighting “Tank” Abbott next month. We are just trying to get him ready and he is like a sponge. Kimbo is learning new things everyday. I am really impressed by his improvement and man he hits hard. If he keeps going like this he will be a force to reckon with.
PDG: Let’s go to the overall sport of Mixed Martial Arts. What is your opinion of the current pay scale in the UFC?
Bas: It can always be better but you have to understand that they are in the limelight. The UFC is the biggest show out there and with that comes the opportunity for the fighters to get sponsors and endorsements. They also get a lot of other good things like recognition. It is like what I tell people all the time; if you don’t like to watch the UFC or MMA then don’t and if you are a fighter and you don’t like the pay, then simply don’t fight and find a different organization and see if they will pay you more. I think for the fighters the UFC is the best place to be though as it the biggest company out there.
PDG: Ok how about the recent PRIDE fighters that have come to the UFC and have lost or not lived up to expectations?
Bas: It is a big surprise to me. It looks like most of them are simply running out of gas in their fights. It could have a lot to do with their adjustment to the different time zones. If you have been fighting in Japan which is like eight hours ahead of the US and then you go and fight in the states which is eight hours behind Japan. Maybe that is an adjustment that the PRIDE fighters have been unable to make. You know though those fighters are tough and I am sure they will come back stronger and show people that they belong in the UFC.
PDG: Do you think that Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic can come back and rebound from his last two defeats in the octagon?
Bas: Cro Cop didn’t really look very good his last time out. He had a difficult opponent that was tall and had long arms and legs (Cheick Kongo). He was able to keep CC away with those kicks and punches. CC said it himself from what I have heard “I am getting too old for this shit”. With CC, the sad thing about this business is like what happened this past weekend. Chuck “Iceman” Liddell is a phenomenal fighter and he is one of my all-time favorites. He has done so many good things for the UFC and MMA in general. Chuck losses two fights and everyone is writing his epitaph and saying that he was always overrated. Do people understand how difficult it is to come back from a knockout? Chuck was doing so well in the fight with Keith Jardine until he took that hard shot from Jardine. From that moment on he kind of lost it. I don’t think that some fans realize how much it means to a fighter to do well in front of their fans. You do not want to lose or go down in a fight and disappoint your fans. It will make your mind go into survival mode. I think that fans should support their HERO always like I will. It makes me very sad to read the reactions of the media and fans after his loss.
PDG: Steroids; what are your thoughts?
Bas: My god I hope that the testing is just catching up and that it is not more fighters using them. I have always said that if you need steroids to compete you are not a fighter. Fighting is all about heart, technique and capitalizing upon your opponents mistakes. It is not about putting something into your body and walking around with big muscles saying look at me. In my book if you are on steroids you are a loser.
PDG: Fedor Emelianenko; it has been awhile since he has fought the top competition in the heavy weight ranks. Do you still consider him the #1 HW fighter in MMA?
Bas: I do because of the way his career has gone. What some people don’t know is that with all of these beautiful fights he has had with the likes of CC and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is that he gets better with each fight. He just keeps getting better and better and you can see that if you watch from the beginning until now. Fedor is just waiting for the right opportunity and opponent. From what I hear he is close to signing with the UFC and whatever company gets him. They will be very happy. He is the #1 guy, just look at his record. He has lost only one fight (Tsuyoshi Kohsaka) and he avenged that.
PDG: If Fedor does sign with the UFC and is matched up with Randy Couture. Who wins this fight?
Bas: Just like I said when Randy fought Gabriel Gonzaga. I have to go with my buddy Randy. It is really hard to fight Randy because of his clinch and dirty boxing and he is always pressing the fight against the opponent. Fedor is really good at Greco roman wrestling but maybe Randy is better. I would have to give Randy a higher chance of winning the fight.
PDG: One last question about fighting; you have fought both Ken and Frank Shamrock. Frank recently said he wanted to fight Ken. Who wins this match-up if it ever happened?
Bas: Everyone says that Frank has the better stamina and stand-up. On the other side Ken has finally recovered from the injuries to his arm and shoulder. So if the fight goes to the later rounds I would have to give it to Frank and if the fight were to end in the first round I think it would be Ken that wins. It is a difficult fight to call but the longer it goes the advantage would go to Frank.
PDG: Thanks a lot for your time today Bas; is there anything else that you would like to tell your fans?
Bas: I would encourage them to visit my website www.BasRutten.tv as there is lots of good stuff there. We also have a lot of video clips of after-parties and training on www.mmatoday.com. The draft for the IFL is coming up and if you would like to participate please go to www.ifl.tv to sign up and we will be contacting you soon. If you make it you will be very happy as the IFL takes very good care of its fighters. And last of all make sure you watch Kimbo’s upcoming fight against Tank.
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