Regardless of whether one is a veteran or if they’re part of the ‘newer’ generation of MMA fans, “El Guapo” Bas Rutten is a fighter that everyone knows. The former UFC heavyweight and three-time King of Pancrase champion is a legend in his own right, who finished his fighting career on an incredible 22-win streak.
After he left his gloves in the cage, he worked as a color commentator in several MMA promotions like Pride and had a fruitful acting career alongside hosting Inside MMA. Now, Rutten also acts as an ambassador for the fast-growing organization, Karate Combat.
Why Bas Rutten Competed in MMA and Not Kickboxing
Speaking to MMA Sucka’s Tim Wheaton, “El Guapo” is a man who seems more than content with his path in life. The 57-year-old fighter doesn’t seem to have an ounce of regret, speaking of his journey through martial arts with absolute joy – it’s hard to deny that Bas Rutten has any love for the sport that he found a career in.
Rutten is a Dutch-born fighter but rather than take the ‘traditionally’ Dutch route of participating in kickboxing tournaments, the former UFC heavyweight champion felt more at home in the world of mixed martial arts. This, despite the massively popular K-1 tournaments happening down the street from him, so to speak.
“When I was kickboxing in Holland, I didn’t have the ‘click’ yet,” he responds when asked about his choice of martial art, “There’s a lot of people who can fight really well in a dojo, but doing it under pressure… It’s a whole different level.”
Rutten was one of those guys, he admits: “I do really well in training, I can tell you that. But, competing on that level… Those guys are different animals, they really are.”
But when he first competed in MMA, at the first-ever Pancrase tournament, it was an experience that brought him to a whole different plane of existence – one that he didn’t want to leave. That night in Tokyo back in 1993, Rutten earned a 43-second KO in the first round against Ryushi Yanagisawa. Since then, the Dutchman went on to amass a 28-4 record before hanging up his gloves for good at the age of 41.
“I’m happy now that I got a bunch of injuries – which I hated at the time – but now I see it: it was given to me for a reason. And now I have a really beautiful record to leave out. To leave the beautiful world of mixed martial arts with.”
Watch the rest of the interview on MMA Sucka’s YouTube channel: