Bas Rutten

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Bas Rutten
Rutten in 2009
BornSebastiaan Rutten
(1965-02-24) 24 February 1965 (age 58)
Tilburg, Netherlands
Other namesEl Guapo ("The Handsome One")
ResidenceAustin, Texas, U.S.[citation needed]
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
Fighting out ofLos Angeles, California, US
Mekki Benazzouz
Rank5th Dan black belt in Kyokushin Karate
2nd Dan black belt in Taekwondo
1st Dan black belt in Judo
Certified Instructor in Pancrase Hybrid Wrestling
Years active1993–1999, 2006 (MMA)
Kickboxing record
By knockout14
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout11
By submission14
By decision3
By submission3
By decision1
Other information
Karin Rutten
(m. 2003)
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog
Last updated on: 21 March 2011 (2011-03-21)

Sebastiaan "Bas" Rutten (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈbɑs ˈrʏtə(n)]; born 24 February 1965) is a Dutch-American actor, former mixed martial artist, kickboxer and professional wrestler. He was a UFC Heavyweight Champion, a three-time King of Pancrase world champion, and finished his career on a 22 fight unbeaten streak (21 wins, 1 draw). From 2007 to 2016, Rutten was the co-host of Inside MMA on AXS TV. Rutten became a naturalized American citizen in the late 1990s.

As a professional fighter, one of his favorite tactics was the liver shot (both punch and kick), and he popularized its use in MMA.[1][2] Rutten is known for his charisma and has capitalized on his celebrity status since retiring from fighting in 1999. He has worked as a color commentator in several MMA organizations, including Pride, and has appeared in numerous television shows, movies, and video games. He also coaches MMA and has authored several instructional materials. In 2008, Rutten was ranked by Inside MMA as the fourth-greatest mixed martial arts fighter of all time.[3]

Early life[edit]

Rutten was born in Tilburg, Netherlands. At the age of six, he developed eczema and severe asthma. His eczema meant he always wore long sleeves, turtle necks and gloves, as well as bandages every night, and his asthma meant he was unable to partake in exercise, and was consequently relatively skinny. He was bullied on a daily basis as a child, although he hid it from his parents in order to spare them more worrying.[4][5] He learned to climb trees and jump between treetops to evade his bullies, who eventually stopped chasing him when one of them fell and almost died trying to follow him.[4]

Bas started training in boxing in the backyard of an elementary school with a friend. Rutten became interested in martial arts at age 12 after his family went on vacation to France, where the movie Enter the Dragon starring Bruce Lee was playing at a local movie theatre. Bas could not get in because the movie was rated 17+, so he and his brother Sjoerd snuck into the theatre. After he saw the movie, he took an interest in martial arts.[6] Rutten even built a makeshift nunchaku to emulate Lee.[4]

At first, his conservative parents did not allow him to pursue his interest but at age 14, after two years of begging, they allowed him to practice taekwondo. He picked it up very quickly, even defeating adults in sparring, and after a few months he got in a street fight with his worst bully, whom Rutten knocked out with the first punch he threw, breaking his nose. The police came to his parents' house and Rutten was immediately prohibited by his parents from further practicing martial arts. Even then, Rutten made a list with all of his bullies and beat them up one by one.[4]

At age 21, he moved out of his parents' house, going to work as a chef, and once again started training taekwondo. He was committed, eventually earning a 2nd degree black belt. He then began learning Kyokushin karate and earned a 2nd-degree black belt.[7]

Kickboxing career[edit]

Bas Rutten started competing in kickboxing at the age of 20 while working also as a bouncer and model. He fought 16 times, winning the first 14 matches by knockout, 13 in the first round, and losing his final two fights.[6] One of them would be against Frank Lobman for the European Muay Thai title on 12 February 1991, with Rutten losing by KO in the first round.[8] According to Rutten, he signed up for the match while under the influence and without any kind of earlier preparation, but he decided not to pull out. [9] He decided to end soon his kickboxing career after being criticized for this single match.[4] His second to last fight was against Rene Rooze, who bit Rutten's ear during the match. In response, Bas landed a knee to the groin, which interrupted the bout and caused a brawl.[10]

Mixed martial arts career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Rutten began his professional mixed martial arts career when he was working as an entertainer. He was scouted by Chris Dolman and invited to train at the Fighting Network RINGS Holland dojo. Though his first training was a difficult start for him, he focused on learning the rudiments of the art.[10] In 1993, when Japanese pro wrestlers Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki traveled to the Netherlands to scout fighters for their new "hybrid wrestling" organization, Pancrase, Rutten was immediately chosen after they saw him knocking out the RINGS champion in sparring.[4][10] A precursor to modern mixed martial arts, the organization was the first of its kind and featured fighting with no closed fisted strikes to the face, and boasted early MMA names Frank Shamrock, Vernon White, Maurice Smith, Ken Shamrock, and Guy Mezger.



In September 1993, Rutten had his debut in Pancrase against the 45lb heavier Ryushi Yanagisawa, knocking him out with palms and knee strikes in only 48 seconds. The KO was so brutal that Yanagisawa was carried from the ring and spent two days in hospital, with Bas himself fearing for his life.[4][10] Rutten's second match, however, would be against a more experienced opponent, Takaku Fuke, and it would expose his main weakness, his lack of groundfighting experience. Fuke took Rutten down and locked an armbar, which forced the Dutch fighter to spend a rope escape, though Bas was eventually able to land a knee strike to the liver to finish the match with a win.


His third match would be his first loss in Pancrase, as he faced a superior opponent in the form of Pancrase founder Masakatsu Funaki. Rutten was taken down and forced to close guard, a moment in which he accidentally hit Funaki with a closed-fisted punch. When he tried to apologize, the Japanese fighter capitalized and executed a toehold, making Rutten tap out. At that point of his career, Rutten realized the importance of the grappling aspect, and he started taping Pancrase trainings in order to practice those moves with his trainee Leon Van Dijk.[9]

The training paid off, as Rutten submitted Japanese wrestler Kazuo "Yoshiki" Takahashi with an inverted heel hook during a grappling exchange that had been overconfidently initiated by Kazuo. The hold itself, which Rutten had learned the previous day by watching it in a promo, completely broke Takahashi's shin bone and earned Rutten an honorary 5th-degree black belt in Kyokushin Budokai by Jon Bluming after he witnessed it.[4] Rutten then got his first high-level win against the other co-founder of Pancrase, the previously undefeated Minoru Suzuki. The Dutch fighter knocked him down with a body kick, resisted successfully all his submissions attempts on the ground and then hit a knee to the liver on a downed Suzuki, finishing him off. Rutten later said that this win was one of the happiest moments of his life.

Just 20 days later, Rutten faced another steep test, fighting future UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock, who was then one of the best Pancrase fighters. This time the Dutch had Masakatsu Funaki himself in his corner, as he had got the Japanese to formally teach him shoot wrestling. Rutten turned in a hard effort, being taken down by Shamrock and held under dominant position for most of the match. The more experienced Shamrock made Rutten spend rope escapes by submitting him with a pair of heel hooks and a rear naked choke, and although Rutten still tried on, he was ultimately choked out. After this, Rutten decided to omit strikes from his training and focus only on grappling, and he bounced back from the loss with a submission win over Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Jason DeLucia, trading submission attempts with him before ending the match with a guillotine choke.

In December 1994, Rutten then participated in one of the greatest events in mixed martial arts history to the point, the King of Pancrase tournament. The winner of this tournament would be crowned the first champion of Pancrase. Rutten was one of the four #1 seeds in the tournament, and his first fight was against MMA newcomer and future UFC champion Frank Shamrock. The fight was a controversial one, as Rutten locked an earlier rear naked choke under the ropes, only to have the referee to break it up without deducting a lost point from Frank. After that point, the two nullified each other until the end of the match, which saw an upset decision win for Shamrock. Frank also left the match with a broken nose by a high kick.[11]


Rutten found a measure of redemption after the upset loss by choking out expert grappler and King of Pancrase tournament finalist Manabu Yamada in his next fight, on 26 January 1995. Rutten was taken to the ground, but he clamped an arm triangle choke from half guard and exerted such a pressure that Yamada, refusing to tap out, was choked out and remained unconscious with his eyes wide open after the hold. Thanks to this performance against the tournament finalist, Rutten received a rematch and a title shot against tournament winner and then-current King of Pancrase Ken Shamrock for the King of Pancrase title on 10 March. The match was very anticipated, but it ended early when Shamrock executed a kneebar and forced Rutten to submit. According to the Dutch, the loss was due to his training partner Funaki teaching him the wrong way to escape a kneebar, which made Rutten spin in the opposite direction, giving Shamrock a tighter hold.[12] Rutten believes Funaki might have done it in purpose in order for him to lose.[4]

After this failure, Rutten focused on grappling even harder and started training 2 to 3 times a day solely on submissions.[10] Rutten's new training paid off, and he stole a win from Takaku Fuke with an armbar from the guard and a finishing heel hook. He then faced another dangerous striker, American kickboxing champion Maurice Smith, who in turn fell down to the mat to avoid Bas's striking. Rutten grappled with him and showed his technical brilliance, firstly submitting Smith with a heel hook performed with his own chin and later executing a figure-four toehold for the win. After dispatching next Jason DeLucia by submission as well, Rutten got a rematch with Frank Shamrock on 23 July. Their fight was similar to the first bout, with both men trading positions and holds, and again the referee controversially broke up two kneebars which were performed by Rutten next to the ropes, but this time Rutten would win the split decision.

The win granted him a challenge title match in September 1995 against the King of Pancrase Minoru Suzuki, which was their rematch from the fight at the beginning of their careers. The match was long and intense, as Suzuki rode Rutten for most of their exchanges in the bout, and actually managed to force him to spend a rope escape with a tight kneebar. Rutten held his own through his defensive acumen, occasionally countering with guillotine chokes and a surprising rolling kneebar from standing, until the match came to its last minutes. After getting from under a mount, Rutten threw a front kick to the body which downed Suzuki and followed with a guillotine choke, making the King of Pancrase tap out.

After putting his title defenses on hold due to an injury, Rutten returned to the ring in a rematch against Maurice Smith. Overwhelmed by Rutten's strikes, Smith opted for taking him down every time possible, but Rutten ended up performing a half guard sweep into a rear naked choke for the tap out. His next time would be against the man he debuted against in Pancrase, Ryushi Yanagisawa, and this time the match lasted 27:35. Despite breaking his hand during the match, Rutten scored three consecutive submissions through the affair before ending it with another rear naked choke.


In March 1996, Rutten faced Lion's Den fighter and future Ultimate Fighting Championship winner Guy Mezger. Through the fight, Rutten dominated the stand-up with liver shots and palm strikes, forcing Mezger to take him down and meet him on the ground. There Mezger was able to control Rutten, but was unable to score a submission, while the Dutch defended and capitalized on the stand-up segments to inflict damage. At the end, after a leglock exchange, Rutten locked a heel hook variation to submit Mezger.

On 16 May 1996 Rutten defended his title before Frank Shamrock in their third match, which was also for Shamrock's interim King of Pancrase title. Controlling the takedowns as usual, Shamrock gained north-south position several times, but was unable to submit Rutten, and Rutten in turn knocked him down with an open-handed uppercut. The two fighters struggled, and even fell off the ring in a failed takedown. In midst of the fight, Frank famously taunted Rutten by sticking out his tongue at him during a leglock exchange, which moved Bas to hit him in the face with a close-fisted punch, losing a point by red card as Shamrock expected.[11] At the end, however, Rutten won the fight by TKO due to an eye cut, unifying the King of Pancrase belts.

Right after his match against Shamrock, Rutten had his rubber match against Jason DeLucia. The fight was controversial for DeLucia repeatedly claiming Rutten had hit him with a closed fist, which cost the Dutch fighter a yellow card and later a red card. In response, Rutten hit several shots to DeLucia's liver, rupturing it and knocking him out painfully.

At Pancrase 1996 Anniversary Show, taking place on 7 September, Rutten defended his undisputed title against Masakatsu Funaki in what is considered to be one of the greatest fights in Pancrase history. The Japanese wrestler came near finishing the match earlier with an ankle lock, but Rutten escaped miraculously and proceeded to fend Funaki off for the rest of the bout, utilizing the same stalling strategy he had used against Suzuki. Funaki made a wide usage of the knee-on-stomach and mount position to initiate leglock attacks, but the Dutch countered every time and eventually pushed Masakatsu away, a moment in which the Japanese threw an illegal kick to Rutten while he was getting up. In response, the Dutch fighter knocked Funaki down with a palm strike, and then completely broke his nose with a second palm strike to a supine Masakatsu. The stunned Japanese tried to trade hits with Rutten, only for Bas to capitalize on this with his famed striking game. Rutten knocked him down twice with palms and knees, and he followed landing a lengthy, unanswered string of strikes until a knee to the face finally downed Funaki for the KO victory. In doing so, he became a three-time King of Pancrase.

Rutten described the war with Funaki in an interview:

Before the fight when he came to me, he made that thumb over the neck, throat slashing motion like I was going to go down. I turned to my manager and said, "Okay, now I'm going to kill this guy, you watch". My game plan was to keep the fight going for 15 minutes ... Funaki had never fought above 15 minutes. But then, like 12 minutes into it, while I'm still on my knees he kicks me in the head. I block, but for me that was an illegal thing to do. So right away I start, BANG, BANG, BANG, and he goes down. From that moment on, I totally destroyed him. You got to see the fight; it was a massacre. My palms were black from hitting him so hard. He had the gods on his side or something, because he stood up every time. I hit his face back on the mat and you hear it slam into the mat. His nose is all the way to the side, broke, they have to straighten it out. I go, "Oh my God, this guy can take a shot!" I kneed him so hard in the head. He went down four times. But the last knee I gave to him was like everything I had. I grabbed him by the head and kneed him. It was really like a Rocky movie. I'm standing there and I fall backwards, and I'm totally out of breath. I get up and the referee holds my hand up. Then he lets my hand go and I drop again, BOOM! I was exhausted, I gave everything I had; I really wanted to destroy him. I broke his cheekbones and broke his nose, just because he said he was going to kill me. Oh, I was so angry at him. But afterwards, friends again ... What a crazy sport this is, huh? [13]

His next fight was an anticipated rematch with Manabu Yamada, which lasted only 0:54 before Rutten made him to tap out to a leg-entangled toehold. Following the match, he relinquished his title to be present for the birth of his second daughter.[6]


On 22 March 1997 Rutten returned to Pancrase in a match against Osami Shibuya, a bout in which he was unexpectedly forced to fight for the draw after his own sternum broke through the struggle. The Dutchman avenged the accident in a rematch with Shibuya, in which he submitted the Japanese with a spinal lock from ura-gatame position he nicknamed "Bas Rutten Neck Crank."

Rutten returned to Pancrase, taking 8 more victories, bringing his unbeaten streak up to 19 straight fights.

Rutten left Pancrase as one of the most dominant fighters in the history of the organization. MMA legend Ken Shamrock was the only fighter Rutten did not avenge a loss to. In 2000, when Rutten was PRIDE FC's color commentator, a third fight with Shamrock was entertained. Rutten agreed to come out of retirement to fight Shamrock in PRIDE FC. However, Shamrock stated that he already beat Rutten twice and that a third time wasn't necessary. Later, in 2002, Rutten said that he would not fight Shamrock again even if it was offered to him because of the friendship they developed over the years, and that he could not put his mind and heart into fighting Ken.[14]

Ultimate Fighting Championship[edit]

UFC Heavyweight Champion[edit]

Rutten was originally told about Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) before its first event in 1993, when would-be UFC competitor Ken Shamrock proposed it to him, but Rutten decided to stay in Pancrase, as he felt the "no rules" format was too dangerous and he did not want to risk his career so early.[15] However, he signed with the UFC in 1998, after his Pancrase career. Rutten entered the UFC with a massive amount of hype; he was undefeated in his last 19 fights and was touted by the organization as the "world's greatest martial artist."[16]

Rutten was originally scheduled to fight heavyweight champion Randy Couture in a title match for the UFC Heavyweight Championship in his first fight, but Couture had a contract dispute and left the UFC to sign with a different promotion. The title was then stripped from Couture and a tournament of sorts was set up to determine the next champion. Thus, the Dutchman's first fight in his quest for the UFC belt was against Fighting Network RINGS exponent Tsuyoshi Kosaka at UFC 18. During the bout, Rutten was repeatedly taken down and struck with ground and pound, but he ended up scoring a dramatic KO with just a minute left in overtime.[16] The fight was a source of controversy because referee John McCarthy seemed to unfairly stand the fight up when Kosaka was mounted on Rutten and actively landing clean effective punches.[16]

On 7 May 1999, at UFC 20, Rutten faced Kevin Randleman for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. The first four minutes consisted of Rutten taking unanswered punishment from his guard, getting blood on his face, but after the fight was stood up to check Rutten's cut, Rutten landed a hard kick to Randleman's liver, slowing his pace for the rest of the fight. They then exchanged strikes in Bas's guard, with the Dutch fighter opening a cut in Randleman via elbow strikes on top of his head, until the end of the overtime. The fight went to the judges, and they gave the split decision win to Rutten, crowning him as UFC Heavyweight Champion.[17] This victory met a heated controversy from fans and professionals of the sport alike, among them Randleman's corner and Mark Coleman, who criticized the judges' decision.[17] Fight judging at that point was not based on the current 10-point must system, but on whom the judges felt won the fight overall.

Rutten vacated the title later in the year, in order to drop down to middleweight (now known as light heavyweight) a weight closer to his natural weight, in a bid to try to become the first person to hold a UFC title in two weight classes.[6] However, he would end up never continuing his career, as while training for his next UFC fight in 1999 he suffered multiple serious injuries, including blowing out his knee (a long-running injury), tearing his biceps, and suffering a neck injury. He was forced to retire from MMA competition for the time being, by doctor's orders.[6]

He was proposed a fight against Kazushi Sakuraba when he was contacted by Pride Fighting Championships, but Rutten declined due to an insufficient fight purse, preferring to sign up as a fight commentator. He was replaced by Wanderlei Silva in the card.[18]

UFC Hall of Fame[edit]

On 22 May 2015 UFC President Dana White appeared on Inside MMA to announce that Rutten would be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame during International Fight Week in July. Rutten is the first European to be inducted, taking his place in the "Pioneers" wing of the UFC's new-look Hall of Fame.[19][20]

Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz has credited Rutten for inspiration during his early days. Ortiz said; "I looked up to Bas Rutten. Bas was my idol. People were just so scared of fighting him, he was like the man. I thought that was what I need to do now. If I train as hard as he does then one day I'll be as good as him and two years later look where I am, I'm on top of the world. I've got to say thanks to him, (Bas) for helping me out by making me believe in dreams."[21]

Last fight[edit]

In May 2006, Rutten announced his return to MMA competition. Cleared by doctors to fight again, Rutten was slated to face Kimo Leopoldo in the now-defunct World Fighting Alliance on 22 July 2006, at The Forum in Los Angeles. Two days before the event, Kimo tested positive for Stanozolol, an anabolic steroid. In place of Kimo, Rutten fought Ruben "Warpath" Villareal. Rutten took a first-round victory by way of technical knockout after low kicks left his opponent unable to stand. With that he brought up his professional record to 28 wins 4 losses and 1 draw. After the fight, Rutten tested positive for hydrocodone, morphine, and diphenhydramine.[22]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Rutten competed in Japanese professional wrestling following his Pancrase tenure. He made his debut at the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2000 event, where he teamed up with Alexander Otsuka to defeat the team of Naoki Sano and Ricco Rodríguez, with Rutten personally submitting Sano with a crossface chickenwing.[23] He also wrestled in Battlarts, defeating Carl Malenko by KO via palm strike.

In 2002, Rutten debuted in New Japan Pro-Wrestling as a part of Antonio Inoki's MMA army. Before his first match, he was featured in vignettes learning the shining wizard from watching Keiji Mutoh tapes in order to adapt to NJPW professional wrestling.[24] He mostly wrestled in singles matches, beating both rookies and veterans like Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Masayuki Naruse. In July, he challenged for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Yuji Nagata, but he was defeated. After three months, in October, he was featured in a special European Catch Wrestling Rules Match against Osamu Nishimura with Tony St. Clair as a special referee. The match went to a time limit draw after ten rounds, despite Nishimura's illegal blows. The same month, Rutten dropped down to the junior heavyweight division and received another title match, this time against Koji Kanemoto for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, but he was unsuccessful.

Post-fight career[edit]

After his retirement from fighting in 1999, Rutten focused on becoming an actor, getting small parts on TV shows such as Martial Law, 18 Wheels of Justice, The King of Queens, "Lights Out" and the Canadian series Freedom, as well as appearing in low budget movies such as Shadow Fury, The Eliminator, and the comedy short The Kingdom of Ultimate Power which was featured in the 2005 L.A. Film Festival. It also won the first prize at the short film festival in NY for "best comedy".

Rutten was also the color commentator for the English productions of Pride Fighting Championships events, calling nearly every event from Pride 1 through the 2005 Grand Prix. Known for his sense of humor and first-hand knowledge of the sport, Rutten quickly became a fan favorite commentator. In April 2006 he announced that he would not continue to announce for Pride, due to the constant flying to Japan, and being away from his family every month.[25]

Rutten in 2011

Rutten has a cameo in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV on the in-game TV show called "The Men's Room."[26] He also did motion capture for the main character's fighting moves. He said that when he arrived at the motion-capture place in New York he asked the people in charge how violent they wanted to have it and they told him to "give it all he got". After two hours they stopped him and said, "It's OK, you don't have to go any further".[27]

He was also featured in WCW vs. the World for the PlayStation, but was named "Thunder Dome" to avoid copyright laws.

On 23 January 2008, he was announced as the new Vice President, Fighter Operations reporting directly to IFL CEO Jay Larkin. His role was to build relations between the IFL and its fighters as well as work on potential match-ups between fighters. He also hosted the weekly shows "Battleground" and "International Fight League" with Kenny Rice. This all ended when IFL went out of business in late 2008.

In 2009, he appeared in the music video for Listen to Your Friends by the rock band New Found Glory, "fighting" lead vocalist Jordan Pundik. Bas and Rice hosted Inside MMA, a weekly MMA variety show on AXS TV. The pair also did remote English commentary and play-by-play for Dream events broadcast in North America on HDNet. The pair were eventually replaced by Guy Mezger and Michael Schiavello, who attend the events live in Japan. He is currently appearing in public health service ads, airing on Cartoon Network. He also made a public service announcement against trying out MMA at home but CagePotato ridiculed it for its mixed messages.[28]

Rutten was featured in the 2012 American sports comedy movie Here Comes the Boom alongside Kevin James and Henry Winkler. Rutten played the role of a former MMA fighter and Dutch immigrant Niko trying to gain US citizenship. In return for his help in gaining citizenship, Niko helps train 42-year-old biology teacher Scott (Kevin James) to become a MMA fighter in the UFC. The film also features former UFC fighter Krzysztof Soszynski, former Muay Thai kickboxer Mark DellaGrotte along with cameo roles for Bruce Buffer, Chael Sonnen, Jason Miller, Satoshi Ishii, Mark Muñoz, Herb Dean, Wanderlei Silva, and Joe Rogan amongst others.

On 23 October 2013, the World Series of Fighting announced Rutten as a member of the broadcast team for WSOF events on NBCSN along with Todd Harris.[29]

Rutten currently works as a commentator for Karate Combat.


Rutten is certified as an instructor of both MTBN Thai Boxing and mixed martial arts, as well as krav maga.[10]

Rutten coached Mark Kerr during the filming of the HBO documentary The Smashing Machine.

In 2006, Rutten was a team coach for the International Fight League, an MMA organization that focused on team combat. His team, the Anacondas, defeated the Silverbacks 3–2. He is also a former investor in the Legends MMA gym in Hollywood and used to teach there occasionally,[30] and is now a part owner of the MMA gym Bas Rutten's Elite Mixed Martial Arts in Thousand Oaks, California. He teaches a MMA class on Tuesdays.[31]

He has also trained former street fighter Kimbo Slice for his professional MMA bouts, as well as professional wrestler Samoa Joe.

Fighting style[edit]

Rutten's main reason for success in Pancrase was his well-rounded fighting style, excelling both in striking and grappling. His stand-up offensive, learned from the Dutch school of Muay Thai, Karate and Taekwondo was aggressive yet deceptively technical.[32] According to Frank Shamrock, it often intimidated other fighters. He would say, "His kickboxing was devastating. It was something everybody feared. The other thing he had was a basic understanding of real fighting ... Bas had that street fighter mentality."[33]

One of his favored tactics in the ring was unbalancing his opponents with push kicks against the ring ropes before overwhelming them with palm strikes and body punches, nullifying their ability to counterattack or defend.[32] Rutten never developed an effective takedown defense, but he was apt at landing strikes while being taken down, having knocked out opponents before they could complete the technique.[32] The most famous aspect of his striking, however, was his skill to target the opponent's liver, using punches, knees and kicks to damage it and incapacitate his adversary.[32]

He stated his striking was influenced by his career as a bouncer, when he would often have to fight multiple opponents in the street. He would strike with his palms and forearms rather than closed fists in order to protect his hands from impact against the opponent's skull, which later helped him in the Pancrase ruleset.[4]

Rutten's groundwork was built through a slow evolution and was unusual for being mostly self-taught.[34] Initially counting only on defense rudiments learned from Chris Dolman, he developed his game by copying Pancrase trainings and became a dangerous submission fighter. His grappling style was patterned after Pancrase's native shoot wrestling (better known as "Catch wrestling" in the west), and he focused on chokeholds, leglocks, and a solid submission defense, which helped him to avoid being forced to submit by even high-level offensive grapplers like Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Rutten currently lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Karin and two daughters – Sabine and Bianca. Rutten also has a daughter from his first wife; her name is Rachele.[35] He became a citizen of the United States[36] twenty years ago.[37] At the end of 2015, he became a grandfather for the first time: a grandson from Rachele, who currently lives in Belgium.

Rutten is friends with fellow Dutchman and former UFC competitor Gerard Gordeau.[15]

Rutten is known by the moniker "El Guapo", which means "The Handsome One" in Spanish.

He became known for the victory celebration known as "Rutten Jump", in which he would do a jumping split after winning a fight.[6] Rutten talked about the origins of the Rutten Jump on his website: "When I won my first fight in Pancrase, I was so hyped that I jumped up in the splits to each side of the ring. Why? I don't know. But, it became my trademark and I had to do it after every fight that I won."[38]

In 2010, Rutten partnered with clothing brand, Tokyo Five,[39] to produce and star in a cooking show titled Grandma's Kitchen with Bas Rutten. The show's pilot was scheduled to air 26 February 2010; however, due to a physical altercation between Rutten and co-hosts, production has been delayed indefinitely.[40]

In 2018, he was inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame.[41]


Rutten is a practicing Catholic, talking about his faith in God on YouTube. Raised in a Catholic family, Rutten stopped practicing the faith at around 12 years old when his parents stopped attending church, but he returned to the faith in 2013.[42] He has credited his friend Kevin James, and others, with helping him in his journey back to Catholicism.[43] Rutten has spoken out against anti-Catholic discrimination in Hollywood.[citation needed]


Rutten has several tattoos, each of which is intended to help him spiritually and emotionally.[44]

Street fights[edit]

Bas Rutten is known for his brawls and bar fights around the world. In particular, he once threw Paul Varelans through a glass window in Russia via kimura lock when Varelans tried to bite his back, and immediately after he disarmed and assaulted an armed bouncer.[10] He also participated in a brawl that took place at a bar in Sweden in which he fought several bouncers at the same time.[45] This fight is particularly notorious as it landed Rutten in a Swedish jail.[45]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Mixed martial arts[edit]

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Professional record breakdown
33 matches 28 wins 4 losses
By knockout 11 0
By submission 14 3
By decision 3 1
Draws 1
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 28–4–1 Ruben Villareal TKO (leg kicks) WFA: King of the Streets 22 July 2006 1 3:24 Los Angeles, California, United States
Win 27–4–1 Kevin Randleman Decision (split) UFC 20 7 May 1999 1 21:00 Birmingham, Alabama, United States Won the vacant UFC Heavyweight Championship. Later vacated title due to injury.
Win 26–4–1 Tsuyoshi Kohsaka TKO (punches) UFC 18 8 January 1999 1 14:15 Kenner, Louisiana, United States
Win 25–4–1 Kengo Watanabe TKO (palm strikes) Pancrase: 1998 Anniversary Show 14 September 1998 1 2:58 Tokyo, Japan
Win 24–4–1 Keiichiro Yamamiya Submission (rear-naked choke) Pancrase: Alive 11 20 December 1997 1 4:58 Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Win 23–4–1 Osami Shibuya Submission (body crunch) Pancrase: 1997 Anniversary Show 6 September 1997 1 3:15 Urayasu, Chiba, Japan
Win 22–4–1 Takaku Fuke Submission (armbar) Pancrase: Alive 7 30 June 1997 1 4:28 Hakata, Fukuoka, Japan
Win 21–4–1 Kiuma Kunioku Decision (points) Pancrase: Alive 4 27 April 1997 1 15:00 Urayasu, Chiba, Japan
Draw 20–4–1 Osami Shibuya Draw (majority) Pancrase: Alive 3 22 March 1997 1 15:00 Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Win 20–4 Manabu Yamada Submission (ankle lock) Pancrase: Truth 7 8 October 1996 1 0:54 Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Win 19–4 Masakatsu Funaki KO (knee) Pancrase: 1996 Anniversary Show 7 September 1996 1 17:05 Urayasu, Chiba, Japan Defended the King of Pancrase title.
Win 18–4 Jason DeLucia KO (kick to the body) Pancrase: Truth 6 25 June 1996 1 8:48 Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Japan
Win 17–4 Frank Shamrock TKO (doctor stoppage) Pancrase: Truth 5 16 May 1996 1 11:11 Tokyo, Japan Unified and defended the King of Pancrase title.
Win 16–4 Katsuomi Inagaki TKO (points) Pancrase: Truth 4 8 April 1996 1 14:07 Tokyo, Japan
Win 15–4 Guy Mezger Submission (ankle lock) Pancrase: Truth 2 2 March 1996 1 19:36 Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Win 14–4 Ryushi Yanagisawa Submission (rear-naked choke) Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 7 14 December 1995 1 27:35 Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
Win 13–4 Maurice Smith Submission (rear-naked choke) Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 6 4 November 1995 1 4:34 Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Win 12–4 Minoru Suzuki Submission (guillotine choke) Pancrase: 1995 Anniversary Show 1 September 1995 1 15:35 Tokyo, Japan Won the King of Pancrase title.
Win 11–4 Frank Shamrock Decision (split) Pancrase: 1995 Neo-Blood Tournament Second Round 23 July 1995 1 15:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 10–4 Jason DeLucia Submission (heel hook) Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 5 13 June 1995 1 1:32 Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
Win 9–4 Maurice Smith Submission (kneebar) Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 4 13 May 1995 1 2:10 Urayasu, Chiba, Japan
Win 8–4 Takaku Fuke Submission (heel hook) Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 3 8 April 1995 1 1:52 Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Loss 7–4 Ken Shamrock Submission (kneebar) Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 2 10 March 1995 1 1:01 Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan For the King of Pancrase title.
Win 7–3 Manabu Yamada Technical Submission (arm-triangle choke) Pancrase: Eyes of Beast 1 26 January 1995 1 1:05 Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Loss 6–3 Frank Shamrock Decision (majority) King of Pancrase tournament opening round 16 December 1994 1 10:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 6–2 Jason DeLucia Submission (guillotine choke) Pancrase: Road to the Championship 5 15 October 1994 1 1:43 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 5–2 Ken Shamrock Submission (rear-naked choke) Pancrase: Road to the Championship 3 26 July 1994 1 16:42 Tokyo, Japan
Win 5–1 Minoru Suzuki KO (knee to the body) Pancrase: Road to the Championship 2 6 July 1994 1 3:43 Amagasaki, Hyogo, Japan
Win 4–1 Kazuo Takahashi TKO (knee injury) Pancrase: Road to the Championship 1 31 May 1994 1 1:37 Tokyo, Japan
Win 3–1 Vernon White Submission (guillotine choke) Pancrase: Pancrash! 3 21 April 1994 1 1:16 Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Loss 2–1 Masakatsu Funaki Submission (toe hold) Pancrase: Pancrash! 1 19 January 1994 1 2:58 Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Win 2–0 Takaku Fuke KO (knee to the body) Pancrase: Yes, We Are Hybrid Wrestlers 2 14 October 1993 1 2:03 Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Win 1–0 Ryushi Yanagisawa KO (palm strike) Pancrase: Yes, We Are Hybrid Wrestlers 1 21 September 1993 1 0:43 Urayasu, Chiba, Japan


Year Title Role Notes
1992 Shadow of the Dragon Kismet Film
1997 WCW vs. the World Thunder Dome Video Game
1999 Martial Law Roman Van Reit TV Episode: "Nitro Man"
2000 Freedom The Bad Guy TV Episode: "Lonewolf"
2000 The King of Queens Emil TV Episode: "Party Favors"
2001 Shadow Fury Adult Kismet Film
2002 The Smashing Machine Himself Documentary
2002 Modern Warriors
2002 NJPW Samurai TV TV series
2004 The Eliminator Dakota Varley Film
2005 The Vault General Matos Film
2005 The King of Queens Niles TV Episode: "Deconstructing Carrie"
2005 The Kingdom of Ultimate Power Vlad Rifka Short
2006 IFL: International Fight League Announcer TV series
2006 Backlash Grazer Film
2007 Fight Science Himself TV Documentary
2007 The Modern Warrior
2008 Grand Theft Auto IV Himself (voice)/Niko Bellic (motion-capture fighting double) Video Game
2008 Fight Science Himself TV Episode: "Fighting Back"
2009 Paul Blart: Mall Cop Drill Instructor Film
2009 Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony Himself (voice) Video Game
2009 Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned
2010 EA MMA
2010 Sinners & Saints Dekker Film
2011 Lights Out Dokaj TV episode: "Bolo Punch"
2011 Zookeeper Sebastian the Wolf (voice) Film
2012 Here Comes the Boom Niko
2012 UFC Undisputed 3 Himself (voice) Video Game
2012 Punk Payback Himself TV Series
2012 Myrskyn Ratsastajat TV Documentary
2014 Mercy Rule Coach Film
2015 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 Henk
2015 Liv and Maddie Uncle Martucci TV series (Season 3, Episode 8 "Ask Her More-A-Rooney")[49]
2016 EA Sports UFC 2 Himself (playable character) Video Game
2016 The River Thief Clyde Film
2017–2018 Kevin Can Wait Rutger/Rootger Van De Kamp Recurring role


  • Bas Rutten's Big Book of Combat, Volumes One and Two (2002)
  • Bas Rutten's Big DVDs of Combat
  • Bas Rutten's Lethal Street Fighting (2003)
  • Bas Rutten's MMA Workout (2001)
  • Bas Rutten's Superior Free Fight Techniques
  • Bas Rutten's "Extreme Pancrase" No-Holds Barred Fighting System
  • Training with Bas Rutten "Never Back Down Special Features" 2008
  • TERA Online" Spokesman" 2012


  1. ^ The 10 Best Signature Moves in MMA. Bas Rutten's liver shot is #1.
  2. ^ Barry, Steve. (5 January 2009) The Origin of Bas Rutten's Love of the Liver Shot?. Retrieved on 26 January 2016.
  3. ^ Inside MMA (television). AXS TV. 2008. Event occurs at 0:15. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "The Tim Ferriss Show transcripts: UFC Hall of Famer Bas Rutten on Fundamentals of Real Self-Defense, Savage Fight Stories, How He's Handled Bullies, Breathing Techniques for Increasing Stamina and Endurance, The Art of Personal Reinvention, and Cultivating the Practice of Prayer (#621)". Tim Blog. 19 September 2022. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  5. ^ "Karate Combat: Interview with Bas Rutten". Fighter Mag. 8 August 2022. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Official biography Archived 20 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine. (30 November 2015). Retrieved on 26 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Bas Rutten" (in Japanese). Pancrase Official Site. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  8. ^ 1991 Bas Rutten vs Frank Lobman (12-02-1991). Retrieved on 26 January 2016.
  9. ^ a b "From Bullying the Bullies to MMA Heavyweight Champion — The Bas Rutten Story". Fight Times. 27 November 2009.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Nation, Mark Ginther, T. (16 January 2004). "Two Fisted T-Man". T NATION.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ a b Frank Shamrock, Uncaged: My Life as a Champion MMA Fighter, Chicago Review Press
  12. ^ OfficialBasRutten (21 August 2014). "Bas Rutten's Career MMA Fight #11 vs. Ken Shamrock". Archived from the original on 13 December 2021 – via YouTube.
  13. ^ T NATION | MMA Legend Bas Rutten. Retrieved on 2010-11-15.
  14. ^ Boone, Matt (6 February 2003) Bas Rutten Speaks On Shamrock, Tank, UFC/PRIDE, & More Archived 22 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b Santoliquito, Joseph (12 November 2013). "Let There Be Fight – Pioneers Emerge". Sherdog. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  16. ^ a b c Newman, Scott (16 August 2006). "MMA Review: #92: UFC 18: The Road to the Heavyweight Title". The Oratory. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  17. ^ a b Newman, Scott (26 October 2006). "UFC 20: The Battle for the Gold Review". Sports Oratory. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  18. ^ Snowden, Jonathan (2010). Total Mma: Inside Ultimate Fighting. ECW Press. ISBN 978-15-549033-7-5.
  19. ^ Martin, Damon. (23 May 2015) Former heavyweight champion Bas Rutten to be inducted to UFC Hall of Fame. FOX Sports. Retrieved on 26 January 2016.
  20. ^ Dana White Surprises Bas Rutten w/ UFC Hall of Fame Invitation. YouTube (22 May 2015). Retrieved on 26 January 2016.
  21. ^ Tito Ortiz interview by Pooch : Submission Fighting UK Interviews. (1 May 2001). Retrieved on 15 November 2010.
  23. ^ ""Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye" Results". Purolove (in German). Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  24. ^ "July 2002 News Archive (Incomplete)".
  25. ^ Bas Rutten exposes Gary "Jerry" Millen Archived 17 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine. (14 March 2007). Retrieved on 26 January 2016.
  26. ^ GTA4: Rutten is hilarious. (29 April 2008). Retrieved on 26 January 2016.
  27. ^ Zeidler, Benjamin (17 June 2008) Bas in GTA4.
  28. ^ "Video Tribute: MMA's Eight Greatest Public Service Announcements". Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  29. ^ "World Series of Fighting Announces Bas Rutten Todd Harris as Broadcast Team".
  30. ^ Kalstein, Dave (May 2008) Legends Gym: Bright Lights, Big City.
  31. ^ "Bas Ruttens Elite MMA Gym of Westlake Village CA – Welcome to the Elite".
  32. ^ a b c d Slack, Jack (6 November 2012). "UFC Macao Judo Chop: Cung Le and MMA's Best Kickers". Blood Elbow. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  33. ^ The overlooked origins of mixed martial arts: Part II Archived 3 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 15 November 2010.
  34. ^ a b Grant, T.P. (17 November 2012). "MMA Origins: A New Era Dawns as Bas Rutten Reigns in Pancrase". Blood Elbow. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  35. ^ Villarreal, Adam. Who's the Bas?
  36. ^ Razak, Bobby. History of MMA: Bas Rutten. Bobby Razak (Interview). Event occurs at 8:08. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  37. ^ StevenCrowder (5 May 2017). "#163 Trumpcare Wins! Bill NYE Loses! Bas Rutten and Andrew Klavan – Louder With Crowder". Archived from the original on 13 December 2021 – via YouTube.
  38. ^ FAQ: The Home of Bas Rutten. Wednesday, 3 November 2004
  39. ^ "Tokyo Five Brand".
  40. ^ Bas Rutten Cooking Show Pilot Ends In Debacle. (4 March 2010). Retrieved on 26 January 2016.
  41. ^ Dr. Robert Goldman (9 March 2018). "2018 International Sports Hall of Fame Inductees". Retrieved 14 July 2023.
  42. ^ The Faith of a Fighter: An Interview with MMA Legend Bas Rutten Sam Guzman, (January 2017)
  43. ^ UFC legend reveals actor helped him in journey back to Catholicism (26 November 2018)
  44. ^ Bas Rutten: Exclusive Interview Archived 23 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine in Black Belt Magazine
  45. ^ a b "Bas Rutten's Crazy Swedish Bar Fight Story" (in Japanese). The Joe Rogan Experience. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  46. ^ "Bas Rutten to Enter UFC Hall of Fame in July". 22 May 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  47. ^ Martin, Todd. (3 August 2014) Imagining an MMA Hall of Fame: The Shoo-Ins – Bas Rutten. Retrieved on 26 January 2016.
  48. ^ MMA Awards. Fight Matrix. Retrieved on 26 January 2016.
  49. ^ "IMDb: Liv and Maddie "Ask Her More-A-Rooney" (Season 3, Episode 8)". Retrieved 31 July 2018.

External links[edit]

Preceded by 4th UFC Heavyweight Champion
7 May 1999 – 8 June 1999
Rutten retired
Title next held by
Kevin Randleman
Preceded by 3rd Pancrase Openweight Champion
1 September 1995 – October 1996
Family reasons
Title next held by
Masakatsu Funaki