Bas Rutten's involvement in MMA has taken him from being a three time King of Pancrase and UFC Heavyweight champion to the voice of PRIDE Fighting Championships. These days he finds himself as one of the hosts of HDNet's Inside MMA series and a commentator for HDNet fights. I had the chance to briefly speak with Bas following Legacy Fighting Championship 10 in Houston, Texas at the Houston Arena Theater. Bas had just finished calling a fantastic night of fights and was preparing to celebrate his 47th birthday in style.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Bas, how are you doing?
Bas Rutten - I'm doing great. I think we had a great night. It was a great night of fights.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - You've been a commentator in PRIDE for a ton of years...how do you think these shows compare, maybe not on the scale of grandiosity but talent wise, what's your thoughts on regional MMA in the states?
Bas Rutten - These kinds of shows, this is where the talent gets discovered. They're trying to do their best and we saw some crazy knockouts tonight. That superman punch was really cool. I think we need shows like this for the fighters to put themselves on the map so a bigger organization will say 'we want you' and I think the way Mick is working on his show...I think he's doing a really good job. I think all the fighters are really happy with what he is doing and I truly believe that if it keeps going like this it could be a much bigger show.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - For you, you've been involved in combat sports for over two decades...closer to three. Do you still have the passion where you wake up and call these fights and get as excited as you were when you were calling Wanderlei Silva vs Rampage Jackson in PRIDE?
Bas Rutten - Of course. Like tonight, where have you seen that superman punch? Did you ever see one like that? I think that was the cleanest superman punch I've ever seen in my life. Slow motion and you saw him aiming the punch and it lands right on the button. It was like Pedro Rizzo knocking out Tank Abbott. It was right on the chin, at the top of the chin. It was beautiful. And when you see a knee to the body and they show the replay and turn up the sound, hearing the referee say that he heard the rib snap at the moment of impact. Dude that's cool stuff. To have talent like that here. That's good to show the rest of the world.
More after the jump...
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Now what do you prefer? Do you prefer to be in action in the cage or do you prefer being behind the microphone?
Bas Rutten - There's nothing like fighting. If I was twenty years younger and I had no injuries I'd keep fighting, no problem. It's the injuries. It's very painful. I can't fight because I simply can't train.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Are you still training people?
Bas Rutten - No, not as much. I teach two times a week at my gym. Regular people but if somebody comes in sometimes then I train them for a week. I just don't have the time, you know? I have two shows on tv. It's a lot of work. Plus the movie stuff.
Matthew Roth - The UFC's going to Japan, from your experience, how do you think the crowd is going to react? Will it be a normal UFC show or will it be a weird kind of surreal environment?
Bas Rutten - I don't know. They have a bunch of Japanese fighters on the card and I think that's where all the power lays. You need a good Sakuraba-like guy who can come in and start beating foreigners. The audience needs somebody to root for and preferably one of their own. A Japanese star. That's going to be hard because there's only one Sakuraba. It's very hard to find guys like that.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Now somebody like Sakuraba, he's still fighting...
Bas Rutten - He shouldn't fight any more. He's beat up. His reflexes are gone. He's only hurting his legacy. So no he shouldn't be fighting anymore.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Last question, you started as a kick boxer. What do you think of the state of kickboxing in Europe and also in Japan?
Bas Rutten - What do I think of the state of kickboxing? With so many people doing mixed martial arts these days, that's where the money is. In kickboxing, the K-1 is gone. There was big money to be made there but it's gone now. So they're going "If I go to mixed martial arts, it's got the money. It's got more exciting sponsorships." It's a shame because to tell you the truth I really enjoyed the K-1. Eighty five percent of the fights end in knockouts. These guys are the real tough guys. These guys are kicking each other, shin on shin, shin on elbow. In step on elbow. Broken feet. It's crazy and then they come back again. They also get knocked out and then the next time they come back they knock someone else out again.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Thank you Bas.