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Bas Rutten offers CM Punk advice for debut: Forget America, go to Holland

MMA legend Bas Rutten offers his thoughts on the CM Punk signing and how the former WWE star should go about preparing for his first MMA fight.

The recent signing of former WWE superstar Phil 'CM Punk' Brooks has led to mixed responses from the majority of the MMA community. While many scoffed at the suggestion that Brooks could hold his own as an MMA fighter, others showed an interest in taking him under their wing to train at their camps with the hopes of helping him hone his craft.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Bas Rutten was one of the few who offered some sound advice for Punk, and even revealed that he believes Brooks' involvement in MMA is a positive decision for the sport overall.

"I truly believe it's a great thing, and you know he comes in with absolutely nothing," Rutten told Submission Radio. "I mean he's not saying "oh I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that". He's saying "listen I'm 36 years old. You know I always would love to do this, my time card is going to punch out at a certain age and I cannot do it anymore. Why not go to the UFC and see if I can do it now?". And Dana's going to be good. He's not going to right away feed him like the Champion or something, you know? Give him a normal fight and see what he can do.

"This guy with his with all his dedication - because people can talk about WWE what they want. I mean these guys work. They work so hard. They do 220 shows a year if not more, and that's just shows. That's not even without the travelling. So these guys are on the road the whole time, they have to do the shows. He's already over, he knows how to deal with the audience, you know. The other guy that kind of comes to mind to me - and don't hold me to it, I'm not going to say he's a Sakuraba - but Sakuraba also was a pro wrestler who already worked, had a great ground game. But I think once you're used to that audience and to do things under pressure, it's a great way to come in. And if he already has a good ground game; and he said "Listen I'm still a white belt. I haven't got my blue belt because I'm so inconsistent with my training" because he trains in Florida, I believe with Rener Gracie. And he says "I'm almost never there", but he trains also where he lives, with all his friends, and he evolves a lot.

"So his ground game, I truly believe he has a solid ground game. You know the mind set is there. Once a guy like that goes to train with all the pressure that he has, that will only help him in training. And then and the pressure in fighting, I don't know if that's going to get to him, because he's used to preforming under pressure. It's like stand up comedians. Most of the time these guys are great actors as well, because they're used to preforming under pressure with the live audience. That's got to be the most nerve racking thing there is. So then when you do it in the movie, well it's kinda easy, and I think he's going to have that too. Only his striking, that's what everybody of course now is thinking about. How is his striking, and can he stand with somebody? Are they going to give him a great wrestler who's also a great striker? That would be a problem maybe. Or if they say ‘no let's just get an even guy, also a guy who's great on the ground and see what happens'. I see it as a great thing, great for Mixed Martial Arts because you have more eye balls coming from WWE fans. They're going to tune in now; they're going to see it as well. So what's not to like?"

Interestingly, when asked about the prime location for Punk to train and evolve exponentially, Rutten suggested that He should leave America and go train in Holland to truly develop his striking arsenal.

"You know it depends on everybody. You know with me, I didn't get the ground game in the beginning, and then a really stupid thing made me suddenly understand the ground game. Like when they told me "oh if I block your right leg and your right arm, I can push you to that side because you cannot base out". It was literally something stupid like that. And I was literally looking at the guy and I go "oooh my god, I never saw that?". And I think since then - and that was a long time ago - I maybe tapped three times in the rest of my life. I never lost a fight anymore. Like, everything came together from that stupid little thing.

"So sometimes that happens with striking as well, and he should go just basic striking; cross, hook, cross, hook, cross, inside, outside low kicks maybe after punching, not just kicking. Always set it up I say. You know, and the clinch, make sure you have a great clinch. And once you start fighting like that and you know really well how to throw a cross-hook the correct way, and hit it hard and solid, and you aim for the shots. Then of course liver shots is not that big of a stretch, or a right straight to the body and a left kick to the head. It's all the same movements, you're only changing to high step. So from a simple cross-hook-cross, or a cross-hook, you can make eight combinations. And if you do that and keep it basic, he's not going to be taken down probably because it's basic; and you know after your short combination you might have to defend a take down. So that's possible."

"The trick is to do it a lot, to go spar with good guys. And I really hope he finds a great camp. I already said, if he wants to jump in my classes some time to give him the basic stuff and to see, you know I work on that, please be my guest. Because I would love to do a thing like that; same as what I did with Kimbo Slice. But really, if I have to give him some advice, I say go to Holland. Forget America right now, go to Holland. Go to a gym like a Maeng Ho gym [with] really great strikers there, and start training with those guys. These guys are so good that they won't beat you up in training. Because if you have a guy a little bit less technical, they will hit you by accident, they'll knock you out by accident, they'll hurt you by accident. Guys like that in Holland, it's what they do. It's one of their main sports in Holland; kickboxing, Thai boxing. So if you go there and just everyday you work on your striking - and don't worry, they have great wrestlers there as well - but three times a week or four times a week you grapple, and then eight times a week you do solid striking.

"That's what I would suggest for him. And then do it for four months in a row or something. Then you're going to come back, and then you make big steps. But go into gym and say - I've had some guys that were world champions already; I say "I want to teach you some striking" [and they say] "just hold up the focus mitts for me". I say "well you can pay somebody for that. I'm not going to do that", you know. That's the dumbest thing that you can tell me. You don't know how to strike, I want to show you how to strike. If you hit the focus mitt with no technique, what is that going to do in a fight? You know, they think that they are there. They think that if they do it three times a week - no double it up. It's what I did with ground fighting. I lost my last fight by ground fighting. And then I said "ok, two, three times a day, seven days a week we're going to do ground now" and it changed my life. Like I said, I never lost anymore. But I just flipped it. You have to flip it [training]. If he already has a solid ground game, start striking, and do it a lot."

Rutten used the example of heavyweight Heath Herring, who was advised to head to Holland and eventually benefited from the decision.

"Look at Heath Herring. Heath Herring was a wrestler. He was fighting in Colorado at the Bas Rutten invitational. He won his fight, he was a wrestler, but he looked really horrible on his feet. And he told me, he said "what would you do if you were in my shoes?" I said "you want to have a career?" He said "yeah". I said "move to Holland. Go to Holland and train there with the best strikers on the planet". And he took my advice to his heart, he went to Holland, he lived there for a year and a half, and then his whole reign in Pride came, Pride fighting championship. I mean it changed his life. He even speaks Dutch."

Transcription taken from Submission Radio.

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