Champion MMA fighter-turned-actor and TV personality Bas Rutten is one of the most interesting and colourful interviews in the sport. So, when FO got a chance to sit down and speak with ‘El Guapo’ himself, we of course jumped at the opportunity.
In our exclusive interview, Rutten discussed his childhood, his career highlights and more.
If you could pick one fight from your career that every combat sports fan should see, which one would you choose?
“The rematch against [Masakatsu] Funaki. He beat me the first time (Pancrase: Pancrash! 1) in 1994, but when I fought him again two years later in Japan my ground game was much improved. I knocked him down like five times, but every time he got back up and the home crowd was cheering his name. It was amazing. My knees were bruised from kneeing him in the head so much. But I finally finished him.”
Is there one fighter you never faced off against, but wished you had?
“Rickson Gracie. At the time everyone was saying he was the greatest so I actually challenged him. People twisted the whole thing and tried to say it was because I didn’t like him. But I had nothing against him, I just wanted to find out who was the best.
“And I would have loved another rematch against Ken [Shamrock], after improving my ground skills. It almost happened in Pride, and I would have come out of retirement, but he declined. He said we’d already done it twice and didn’t need a third.”
Bruce Lee was one of your boyhood heroes, so how does it feel now you’ve become a movie star like him?
“When you say it like that, it’s cool. I never thought of it like that. I just saw Bruce Lee kicking people’s asses and thought that was my answer to beating the bullies. Since then I’ve been blessed in my life with my career choices.
“I’ve worked as a commentator for Pride. Then the clips on YouTube became a success. I got so much work from that! I got Cartoon Network. I started doing more and more acting. Then I got a movie part with Kevin James in Here Comes the Boom. In fact, he kind of wrote the role of Niko for me after I began training him for another film.”
Bas Rutten spoke to Tony Reid. For the full interview, order a copy of our Johny Hendricks cover issue.