Editor’s note: We would like to thank Bas Rutten’s manager, Don Clovis, for
making this interview possible.
Gus: Why do they call you "El Guapo"?
Bas: I named myself that. I saw the movie “The three amigos”, THERE IS A REALLY
UGLY Mexican bandit in that movie that everybody called, “El Guapo”! I thought
it would be funny to call myself that, since I already called myself the “Most
handsome fighter in NHB”. It’s a joke, don’t get me wrong.
Gus: I must confess that I am impressed by Dutch fighters. They are tough, fast
and decisive. What do you think makes them so professional?
Bas: I don’t really know. Is it that we have something to prove because the
country is so small?? I really can’t tell you and a lot of people ask me the
The funniest answer came from Japan; they thought it was because there are
hormones in the meat that we eat in Holland. I thought that was a good one.
Gus: I heard that you had some problem with your health. Are you OK now?
Bas: I am OK now. I had a long time off and I am feeling good again.
Gus: How many different styles of fighting have you trained in? Do you have any
ranks? Who do you consider your teacher?
Bas: Tae Kwon Do 2nd Degree, Kyokushin Karate 2nd Degree, Thai boxing yellow
slip (just kidding), Kyokushin All round fighting 5th Degree (I received this
after I defeated Takahashi. I didn’t do any test for this).
I thought a lot myself, striking wise I would say that I learned the most at
Mean Ho gym in Breda Holland. Cor Hemmers is the teacher there, he is very good.
I started learning the basics in Grappling with Chris Dolman in Holland.
Gus: What is your favorite move?
Bas: KO to the body.
Gus: Some people say that there is no such thing as being "ring-proven" and that
true martial artists don't compete. What is your opinion?
Bas: That makes no sense. These people are too afraid to fight and make that up
as an excuse NOT to fight. Everybody knows that fighting and training are
totally different. You have the, so called “Dojo fighters”, they are real good
in the Dojo, but if they have to fight with all the pressure, they can’t
perform. What is a better proving ground for a fighter than a ring or a cage or
It is like saying that soccer, basketball, golf, swimming etc. etc. is not done
by true athletes because they compete! If this is true for Martial Artists, it
should be true for every sport. That makes no sense! I say they are too afraid
to prove themselves.
What is a better way to test your limits than competing? If you train without
competing don’t be so sure that it will be enough when you have to defend
yourself on the street!
Gus: Some people say that NHB events will never be as popular as western boxing
events. Tell us your opinion. What needs to be done to make these events more
Bas: People don’t understand what is going on in NHB style fighting. Boxing is
really easy to understand, you hit somebody, he goes down. Everybody can
In MMA there are submission moves that the normal people who don’t compete do
not understand. This is by the way very understandable, because that was the
same with me and any other fighter in the beginning. If I take somebody in an
inverted heel hook and the guy taps, most people think: “What was that? That
didn’t hurt, it has to be fake”. What they don’t know is that a heel hook can
break your knee or ankle or even, (it happened to an opponent of mine)
break your shin bone.
As long as the people who are watching MMA don’t understand the sport, it will
not be as popular as boxing. Boxing is also there for ages and ages and it is
hard to beat. It will get better, trust me, the stand up rule is also a good
one, makes it more spectacular.
Gus: Who are the fighters you respect most?
Bas: Sakuraba, Duane Ludwig, Ramon Dekkers, Nogeira, Heith Herring, man, there
are so many of them!
Gus: I saw some of your fights. You use some open hand strikes a lot. Do you
think that bare knuckle punches are not that effective as it was once believed?
Bas: Bare knuckle punches ARE effective; who ever says they are not doesn’t know
what he is talking about. But… if you hit somebody with bare knuckles on the top
of his skull, or anywhere on his skull, there is the possibility of breaking
your hand. If you have to continue fighting that could be a big problem. By the
way, the glove was invented to protect the hand and NOT the head!
Palm strikes are good at certain moments, to the back of his head or when your
opponent is taller then you, under his jaw (see my first Pancrase fight). You
don’t break your hand that fast, but you still can, (it happened to me).
Gus: Let us say that I want to become a NHB fighter. What are the martial arts
styles you would recommend me to train in?
Bas: Free style wrestling, Thai boxing and submissions (Jiu-Jitsu but without a