Bas Rutten is a Dutch 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) and was inducted into the UFC Hall Of Fame: In the 4-hours, 27-minutes, and 8-seconds he spent as a pro fighter, Rutten scored 13 knockdowns without getting dropped himself, his significant strike accuracy was 70.6%, the highest FightMetric has ever recorded, attempted a record 53 submissions and successfully swept his opponents a record 46 times.”
As a professional fighter, one of his favorite tactics was the liver shot (both punch and kick), and he popularized its use in MMA. 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 is an inventor.
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 and started training taekwondo earning a 2nd-degree black belt and in Kyokushin Karate also earning a 2nd-degree black belt.
At the age of 20, he started competing in kickboxing while working also as a bouncer and model. He fought 16 times, winning the first 14 by knockout and 13 in the first round. 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 for the UFC.
In 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.
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.”
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 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 featured in 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 an MMA fighter in the UFC.
In 2006, Rutten was a coach a team for the International Fight League, an MMA organization that focused on team combat and is the owner of the MMA gym Bas Rutten’s Elite Mixed Martial Arts in Thousand Oaks, California.
He has also trained former street fighter Kimbo Slice for his professional MMA bouts, as well as former Ring of Honor and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling world champion Samoa Joe. On the other hand, Rutten’s groundwork was built through a slow evolution and was unusual for being mostly self-taught.