Bas Rutten (aka “El Guapo”), born 24th February, 1965, (now 56) is a retired, Dutch–American mixed martial artist with a superb 28-4 record. Bas Rutten is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, the first ever Dutch champion in UFC history, and a three-time King of Pancrase world champion. In addition, from 1995–2006 he didn’t lose a fight going on an incredible 22-fight undefeated streak.
Bas holds notable wins over fighters such as Kevin Randleman, Frank Shamrock, Maurice Smith, Minoru Suzuki, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Jason DeLucia and Vernon White.
Rutten’s fighting style developed immensely as his career progressed, and coming into MMA, he already had a high-level background within Muay Thai kickboxing, being the no.2-ranked Thai boxer in Holland.
This extensive background gave Bas an advantage in the stand-up game against the majority of his opponents, consequently earning him 11 KO/TKO victories in his MMA career.
Bas’ kickboxing expertise can be summed up by a quote from Frank Shamrock: “His kickboxing was devastating. It was something everybody feared”, this just describes how the idea of going into battle with Bas readily struck fear into his opponents.
With Bas coming into MMA with his Muay Thai pedigree, what was obvious was his inexperience on the ground in his early years (1993-1995), which was the cause of most of his defeats, with 3 of those 4 being by submission.
However, Bas quickly developed his grappling skill, first developing his defense, preventing submissions from high-level grapplers such as Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki. Bas then began to develop his arsenal and grappling technique, which began to flourish as he ended his MMA career with more submission victories (14) than by KO/TKO (11), not bad for someone coming into MMA after being the no.2-ranked Thai boxer in The Netherlands!
Bas Rutten’s fighting style cannot be detailed without highlighting how he popularized the use of the liver shot, often targeting it with left and right punches and kicks to incapacitate and seriously damage opponents.
Bas made his MMA pro debut in 1993 within Pancrase, where he spent the majority of his career between 1993-1998. There he took on Ryushi Yanagisawa and would impress in his debut, winning in just 43 seconds. Later on, in the year, Bas would go on to collect his second professional win but suffered his first career defeat in early 1994 against Masakatsu Funaki.
Bas came to bounce back, winning 3 straight, finishing all 3 fights which would lead to his first matchup against Ken Shamrock. Unfortunately, Bas would lose 3 of his next 5 fights, all to the Shamrock brothers, with 2 losses to Ken and 1 to Frank. This adversity however would only serve to ignite something within Bas with the latter proving to be his last MMA defeat after which he would go on his 22-fight undefeated streak.
During this streak, Bas would win the King of Pancrase title, avenge his defeat to Frank Shamrock, defeating him twice later in his career, and in 1998, on fight 19 of his 22-undefeated fight run, Bas would leave Pancrase and join the UFC.
“El Guapo” would make his organizational debut at UFC 18 against Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, defeating him in just over 14 minutes which would pave the way for a legendary matchup at UFC 20.
The vacant UFC heavyweight title was up for grabs at UFC 20 against the late Kevin Randleman, where Bas would take home UFC gold in a split decision victory; however, he would be forced to vacate the title due to injury, and this fight would end up being the penultimate fight of his career.
Over 7 years later since his fight against Kevin Randleman, Bas would make his return to MMA in 2006 against Ruben Villareal, who he would TKO via leg kicks in just under 3½ minutes.
After a legendary career, and being among the pioneers of MMA, Bas was honoured in 2015, and inducted into the UFC’s Hall of Fame, a well-deserved accolade for the larger-than-life MMA icon.
Despite “El Guapo’s” retirement from MMA, he still remains in the public eye thanks to his boundless energy, and effervescent charisma which has propelled him to reach celebrity status.
Bas is forever connected with Pride as his voice is almost synonymous with Pride itself, calling nearly every single Pride event, from Pride 1 (1997) up to the 2005 grand prix where he bolstered his status, becoming a fan favourite before retiring from his commentating duties in 2006.
Bas still continued to expand into different areas of mainstream media as he performed a cameo in the globally renowned game “Grand Theft Auto IV” and helped developers with motion capture for the main character’s fighting style.
In 2012, Bas starred as a supporting actor to Kevin James as an MMA trainer in the comedy movie “Here Comes the Boom”- it proved successful at the box office drawing $73 million worldwide, and was chosen as one of 10 Best Films for Family Audiences by the 21st Annual Movieguide.
Bas is now a League Ambassador for the relatively newly formed Karate Combat established in 2018, where fighters compete in a seasonal championship for the Karate Combat belt. Karate Combat comes with a new take on the ‘ring’, which is reminiscent of a fighting pit with a recessed square in the floor with elevated sides – a unique configuration that Karate Combat has introduced.
OK, so now that you’ve got the background into “El Guapo’s” colourful career, let’s look a little further into Bas Rutten’s Top 5 MMA Finishes! (in descending order)
5. Vs. Vernon White – Pancrase: 3 (April 21, 1994)
Coming off the first loss of his professional career, Bas looked to get back to winning ways against Vernon White, former King of the Cage, Light Heavyweight Champion, and it would only take just over a minute for Bas to do so.
At 10 seconds into round 1, White briefly lands a takedown, but Rutten is able to sprawl out and take top position, but the fight is stood up shortly after.
At 1:10, White shoots for another takedown but, in doing so, lands in a suffocating guillotine choke. Rutten begins to constrict tighter and crank on the neck, and White is forced to tap at 1:16 of round 1.
This was the first of 14 of Bas’ submission victories and one of his 3 guillotine finishes demonstrating that he was much more than a Muay Thai kickboxer alone.
4. Vs. Jason DeLucia – Pancrase: EOB 5 (June 13, 1995)
Bas Rutten took on Jason DeLucia – who owns the first ever win in UFC history – in their second matchup. The first had ended in under 2 minutes via guillotine choke and here, Bas would get another submission this time, but in even quicker fashion.
At 10 seconds into round 1, a high, right kick from Bas is caught by DeLucia, and he uses this to get the fight to the floor.
At 1:05, DeLucia takes the mount and soon after, tries to spin to take clamp onto a kneebar; however, he leaves himself vulnerable and gets heel hooked by Bas and quickly taps, the fight finishing at 1:32 of round 1.
After his defeat to Ken Shamrock, Bas’ grappling skill improved exponentially as shown here against DeLucia, with this victory making it 3 straight wins via submission.
Bas would further go on to show his grappling development, winning 4 of his next 5 fights by submission showing just how much he had learned from his loss to Ken Shamrock and how a possible trilogy matchup would have seen Bas come out on the winning side.
3. Vs. Maurice Smith – Pancrase: EOB 4 (May 13, 1995)
Here, Bas took on Maurice Smith, a high-level striker with over 70 kickboxing/Muay Thai fights, winning over 50 of these fights as well as being a former WKA Kickboxing (1983) and Muay Thai (1994) champion.
Now, Bas had to face an opponent who could match and possibly even exceed his own stand-up skill, therefore he had to implement all facets of MMA to get the win.
At 30 seconds into round 1, “El Guapo” catches Smith’s kick and takes him to the ground, and at a minute in, starts to attack Smith’s left leg as he looks to crank on a heel hook. However, Smith gets to the ropes and is able to escape (rules of Pancrase state that a fighter must break a submission hold when the opponent reaches the ropes, but a wrestler who claims a rope break forfeits a point).
At 1:30 in, Bas tries to pull guard, but Smith lands in top mount, then, Bas quickly transitions to half guard and soon after, sweeps Smith as he demonstrates his superiority on the ground.
At 2:00, Bas begins to bring focus to the arm and seems to be looking for an Americana, however he swiftly switches his body over and attacks with a kneebar – reminiscent of the same kneebar that Ken Shamrock submitted Bas with earlier in his career – and with it, forces Smith to tap at 2:10 of round 1.
The losses against Ken Shamrock may have been the biggest blessing in disguise and actually seemed to help cultivate Bas’ career as he used Shamrock’s move to gain the victory over Smith, keeping him on his 22-undefeated streak journey.
2. Vs. Minoru Suzuki – Pancrase: RTC 2 (July 6, 1994)
The undefeated Suzuki, coming in at 7-0 with 7 straight submissions, looked to offer a real threat to Bas Rutten and capitalize on El Guapo’s lack of ground experience at the time – however, Suzuki would have to try and survive Bas’ stand-up onslaught first.
At 25 seconds into round 1, Rutten partially lands a thunderous high kick which is mostly blocked by Suzuki’s forearms, but the sheer force knocks him back, and a snapping palm hook drops him to the floor, yet Suzuki makes it to the ropes to recover.
At 45 seconds in, Bas tries to blitz but is halted by a well-timed double leg takedown, whereupon Suzuki quickly transitions to the mount and is able to control Bas for a significant amount of time, but unable to inflict any damage.
At 3:20 in, Bas clamps on a guillotine choke which he uses to get back to his feet and as he begins to stand, he lands a monstrous knee to Suzuki’ s ribcage, which is enough to stop the fight at 3:43 of round 1.
After a dicey altercation on the ground, Bas did well to survive, get back to his feet and let his trademark striking acumen do the work, preventing Suzuki from getting his 8th straight submission victory.
1. Vs. Ryushi Yanagisawa – Pancrase: YWAHW 1 (Sept. 21, 1993)
After an impressive Muay Thai kickboxing career where Bas became the no.2-ranked Thai boxer in Holland, he decided to try his hand at MMA, and his stand-up skill would shine through in his debut against the 45lb (20kg) heavier Ryushi Yanagisawa.
In round 1, Bas immediately starts to chop Yanagisawa’s legs with debilitating quadriceps kicks before switching to a right high kick which opens the guard for a straight palm strike that knocks Yanagisawa off his feet.
Yanagisawa gets back to his feet only to be knocked down again, this time from kicks to the liver and a palm strike which finishes Yanagisawa just 43 seconds into the contest.
Bas Rutten’s debut was an historic one with a 43-second finish, this victory giving birth to the infamous “Rutten jump”. Rutten’s knockout was so brutal that it left Yanagisawa in the hospital for 2 days.