Fight sports pioneer and innovator. MMA legend. TV show host. Pro wrestler. Actor. Terrifying bald man giving you life advice on YouTube. Sebastiaan "Bas" Rutten is all these things and more, and remains a popular figure among the MMA faithful. However, because the bulk of his active fighting career took place long before mixed martial arts became the mega-business it is today, Bas Rutten is just obscure enough for his YouTube channel to feature an introduction video that is actually informative.
It’s a shame, really, because Bas Rutten is one of the more interesting people to walk the Earth. He’s one of those folks who can only be described in superlatives. Regardless of what he’s doing, he’s giving it 110 percent, and his natural charisma and sheer enthusiasm at whatever he sets his mind to are truly impressive. Even his nickname puts him on a pedestal: Fight fans know him as El Guapo, "the handsome one." Come, let’s fix the glaring lack of maniacally grinning Dutch strongmen in your day by taking a good, long look at Bas Rutten.
Bas Rutten’s record is killer, even with barely any UFC fights
If you’re an MMA fan, you probably know that Bas Rutten has a great record. But it might be strange to discover that his status as a UFC legend is based on very few actual UFC fights. In fact, the vast majority of the fights that made his name were for the Japanese promotion Pancrase, and his professional record of 28-4-1 contains only two UFC matches — victories against Tsuyoshi Kosaka and Kevin Randleman in 1999, the latter of which won him the UFC heavyweight championship.
Still, despite Rutten’s relatively small role as an active UFC fighter, he is a former champion, which along with his high regard within the squared circle (or circles) was enough for UFC President Dana White to surprise Rutten in 2015 by announcing his induction into the UFC Hall of Fame. As MMA Junkie reports, Rutten was genuinely astonished when he learned of his induction. In all fairness, UFC wasn’t merely riding on Rutten’s coattails for cheap credibility. He was a special induction in the Hall’s "pioneer class," which was designed to honor professional fighters who dominated the ring in the wild days before the introduction of unified MMA rules in 2000. Other inductees from that era have included fighting luminaries such as Chuck Liddell and Royce Gracie, so Rutten is definitely in good company.
Bas Rutten had a role in Grand Theft Auto IV
If you’re a fight fan and have played Grand Theft Auto IV, some of main character Niko Bellic’s fighting moves might seem strangely familiar. That’s because it’s all Bas Rutten, baby. In an interview with Submission Radio, Rutten says he didn’t really understand what he signed up for when the developers approached him for the gig because he’s not much of a video gamer. Nevertheless, he brought his signature work ethic to the game and even ended up improving on the developers’ original plans: When he found out the motion-capture guys expected him to just hit the air with his moves, Rutten disagreed and insisted on striking something solid to bring that extra oomph to the table. The end result was a scary Rutten decked in a full mocap suit and manhandling people holding Thai boxing pads which, come to think of it, would probably have been a pretty entertaining game in itself.
Rutten’s involvement with GTA IV didn’t end with a few nifty moves, either. He also played himself in The Men’s Room, a toilet-themed in-game talk show where a psychopathic parody version of Rutten and a more traditional TV personality called Jeremy St. Ives try to keep the show going before the episodes inevitably turn into wild rants about Rutten’s violent escapades.
How Bas Rutten decided to move to the U.S.
It’s entirely possible that Bas Rutten wouldn’t be Bas Rutten — at least the multi-talented version we know today — if he hadn’t decided to make an even bigger name for himself by moving to the U.S. of A. in order to bring his face to a wider audience. According to Sports Illustrated, America was something he had been considering ever since he was young, but he remembers full well when the distant dream turned into a full-on, rock solid decision. The pivotal moment that prompted Rutten’s relocation to the U.S. came on a particular October afternoon in 1995, when he was nursing a beer and a tequila on a warm Santa Monica beach. Suddenly, he realized that right at that very moment, people back in his native Netherlands "could skate on lakes."
So Bas Rutten called his wife and told her to start packing. The move later acted as a catalyst that propelled Rutten to assorted upwardly mobile career moves and opportunities he might have never received otherwise, especially within the entertainment industry.
Bas Rutten’s Swedish bar fight
Bas Rutten has been known to demonstrate his MMA talents outside the ring when the situation requires. In an interview with the Joe Rogan Experience, he recounted a particularly strange incident where he was targeted by a group of bouncers at a Swedish nightclub. By his own admission, Rutten was less than sober when he entered, and he was soon approached by a pair of doormen who had spotted him and thought he had too much energy to party there. Rutten says he was initially perfectly compliant, but the situation soon turned into a full brawl when one bouncer shoved him, he returned the favor, and the other guy retaliated by poking the MMA fighter in the eye.
From that point on, things escalated, then escalated further, and then escalated some more. Rutten swiftly knocked out one doorman, only to be stormed by five more. Although he managed to hold his own against them all, he realized that fighting off a squad of guys was not a sustainable long-term strategy and decided that a tactful exit would probably be a good idea. Sadly, an escape attempt only took him to an area where the club stored a bunch of broomsticks, and when the bouncers followed, the fight went a little WWE and people started using the broomsticks as weapons. The surreal situation ultimately ended when the police stepped in and arrested Bas Rutten.
Bas Rutten’s sickly childhood
When you look at Bas Rutten today, it’s hard to imagine him as a child. Surely, a man like that was built at a shipyard, or at the very least was born with six-pack abs.
However, the reality of Bas Rutten’s childhood is very different. According to Sports Illustrated, young Bas was an extremely sickly child and spent much of his youth suffering with chronic eczema. Whenever it struck, his body would "erupt" into nasty lesions and he had to spend up to months in bed, bandaged up and requiring round-the-clock care. To add insult to injury, he also suffered from asthma that could further weaken him.
Even so, a childhood filled with cortisone shots, ointments, and intermittent wheezing couldn’t keep Bas Rutten’s spirit from soaring forever higher. He spent his formative years reading comic books and daydreaming about the U.S., where he was sure he’d live one day. Fortunately, all of his seeming drawbacks were eventually overshadowed by his enthusiasm and natural athleticism, which made him the toast of the P.E. class … even if he had to wear "turtlenecks and protective gloves" a lot of the time.
Bas Rutten is super excited about his own finishing move
Plenty of MMA fighters have their own signature moves. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic liked to finish his opponent with a devastating left high kick, Georges St.-Pierre used a leaping Superman punch, and Fedor Emelianenko could put you in an armbar from across the street. Bas Rutten is no exception, but his approach to the concept of "signature move" definitely is. He is famous for targeting his opponent’s liver, and doing it with an assortment of strikes with any which limb he happened to have available. MMA Fighting describes Rutten’s pioneering "liver shot" technique as a hard body shot that can effectively incapacitate an opponent, which proved so effective that Bleacher Report writes it once "ruptured" an opponent’s liver.
To say Bas Rutten is proud of his liver shots is something of an understatement. To this day, any blow to a fighter’s liver area tends to be associated with him, and the man himself remains so excited about the move that he makes entire YouTube videos just discussing and demonstrating the technique. He has also been known to freak out on Twitter when he sees a fighter use a variation of it.
Bas Rutten’s Russian antics
Bas Rutten is a self-admitted rabble-rouser when he’s had a few, and even though he says he has gotten more mellow with age, he doesn’t shy away from stories that don’t exactly show him in the best possible light. In an interview with T Nation, Rutten says some of his wildest antics took place during one particular trip to Russia and nearby countries. In Kiev, Ukraine, he attempted to take a leak in a stuffed taxi van, which unsurprisingly drew protests from the other passengers. Rutten ended up trying to relieve himself through an open door, which sent him flying face first from a moving car into snow that was black from pollution.
In Russia itself, things got worse. A drunken night at a club saw MMA fighter Paul Varelans getting rowdy and attacking the equally drunk Bas Rutten from behind. Varelans sank his teeth in Rutten’s back, and El Guapo retaliated by throwing the guy through a window. A security guard intervened, and when Rutten told him to go "f*ck himself" the guard pulled out a machine gun. The unimpressed Rutten took the gun away and slapped the poor guard across the face before hitting the dance floor. The guard soon returned with a colleague, and things were probably about to get extremely ugly until the club owner interfered and defused the situation.
Rutten fully realizes how lucky he was to leave Russia alive, and says that he must have "a lot of guardian angels."
Bas Rutten was bullied a lot
Bullying Bas Rutten seems roughly as smart as challenging a mountain to a fight, but there used to be a time when El Guapo was a far less imposing human specimen than he is today. As Sports Illustrated tells us, Rutten used to be a fairly sickly child and often had to wear protective clothing at school, which along with his class clown tendencies made him a natural target for bullies. Unfortunately (for the bullies), young Bas also happened to be a very nimble and strong child, and had a deep fascination in climbing and learning his surroundings. Whenever other kids tried to chase him down and get physical, he liked to simply run in the nearby woods and climb in the trees where he couldn’t be followed. The other kids, of course, tried to follow the agile Rutten, who was happily swinging from branch to branch. This didn’t go particularly well, and the followers largely gave up after one kid nearly died from a fall after trying to keep up.
The final nail in the "bullying Bas Rutten" coffin came when the 12-year-old Rutten became fascinated with martial arts after seeing a Bruce Lee movie. After two years of begging, his parents enrolled him on a taekwondo class — and after a few months, Rutten faced down the town bully and one-shotted him so hard he broke his nose.
Bas Rutten is surprisingly religious
Bas Rutten’s well-publicized fighting background, trigger-happy nature, and carefree charisma might belie the fact that he’s a devout practicing Catholic. Not just any old "sure, I’m religious I guess" variety, either — according to an interview with Catholic Exhange, Rutten is a full-on, rosary-praying hardcore believer who attends Mass and prays in Latin because that way his invocations are better at freaking out demons. He even claims a patron saint: his namesake, St. Sebastian, who also happens to be the patron saint of soldiers and athletes.
While this might seem counterintuitive at first, it’s good to remember that Rutten is the kind of guy who gives his all to pretty much everything he does, so it stands to reason he tackles religion just as fearlessly as he used to charge his opponents. Curiously, this pro-religion attitude doesn’t mean Rutten thinks religion is all that great when it comes to facing your opponents in the ring. Rutten told ES News he feels that too much Bible stuff can take away from being an effective fighter, and he even alleged that boxer Manny Pacquiao’s knockout defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 was because Pacquiao had gotten too involved with religion and it distracted him.
Bas Rutten brings on the boom
Bas Rutten has been appearing in movies and TV shows since 1999, but his most visible foray to filmland so far is arguably the 2012 MMA comedy Here Comes The Boom, where he played the meaty supporting role of a trainer called Niko. Sports Illustrated says critics lauded his "delightfully affable screen presence," and the L.A. Times even said Rutten stole the show from star Kevin James.
In an interview with Sherdog, James — a longtime MMA fan — said the movie got its start when he and fellow standup comedian/MMA affiliate Joe Rogan started talking about ways to incorporate mixed martial arts into comedy form without making it too silly. The solution presented itself when the two comedians became transfixed by a certain bald-headed character from the Pancrase promotion. Rutten’s in-ring flips, demented demeanor, and proficiency at knocking people out made Rogan and James instant fans, and when Rutten signed up with UFC, James got a chance to meet him and the two became great friends. It was Rutten’s personality and humanity that ultimately inspired James to make the movie, so it’s probably not a huge surprise El Guapo wound up with such a significant role.
Bas Rutten’s submission troubles
As Sports Illustrated notes, Bas Rutten entered the world of MMA from a background of taekwondo, karate, and Thai boxing. None of those styles really prepare you for the grappling side of things, which Rutten found out the hard way when he started training the mixed martial arts way. During his very first lesson, he was twisted into such a human pretzel that he later had to stop his car halfway home because he hurt too much to drive the whole way.
Despite this initial setback (or perhaps because of it), Rutten rose to the challenge and started obsessively studying the world of submissions. He wallpapered his home with sticky notes detailing various techniques and dragged friends to the gym at night to test out ideas about various chokes and holds. At one point — and this is terrifying to think about — he even began putting his poor wife in submission holds while he himself was asleep, the way other people might sleepwalk.
When Rutten fought his first matches for Japan’s Pancrase federation in 1993, he was still very much a student of the submission game. When he eventually got his mat game together, he became essentially unstoppable. He earned the "King of Pancrase" title three times, and tore through 19 straight fights without a single loss (and just one draw) before leaving Pancrase in 1998.
Bas Rutten’s taxi incident
When your paychecks come from fighting-related activities and you enjoy living large, there’s a chance that your health might occasionally be at risk. But sometimes the danger comes from an entirely unexpected place. In an interview with T Nation, Bas Rutten revealed one of the closest calls in his life, which came during his time as a commentator for PRIDE promotion. He was out with his colleagues one night when he stepped on the street and was promptly struck by a taxi. The impact sent Rutten somersaulting through the air and knocked the wind out of him for long enough that he says everyone genuinely thought he was dead. Ultimately, he just casually sat up and said: "No internal damage!"
Despite taking a nasty hit from an actual car, Rutten ended up walking away with just a really bad road rash. He said the rash made him look like he’d taken a trip through a cheese grater and that the experience cost him "a big piece of meat" from his hip.
Bas Rutten is fiercely protective of his daughters
Bas Rutten seems like a pretty cool guy, but he’s also a father of daughters. As such, the man is clearly acutely aware of the assorted teenage dating troubles this may bring in his life. In an interview with the Score, Rutten lays down his rules for all prospective boyfriends. He doesn’t approve of wannabe "gangbangers" as boyfriend material, and is more than willing to cast himself as the "girlfriend’s dad from hell" should the situation require it. His arsenal of intimidating fatherly advice includes the obligatory sitting the young man down to give "the talk," but the MMA legend is also willing to upgrade to a method he calls a fishing trip, but which seems like it would mostly consist of him repeatedly dunking the young man’s head underwater until the kid realizes Rutten is not to be crossed.
Of course, El Guapo is (probably) at least half joking when he says all this, in that lovely tradition of dudes talking extra macho about this sort of thing. Besides, it’s not like he’s likely to ever get the opportunity to test his methods. After all, what young man wouldn’t be on his absolute best behavior if he nervously showed up to take his date to the prom — and then suddenly, the front door opens and a bona fide MMA legend looms large over him?
Bas Rutten’s self-defense video
If you’re aware of Bas Rutten’s famous self-defense instructional video, chances are you’ve seen more than one variation of the "Street Defense" spot. In this clip, a characteristically enthusiastic and goofy Rutten demonstrates various brutal ways to incapacitate an opponent during a bar brawl, while dropping hilarious one-liners and commentary of the "I’m sorry sir, but I’m going to break your leg" variety. It’s not hard to see the video’s charm — after all, it’s pretty captivating to witness a large Dutch man sagely revealing the secrets of the mighty "heel to the balls" special move.
As Ballistic Mag tells us, the video’s popularity can be attributed to its combination of genuine instructional quality and considerable comedy value, especially since the shorter version of the video clearly consists of offbeat, out-of-context moments from a longer tutorial. The famous clip is indeed a short supercut; the original version is called "Lethal Street Fighting." El Guapo quite appreciates the clip because it got him so much attention that he says it essentially launched his career in acting.
No one can figure out Bas Rutten’s net worth
Trying to figure out how much money celebrities have is a popular way to waste your time on the internet. Unfortunately for armchair economists, it’s pretty difficult to pin down reliable numbers on celebrities in general, and on Bas Rutten in particular. While he comes from a time when fighting wasn’t the moneymaker it is these days, Rutten also has a fairly prolific post-fighting career: Apart from acting, he has hosted and appeared in a number of TV shows and has all sorts of fitness-related business ventures. So, while it’s unlikely that his bank balance makes Conor McGregor jealous, it seems a safe bet that he isn’t flat broke, either.
As such, the various net worth sites out there seem to have given up on him completely, and just helplessly flail until they reach some random figure to slap next to Rutten’s name. Estimates on El Guapo’s wealth vary wildly from Celebrity Net Worth’s $1 million to Celeb Worth and its significantly larger guess of $10.1 million. Meanwhile, the Richest completely fails to live up to its name by placing Rutten’s monetary at a solid … $0. Huh. It almost seems like the only reliable way to find out precisely how much money Bas Rutten has is to ring his doorbell and straight up ask him. And honestly, that doesn’t seem like a conversation that’d go all that well.
Bas Rutten invented the O2Trainer
There are many words you can use to describe Bas Rutten, but chances are that "inventor" wouldn’t be among the first ones most people would come up with. However, Rutten has four different patents to his name. The patents, which were filed between 2010 and 2012, are all variations of an oxygen training device he calls the O2Trainer — a mouthpiece that offers resistance during inhalation while allowing free exhalation, thus helping the user to build up respiratory strength. The interchangeable "endcap inserts" of the mouthpiece allow the user to control the amount of resistance.
According to O2Trainer Blog, Rutten says the idea of the device is to help you build stamina so you never "run out of gas" during competition. He also says that the increased lung capacity training the O2Trainer builds is quite handy for dealing with chronic asthma — something that Rutten, a lifelong sufferer of the condition himself, is more than familiar with. Scientific studies of similar devices suggest they have limited effectiveness, but who knows?
Bas Rutten and the secrets of the palm strike
If you think of Bas Rutten, you probably think of fighting and punching and all those mixed martial arts goodies — but if you’ve seen Bas Rutten fight, you might have noticed something very strange about his striking style, which doesn’t really seem to feature any conventional punching at all. As Mixed Martial Arts notes, Rutten is not really a closed-fist punching guy, despite being one of the first truly successful striking-focused fighters in the MMA game. Because Rutten’s tenure in Pancrase happened at a time when the federation didn’t allow punching with a closed hand, he dropped the old balled fist in favor of a peculiar (and highly effective) method of palm striking.
Despite the fact that Bas Rutten’s palm strikes may sound and even look like he essentially slapped his opponents to oblivion, there’s much more to the technique than meets the eye. Rutten says his famed blows actually land with the hard wrist bone instead of the palm, which is why he prefers the much more hardcore term "bone strike." To maximize the effect, he aims his hit behind the opponent’s ear, which he says makes the bone strike a potent knockout blow that can really "scramble" the brain. Because the technique is also easier on the hand than the potentially hand-wrecking bareknuckle punch, Rutten suggests that the palm/bone strike is often the smarter choice in a street fighting situation.
Bas Rutten and his wife
With his punchy energy and many notorious adventures, it’s not easy to picture Bas Rutten as a family man who has been happily settled down for decades. However, that’s precisely what he is. According to Pro Elite, Rutten is going on his second marriage, but he has been with his current wife, Karin, since 1991.
According to Rutten, Karin is a "keeper," and way back in 2007 he was already positively astonished that someone would be with Bas Rutten for so many years. Interestingly, he also says that Karin Rutten is something of a clairvoyant, as Rutten says she knew how his career would go well before he made it reality. When he grew weary of the criticism he received in Dutch MMA circles and told his wife he’d never fight again, Karin replied that he would become a famous fighter, but in Japan instead of Holland. Some six months later, Rutten received the invitation to go fight in Japan, which would transition into the Pancrase dominance that made his name. He also says that his wife accurately predicted that they would move to the United States and he would "be in the entertainment business."
Bas Rutten has many absurdly hard workout plans
If you for whatever reason want to work out precisely like Bas Rutten, the man himself is more than happy to help you. Never the kind of guy to let himself go after his active sports career, Rutten has transitioned into something of a fitness guru, and the workout methods he has devised are precisely as beastly as you’d imagine. He is happy to share some of his workout methods for free, but be warned — Bas Rutten’s workouts are not for the faint of heart or the weak of muscular tissue. His YouTube videos show him pulling moves that are far beyond your average gym-goer. He has also devised an MMA-inspired 12-move workout that Men’s Health notes will leave you "drenched."
Unsurprisingly, Rutten seems to enjoy incorporating all kinds of MMA moves, such as punches and ground-and-pound to his workouts, which may be why he also peddles the Body Action System (abbreviated BAS, naturally). This specially designed piece of gym equipment consists of a sturdy steel stand and a bunch of pads in the rough shape of the human torso. This way, you can "train like Bas Rutten" without going through, you know, seven sparring partners every time you hit the gym.