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Bas Rutten on YouTube Fame and Why He's Done Training Kimbo Slice

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Bas Rutten's whole life has revolved around fighting, from being a teenager in the Netherlands who loved Bruce Lee movies to becoming UFC heavyweight champion, from working as a trainer for fighters like Kimbo Slice to working as an MMA commentator all over the world.

But it's a six-minute self-defense video (above) that may be Rutten's greatest legacy. With millions of viewers the video has taken on a life of its own, causing Rutten to be recognized on the street and parodied on comedy shows.

When I interviewed Rutten on Monday, we discussed issues ranging from his own MMA career to the reasons he says he would never train Kimbo again, even if someone offered him $1 million. But we started with that YouTube video.

Michael David Smith: Let's start with your famous self-defense video. What made you decide to put that together?
Bas Rutten: I put some books together -- Bas Rutten's Big Books of Combat -- and we promised the buyers that they'd get a little something extra, and that was the video. It was pretty much all shot in a day, it was just, "Start shooting and let's go."

That video has been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube. Are you surprised by how popular it is?
Man, it's the funniest thing ever. I get stopped on the street by people who ask me to repeat lines -- people ask me to tell them I'll break their legs or bounce their heads on a table 10 times. It's really funny.

Have you heard any stories of people using the tactics you teach in that video in real life?
I got a great compliment: I was sitting in the lounge at an airport, and there were like six guys eyeballing me, and I couldn't figure out why they were looking at me. Then they got up and started walking toward me, and I got up, and they said, "We're air marshals." And two of them had the DVD in their pocket and asked me to sign it. So I signed it for them.

So maybe some day a hijacking could be prevented because of your video.
How cool would that be? Talk about promotion.

In your whole life, how many fights would you estimate you've been in?
Oh, I don't know. All that stuff that people say about me -- 200 lethal street fights -- that's all B.S. I'd say 70.

OK. Well, 70 is still a lot.
Well, people think I've been in street fights like somebody grabs me, and then I give them one head butt and they go down. Does that count as a street fight? Just throwing somebody down, does that count as a street fight? I did that a lot, but that doesn't really count. I'd say 60, 70. I hope it's not higher because I don't want to be an aggressor, someone who can't avoid violence. A lot of those fights, of course, came when I was working as a bouncer and people were drunk or on drugs. That's where most of those came in.

Between YouTube and being the face and the voice of MMA on HDNet you must get recognized a lot.
I was standing in line to get a smoothie and the guy behind the counter was like, "Oh, Bas Rutten!" And he was going on and on. And then when I went to pay and I gave him my credit card, he said, "Can I see your ID?"

During the HDNet broadcast of the Affliction weigh-in last month, you referred to Jerry Millen as an a**hole on the air. Did you know your mic was live when you said it?

No, I didn't know. I had surgery that morning -- knee surgery -- and they picked me up at noon, I went to the hotel, got in my suit and went straight to the arena. Now in my mind we're shooting Inside MMA, because they shot me up with morphine or something. After I said it, I went to the producer and said, "You know what? Cut that part out." And he said, "Bas, it was live." It was stupid, it was unprofessional, but I didn't know we were live, and I was on a different planet a little bit because of the surgery.

Do you want to explain why you think Jerry Millen is an a**hole?
I've been through that so many times, people can Google it if they want the story. I said to Jerry, "Let's be professional here. Once we do a show, let's be professional" So that's what we're doing now. I don't like him, he doesn't like me, let's leave it like that.

Jerry Millen aside, what were your thoughts on the Affliction show, and do you think Affliction will stick around long enough to have a third show?
I think they did good. I don't know what the pay-per-view buys were, but they said it was way over 100,000. That would be very good. If they can break even, that would be really good. I think the show was good. I think production-wise, there could be some changes, and I'm not going to go into that because I don't want to say things people would take the wrong way, but it's a learning process and they're doing a really great job, considering that they're so new.

Do you view Affliction and Strikeforce and the other promotions as competing with the UFC, or do they just need to do their own thing and not worry about the UFC?
Don't worry about the UFC. I never got those promoters who think they're going to get the UFC. Listen, those guys did a phenomenal job. You can say whatever you want about Dana White, but he did a great job. He came up with the marketing, he came up with The Ultimate Fighter. Because of that, Inside MMA is out there. Because of that, a lot of things are out there. People should just take care of themselves. Don't talk bad about other companies. Just develop a good product.

What did you make of Georges St. Pierre beating B.J. Penn and the subsequent allegations of greasing?
I was watching a video clip they put up on YouTube of the greasing, and it looks weird. But they didn't put a lot of grease on. He concentrated on his face and then it was a little tiny layer. I don't think the amount of grease that he put on could make a difference. And I'm pretty sure even if -- and that's a big, big if -- they did it on purpose, Georges didn't know. I give you a 100% guarantee. That's not the kind of guy he is.

I know you've worked closely with Kimbo Slice. When do you think we'll see Kimbo fight again, and will you be in his corner again when he does?

I stopped training Kimbo. I had him six weeks before the last fight (a loss to Seth Petruzelli on October 4), I talked to him about certain things that I didn't like, and he promised never to do it again, and then he started doing it again. If people come to me and ask me to train them, I want them to do what I tell them to do, because that's what they came for. ... Once you start doing different things, you're out. It's not because he got knocked out. This was already in progress long before the fight.

So you basically don't think Kimbo was preparing the right way?
I would rather just leave it like this: Let's say that the Kimbo who came to me at the beginning of training, that wasn't the Kimbo who was at my gym the last time. Six weeks before his last fight, I told him, I want that Kimbo back. Otherwise, you're out. And you know, he started doing differently again. Let's just leave it like that. I don't want to go into all the details. I wish him nothing but the best. Really, I really do.

When was the last time you talked to Kimbo?
After the fight. After the fight I didn't talk to him anymore. It was pretty obvious -- that was the last time. The fight was the last time.

So you don't have a relationship with him anymore, either personally or professionally?
I do with Mike, and I really like Mike, his manager. I'd like to have a manager like that when I was fighting. So I don't want to -- for me, once something is broke, I can't go back. People say, "Bas Rutten only did this for the money." I lost money. I lost money training Kimbo because I had to say no to commentating jobs. ... I trained him together with another guy, because I didn't have time to train him so much, so I gave him half and half. I trained the guy for several weeks for $5,000. That's not big money. So I lost money doing that because I had to say no to commentating jobs.

But it's not about the money. People could say, "Hey, we'll pay you a million dollars." I'm not going to do it. Once I've made my decision, I'm very hard to change.

Do you have an opinion of how good a fighter Kimbo could be?
When Kimbo came in and did everything, he had huge potential. I said that in interviews. He was doing good, he did everything. He was doing good. He was doing really good. But he started to change. If he would have kept on training like he did in the beginning, yeah, I saw a really good future for him.

Let's move on from Kimbo. Who do you think is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now?
Oh, my God, my friend. That's a difficult question. Georges St. Pierre, God, he's good. Fedor Emelianenko, God, he's good. Anderson Silva -- I mean, you've got so many good fighters right now. You say who's pound-for-pound the best? I like Lyoto Machida a lot. Especially now, he's telling us he's doing power training. This guy got a knockout in the first round -- whoo! -- scary. The 205-pound division is really deep, a lot of talent in that division, but Lyoto is a great fighter. There's a lot of good ones, the guys I've just mentioned, B.J. Penn also, he should fight in his own weight class though.

What about your own career. Who's the best opponent you ever fought?
I think Masakatsu Funaki was really good. Ken Shamrock was a different fighter then. Back then Ken was like 245 pounds, I don't know what happened to Ken, it's very weird. When Ken came back from pro wrestling he was a different fighter. I also fought Frank Shamrock. Frank was very technical. I like Frank a lot. It's also a mind game with Frank -- I like to get in people's heads and Frank is good there, so we went back and forth. Let's say Frank, Ken, Funaki and Minoru Suzuki.

You're actually younger than Randy Couture. Is there any chance that you could fight again?
No, there's not. My knees are a mess. I have no cartilage in both my kneecaps. Zero. Bone on bone. It's really bad. There's nothing they can do, except surgeries, until that stem cell stuff. People think a knee replacement, but you can't do a knee replacement. You can have the best surgeons on the planet, which I already went to, and they say, "Bas, it's a really bad problem." ...

I can't do any ground work anymore. If I bike, I have to have a bike with a high seat. I can't run at all. If I jog half a mile, I can't walk for five days. It's so bad sometimes when I walk down my driveway I walk backwards.

Do you think that 10, 20, 30 years from now, we're going to see a lot of former MMA fighters with serious, long-term injuries?
No. Everybody is training smarter. I have so much explosive power that what happened with me is my training scraped my kneecaps up. People like Randy Couture are training smarter. If you train smart, you're OK. I was a maniac. I went balls-out every training.

What kind of shape are you in today, aside from your knees?
Oh, I trained with Benji Radach yesterday. My wife doesn't know that, she's going to hit me because the doctor said absolutely no training. But let me tell you, I did really, really, really well.

Can we expect to see anything new from you online?
Well there's always, and in about a month I'm going to come out with something called the Bas Rutten Body Action System, that you put it up in your living room, hang some sandbags on it and you beat the crap out of it without injuring yourself.

You're obviously very passionate about this sport.
It's a great sport. I love it. Mixed martial arts is the ultimate, manly thing to do. That's what mixed martial arts is. Everybody, deep down inside, wants to be a fighter. You want to kick some ass.

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