Bas Rutten hasn’t let retirement get in the way of him from participating in the world of professional fighting. The 57-year-old UFC Hall of Famer recently sat down with GiveMeSport to discuss life more than a decade and a half after retiring from the UFC.
The former UFC Heavyweight Champion has enjoyed being back on the fight scene the last few years as a commentator for the full-contact Karate Combat fight league, which is currently on its fourth season.
As the “Season Sensei” for Karate Combat, Rutten has informed and entertained audiences by bringing his classic charm and boisterous personality to the league. When ask by reporter Tom Ward whether he would have liked to have participated first, as a younger man, in the karate league before transitioning to the UFC, Rutten confirmed he would but under different circumstances.
“I think it would have been the other way around,” Rutten replied. “I would have loved to finish my career at Karate Combat kind of like what Gabriel Varga right now is doing as well… He was kind of thinking about retiring but then Karate Combat came along.”
As a child, Rutten was inspired like many fighters after watching Bruce Lee in the classic action film Enter the Dragon. His parents signed him up at a young age to train in Tae Kwon Do, and as a teenager he eventually switched styles to kickboxing. He would eventually travel to Japan where he began his amateur career.
Rutten’s biggest wish would have been to do “the 100-man kumite (freestyle fighting) thing at the very end of my career,” he added. “I talked to a bunch of guys, they said take a hundred, because after thirty it doesn’t matter anymore. You’re so beat up you’re just fighting on automatic pilot.”
The Dutch fighter’s professional career lasted from 1993 to 2006, having been crowned UFC heavyweight champion in 1999 and gone toe-to-toe with the likes of Frank Shamrock and Maurice Smith. Rutten’s comeback to the UFC after some time spent away from the octagon was a true marvel since he was forty when he returned. The cost of competing once again though took a toll on him physically and mentally as he fought with younger competitors, eventually convincing him to retire shortly after his return.
A devout catholic, Rutten felt a spiritual message telling him it was time to put down the MMA gloves for good after a series of frequent and chronic injuries gave him a wakeup call.
“That was the Lord telling me it was time to stop you know,” said Rutten. “He gave me a bunch of injuries that I hated at the time and now I understand why it was because he didn’t want to wreck my career.” Fortunately, he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2015 and is now enjoying his time being part of Karate Combat.
Rutten, always up for new challenges though, has recently offered to coach boxer Tommy Fury before his fight with YouTuber Jake Paul.
“I would love to train Tommy Fury, are you kidding” Rutten said when asked in a clip on the official Karate Combat Instagram account.
“S***, for the Fury family; I love Tyson. Major fan of this guy and I think [that] we can do some damage.”
Where do you think Rutten’s impressive skills and path will take him next?