In just a few short years the International Fight League went from ambitious concept to reality to demise.
At its best, the promotion helped reintroduce a group of veteran mixed martial arts pioneers to the new era of MMA fans, as well helped jumpstart the career of what would become some of the sport's best young fighters.
One of the promotion's first and most prominent figures was former King of Pancrase and Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder Bas "El Guapo" Rutten.
Starring initially as the head coach of the Los Angeles Anacondas, Rutten then transitioned to a commentator role and ultimately ended up as Vice President of Fighter Operations, and shined with the usual El Guapo flair in each position.
Still, all things come to an end. As such, Rutten has been released from his contract with the company, and now he looks to transition to other things.
Speaking from his adoptive hometown of Los Angeles, Rutten spoke to MMAWeekly about his time in the IFL, his roles in the promotion, and what's coming down the pipeline for one of MMA's premier personalities.
MMAWeekly: First off Bas, tell us about your recent release from the IFL.
Rutten: Well, from what I understand, there is no more IFL, right? We've been sold, but there's still some working going on. Exactly what, I have no clue, but the paychecks have stopped coming in. For me it's stopped and for all the people I knew in the IFL it's stopped.
I knew the company was struggling. I had gotten emails from people there that had been let go. "Thanks for the great time working together," and stuff like that. There was a hardcore group left, and once they started getting rid of those people, I knew the end was near. I was aware it was going to happen.
MMAWeekly: Looking back, how do you feel about your time overall with the promotion?
Rutten: I thought it was a great ride. I came to America to become an entertainer, to do something in the entertaining business; and I truly believe I had an opportunity to do this with the IFL. First coming in as a coach, then I went over to being a host of IFL Battleground with the beautiful Tiffany Fallon, and Kenny Rice and all those guys, it was a great experience.
That opened doors to more things like the Inside MMA show that I'm doing with Kenny Rice. For me, definitely, I was having a lot of fun. They never put me on any leash, so to say, so I could do what I wanted and they let me be Bas.
MMAWeekly: Okay, let's talk about your individual roles with the IFL, starting with your time as the head coach of the L.A. Anacondas.
Rutten: That was great, but the credit must also go to Shawn Tompkins. He was my first choice to be a coach on the Anacondas. I told him that he was not going to be an assistant coach, but together with me as a coach. I insisted that he be in the pictures with us, because he was doing the same work I was.
It was so great; we had such a tight group. We went fishing in Mexico, had barbecues, and went to movies together. We had a lot of fun with those guys, and it showed. When the fighting wasn't that good, it was literally because we didn't hang out as a group. It was a great experience, we got to help build them into stars, because that's what they are right now, all of them.
MMAWeekly: From there you transitioned to being an announcer and IFL Battleground co-host. Tell us about that move.
Rutten: It was hard to step away as a coach, but they (the Anacondas' fighters) could understand it. I was going to know the inside-outs of the guys that they were fighting and it was a conflict of interest. There's no way I was going to get away with it. I wouldn't appreciate it as a coach, say if Pat Miletich knew everything about every person (on my team), every injury or whatever, it's not right.
Also, even when I knew those things, I never went to those guys and said things like, "You should go for his nose, his nose is broke," because I had some great insight, but I never used it, because I believe in karma. I think if you do that, it will all backfire on you.
There's nothing bad I can say about it. Working with Stephen Quadros again was great. It wasn't a big switch for me, because I had been doing my stuff in Japan with Pride Fighting Championships. So it was not a big change for me to be on camera.
MMAWeekly: Lastly, your time with the promotion ended as VP of Fighter Relations. What are your thoughts on that?
Rutten: I've always been a guy that people have come to, to put them in contact with somebody. Someone will come up to me and be like, "Hey can you get me in contact with Renzo Gracie?" So I get them in contract with Renzo, or whoever they want. I've never screwed anybody over, and I'm not going to do it, and people/fighters know that of me.
They know that I'm there in the best interest of the fighters. So my name can open a lot of doors. I can call somebody and get them for anybody, because I'm really there for them, it's not an act. If there was a problem with a certain guy or fighter, I'd pick up the phone and fix it. I was doing that pretty much already, behind doors closed doors so they say, but then I just started doing it in the open.
MMAWeekly: Now that your time with the IFL is over, what is it you have coming up next?
Rutten: I'm so happy about this thing coming out called the B.A.S., the Body Action System. It's a punching, kneeing and kick device that you can put up in your bedroom, gym, garage, anywhere you like. We train on it at our gym, actually. Kimbo (Slice) hits it and everybody's done it. I cannot say too much about it, but you can hit it as hard as you can, it's going to be good for your aim and it's going to be very good stamina-wise. The whole infomercial is done and I saw the final product a week ago. I think a lot of guys are going to like this thing; it's a really fun thing.
I love doing Inside MMA, and of course we have HDNet Fights, and they're doing Dream events, so I'm right back in Japan like I was before. The last Dream was a great show, and the next one is looking like a crazy show. They've asked me for some pro wrestling, maybe I'll do it. I'm working on a reality show right now. We've done some really funny stuff already that I think people will really like. Outside the house, how is El Guapo, and what goes on in his life?
MMAWeekly: What about coming back to the sport in some capacity with another promotion?
Rutten: I've already been asked by some other organizations, so I'm going to have some meetings with them coming up. I have my family over from Holland, so I've put everything on hold right now. The only thing I'm doing is the Inside MMA show right now. My family will be gone (soon), so I'll start taking meetings next week.
MMAWeekly: Thanks as always for your time, Bas. Is there anything you want to say in conclusion?
Rutten: I don't need to say look me up, the fans will find me. Trust me; I'm going to be right in your face. I'm hoping I'll make the right decisions. I hope the reality show gets picked up, we've got some good companies looking at it, and they've really liked what they've seen. BasRutten.com, don't forget that. CureForAutism.org, go there and do something with your tax money, that's where you can donate it. They really need it. It's a write-off, it's a great thing to do, so do something good with your money.