Bas Rutten Talks Mauro Ranallo Joining ‘Inside MMA,’ Skipping UFC Holland, And Global Politics

Getty/AXS TV/Ian Mosley (original)

Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg have been the longest-running and most recognized commentary team in the relatively short history of MMA, but right behind them is Bas Rutten and Mauro Ranallo. The Pride announcers, and arguably the two most everlasting and popular commentators in the sport, are getting back together on Inside MMA starting March 25. Back in the Pride days, they were two goofy commentators, doing their own thing. Following their own, weird drummer has led Rutten to be intertwined in the fabric of MMA, and Ranallo becoming arguably the most fluid combat sports announcer in the world, covering Mayweather/Pacquiao, Smackdown, Stikeforce, and Glory.

With these two monoliths of linguistic destruction joining forces once again, we tracked down former UFC heavyweight champ Bas Rutten to discuss the changes to his show, and MMA in general.

It’s really cool to see that you and Mauro are getting back together. Is there excitement that you guys are feeling now starting this Friday?

Yeah, yeah, of course. Because although we did a podcast together, on camera it’s always different. I’m really excited. Mauro has alway been one of these guys who has his own opinions and I have my own opinions, and many times his are different than mine. So that makes for good conversation.

And now with Mauro being a part of WWE his star is brighter than ever before.

Yeah, but he was already doing the biggest boxing, he’s doing the biggest kickboxing, now he’s doing the biggest pro wrestling. So yeah, this is a great lead-in to Inside MMA. Love it.

And it was you who suggested he come on to Pride, correct?

Well, they let Steven Quadros go and they asked me if I knew somebody and I met Mauro many years before that, like three or four years before that in Vancouver, and right away I knew that this guy had unbelievable talent. So I asked for his number. I said, “Listen, you never know. If somebody’s asking me for a job I can pass your name on.” And when it happened with Steven I didn’t want to do it right away, so they got somebody in between, it was David Barry I believe, because I am a friend of Steven Quadros also. I didn’t want him to think I set this up or anything, I didn’t want any bad thing. So then they didn’t like David Barry and they asked me, “Hey, are you sure you don’t know anybody?” And I said, “Actually, I do, I hope his number still works.” So I called him and left him a message and he sent in a video tape and that was it. He got the job.

Stephen Quadros is a great man. So, I wanted to get some answers to some questions that I couldn’t really find. Did you cut weight during your career at all?

No, I did not. I actually give this example: First of all, in Pancrase, there were no weight classes. Second, when I went to the UFC, there was just the beginning of two weight classes. We called it heavyweight and light heavyweight. Heavyweight was 200 pounds and over, and everything else was underneath. And when I fought Randleman, that was for the official UFC heavyweight title. I was actually 197 at the weigh-ins and I kept my jeans on and clothes on. So they said, “You can fight, but you can’t fight for the title, you have to be over 200 pounds for that.” So I literally grabbed the drinks, all the waters from my buddies who were there, and I drank all the waters and then I made 203. [laughs] So I had to gain weight in order to make the weight.

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If you were to fight today, do you think you would cut weight?

Oh yeah. [laughs] I wouldn’t fight at heavyweight, I guarantee you that. You know?

Maybe light heavyweight or middleweight?

Light heavy, probably. I don’t know, I never lost weight, I don’t know how easy it is for me to lose weight. I have always been the same weight, so I never tried it. But I like to fight at the weight that I feel really good at, and that would probably be 205.

There’s a lot of love for you on Fight Pass and there’s talk the UFC will go to Holland with perhaps Overeem and Mark Hunt on the card. Would we ever see you on the mic or is that contractually impossible?

You know, it is possible. This morning I got an email from Fox Holland and they asked me if I could work that show and I said, “Yes, I can.” So I gave them my normal number, the amount of money, and I kept a note even. And they said, “Oh no, that’s too much.” The thing is if I were to live in Holland, I would do it. I would drive over, do the show, that’s an easy thing. But if I have to travel all the way and miss Inside MMA as well on that Friday then I’m gonna miss that money. So in order for me to make any money, you know, I have to make money. Unfortunately, that is not gonna happen.

That’s understandable. I don’t know if you play MMA video games, but consistently people have hated your character because it has been so good and almost overpowered. How does it feel to be feared to this day in video games?

This is the first time I heard that, so it’s a good feeling. It’s always a fun feeling to hear that you’re still relevant, because you started all the way back. There’s a saying in Holland, I don’t know if there’s a saying here – out of sight, out of heart. People forget. In Holland people don’t even know that they have a UFC heavyweight champion. I think 98 percent of people don’t know that. Stuff like this is cool. They did the Hall of Fame induction and they came out with all of these statistics that I never knew. That was also very cool to hear.

At this point you’ve been a commentator longer than you’ve been a professional mixed martial arts fighter, is that correct?

Let me see, yeah. Oh yeah, I have. I think I started in 2000 at Pride FC.

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Looking back, how does that feel? Do you still identify yourself as a fighter or as a commentator at this point or both?

Well, I call myself entertainer. If people ask me what I do, I say I’m an entertainer, I’m a TV host and I like to make people laugh. So that’s my official profession – entertainer.

Before you ever started fighting did you ever think maybe 20 years later you’d be hosting TV shows and being in movies in the U.S.?

No, I never ever expected that. I wrote a foreword for the book from Josh Gross about the Ali vs. Inoki match in Japan. I actually watched that on video tape a long time ago in a seminar and I realized that where they had their event was in Budokan, where I won my titles in Pancrase. It blows you away once you do something like that. I know that I was watching that tape when I was 14 years old. If somebody told me at that moment, “Hey, at the same place here you’re gonna win two world titles later, when you’re older,” I would’ve never believed it.

Is there still bad blood between you and former Pride producer Jerry Millen?

For me it’s not a hate thing, but yeah, I prefer to not talk or hang out with him. You know? But I don’t have a problem with him. I guess everybody needs to do what they need to do for their personal reasons. I’m just not that kind of guy.

Because now he has started Rizin with Fedor and they’ve signed Wanderlei Silva…

Well, he didn’t start anything. He’s using other people’s money. He’s with Sakakibara. He’s doing that. Millen doesn’t have the capital to do something like that.

Do you think Rizin will survive?

Unless they find new Japanese stars who can actually beat the top guys in the world, I don’t think so. Because if we look at the past, if we look at K-1, if we look at Pride FC, that’s pretty much what happened. They run out of the Sakuraba kind of guy, and they will need one. But to find a guy who beats four Gracies, it’s gonna be very hard to do. The shows will be okay. It’ll be like three, four, five, maybe six shows, but eventually they’re gonna run into a problem.

UFC had its biggest year last year. Do you think it’s because of the individual stars like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, or do you think it’s because the UFC is delivering what the fans want with more stacked cards?

It’s the fighters, it’s the talent. It really is. And especially Rousey and McGregor. They’re just a whole different animal. They’re so famous right now, everybody knows them. Even people who don’t watch mixed martial arts. That, combined, of course, with the great shows that they always put on. And now we’re gonna have Jon Jones come back, he’s a great fighter. Daniel Cormier, that’s gonna be a great fight between the both of them. Fighters, especially real promoters like a McGregor. I think McGregor is the biggest one, and then Rousey.

As an entertainer and someone who doesn’t mince words, do you have any opinion on U.S. politics right now?

[laughs] Yeah, it’s very dangerous. I was just saying, whoever comes into power, please please please look at Europe and what’s happening over there. Just make sure you don’t make the same mistake, and then it will be all good. Once you open the borders and give people who do not work only 15 percent less pay than people who do work, that’s asking for trouble. Now people who don’t want to work come to your country, they get no jobs, but they do get the money, have a lot of free time on their hands, they can do a lot of other bad stuff also. And that’s what every country has there. That’s England, that’s Belgium, that’s Holland, that’s Germany, France. That’s the biggest problem right now and that’s a shame that it happens.