The Pioneer Era category recognizes great fighters who turned professional before November 17, 2000, when the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts were created and widely adopted. All but one of Rutten’s 33 professional MMA bout were fought in the 1990s, with many of his greatest accomplishments taking place in Pancrase, which used hybrid rules, single-round fights and open-handed striking.
After dominating the competition in Japan, Rutten finally entered the UFC Octagon at UFC 18, on January 8, 1999. Hyped as the greatest MMA fighter in the world, he defeated Tsuyoshi Kohsaka by knockout and returned at UFC 20 four months later to defeat Kevin Randleman to win the vacant UFC heavyweight world title. Rutten was the fourth man to hold the UFC heavyweight championship and third former holder of that belt to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
UFC President Dana White surprised Rutten with the news during an interview on the Inside MMA Show, which Rutten co-hosts. Rutten was concluding an interview previewing tonight’s UFC 187 Pay-Per-View event when White informed the Dutchman that he would be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on July 11.
“We have International Fight Week in Las Vegas in July,” White began. “And on July 11, at the UFC Fan Expo, you will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.”
The footage of the exchange can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/JiIgQe9y-vQ
Asked about the biggest wins of his career, Rutten said: “My pro debut against Ryushi Yanagisawa, he outweighed me by 45lbs but I knocked him out. Then the two wins over Frank Shamrock, winning the Pancrase title from Minoru Suzuki, my two wins in the UFC, of course, meant a lot to me and beating Masakatsu Funaki in the rematch. He was the first person to beat me, he talked a lot of crap, and in the rematch for the title I slaughtered him.”
All those fights available now on UFCFIGHTPASS.com here: http://www.ufc.tv/category/ufc-hall-of-fame-bas-rutten
Rutten’s first Pancrase opponent, Japanese kickboxer Ryushi Yanagisawa, spent two days in the hospital after the Dutchman dispatched him with palm-strikes and knees. On that night, the Dutchman’s career-long reputation as a terrifying striker was forged.
He defeated early MMA icons like Vernon White, Guy Mezger and future UFC champions Maurice Smith and Frank Shamrock twice each during this period. In 1995, Rutten won the King of Pancrase title from legend Minoru Suzuki. His finest hour in Japan came at the Pancrase 1996 Anniversary Show where the Dutchman avenged his first pro defeat, knocked out Masakatsu Funaki to win a classic encounter.
In 1999, Rutten signed with the UFC and immediate set his sights on the UFC heavyweight title, eventually beating Randleman on points. His plan was to immediately drop down to light heavyweight and become the first ever two-division UFC champion; however a series of injuries cut short his career.
He returned for a farewell fight – vs unheralded Ruben Villareal – seven years later in a WFA event in July, 2006.
FightMetric, the official statistics provider for the UFC, ran the numbers on Rutten’s career. They back up the Dutchman’s inclusion into the UFC Hall of Fame and then some. In the 4-hours, 27-minutes and 8-seconds he spent as a pro fighter, Rutten scored 13 knockdowns without getting dropped himself, his significant strike accuracy was 70.6% – the highest FightMetric has ever recorded, attempted a record 53 submissions and successfully swept his opponents a record 46 times.
And, incredibly for a fighter who had 15 wins via submission, Rutten never attempted a single takedown in his entire career. Clearly, “El Guapo” had a unique and extremely effective style.
He finished his career on a 22-fight unbeaten streak. Rutten’s overall MMA record stands at 28 wins, 4 losses, and one draw.
Rutten joins Contributor Jeff Blatnick and Fight Hughes vs Trigg II in the UFC Hall of Fame’s class of 2015. The final inductee – the Modern Era representative – will be announced tonight during the UFC 187 Prelims on FOX Sports 1.
The UFC Hall of Fame 2015 induction ceremony will take place on July 11 as part of the UFC Fan Expo in Las Vegas. Fans with tickets to the UFC Fan Expo will be able to attend the UFC Hall of Fame 2015 event for no additional cost. Tickets to the UFC Fan Expo are available at www.ufcfanexpo.com with two-day passes beginning at $60 online and $65 onsite. One-day passes begin at $35 online and $45 onsite. The UFC Hall of Fame ceremony will be streamed live on UFCFIGHTPASS.com.