Thirteen years after they first shared a commentary table, former Pride FC announcers Bas Rutten and Mauro Ranallo will once again sit side by side to analyze and discuss combat sports when they reunite on the upcoming season of Inside MMA on AXS TV.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Bas, how did you feel to find out you’d be reunited with Mauro Ranallo on AXS TV’s Inside MMA?
Bas Rutten: I thought it was great. I already knew that with Kenny (Rice) that he was going to be so busy with NBC with boxing and Kentucky Derby and the Olympics coming up. Mauro and I just started a podcast and then suddenly I got a little rumor that Mauro was going to do Inside MMA with me, so I started making phone calls and then I realized what was going on.
First we do a podcast together, which we just started and really enjoy, and now we’re going to work together on Inside MMA, so we’re stoked to say the least.
MMAWeekly.com: How has the chemistry grown or changed since you first teamed up in Pride FC 13 years ago?
Bas Rutten: I certainly think things have gotten better. Back in 2003 is when Mauro came to Pride FC, that was the first big MMA show he had done, and now after all these years with the work he’s done with all the biggest companies on the planet, it only helps.
Mauro is always learning. He’ll sit in his car and read notes. That’s the way he’s always been. I haven’t seen anything different from him since 2003. So I think it’s going to be better and we’ll hit it off.
MMAWeekly.com: Do you ever get flashbacks or déjà vu to the old Pride days working together again?
Bas Rutten: We’ll always get flashbacks on the podcast. We were right there and were with these fighters. Some of the stories that Pride FC did, we always talk about that. They had such great video footage and storytelling. You see it a lot in pro wrestling, and you should see it more in MMA. People want to root for somebody or see them lose, one of the two, and both is good for the promoters and fighters.
MMAWeekly.com: Some of the people involved in Pride such as former president Nobuyuki Sakakibara and figurehead Nobuhiko Takada recently joined forces in the new promotion Rizin. What’s it like to see something of a revival of the Pride days?
Bas Rutten: We will talk about it for sure with the (Inside MMA) show because we talk about the entire world of MMA. It’s weird to see an organization like that popping up again. I don’t know if it’s going to succeed. I’ve always said that they’re going to need a new (Kazushi) Sakuraba type of guy because Sakuraba was the person who made Pride FC. To find a guy like that is going to be hard.
I think a few shows like this with Fedor (Emelianenko) and those (former Pride fighters) will get the people to tune in, but a few shows in people are going to need someone to root for, and (RIZIN) is going to need some Japanese superstars to make that work.
MMAWeekly.com: Working once again with Mauro at the commentary desk, how do you think it will translate to Inside MMA from the old days?
Bas Rutten: I think it’s going to be about the same, just with a different energy. We’ll see what happens this Friday when we start, and see what’s going to happen. The great thing about Mauro and myself, he’s not the type of guy to always agree when I say something. If he doesn’t like it, he says it. We have that on the podcast and we’ll have it on Inside MMA. The energy is going to be different and we’ll see where it takes us.
Bas Rutten: It was such weird news. We all knew Kevin and all the crazy accidents and illnesses and things he went through, and he beat it, so for him to get pneumonia and he passed away from it… Mauro and I had just shot some stuff and we heard a rumor online that he passed away, so I texted his wife and Phil Baroni and we (confirmed) the news.
I wish more people knew how Kevin was outside the cage. They knew who the fighter was, but he was a really nice guy and helped everybody. I did seminars (with Randleman in 2011) at the Tapout Gym for the family members of Shawn Tompkins, who had passed away at the time, and then I was back in Vegas for (Randleman’s) funeral, so that was a hard pill to swallow.
MMAWeekly.com: As always you have a myriad of things going on. What can you tell us about what’s going on with you in 2016?
Bas Rutten: We’ve still got the O2 Trainer we’re doing. It’s the training device, and we have a world-renowned scientist who loves the thing, and now we’re in medical journals with the science to back up all the claims we’ve made, so that’s going to be a big thing for me. We’re also working on getting a public company.
Everything else is just the quiet before the storm. I’m working on a TV show now, and we shot a teaser for that, and once we hear something back from a TV channel about that, I’ll talk more about that. We have the podcast, Inside MMA and my gym. That’s pretty much everything I have right now. Hopefully in May I’ll go to the UFC in Holland and work that show, so we’ll see what happens there as well.
MMAWeekly.com: Thanks for taking time out for us, Bas. People in the industry often referred to you as the hardest working man in MMA. With all he’s got going on now, is Mauro the new one?
Bas Rutten: Mauro is really pushing it to the next level now. This guy comes home, Wednesday morning, then we’re doing the podcast and then early Thursday morning we’re going to start shooting some things, then he’s off doing Boxing, (GLORY) kickboxing or WWE, so he’s home for a like a day and a half, two and a half days a week, so I think he’s got me beat. I’m still the pretty one, plus I can kick his butt, so if he says something wrong to me, I can always do that.
(Photos courtesy of Ian Mosley)