by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com

Three events into a new year and the International Fight League has put in some of the most exciting match-ups in the organization’s brief history.


Key to the in-ring success has come at the hands of the matchmaking. Lead by Kurt Otto, in conjunction with Bas “El Guapo” Rutten, the IFL’s change of format to individual fights with champions in six weight classes has proven to be a shot in the arm to the company’s live events.


In particular, Rutten has grown into his role as Vice President of Fighter Operations, continuing his transition from fighter to MMA business professional, enjoying every minute of it.


Recently Bas took time from his always hectic schedule to speak to MMAWeekly about the current status of the IFL, his foray into the world of video games and his always present endeavors into expanding the Bas Rutten name and brand.


MMAWeekly: First off Bas, the IFL just held its third event of the year earlier this month. Give us your impressions on how it went.


Bas Rutten: I think the show went really well and that everybody enjoyed it. If we keep having a couple more shows like this, then I think the people will be very happy. I think pretty much all the shows of the IFL are pretty good.


MMAWeekly: This year the IFL transitioned from team based fighting to more individual action. How would you say that change has gone so far?


Bas Rutten: I think it’s great, because now we’ve got individual fights going on and that’s what everybody wants to see. We have two or three title fights every show, the focus is now on the camps and their coaches; combined with all the fights being live now, it’s been a great change. Also, with the new ring coming in, the “hex,” it’s going to get even better now. That, together with the no elbows rule, I say will make for a more technical fight.


MMAWeekly: So far, aside from the middleweight title, all the champions have done what they’re supposed to do and defended their belts. What do you think of your titleholders’ performances?


Bas Rutten: I think everybody’s doing a great job. I really like Roy (Nelson); he can really fight and can do the full five rounds. Ryan Schultz is on a rampage; he really got rejuvenated after his (Chris) Horodecki win. Vladimir (Matyushenko) is a very solid fighter and any time you think he’s out, he comes back and beats the (expletive) out of his opponents. Waggney (Fabiano) I think is one of the most talented guys in MMA and he deserves to be in the Top 10. I think all our champions deserve to be in the Top 10.


MMAWeekly: In a recent conference call, IFL CEO Jay Larkin openly admitted that the promotion is seeking new ownership. Couple that with persistent rumors that the IFL is on its last leg, what do you think of the future of the company?


Bas Rutten: It’s a public company, so everybody sees how bad it goes and it doesn’t look good, but like Jay said, we have a very solid fighter base. I think our fighters are really good, our infrastructure is very good, and I think everything is very solid. If you look past the stocks and keep your eyes more open to the future, see how well our live shows go, I don’t see any negative. I think a lot of people do, but the thing that is going to help us is the (EliteXC) CBS deal that’s happening (this) week and will open a lot of doors for other TV stations wanting to show MMA also.


MMAWeekly: Let’s talk about your move from team coach and announcer to VP of Fighter Operations. How do you feel about it now that you’ve had a good amount of time in the position?


Bas Rutten: It’s an easy thing for me to do. I’m just working the phones, but I already did that. With any name I probably have them already in my phone, so I call them and set up business meetings or whatever we need. If I don’t have the number, I’ll get it in 10 minutes. Because I’m a fighter from before, the guys know that I’m there for the fighters. I’m happy to make contacts with people, and to do with the match making with Kurt Otto and Shannon Knapp, it’s going really good. We’ve put together some solid matches together, and I think the August event will be great too.


MMAWeekly: Going outside the IFL now, I understand it that you appear in the new Grand Theft Auto 4 video game. Tell us your thoughts about that and how people are reacting to it.


Bas Rutten: I did all the motion caption for the fighting, actually. So all the highjacking, carjacking and things you see – that’s me. On top of that, I have a TV show called “The Men’s Room with Bas and Jeremy.” So many people have been calling me all the time talking about that.


We had a lot of fun doing it. I have actually people who don’t know me, stopping me and asking me, “Are you the guy from Grand Theft Auto?” They don’t know me from fighting. It did like five-hundred million (dollars) the first week, so you can only imagine how many games they have sold and people have seen me in it.


MMAWeekly: What else is on the horizon for you this year?


Bas Rutten: There’s a new stand coming out, called the Body Action Stand that you can punch and kick. It’s a real nice thing you can put up anywhere that you can beat the crap out of it and not get injured, because there’s no pressure in your joints. That’s going to be together with my new workout that’s coming out. It’s going to be going world-wide, starting in the States with an infomercial. We’re working on movies and TV deals. I have a few pictures that I shot that people seem to have interest in, but it’s always waiting, waiting, waiting. That’s the worst part about movies, is all the waiting, but overall it’s all looking very good.


MMAWeekly: Sounds great, Bas. Thanks for taking the time out for us, it’s always appreciated. Is there anything you want to say as we head out?


Bas Rutten: I believe Aug. 15 is when we’re going to have the next show. It’s going to be great. It will be in New Jersey this time and it will be live on HDNet. So after you watch “Inside MMA,” you’ll see the IFL. Check out BasRutten.com. That’s my new nickname, because Caol Uno did it – his nickname means “The Caol Uno Store,” so my new nickname is “BasRutten.com.” (Laughs)