Here’s an old but great interview with Bas Rutten where he talks about all sorts of shit from the early days of mixed martial arts. He also shares how he got involved in the sport, and it’s a strange path indeed:
BR: I still loved the martial arts, so we started doing martial arts shows. We started doing them in discos, in bars, and to music. We’d beat the shit out of each other with sticks, nunchakus, weapons… we had a whole show.
Then I realized if we added comedy to it, people would really start loving it. People started inviting us to shows, big karate tournaments, and during the break they’d put us in the ring and we’d do our shit. Everyone started laughing, we’d make fun of the Tae Kwon Do guys, jumping around going, “YEEE-AAAAH! YEEE-AAAAH!” and all that shit. I used to be a Tae Kwon Do guy myself, so I could do it. But we exaggerated and that became real big. Someone from TV saw us, and bang! we were on TV in Holland. Then we started touring in Europe and were on European TV. It became big.
On one of those show, Chris Dolman came to me and said, “Man, your athletic ability is pretty cool; you should do free-fighting [pre MMA term]. He was with the organization RINGS at the time. I didn’t know anything about RINGS so he invited me to his gym to train.
I went to his gym and at that time I was ranked number two in the world on the MTBN, the real Muay Thai list, so that’s pretty good. I thought, “I’m going to kill these guys.” They had these little guys, like 170 pounds, and they’d take my ass down and choke me. I thought I could hold a choke, so I did everything, but I had to tap. I got arm-barred and everything.
T-Nation: That must’ve been disheartening.
BR: I drove home and had to stop my car next to the road. I was fucked; I was done. I called my wife and told her I couldn’t make it home because I couldn’t even drive.
When I finally got home she started laughing and said, “So that’s it then, no more free-fighting for you?” I said, “I’m going to go back and within three months I’m going to submit all these motherfuckers, you watch me.” And I did, I went back and started training.
(Thanks to jackal frikshun for the find!)