UFC Hall of Famer Bas Rutten appeared recently on the great Submission Radio for a wide-ranging interview. It touched on several of the biggest issues of the season, starting with Ronda Rousey. Rutten wisely laid out why she won, and what she needs to do to return to form:
•Get used to pressure of fighting, via smokers;
•Lose the anger, it kills fluidity of mind and thought;
•Learn that calmness beats aggressiveness;
•Learn to wrestle;
•Rid the camp of screamers;
•Apologize to people she has wronged; and,
•Be a happy person.
“For her in training camp, I think she was doing everything right,” said Rutten. “I truly believe that. Because you heard her coach, Edmond saying, ‘Use head movement, head movement,’ so they worked on head movement. It’s just – and I always tell this to people and I probably told you guys many times as well – when everything works in a nice environment like in the gym without the pressure, yeah you can do a lot of stuff. But once the pressure is on, a lot of these things disappear.
“I think in the back of her mind now there was too much going on for her. Everything was riding on this fight. Think about it. I mean, her career could be over now and also her acting. I mean, Roadhouse, I don’t think that’s going to happen anymore now after this happened. You see what I mean? And should it be like that? No, it shouldn’t be like that, but the world works like that. And that means that once you start losing, well you’re not so interesting for movies anymore as well. So she kind of knew that going in and I think there was a lot of pressure.
“And then when she got hit the first time, that threw her right back into the Holm fight. And even before that, the way she came out, there was no head movement, there was no nothing. Everything was the same as it was before. It was almost like she just locked up. And that’s what I wrote also in that blog, she’s gotta get rid of that whole angry look face thing. It’s too much. It’s almost like you’re trying to convince yourself that you gotta be angry or something, but what it really does for you, it locks you up, it locks the body up. Anger, you cannot use anger, man. Controlled anger you can, but you want to stay away from the anger because it locks the fluidity up, you don’t see punches coming. All the stuff I’m saying right now is exactly what you saw, and I truly believe it’s because the mindset is too aggressive.
“Aggressiveness – as I always say, calmness beats aggressiveness nine out of ten times. I truly believe that. The person who’s calm and calculated, he can figure things out. Just like she was in Judo, she needs to find that. Now, I think that in training she found it and she felt great and everything worked, but we all know that training is not doing the same thing as fighting – otherwise you would have seen more fighters and way more other champions in other organisations, because then everybody can do it, then it’s easy. But it’s the pressure and [because] last time she got knocked out. She’s very competitive. In her mind, she cannot lose this fight. Those are all really bad things to bring to a fight if you have to compete, because they will lock you up. I truly believe that’s what happened with her.”
Bas also discussed how Rousey can return to fighting successfully, and whether she needs to change camps.
“It’s all up to her if she wants to stay there,” said Rutten. “But if you look at what Duane Ludwig did with the whole Alpha Male camp and look at the footwork of all these guys, then I say that would be really good for her to have footwork like that. And if Edmond can make a replica out of that, then I say yeah, you can stay with him. If you feel comfortable there, then stay with him.
“But she needs to fight and she needs smokers. She cannot fight on a big kickboxing event. First of all, the talent is way too high there. And second of all, the UFC contract will never allow it. But it never says anything about smokers. So I mean, Phil Brooks did it, right? CM Punk, he fought a couple of smokers. And I think that’s something she needs to do. She needs to fight it contained though. I don’t think that [she should] do it in front of an audience, because it’s gonna attract too much people – which would be good for her, but just start just in a gym.
“Walk into the gym, only let the owner of the gym know in the beginning that you’re going to bring her, so people don’t find out and it’s not going to be posted right away. Have people ask for respect here. You know, say ‘Hey, let’s not tell anybody.’ And I know it’s going to be very hard to do because it’s hard to find honest people, but they should be there. But she needs to fight. She needs to fight under pressure, you know, whether it’s a smoker or whatever it is.
“And if she starts doing well at that, then I say yeah, jump back in and start doing that. And also, go wrestle a little bit more. I don’t know if they already do that. I don’t think so, because she’s really good, she needs to look for a clinch. But I think if you get a talented athlete like Ronda Rousey and if you let her work with wrestlers and she suddenly starts shooting for single and double legs, I think she becomes a completely different fighter. She [then] has a longer reach of going for a takedown. Now, she needs a clinch. Then, she could actually shoot in and she can cover a little bit more distance. So maybe that’s going to help her as well. Especially when an opponent comes to you and starts firing power shots. That’s when they plant their feet. Then it’s better to go for a double or a single leg, but to shoot low, to lower yourself and shoot straight forward, [rather] than try to look for a clinch because you’re gonna get hit.”
Rutten was asked if Rousey could still be competitive with the top women in her division.
“She can if she gets her head straight,” he said. “That’s the whole thing. But it’s getting the head straight. Everything that she’s been doing for the last two years – I mean the way she treats other fighters and people and all the stories you hear, you go like, you’re going to have to change that. You gotta make a complete 180.
“Be a happy person. All the aggression in the gym, if it’s there, get rid of those people. If people are screaming – like in my dressing room before a fight, if somebody would say, ‘Go knock his head off his head,’ then he’s out. He’s gotta go out right away. Because we tell them that before. If that starts, if you start saying things like that, we put you out of the room. We don’t need that. We need jokes, we need fun, we’re playing cards, we’re playing whatever, video games, we’re having fun. That’s what you need to do. You need to relax.
“You don’t need to think about the fight, you’ve done that for the last ten weeks. Don’t worry about that, that will come out automatically. Right now, you need to be calm. And the more calm you are, the better your body responds to all the things that you tell it to do, that your brain tells it to do. And if you’re angry and locked up and you hit yourself in the face and do all these things, it stops the fluidity, it stops everything. It stops that great conversation between the brain and the body. Relax.
“And that means she has to do that in training, in her personal life, she has to make amends with people that she said things to. Even if she thinks, ‘Oh, that was not that bad,’ but if other people say it’s bad, trust me, it’s bad. Then, start making amends, start lightening up, be happy. I would think like in the early days she came out more relaxed. Go back to the time that you thought mixed martial arts was fun.
“Now, we need to understand also, we are not Ronda Rousey. Ronda Rousey is like – I’m a glimpse of Ronda Rousey, meaning by how popular she is. I mean, everybody knows her. They did a test and I think it was 64 percent of the women know who Ronda Rousey is in America. So that is a lot of pressure on a person. She can go to a store, people recognize her. She can pump gas. If she gets out of the car, people will stop the car for autographs or pictures. I mean, that’s a lot of pressure that you take with you the whole time. So once she starts a little bit, you know, being not as friendly to people, it’s one hundred percent understandable. Because if you get that everywhere you go, I mean, I’m telling you the truth, people are so relentless, fans sometime. And what she has, I only have it at fight events. But I don’t have that regular on the street. She has that everywhere.”
Rutten also segued neatly to the other central figure in the sport, Conor McGregor, and more. Is the absence of Rowdy good for Notorious?
“Yeah, for sure,” said Bas. “McGregor, man … McGregor is doing a great job right now. I mean, he’s doing everything for the fighters. The fighters can’t be angry at him. Man, he’s doing a lot for them. He’s the guy who’s putting even more on the map, more people are watching. He makes the other fighters famous as well because of just the way he is in public. He’s doing a phenomenal job. And of course he’s going to keep going with negotiations.
“What [was it that] Lorenzo Fertitta said? He said he’s going to be the first guy that’s going to make one hundred million dollars [in MMA]. I truly believe it. The guy’s just very smart. So yeah, he will be there and I have a feeling that – and I know people are gonna go, ‘Oh you’re crazy,’ but I think Brock Lesnar will be back as well. I truly believe that.”
The discussion of Rousey and McGregor then expanded to the the third great PPV draw in the sport’s history – Brock Lesnar. Bas thinks Brock is back in 2017.
“If Rousey decided to hang it up, they got only Conor McGregor,” he explained. “Now, Conor’s not going to fight for a very long time anymore. I think this guy needs to be in movies also. I think he probably will be a really good actor as well. So I think he probably will take that route. I don’t know, he’s got a very competitive spirit in him, so hopefully we see him fight for a few more years. But what if not? What if he gets injured? Boom. I mean there’s nothing compared to it. I mean, you look at Jon Jones who’s a phenomenal athlete, who by the way also has to wait until he comes back, and he draws good pay-per-view numbers, but not what McGregor and Rousey are doing. They need another person. And the only other person that’s there, is Brock Lesnar. And that’s why I’m thinking they’ll go after him.”
As much as Rutten appreciates Lesnar’s drawing power, he is not impressed with PEDs.
“I’m not a big fan of it,” said Rutten. “You know my stance on the whole PED thing. It’s not necessary. It’s not. I got into MMA at 28, which is late, and I never needed it. So why would they need it? Nobody needs it. And once you can’t, your body can’t do it anymore, it’s time for you to quit. It’s time to do something else. So I’m not a big fan of it.
“I understand that they need him. I mean, they need some crazy attractions now because otherwise the 4.2 billion dollars, it was a very large payday, but they bought that when McGregor and Rousey were there. And now there’s a chance that that is going to be over, at least for Rousey, and McGregor in a bit. So yeah, the next biggest draw that was Brock Lesnar. So I have the feeling he will come back. But he’s gotta be tested up to gills, I guess. I don’t know how they’re gonna do it, but I think USADA should really visit him every week. That’s what I think they should do.”
Bas also discussed Mark Hunt, who is suing the UFC over Lesnar’s failed test.
“I really feel for the guy,” said Bas. “He is such a good dude, in and out of the cage, and always the ring when he was competing in kickboxing. Nicest guy you’ll ever meet.
“I think he’s right. Then he said he wants to sue them. I would go to a fighter before – and any fighter for him. It’s not like I’m challenging Overeem, because he’s been fighting clean for a long time now. So that’s okay. But I would make a contract that goes over that [UFC] contract that says, okay, it’s good, I’ll fight you, if you test positive I want half your purse. And you have to sign that and hopefully the opponent signs it. And if they don’t sign it, well then that’s already a bad sign. But something like that, I would see if that’s even possible. I don’t know if that is possible, but something to that effect. I would at least try.”