NEW YORK, January 23, 2008 - The International Fight League (OTC.BB: IFLI) today announced the latest step in its reorganization heading into the 2008 season, naming Mixed Martial Arts legend Sebastian "Bas" Rutten to the newly-created position of Vice President, Fighter Operations. Rutten, who has been with the IFL since its inception as a coach and commentator, will oversee the contact between the IFL, its current athletes and other athletes in the sport, as well as working to create potential future matchups and cards both internally and with other organizations. He will report directly to IFL CEO Jay Larkin.
The 42 year old Dutchman competed professionally for over 20 years in various MMA disciplines, and was a three time champion in Pancrase (the Japanese precursor to what is now MMA) as well as holding the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight title.
He became interested in martial arts when he was 14 after seeing the Bruce Lee classic film "Enter the Dragon," and began taking up Tae Kwon Do and other forms of karate. He had had skin problems and asthma as a youngster in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and martial arts became an excellent outlet for his growing athletic ability. His professional career began with Pancrase, the upstart Japanese fighting organization in 1993 and he rose through the ranks to take his first "King of Pancrase" title in 1995, defeating Minoru Suzuki. He defended the title twice and ended his Pancrase career with 19 straight wins.
In 1998, Rutten signed with the UFC, taking the heavyweight title from Kevin Randleman in just his second bout. He vacated the title later in the year in order to drop down to his natural middleweight category, but a series of serious injuries forced him to retire. In July 2006 he made one more come back, he defeated his opponent Ruben Villareal by way of leg kicks in the first round and finished his career with 22 straight wins.
Following his retirement, Rutten moved on to coaching, acting and broadcasting, landing roles on TV shows like "Martial Law," and "The King of Queens," as well as three movies, "The Eliminator," "The Vault" and "The Kingdom of Ultimate Power." He was also the color commentator on PRIDE's Fighting Championship events, where his sense of humor and intimate knowledge of the sport immediately made him a fan favorite. He has also produced four DVD's on workouts and techniques and written two books, Bas Rutten's Big Books of Combat.
Bas, who uses the nickname "El Guapo" (named after the villain in the comedy The Three Amigos) has been with the IFL as one of its founding coaches, most recently training and coaching IFL standouts like current welterweight champion Jay Hieron, Chris Horodecki, Benji Radach and Alex Schoenauer, and rising MMA legend Kimbo Slice, among others. He has also been the face of the IFL on television, teaming with Kenny Rice on IFL broadcasts on FSN, MyNetworkTV and HDNet that have been seen in over 200 countries worldwide in 2007. He is also the co-host of "Inside MMA" with Rice, a role which he will continue. Rutten also owns two gyms in the Los Angeles area and is one of the top trainers for many of Hollywood's elite.
Rutten lives and trains in Los Angeles with his wife and has three daughters.