Mailbag: Ready for his close-up

Kevin Iole

Bas Rutten is one of the great fighters in the short history of mixed martial arts, but he left his native Netherlands to come to the U.S. initially not to find a career as a fighter but with the dream of becoming a comedic actor.

Many fighters – notably Rutten's friend, former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Randy Couture, and Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le – are pursuing acting careers. The overwhelming majority of fighters who land an acting job are tabbed in action roles.

Rutten has always enjoyed comedy and said he felt natural in front of the camera. Though he's taken some acting classes, he compared them to training in a Dojo and then fighting in a professional bout.

"An acting class, you get a chance to work on your timing and approach," Rutten said. "It's like if you go to train in a Dojo and you're doing really well. If you go into a fight and can fight in front of the crowd the way you fight in the Dojo, then you can be a pretty good fighter. If you can deliver your lines in front of the big crowd like you do in a class, then you have a chance to be pretty good at acting."

Rutten is one of the stars of the newly released Web series, Dusty Peacock.

Rutten loves working in comedy and hopes to make a career of it. And though he similarly loves announcing MMA and working as a co-host with Kenny Rice on HDNet's "Inside MMA," he's prepared to give up the MMA work to make comedy work.

"I'm going to do everything in my power to continue to do the ["Inside MMA"] show and working [as a fight analyst]," he said. "I love it. But as I get better at acting and get better roles, there may have to come a time when I'll have to make the decision to step away. Thank God the people at 'Inside MMA' are so great to work with because I love doing the show so much."

Before we delve into the mailbag and I respond to your questions and comments, I'd like to remind you to follow me on Twitter. You can send me questions for the mailbag there or just choose to talk some MMA.

Apologize to Mirko?

I read with interest your column about the return of Mirk "Cro Cop" Filipovic to the UFC, and it found it entirely lacking one thing: an apology. Your initial article on Cro Cop's defection to DREAM generated a great deal of disrepect to Cro Cop in the MMA community. You published a lot of extremely damaging words about a very honorable fighter without actually speaking to that fighter to get the full story! When Cro Cop denied the DREAM deal, you asserted that he was merely trying to save face. While some of your writing was simply relaying the words of Dana White, ultimately you are responsible for what you publish and the implications of it. I've generally been a fan of yours, but if I don't see some kind of apology for the damage to Cro Cop's reputation based on incorrect information, I have read my last Kevin Iole column.
Adam Mueller
Vancouver, Wash.

Sorry to say, Adam, but we part ways. I have NOTHING to apologize for and find it ludicrous that anyone thinks I should apologize for reporting the facts at the time. Here's a little background: At the conclusion of UFC 99, I was tipped off that Cro Cop had told White sometime on the day of that fight card that he wasn't signing the contract he'd verbally agreed to and was then signing with DREAM. Cro Cop, as is his custom, failed to attend the postfight news conference at UFC 99. He RARELY does interviews and almost never makes himself available to the media. When the news conference ended, I approached White to ask him. Neil M. Davidson, the sports editor of the Canadian Press, saw us and joined in the conversation. I asked White if the rumors I'd heard that Cro Cop was headed to DREAM were true. He replied that it was and that Cro Cop had told him earlier in the night, but he said he didn't want to talk about it with Davidson or myself.

I knew Yahoo! Sports readers would have great interest, so I pushed until White provided details. When I returned to the U.S. from Germany, I read a USA Today.com report quoting a DREAM official confirming it had a deal with Filipovic, but I also read reports in which it stated Cro Cop was waffling. I contacted White to ask about the conflicting positions and he told me Filipovic told him, "The Japanese are expecting me." And, indeed, at that time, DREAM had a match between Cro Cop and Mighty Mo listed on its Web site for its July 20 event. White went on to relay other details of the conversation which he asked me not to make public. But I subsequently answered a mailbag question about Filipovic's denials and said Filipovic was trying to save face. He was receiving much heat for reneging on UFC. He made it clear he wants to run for political office again in Croatia and did not like the adverse publicity.

He met with UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and agreed to accept the deal he had orginally agreed to over the telephone. I reported that as soon as I knew he'd actually signed the document.

What did I do wrong here? Well, I'd say nothing. I would have given Filipovic plenty of room to express his views, but as is typical, Filipovic would not speak to the media. He's so ornery with the media that he makes Brock Lesnar look like a joy to interview.

The facts changed over time and I reported that as it happened. I have nothing to apologize for and won't to save you as a reader, Adam. I wish you'd continue to visit our site and read my columns, as well as those by Dave Meltzer, Dave Doyle and the rest of our staff, but if you choose not to, then you have to do what you feel is right.

Comments on Kimbo

Your column on Kimbo Slice gives me a better impression of the man. I didn't blame him for what went on in Elite XC, like so many others did (hey, he had a chance to make some money). But joining the cast of "The Ultimate Fighter" and trying to fight his way into the UFC shows some character.
Patrick Ogle
Chicago

Thanks, Patrick. I don't think a lot of Kimbo's abilities as a fighter at this stage and he was dramatically and badly overhyped by Elite XC and CBS, but he's clearly doing the right thing by fighting to prove his critics wrong.

You are crazy to compare LeBron James to Kimbo Slice. Kimbo is not even rated in the top 100 fighters in the world, or he better not be. LeBron is clearly at the top of his respective sport. Kimbo has a great story to tell and a great sell value, so lets compare Kimbo to say Stephen Marbury or even Ryan Leaf. Let's be realistic and not put Kimbo's face on MMA.
Brian Shatwell

Brian, I was in no way comparing Kimbo's talent or his position in MMA as anywhere equivalent to LeBron. The point I was making was that LeBron didn't show great character by storming off and pouting after his loss and that Kimbo handled his situation with much more class and aplomb.

Why the war between boxing and MMA?

As a fight fan, I'm extremely perplexed with the "war" between MMA and boxing, especially when it comes to the fans. While fans of both sports may be at fault, I am more confused with the hatred that MMA fans have for boxing. They say things like "It's just boxing, it's not fighting" and "Boxing sucks! Boxing is dying!" I for one am a boxing fan as well as an MMA fan. My question is, where do these MMA purists come from? All my friends are basically crossover fans, meaning our love for boxing translated to MMA as well, because it's also fighting in a different form. I really don't understand where these people come from because I would think that about 99 percent of the reason why you would like MMA now is because you already liked a fighting sport. Did these people just wake up one day, having not liked boxing, or wrestling, for that matter, and then suddenly love MMA above anything else? How do you feel about this?
Maynard Maleon
Marikina, Philippines

I don't like the so-called "war" either and it's not constructive. Each person is different and has his or her own reasons for feeling a particular way, but I think the reason many MMA fans hate boxing so much is because boxing has long gotten more attention and more media coverage. MMA fans felt slighted that their sport was being ignored. I agree with you, though. They're both great sports and I enjoy both.

Thoughts on UFC 100

I have a few thoughts I'd like to share following UFC 100. UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre is so dominant, I'm not sure he has many options. All the legitimate contenders are going to seem like tin cans to him. I worry that him moving up to face some decent competition, such as UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, will result in a Roy Jones Jr.-like reaction. He will do well but when he tries to go back down to welterweight he would start to struggle to lose the weight necessary and that would cause problems with his staying power. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Michael Bisping, but the blow that Dan Henderson delivered after he was out almost made me sick. Lastly, I just read a column by Dave Meltzer on Yahoo! Sports complaining about how Lesnar is being held to a double standard. People hated him before he ever had a real chance to show them that he was a legitimate fighter. He made his name on WWE as a heel, so people hated him before he ever started MMA. He was given a title shot when he had just a 2-1 record. I personally feel that his physical abilities far outshine his technical abilities. Granted, he is an amazing wrestler, but who can really stop a 300-pound cannonball coming at you or a 30-pound sledgehammer he calls a fist hitting you in the head? He really hasn't given anyone a reason to believe he is anything other than an (expletive), which he played to and encouraged at the end of his second fight with Frank Mir.
Brandon Purcell
Shelby, Ohio

I agree that there are few good options for St. Pierre at 170 now, but he's going to fight the winner of the Mike Swick-Martin Kampmann fight next. I totally agree with your take on Henderson. It was a cheap shot and should not have occurred. As for Lesnar, fans have the right to like or dislike whomever they want. But hating on Lesnar for getting a title shot seems bizarre to me. First, who among us would turn it down? And second, he won the fight? Doesn't that prove he was qualified? Yes, he's more of a physical fighter than a technical one, but physicality is as much a part of the sport as technique.