Rutten: Kimbo Gets Shamrock Now, Others Later

Aug 26, 2008
Bas Rutten’s (Pictures) powerful presence in the mixed martial arts world can be largely attributed to two names outside his own: Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson and Ken Shamrock.

Ferguson (3-0) gained an unprecedented amount of legitimacy as a street brawler when he began formal MMA training under Rutten. In his fourth fight, Slice will battle Shamrock, the last man to defeat his trainer, at an EliteXC show Oct. 4 in Sunrise, Fla.

Rutten was submitted by Shamrock (26-13-2) twice. The second loss -- a now infamous kneebar under the Pancrase banner in 1995 -- was the last of his career. He went undefeated for the next 11 years, although he did not compete for seven of them, and beat Shamrock’s brother, Frank, twice. The verbose Dutchman was not short on words when it came to the showdown between Shamrock and Slice, two men with whom he is most familiar.

“I think it’ll be a great matchup,” Rutten said. “I would have liked to see it a bit later because of the experience difference, but I think it’s a great matchup.”

Dave Mandel/

Just three bouts into Kimbo Slice's
career, Bas Rutten states that finding
suitable opponents remains delicate.
Rumors circulating about potential bouts pairing Ferguson with Sean Gannon or current heavyweight prospect Brett Rogers (Pictures) have been halted for now. However, Rutten believes he will fight both men at some point. A match with Gannon in a legitimate mixed martial arts contest remains a high priority for Slice.

“He wants to get it over with,” Rutten said. “From there, he’ll fight Brett Rogers.”

Rutten admits the process of finding his protégé a suitable opponent remains delicate, as matchmakers attempt to strike a balance between Ferguson’s immense drawing power and his lack of experience.

“Every time they give us a bunch of opponents, but the opponents don’t come through,” Rutten said. “Now Ken Shamrock, we find out. It goes back and forwards. He doesn’t mind who he fights. It’s really me and Randy Kotami giving him fighters that he should fight because we want him to have a great career. And to put him against a top 10 [heavyweight] right now is just not a smart thing to do.”

With four MMA fights -- one of them amateur -- and four main or co-main events under his belt, pressure continues to mount on Slice. The idea of avenging his trainer’s last defeat does not seem to be a concern for the menacing Floridian.

“It doesn’t matter; it was ’95. I beat guys that beat Shamrock after [that],” Rutten said. “It’s not a big pressure. I think for Kimbo, maybe? It’s extra motivation to get the guy who gave his trainer his last loss, [but] he didn’t even talk about it.”

Despite the drawing potential of a Shamrock-Slice showdown, the fact that it was secured only six weeks before the event may hurt its chances at toppling Slice’s previous bout with James Thompson (Pictures) as the most-viewed fight in American MMA history. Rutten sees it as a marketable fight, though it poses a definite risk to Ferguson.

“It will sell very good. I think for CBS it’s going to do really, really good,” he said. “If Shamrock would have been on a roll, [good], but he comes off seven losses [in eight fights], you know? I always said Ken is a very dangerous guy. It doesn’t matter [if] he has [five] losses in a row, but for people, they’re gonna say now, ‘If Kimbo’s gonna win, he’s gonna win against a guy [with five losses in a row], and if he loses to a guy with [five] losses in a row…’ It’s never gonna be good.”

Rutten’s lifetime involvement in fighting and nearly two decades in MMA afford him a passionate insight regarding a clash between his friend and a former foe.

Jeff Sherwood/

Twice beaten by Shamrock, Rutten
knows all too well the formidable
threat to the inexperienced Slice.
“Of course, [Shamrock] has way more experience than Kimbo has,” he said. “Any win with any fighter with more than 10 fights I think is a great win. Anyone can say whatever they want; I want to see another heavyweight with the same amount of fights as Kimbo has and fight … that’s a lot of pressure, man, to be the headliner of an event.”

Rutten scoffs at those who question Ferguson’s conditioning.

“People think he’s out of shape? No, that’s pressure,” he said. “Ask any fighter on the planet. Every fighter will tell you, ‘My god, I’m getting tired so fast. How is that possible?’ Well, that’s what pressure does to you. Kimbo, they make him the main event after three fights -- it’s too bad. I’d rather him fight normal fights, build him up like a normal fighter, and then we’ll go after guys like Shamrock. Because Shamrock, man, he’s tricky.”

Shamrock’s submission game has stopped a number of accomplished opponents in their tracks. His leg locks and wealth of ground fighting knowledge leads Rutten to believe Slice has a difficult test ahead of him, Shamrock’s age and his five-fight losing streak notwithstanding.

“We’re really looking for a knockout, of course, and we know Ken is going to go for the ground,” Rutten said. “Why would Ken stand up? His ground game’s really good. He should be smart. So Kimbo’s stand-up is too strong. So Ken for the ground -- obviously, he’s going to go for leg locks. It’s not a big surprise what’s going to happen.”
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