Pancrase was like the UFC before anyone had ever heard of the UFC…
Pancrase was a combination of mixed martial arts and wrestling. A sort of hybrid wrestling and MMA sporting event that was created by two former wrestlers. They both got tired of faking losses to older more popular wrestlers in the entertainment-based fake wrestling leagues. The promotion company as it was structured, was founded in Japan in 1993, by professional wrestlers Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki. Masakazu Sakai still currently serves as CEO of the company, which is still around to this very day, known as Pancrase Inc. The name was based on the Greek pankration, a fighting sport in the Ancient Olympic Games.

Bas Rutten was the first basic puncher and stand-up fighter to achieve success in Pancrase and early MMA. This is a man with killer palm punches and serious kicks, from feet with wrestling boots on them, I might add. Which he would use to crush the liver of his rivals. Often causing them to drop in pain holding their stomachs. He spent most of his career in Pancrase and retired in the early days of the UFC before it was in its full glory. Below you will see a video of all of his best Pancrase finishes, with some great clips of early MMA, the fighting sport that we have all come to love in recent years.

Rutten fought 16 times in total as a professional fighter, winning the first 14 matches by knockout, 13 in the first round, and losing his final two fights. One of the losses was against Frank Lobman for the European Muay Thai title on 12 February 1991, with Rutten losing by KO in the very first round. Then there was another loss to Ken Shamrock via Submission (rear-naked choke) in Pancrase Road to the Championship on 3 July 26, 1994. Every great fighter’s career ends with a loss or two so that’s to be expected. Well, everyone except Floyd Mayweather maybe, but that’s a whole other conversation. For his day, Bas Rutten was way ahead of his curve and one of our best and very first MMA champions.

Enjoy some clips from this amazing mixed martial artist’s career below.