Bas Rutten has been a few street fights. From what he remembers, 35 of them took place in a bar, give or take.
When you’re a bouncer like Rutten was, it came with the territory. In his case, it even made him famous. His bar self-defense tutorial at a crusty watering hole became the stuff of internet legend.
So where does “El Guapo” stand on the kind of violence seen in a now-viral video featuring Joe Schilling? The short answer is, conflicted.
When the Bellator veteran posted thank-you messages he’d allegedly received from the man’s ex-girlfriends, Rutten felt a sort of justice had been delivered (MMA Fighting was not able to verify the authenticity of the text messages Schilling posted). Then again, it was a justice that didn’t necessarily need to take place, given the relative experience of its combatants.
“In the beginning you go, was the guy really provoking him?” Rutten, who serves as a commentator for the CBS Sports debut of Karate Combat, told MMA Fighting. “But the messages [Schilling, allegedly] got from his ex-wife, apparently, he was a violent guy. It looked like, yeah, why would he hit him? But apparently, he was saying really bad stuff, and he had done it in the past with his ladies. So he kind of deserved it, I guess.”
The man, Justin Balboa, has already lawyered up and plans to press charges after learning about Schilling’s profession through internet reports. Police say he’ll have to convince the state attorney’s office to pursue a misdemeanor battery charge written up from his report to officers. A civil suit is likely to be filed against the bar where he was knocked out.
Absent the additional information about Balboa, Rutten wouldn’t agree with Schilling’s approach. There is a different standard for professional fighters when it comes to using their skills in public, even when that public is hostile and possibly aggressive.
“For me, I don’t, not against a civilian,” he said. “In that situation, I wouldn’t have done it. I’m happy that it came out that he used to beat his exes, because I personally wouldn’t have done it. With me, they’re going to have to throw the first punch. Otherwise, I don’t do anything. And most of the time when I see they’re drunk, I’m not even going to fight. I might, if he really…put him in a choke. Just choke him out, put him on his side, call the cops.
“But listen, I’ve been drunk a lot in my life also. I don’t like to be the person – this guy knew what he was doing, obviously, what he was doing. But if somebody’s really drunk, why would I bash his face in? The next day he wakes up and doesn’t remember what happened. Yeah, I’m not into that.”
Rutten has given viewers around the world plenty of instruction on how to come out ahead should one find themselves in the middle of a fight at a bar. He’s shot plenty of videos since that famous one about what to do when – and more importantly, way before – fists start flying. His glee in describing headbutts and finger-breaking and counter-punching is apparent. But it’s always the other guy who starts it.
When Rutten was traipsing around the world, not looking for a fight but not exactly backing away from one, it was long before the time of social media. As Schilling might attest, that’s where the trouble really starts.