- Our Team
A true legend in the world of MMA and widely considered to be one of the Greatest Martial Artists ever; Bas has strung together a long list of accomplishments and has enjoyed an extremely successful career, both inside and outside of the cage.
Bas was born and raised in Holland As a child, he suffered from a rare skin disease and was on the small side for his age. This made him a regular target for the local bullies. Bas soon discovered martial arts by watching Bruce Lee movies and was mesmerized by both his power and grace. This provided the needed motivation for Bas to become a passionate student of martial arts, building confidence and self-defense skills along the way. Nobody would have guessed how this decision at such a young age would lead him down a path to becoming one of the most talented and respected martial artists in the world.
As a professional fighter Bas was feared by his competitors and adored by his fans. Working his way up from the bottom, Bas rose through the ranks of professional competition, defeating the sports top ranked fighters along the way. Bas would ultimately be crowned “King of Pancrase” three times and be named the UFC Heavyweight Champion of the World. . Bas gracefully retired after finishing his career with an amazing 22 consecutive victories.
All of his accomplishments aside, what makes Bas a true champion and legend is his humility and graciousness. He always has a smile on his face and words of encouragement for everyone around him.
A pioneer of MMA, Bas, lives right here in our community, with his wife and two daughters and can be found teaching classes and mentoring students at Elite MMA several days a week. For more on Bas, check out the links below:
Ken Lawson is a local entrepreneur who’s interests are as varied as his business holdings. Ken’s passions typically lead him into related business ventures and Elite MMA was no different.
At age 29, Ken found himself burned out and in terrible shape while working 60 – 80 hour weeks building one of his early companies. After going to the local gym for a few months, Ken quickly became bored and went looking for something more challenging, both mentally and physically.
By pure chance, Ken walked into a Jiu Jitsu studio, signed up and quickly became addicted to what would soon become a life long passion. Over the years, under trainer Randy Khatami, Ken expanded his training into boxing, kickboxing and all around MMA. His focus has always been on fitness, but training in MMA over the years has also given Ken additional self-confidence, as well as mental clarity and a great sense of personal accomplishment. Today, at 41 years old, Ken is in the best shape of his life, both physically and mentally, which he says would not be the case without his MMA focused training regime.
After meeting Bas Rutten and trainer Randy Khatami in 2001, the three became fast friends, with a shared love of MMA. With Bas’s experience and reputation, Ken’s business background and Randy’s talent as a top trainer, the three men decided to open the first and only MMA gym in the Westlake Village/Thousand Oaks Area. To this day, they are close friends who share a great passion for the sport of MMA.
A strong leader and mentor, Randy Khatami brings a special energy and passion to Elite MMA through his love of the sport. Randy is an advanced boxing and MMA instructor who’s competitive background includes USA Amateur Boxing and California Golden Gloves.
By day, Randy works for the LAPD as a special investigative auditor. He loves his career, but as soon as his work day is over, Randy heads straight to the gym where you’ll usually find him in the cage, training students with an intensity level and positive attitude that inspires everyone around him.
Randy was born in Hollywood California and grew up right here in Westlake Village where he started boxing at age 15. After graduating from Cal Lutheran University he followed his passion for boxing by training and competing as a top ranked amateur. Randy soon discovered that he had a natural talent as an instructor and gained tremendous satisfaction from passing along his knowledge and training others.
There was no local gym at the time so Randy built a boxing ring in his garage and began taking on students. As word spread, Randy’s garage quickly became the center of boxing and MMA training in the Thousand Oaks area. This is where Randy met Ken Lawson and Bas Rutten, leading to their friendship, eventual partnership and opening of Elite MMA Gym.
Randy has a special gift in bringing out the best in his students, whether they are 10 or 65 years old. He has touched the lives of troubled youth, trained world-class athletes and helped stressed out executives get into shape and learn new skills.
Rodrigo Carvalho is a 3rd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and his true passion is teaching and competing in the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has been training for over twenty years, starting at age 11 at AllianceGym under Octavio Couto and Vinicius Compelo. Alliance’s (Akxe BJJ) reputation within the Jiu Jitsu community is second to none as it has been and continues to be the school of choice to some of the biggest names in the sports of BJJ and MMA like UFC Welterweight, Damien Maia and UFC Heavyweight, Fabricio Werdum (Octavio Couto coached Fabricio Werdum for his 2011 Strikeforce fight with Alistair Overeem).
In 2007 Rodrigo brought Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to Slovenia and the surrounding countries of Croatia and Northern Italy. For the next 4 years he trained hundreds of students until one day receiving a call with the opportunity of a lifetime. Bas Rutten had invited him to head the Jiu Jitsu program at his new gym in Thousand Oaks, California.
Since arriving in the United States, Rodrigo has had the great pleasure of training with some of the most notable Jiu Jitsu practitioners such as Jean Jacques Machado, Marcus Vinicius (Beverly Hills Jiu Jitsu), Fabricio Werdum (Werdum Combat Team), Damian Maia, Rodrigo "Comprido" Medeiros (Team Brasa), and Roberto Traven. Amongst his many successes, Rodrigo has held several Brazilian Jiu Jitsu titles; 3 time Brazilian State Champion and most recently he is the 2012 NAGA Black Belt Champion.
As the head Jiu Jitsu instructor at Bas Rutten’s Elite MMA, Professor Rodrigo continues to train children and adults of all ages with the goal of building confidence and strength in all of his students. His loyal following is a testament to his undying passion, commitment and love for a sport that has shaped him into the globally respected man he is today.
Carlo was born in the Netherlands and grew up in a family dedicated to competing at the highest levels of combat sports. Carlo's father, Cor Hemmers is the legendary trainer and head coach of Team Golden Glory, which has produced many of the worlds top fighters. Under his fathers guidance and training, Carlo became a Boxing and Muay Thai Kickboxing champion at a very young age and has since trained many of the sports elite competitors. Carlo's brother, Ramon "The Diamond" Dekkers is a legend in his own right, ending his career as an eight time Muay Thai World Champion and widely considered to be one of the best of all time. Carlo's experience and unique style of teaching has proven to produce results for both amateurs and professional. Carlo focuses on proper technique and truly enjoys teaching his students new skills and helping them improve their existing skills. Carlo teaches Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Muay Thai as well as Cardio Kickboxing Classes.
Julian is the newest and youngest member of the Elite MMA team and specializes in Kickboxing. Julian may be young; however he demonstrates solid leadership, a high-level knowledge of MMA and the experience and skill of a seasoned champion.
Influenced by his grandfather and his admiration for Bruce Lee, Julian developed a passion and love for mixed martial arts at an early age. Wise beyond his years as well as his natural talents, Julian is still a young man attending Newbury Park High School and enjoys socializing with friends and family. Julian has set a goal for himself to professionally fight in the UFC when the time is right.
Justine RiedigerGeneral Manager
As a former personal trainer, bootcamp instructor and long time manager of a very successful gym, Justine brings a deep passion for fitness as well as a wealth of knowledge and management experience to Elite MMA. Her hands on leadership style and upbeat personality help insure that the gym runs smoothly and that our members feel at home. In her off time, Justine enjoys hiking, mountain biking, playing tennis and weight training. If you see Justine at the gym, feel free to say, "Hello!", ask questions or give her any feedback you might have. She's always happy to talk with members and help with anything you might need.
Michelle HernandezFront Desk
Michelle enjoys working at Elite MMA and helps keep everything running smoothly throughout the day. She greets customers with a smile and is always happy to help with anything a customer might require.
KyleFront Desk & Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Trainer
Kyle previously trained at Elite MMA for many years and is currently a highly skilled Purple Belt in BJJ. Kyle serves dual roles at Elite MMA. When not training or teaching classes, he’s at the front desk helping customers, answering questions and making himself available to members for anything they require.
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