Former champion kickboxer and current top MMA coach Duke Roufus has been busy these days. In addition to his work as a color commentator for the Glory Kickboxing promotion's televised events, Roufus still runs his Milwaukee gym, Roufusport, full-time and coaches some of the best and hottest fighters in the world.
Cagewriter spoke with Roufus briefly this week to talk about some of his start fighters in the news lately. As we reported earlier this week, Roufus' star pupil UFC lightweight Anthony Pettis will be sidelined for 6-8 months with his latest knee injury.
Pettis got some passive-aggressive criticism recently from the man he was supposed to fight next, Josh Thomson, suggesting that Pettis' injury didn't require this much time off. Roufus says that no one wants to fight more than Pettis himself.
"Look, Anthony went into the [Benson] Henderson title fight at UFC 164 already injured. He was recovering from the knee injury that took him out of the earlier Brazil card where he was going to fight Jose Aldo, then he separated his shoulder in a wrestling drill before the Henderson fight. So, we nursed that shoulder heading into that fight. Also, in that fight he checked a kick and hurt his patella," Roufus details.
"Believe me, no one wants Anthony to fight more than Anthony does. Especially with this new contract that the UFC gave him. He really wants to fight under that contract. Anthony is a guy that was already fighting five times a year at one point in the UFC. My guys like to fight. They get angry if they can't fight four times a year."
The Roufus-coached Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren has also been in the news a lot lately. First, he was released by Bellator because he wanted to go to the UFC to fight better competition. After meeting with UFC president Dana White, however, Askren hadn't convinced the organization to give him a contract.
Nothing official has been formally announced yet for Askren in terms of where he'll fight next but he has joined Singapore's Evolve MMA, a fight team and gym closely linked to the Asian OneFC promotion.
Roufus tells Cagewriter that Askren will remain on his team while also being a part of Evolve MMA. The details of how the Olympic wrestler will split his time between continents and teams has not been worked out yet, but Rufous is confident things will run smoothly.
"The founder of Evolve MMA, Chatri Sityodtong, is actually an old, good friend of mine," Roufus says.
"We've known each other from Thailand. He's developed a great team out there. I think this is the beginning of a good relationship of our teams putting things together. I'm eager to get rocking. I don't know yet how Ben will split his time up. We want to get his next contract figured out and then we can figure out everything else from there. "
The fighter with perhaps the most certainty in his career right now may be Roufus' youngest top star - Anthony's younger brother Sergio. The twenty year-old Sergio Pettis made his successful UFC debut last month at UFC 167, winning a unanimous decision over Will Campuzano.
"Sergio is doing great," Roufus says.
"Here’s the scary thing - That wasn't even close to his best performance. He did great but he can do even better so that just goes to show you the depth of his game. He was nervous. This was one of the biggest UFC events in history and he's in the back and all the guys he's looked up to are right there in front of him. He handled it well. The fact that he could go out there and beat a guy like Will Camuzano shows that Sergio has what it takes to be in the UFC. It was a very determined performance."
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