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Roufus on stoppages: Coaches never ‘destroyed in the ring’ lack empathy

UFC 164: Henderson v Pettis
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Duke Roufus says MMA coaches need to protect their fighters more.

With aging veterans like Glover Teixeira and Lauren Murphy taking an exorbitant amount of damage for multiple rounds at UFC 283, the clear lack of corner stoppages in MMA was once again highlighted.

Fighters will naturally always want to fight, and Duke Roufus reiterated that it’s the coaches job to protect their athletes. The veteran MMA coach called for a culture shift in the sport, while also pointing to his own mistakes and regrets.

“I’ve been on the wrong end too. I’ll tell you two fights that I’ve messed up on, and I’ve learned a lot from,” Roufus told Jimmy Smith at Sirius XM. “Anthony (Pettis) broke his orbital against RDA, and we kept trying to have a song and dance and a prayer that he pulled something out. And you know what? He ended up getting thrashed for many rounds, which was detrimental to his career at that time.”

“Paul Felder, when he broke his arm against Mike Perry, I should have stopped that fight. I learned a lot from those two experiences. When I had to live with the regret of that, it’s something I bring now into my coaching skill set is empathy, sympathy.”

Roufus believes there’s two reasons why MMA coaches don’t really throw in the towel, especially compared to their counterparts in boxing.

“The title is so hard to get in MMA that sometimes our passion for glory is too strong for our wits and humanity in doing what’s the right thing,” he said, noting how that’s why he made the mistake about not stopping the Anthony Pettis vs. Rafael Dos Anjos title fight.

“The other problem — what I’ve got going for me is I’ve gotten my ass kicked,” Roufus said. “I’ve been destroyed, been wrecked in fights. I know what it feels like. I think there’s a lot of coaches who’ve had some success coaching, but they’ve never got their heart torn out and destroyed in the ring like some of these kids are getting, and I think we’ve got to shift that culture. Again, it’s your job to protect the fighter.”

Apart from lack of corner stoppages, Roufus also notes that there’s a real lack of focus on “striking defense” in MMA, and calls it a “disservice to these kids” over their long careers.


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