Duke Roufus Responds to Critics of Ben Askren: “Be Careful What You Wish For”
Following Stoppage Win, Trainer Says Bellator Champ Is “Going To Do That To Everyone”
By Kelsey Mowatt
As Ben Askren continues to work his way up the welterweight rankings, the decorated wrestler and former Olympian knows what it’s like to battle detractors outside of the cage, similar to the world’s best 170 pound fighter, Georges St. Pierre. Like the UFC champion, Askren has encountered criticisms for not finishing more fights, despite meeting and defeating the best welterweights Bellator can throw at him.
Of course, this is likely one of the leading reasons why Askren (11-0) seemed particularly excited about his recent, third round, stoppage win over Karl Amoussou on January 24th. The battered and bloodied contender, who had reportedly referred to the champion as a “lay-and-pray” artist, was declared unfit by ringside physicians to continue into the fourth round. For Askren’s striking coach and MMA trainer Duke Roufus, the victory also held special meaning.
“Oh yeah; be careful what you wish for now. Now you’re stuck with Askren,” Roufus said on Full Contact Fighter Radio recently, while discussing the Bellator champ’s victory. “He’s going to do that to everyone. He’s already talking and critiquing what he could have done better.”
Askren enlisted the services of Roufus and his renowned Roufusport team to improve his striking and MMA game, and after having spent considerable time now with the Milwaukee camp, he’s done just that.
“Ben’s been getting better at striking, and here’s the one thing…I can tell you how to not get struck by someone, Ben’s defense is excellent,” said Roufus. “He’s got (Erik) Koch, (Alan) Belcher, (Pascal) Krauss, the Pettis boys swinging at him constantly. He’s good at not getting hit.”
“Couple that with his wrestling, it’s a wrap man,” Roufus furthered about Askren, who has defeated established vets like Douglas Lima, Jay Hieron, Dan Hornbuckle, Lyman Good and Nick Thompson under the Bellator banner. “A lot of people focus on offense, but I focus on defense with Ben. That’s the only way he’ll lose a fight is getting hit. I know that. No one will beat him on the ground.”
Although things have been going well in Askren’s career, and he’s continued to match many of the expectations that followed his transition into MMA, the 28 year-old fought just once in 2012 and two times the year before. The good news for the fighter, however, is that due to Bellator’s new schedule the champion is expected to fight more often in 2013.
Andrey Koreshkov is already waiting on the sidelines to challenge Askren next, after defeating Jordan Smith, Marius Zaromskis and Lyman Good last fall to secure a title fight. In addition, another welterweight tourney is already underway, with the semifinals set for February 21st.
“I’m hoping he’s going to fight by this spring right away again,” Roufus noted. “That’s awesome. He’s cut from the cloth of wrestling where he competes a lot. Ben loves to compete. He wants to do it more than less.”
“That being said, he’s super excited about the possibility now of getting a chance to work more,” Roufus added. “Do a lot more fights. That’s how these guys create income and legacy…You’ve got to do this because you have a vision, a desire, a dream to become a champion…I’m here to help create champions.”