Promoting Amateur MMA the Right Way
Trainer Duke Roufus Discusses Importance of Amateur Bouts
By Michael Hatamoto
The state of amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) across the country can be a chaotic mess of regulation and safety issues that pose a threat to participating fighters.
To help counter this problem, the Wisconsin Fighting Championship sports league returns tomorrow night at the Milwaukee Harley Davidson Dealership Showroom. The event will feature five championship title fights and gives amateur athletes a chance to perform in a fully sanctioned, safe environment in front of their family and friends.
MMA coach Duke Roufus is a long-time supporter and MMA advocate in the state of Wisconsin, including his role in promoting the Wisconsin-based North American Fighting Championship and WFC. Watching the sport prosper throughout the state continues to be great, but he’s interested in fostering new generations of talent.
“No knees to the head, no elbows, bigger gloves, and shorter rounds,” are some of the aspects of amateur MMA in Wisconsin designed to help keep fighters safer, Roufus recently told Full Contact Fighter. “In Wisconsin, there are also limitations on leg locks and certain submissions, so fighters can develop their skills appropriately.”
UFC fans are typically used to watching three, five-minute rounds for regular fights and five, five-minute rounds for championship rounds – but amateur MMA fights have three, three-minute rounds for regular fights, and five, three-minute rounds in championship fights. The shorter rounds are strictly for fighter safety, according to Roufus.
“Having been a pro fighter, I know fighter safety is critical and comes first. We’re trying to set up an environment for them to compete and have fun and be professional.”
Moving beyond safety, which Roufus discussed for an extended period, he’s interested in helping usher in a comfortable environment from the moment fighters arrive until they leave.
“It’s even the simple things: fighters have water, towels, tape and gauze in the locker room. It’s the small things we also cover that are sometimes forgotten elsewhere. The state athletic commission picks the referees, judges and the doctor and emergency staff on-site in case something happens.”
Roufus is optimistic that steps are being made in the right direction to ensure amateur athletes are able to compete in a controlled and safe environment.
“The biggest thing to happen in the near future, in my mind, is to have one big amateur MMA group, or a few MMA groups that oversee the sport. It’ll help develop the sport for amateurs. A lot of these guys have family and work commitments, so this is the highlight (of their fighting careers).”
Tomorrow night’s amateur event features the following title fights:
Heavyweight: J.R. Briones defends against Luis Ascenzio
Light heavyweight: Jeff Behnke vs. Jordan Seufzer for vacant LHW championship
Welterweight: Miguel Luis vs. Charles Hansen
Lightweight: Nate Jennerman vs. Jake Frias
Flyweight: Elias Garcia vs. Jon Meins