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By: Rich Hansen, MMATorch Columnist
With a number of fighters on the UFC's roster, Duke Roufus has become one of the more premiere names in MMA training over the last several years. I sat down with him recently at his gym in Milwaukee, Wis., to discuss a few of those fighters, and what's next for the key guys at Roufusport.
MMATorch: What was Pascal Krauss' strongest skill when he arrived (at Roufusport), and where has he improved the most?
Duke Roufus: You know, I thought he was going to be a great boxer, which he is. But I've been very impressed with his wrestling and his level of jiu-jitsu is very good too. He's a very well-rounded fighter. He reminds me a lot of Alan Belcher. He's got that gamesmanship and the work ethic. Silent, but does a lot of talking on the mat with his skills.
MMATorch: Do you think he's going to stay with you for future camps, or is this a one-time shot?
Duke Roufus: I'm not sure, but I hope so. I mean, he's making good friends and has become close already with Erik Koch and a few of the other guys on the team. They all live together and they are close to one another, so yeah I think it'd be a good relationship for him. He likes coming here because we have all the coaches in one gym. He's gone to other gyms, not that they weren't good, where he had to travel a lot. It's very easy (here). He has his wrestling, his jiu-jitsu, he has his different striking here.
MMATorch: Are you going to be going out to Las Vegas to work with Urijah Faber's team on The Ultimate Fighter?
Duke Roufus: Yes, I am going. I'm just waiting for the confirmed date. Right now I'm in a logjam. We've got fights going every weekend in April except for the weekend of the Jon Jones vs. Rashad fight, and I have to go to Canada to do a seminar. So I'm busy through the first week of May.
MMATorch: So sometime near the end of the season then?
Duke Roufus: Yeah, probably middle of May I'm going on the show. I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be a cool opportunity to experience the small experience that the fighters have on that show. It'll be nice (to wait a few weeks) because I can study what's going on and come in with a better gameplan as opposed to coming in early. I watch the show, so it's easy to formulate what to do.
MMATorch: What were your (and Anthony Pettis') reactions when you heard the news that Anthony Pettis didn't get the title shot against Ben Henderson?
Duke Roufus: It is what it is. You know I mean, Dana and Lorenzo, they made the decision and I understand where they're coming from with Frankie. Frankie's always been a company guy and he gave rematches.
MMATorch: A lot of guys deserved to get (the next) shot unfortunately.
Duke Roufus: Yeah. It's the deepest division arguably in the UFC and in MMA so, don't be bitter be better. He's going to get stronger and got to win some more fights. He had a great experience and he's discovering more and more about himself every time he gets in the cage. He hasn't even seen his full potential.
MMATorch: Are you going to be working with Alan Belcher in preparation for his fight with Rousimar Palhares?
Duke Roufus: Yes. I'm very excited about the fight because it's his polar opposite. Yeah Alan is a black belt and he is doing great with his Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but Palhares is a black belt killer; takes legs home and, I mean, that's the way if I were to get into grappling I'd want to grapple if I were a fighter. He's looking to rip off your leg and rip your head off. He's a very aggressive jiu-jitsu fighter and I really respect and like that about him. On the other hand you've got Alan who is good at takedown defense and he is working a lot with Ben (Askren) when he comes up here. He can strike really well, so it should be an interesting fight.
MMATorch: Erik Koch. Any idea when he's going to return? If so, against whom?
Duke Roufus: None yet. I've heard some rumblings you know? I'll throw it out there. If no one else wants to fight Jose Aldo, Erik Koch will gladly fight Jose Aldo.
MMATorch: He's got a passport, so he can get into Canada. (Jose Aldo is scheduled to headline UFC 149 in Calgary versus a yet to be named opponent)
Duke Roufus: Yep. Exactly, man. He even fought there already. He triangled Bendy Casomir at the WEC up in Edmonton. He's not calling him out because he's arrogant. He's calling him out because he wants to be the best. And if you want to be the best you fight the best. He's not calling out a guy from the undercard, he's calling out the champ. And I believe stylistically, Erik matches up well with Jose Aldo. You know, I mean, kickboxing is what I do, and I know Koch matches up well.
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