Anthony Pettis UFC 136Joining the pantheon of elite MMA programs isn’t easy, but over the last couple years, Roufusport in Milwaukee, Wis., has managed to join the likes of the American Kickboxing Academy, Team Jackson-Winkeljohn, American Top Team, and others amongst the top MMA programs in the United States.

Spearheaded by former kickboxing and Muay Thai champion Duke Roufus, it would be easy for people believe that the team might have turned out one-dimensional, but in truth it’s as far from that as possible.

“I try to go at MMA like a football team,” said Roufus. “I try to surround myself with good coaches that are going to help me win in every aspect of the sport, because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about. Submissions are just as nice as knockouts in my book.

“One thing that I’ve really worked on with our recent wave of fighters is getting them well-rounded. Even right now, Ben Askren has focused on being better at jiu-jitsu and kickboxing, and Anthony Pettis is working on being a better wrestler and improving his jiu-jitsu.”

Roufus points out how fighters such as Askren and Pettis have taken over leadership roles and become examples for the other fighters on the team by the work ethic they’ve shown.

“The guys who’ve accomplished the most are still working the hardest,” said Roufus. “The way it’s supposed to be is the way it’s supposed to be. Often times the guys who accomplish the most slow down in their path, that is not true with those guys and that’s why I admire them so much.”

One thing pointed out by fighters such as Rick Glenn and Zach Underwood is just how cohesive things are at Roufusport and how the team functions more like a brotherhood or family than just a group of guys in a room together.

“I think culture in any type of group or team is important,” said Roufus. “They have to be like-minded people. Not that they have to be drones or the exact same people, but for the hours we train, we come together, rally around a common goal and we’re like-minded, but when everyone leaves, they have their lives, their identities.

“I feel like hopefully we’re teaching them more than punching, kicking, submissions and stuff like that, but hopefully something about the game of life. Unfortunately not everyone in our practice room makes it, but they learn some life-building skills through this sport so they can carry over into other things.”

Roufus’ commitment to life building goes beyond just lessons taught in the gym. He told that he hopes to be able to help cement the future for his fighters when they step away from the sport.

“I want all the guys to be as successful as possible,” he said. “One thing I’m trying to help them do is help them set up their own Roufusport club that we’re launching in 2013.

“We’re helping guys with a formatted system that will help them build a really good MMA club just in case they get hurt or as they get older and stay in the sport and get benefits from their legacy. Fighting is a great thing, but it’s still a small portion of your life. I try to teach these guys how to set themselves up through their legacy so they can lead a fruitful life outside the cage.”

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