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Coach explains decision to stop Anthony Pettis at UFC 229: ‘When you’re a wounded animal in there, it’s easy to get taken out’

Anthony Pettis and Tony Ferguson put on one of the best fights of the year at Saturday night’s UFC 229, but Pettis coach Duke Roufus stopped the former champion from returning to the final round because of a broken hand.

Pettis continues to bounce between wins and losses since he returned to the lightweight division, but his coach doesn’t regret calling the bout at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas. For Roufus, the “Rocky movie culture” that “it ain’t over until is over” doesn’t do fighters any favors.

Speaking with Luke Thomas on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Roufus said that Ferguson’s fighting style would make it ever harder to compete with if you have a fractured hand.

”Stylistic, this is a guy you can’t jab and grab and coast like boxing or muay thai with your hand damaged,” Roufus said. “Here’s the thing, Tony Ferguson is a very mean elbow expert. If you know anything about muay thai, the only thing that keeps an elbow expert off of you is hard punching and good clinching. With Anthony’s hand damaged, he couldn’t keep him off of getting elbowed.

”Secondly, you can’t clinch him or submit him with his hand jacked, so sometimes you can risk injuries in a fight. Against a guy like Tony Ferguson, who likes to hit people with those elbows, I just thought it was the right decision. … Tony is a hell of a fighter, his numbers speak for themselves and so his performances. Anthony was just so close to taking him out and he’s very resilient warrior.”

According to the leader of Roufusport, Pettis has a fracture behind his knuckle and will visit a specialist Tuesday in Las Vegas to see if he needs surgery.

A former fighter himself, Roufus “wakes up in pain every day” after fighting through injuries throughout his career, and wants a different future for his students.

”The medical care that was given at my day to fighters was garbage,” Roufus said. “I have so many bad injuries I’m living with, I wanna help guys and women I train not live the life I live because I live in pain daily.

”Boxing, kickboxing, muay thai, you can jab and grab and tie up and the referee will break you and you can stall when you clinch,” he continued. “(In) MMA, the action doesn’t stop, so when you’re a wounded animal in there, it’s easy to get taken out.”

Pettis wasn’t mad at him for stopping the fight, Roufus says. In fact, the coach said Pettis told him right after the fight “this is the most fun I’ve ever had in the Octagon.” If he has to deal with a similar situation in the future, Roufus will probably make the same move, especially since he sees the winning percentage being so low for injured fighters.

”If you fire me because I stopped your fight I can live with that, no problem,” Roufus said. “And you’re gonna see me do that more because what I love more about MMA is a loss doesn’t define your career.”

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