Mixed Martial Arts is a competitive sport that demands a lot from its athletes. Although it may seem like an individual sport when it comes time for the bell to sound the first round, it really is all about the team. The fighter brings more to the cage than just his or her own ambitions of success, they also stand for a team, a team that was there for them in training every day, preparing them for the upcoming fight and keeping them motivated and inspired to push through every workout on the way to the cage.
You can only be as strong as the team you practice with. Finding a good team or gym to train with is critical to your progression in the sport and realising your athletic potential in competition. Without a team, you will have no external eyeballs watching your technique on the mats, or your nutrition in the kitchen. We all have our own ego to deal with and that ego can blind you from your weaknesses, never allowing you to understand the flaws in your technique. If you are working with a good team, they will point out your weaknesses and work with you to correct them. Often we don’t even realise we are making mistakes in training and having a team around to guide you is an enormous advantage that will reduce your learning curve and turn you into the best fighter that you can be.
A great example of one of the top teams in mixed martial arts at the moment, is Roufusport MMA academy. Founded by 4-time World kickboxing champion, Duke Roufus, Roufusport has been steadily churning out champions and top contenders in all the major fight leagues including; UFC, Bellator, VFC and RFA fight leagues. Duke has become known in the MMA world for producing outstanding strikers such as; Anthony Pettis, former UFC Lightweight champion and Tyron Woodley, who recently took the UFC welterweight title away from Robbie Lawler with a dramatic opening round KO. Mike ‘Biggie’ Rhodes, current VFC middleweight champion and top contenders such as Emmanuel Sanchez, Jordan Griffin and Raufeon Stots, all call Roufusport home when it comes time to train and prepare for a fight.
Duke Roufus attributes his success to teamwork. He realizes that a team is only as strong as its weakest link and he and his team work tirelessly with all of the fighters to ensure that they all improve and benefit from every training session. Based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Roufusport is a exceptional gym to train in and has an exceptional coaching staff as well.
Alongside Duke’s lifetime of striking knowledge, which in itself is incredibly impressive, Duke has brought on board legendary striking coach, Scott Cushman. Coach Cush impresses his brand of unique time-tested striking strategies on all the fighters at Roufusport, turning them into striking machines that can deal with both natural and south-paw fighters. Coach Cush believes in teaching a style of striking and boxing that is effective and has produced dramatic KO victories for his students.
A great example of Duke and Cushman’s striking style can be seen in Tyron Woodley’s championship fight against Robbie Lawler, where Woodley finished him early in the first with a furious combo that sent Lawler sprawling to the corner of the cage, where the fight was called due to TKO by the referee. A video emerged on Instagram the next day after the fight, showing duke a Scott practicing the exact drill he used for the win, proving the efficacy of the Roufusport striking technique.
When it comes time to enter the grappling world of Jiu-jitsu, Duke has brought on his long-time friend and jiu-jitsu genius, Daniel Wanderley. Daniel received his Black-belt in the Carlson Gracie style and went on to found his own style named, “Wanderley Jiu-jitsu.” Daniel is an accomplished competitor in both Gi and no-Gi Jiu-jitsu and has many accolades to his name. His teaching style is effective and focused on MMA fighting, making him the perfect fit for the head grappling coach at Roufusport.
The final piece of the puzzle that makes Roufusport a team to train with, is their facility. Duke knows that in order to train with optimal efficiency, equipment must be world class. Roufusport is stacked with the latest boxing equipment, heavy bags, speedballs and striking dummies, all sponsored through their partner, Combat Corner. As with any training facility, the cornerstone is always the mats that the team train on every day.
Mats are an underrated piece of equipment for MMA gyms and something that may be over-looked by many teams when starting their own gym, opting to go for cheaper, poor-quality mats to save on start-up expenses. This mistake can end up being a critical one. Mats with poor quality can crack and tear, exposing pockets that cause nasty injuries like toe-breaks. Even worse than that, if the mats are in poor condition, bacteria and viruses can incubate and infect the team with such diseases as Staphylococcus. These diseases can cause the shutdown of a gym while the infection is cleared and can cost athletes valuable training time in their fight preparation.
So when Duke decided to renovate his Roufusport facility with a new set of mats, he turned to the team at McBryde Mats to help him design the set-up he and his ‘RouTangClan’ needed. McBryde Mats CEO, Clayton Mcbryde, comes from a rich wrestling heritage that has seen him father three All-American youth wrestlers and he is passionate about combat sports in general. Duke and Clayton spent hours together in the mat design, this dedication to detail led to the most incredible set of mats known in the world today.
McBryde mats not only focus on quality by using locally sourced materials, but they used a proprietary technology to hand-paint the Roufusport and Duke Roufus Striking University logos, right on-to the mat. The print will never fade or wear out, no matter how hard the athletes punish them.
Roufusport is a fantastic example of a team that has everything going for them, great instructors, great facilities and a sense of teamwork that can’t be duplicated in any other MMA gym. So when you are thinking about starting a semi-pro, or pro career, take your choice of gym and team with great care, it could mean the difference between a Championship title, or fading into obscurity, the choice however, is up to you, good luck!