UFC 229’s co-main event feature between Anthony Pettis and Tony Ferguson was one of the best fights of the card. It was also the contest that was rightfully given the Fight of the Night honors, leaving both men with an extra $50,000 to take home.
After a bloody barnburner in the first and second rounds, coach Duke Roufus decided to stop the fight. Pettis apparently broke his hand during one of the exchanges, urging Roufus to not risk his fighter suffer more damage due to this handicap.
On Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Roufus spoke to Luke Thomas in detail about this decision.
“Stylistic, this is a guy you can’t jab and grab and coast like boxing or Muay Thai with your hand damaged,” Roufus explained (via MMA Fighting). “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.”
For Roufus, his fighter’s health in safety is the number one priority, and he is willing to put his neck on the line for it.
“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.”
“If you fire me because I stopped your fight I can live with that, no problem,” he added. “And you’re gonna see me do that more because what I love more about MMA is a loss doesn’t define your career.”
With the win, Ferguson is now on an 11-fight win streak, as he calls for his shot at reigning UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.