He may be 46-years-old, but Rick Roufus feels he is just as good as he has ever been. With over 70 professional kickboxing belts under his belt, Roufus is by far and away the most experienced fighter who will be competing in the 2012 K-1 rising U.S. Grand Prix Championship which kicks off on September 8 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in Los Angeles, CA.
The other heavyweight competitors include Dewey Cooper, Seth Petruzelli, Xavier Vigney, Randy Blake, Jarrell Miller, Jack May and the man Roufus will face in the first round, “Mighty Mo” Siliga. When there are eight men of this stature and power under one roof you can expect a ton of fireworks. Roufus is a multiple division champion and a man K-1 is counting on to help push kickboxing to the forefront of combat sports.
MMA has certainly exploded in popularity over the past seven years and if Roufus has anything to say about it, kickboxing will soon follow suit. First he has plans on winning another title and with that championship comes a cool one million dollar payday. The four winners of this round will go on to the World Grand Prix Final 16 in Tokyo on October 14. From there the winners will meet at Madison Square Garden in New York City on December 8th.
Over the next four weeks Roufus has agreed to do a weekly blog detailing his training and preparation for his bout with Mighty Mo. We will also have the opportunity to get to know him a bit personally as well. He may seem quiet and reserved, but there is no denying his desire and how passionate he is about competing.
“I started in the martial arts when I was four years old, it was like ice cream to me as I couldn’t get enough of it,” Roufus told BJPenn.Com. “I loved the one on one competition and began competing in Karate tournaments. I went on to become a national pee-wee junior champion. I also took up boxing and I knew from an early age this is something I wanted to do with my life. I fought all over the country in Karate tournament and was ranked 10th in the country. In 1984 I turned professional and have been competing ever since.”
Roufus has seen it all and done it all in the sport, his list of accomplishments is a mile long. You’d be hard pressed to find another fighter as decorated as he is.
“I have won titles in six different weight classes and have held nine world titles altogether.” Roufus said proudly. “Some of the organizations I have fought for include I.K.F., I.S.K.A., P.K.C., F.F.K.A., K.I.C.K. and of course K-1. In 1998 I was the K-1 USA Grand Prix Champion and in 2002 and 2003 I was the runner-up in the K-1 USA World Grand Prix. I dabbled a bit in mixed martial arts, but realized I enjoyed kickboxing more.”
Because his career has spanned over the course of four decades and so many fights there has to be a few bouts in particular that come to his mind when I him asked about some of the more special moments he has been part of.
“It’s hard to name some of my favorites because there have been so many memorable ones,” admitted Roufus. “Rob Kaman in 1994 was a special fight for me as was the first fight with Ernesto Hoost in 1992. Going back again to 1994 I defeated Jean-Yves Theriault at KarateMania VIII in Montreal, that’s another one that pops into my mind. I’ve been part of 74 fights and have a record of 64-9-1 with 43 knockouts. They have all been special in one way or another.”
Duke Roufus is Rick’s younger brother and trainer to many top MMA stars with a gym in Milwaukee. Be that as it may, The Jet and his brother don’t interact when it comes to combat sports as Rick keeps his personal and professional life separate from one another. He also considers age nothing, but a number and believes his experience is a plus.
“I am training and living in Phoenix, Arizona,” offered Roufus. “I train with Shihan Nico and we’ve brought in some former K-1 fighters to help me prepare for the tournament. 20 years ago I was young and an extremely cocky, brash American. Today I am a wise, older veteran who is able to look at things in a different light. Physically I feel good. I wouldn’t compete if I didn’t feel like I could. I wouldn’t embarrass myself or my family. I train harder now that I ever did, but I also know when my body needs a break. I have a strong mind and a strong will and know I can still do this.”
With Siliga pegged as his first round opponent Roufus knows exactly what he is in for, but he made it perfectly clear he’s not afraid of the hard hitting heavyweight from Samoa.
“From what I have heard he’s predicting he’s going to knock me out in the first round,” said The Jet. “I wish him good luck with that one. I’m not a hard guy to find and I have a lot of tricks up the proverbial sleeve. I know I can’t make a mistake against Mighty Mo, it’s going to be a great fight and I’m looking forward to it. Don’t count me out yet because I’m locked, cocked and ready to go!”
This tournament is hopefully just the start of rejuvenation for the K-1 brand. Roufus has an idea of what it will take to get the fans to take to the sport in a similar fashion to MMA.
“I think that for K-1 to be successful they have to do what the UFC has done and do a lot of promotional work,” Roufus offered. “They have to get the sport in the fans face and show them why it’s so unique and what makes it stand out. The fans have to have a reason to invest their time and energy into the fighters; they need to get to know them. I’ve always said if Don King got in the sport years ago and had the money K-1 would have been big here, but we’ve never had a guy like him to promote the sport. We have a lot of major sports here in the states to compete with so it’s not going to be easy, but it can be done with the right people behind it.”
Roufus has 10 career MMA bouts and a 4-6 record. He believes it’s pretty clear what the fans would rather watch when it comes to combat sports.
“In my personal opinion I think fans would rather see two guys fighting on their feet as opposed to wrestling on the ground,” said the 27-year-veteran. “That’s just my personal opinion and I have nothing against MMA, but I think people want to see non-stop action. Fans want to see a guy get kicked in the head and get knocked out, that’s just the way society is today. They want to see blood and people get hurt.”
With the K-1 tournament just one month away Roufus is focusing on the task at hand. He doesn’t want to think about what if’s, but at the same time he has set some goals for when he is done actively competing.
“At this point in my career I am taking it one fight at a time,” admitted Roufus. “I am going to go as far as I can in the tournament. My goal is to be in New York fighting in the finals come December. After that I’ll make a decision whether or not I still want to compete. Once I do decide to retire I’d like to stay with K-1 as a talent coordinator. As long as I can still be part of the sport I will be happy. I’ve had a long, storied career and feel as though I still have a lot to offer inside the ring and out of it as well.”Tags: Dewey Cooper, Ernesto Hoost, featured, K-1, k-1 rising, kickboxing, Might Mo Siliga, Rick Roufus, Seth Petruzelli