Combat sports can be a rough mistress, and never more so when someone dies in the ring. As per a well-researched article by the Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee, such a tragedy occurred in an unsanctioned kickboxing bout at an event run by Anthony Pettis’ coach, Duke Roufus. Are the facts surrounding the death ugly? Oh man, they are – and they cast a harsh light on the UFC lightweight champ’s gym.

The facts are thus:

  • The fighter who died was a 24-year-old amateur kickboxer named Dennis Munson Jr. It was his first fight.
  • The event was legal but not sanctioned by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (i.e., a state athletic commission). Instead, the promoter – Roufus – handled all the safety standards and precautions. There was a doctor present, and an ambulance, but pre-fight screening consisted only of a nurse taking fighters’ vitals, and when Munson went into distress, everyone completely dropped the ball.
  • If not for being on the losing end of a beating, and being forced to go out for a third round despite being a mess, Munson would still be alive.

Based on the article alone, the actions (and lack of action) of Roufus and company significantly contributed to the death of Munson. Glean what you will from the admittedly crappy video of the fight below.

However, where things get really ugly is the backlash the article has created – backlash in the form of TUF 20 competitor Rose Namajunas speaking out against what she witnessed firsthand while training under Roufus. Check out her extensive tweeting on the matter, and then watch her interview with Karen Bryant.

No one wants to see how the sausage gets made, because the process would turn peoples’ stomachs. That’s also true with how fighters get made (and how wannabes get weeded out). To be successful at fighting, whether it’s MMA or kickboxing or whatever, requires a kind of dedication that can’t be derailed by adversity. But at what point does that adversity become just violent absurdity?

Pettis might say that what Roufus has done to make him in a champ was ultimately just the right amount of trials and tribulation.

And if we could communicate with the dead, Munson would probably say something else entirely.

Either way, a man died in a kickboxing bout, and maybe you could put a bit of that blame on Duke Roufus.

What do you think?