After a year of being built up as an unstoppable superhero, it was inevitable that Ronda Rousey would face some serious backlash after losing in spectacular fashion to Holly Holm back in November. But while Rousey has been bruised and battered by casual fans and haters, mixed martial arts insiders have focused a lot of blame for the loss on her head coach, Edmond Tarverdyan.
Tarverdyan is primarily a boxing coach and has spent the last couple of years talking up Ronda Rousey’s hands. It made sense back when people were calling her a one trick pony that had mean judo throws and an unstoppable armbar. But against one of the best strikers in the sport like Holly Holm, that focus seemed misplaced. People criticized Ronda’s gameplan for the fight, and Edmond’s poor cornering as everything fell apart.
Now he’s responding to the criticism and what he plans to do differently next time. Via ESPNW:
“It was the biggest loss of my career,” he said. “You know you won’t ever want that to happen again. So what that means is, I’ve got to work harder. Every little thing I’ve got to be honest with and make sure that we’re ready to go. Yeah there was a lot of criticism afterwards about adding a boxing coach. MMA is not a boxing game, but Ronda got caught, and we will be taking advice from boxing trainers. I don’t think it’s going to be a situation about adding a boxing coach, it’s about getting more thoughts from boxing trainers.”
“I will be speaking to them and getting in the best advice. And if I feel it’s necessary we will bring them in. But besides boxing, even the wrestling, the judo, the grappling aspect of it — just approaching the fight in general, there will be a bit of things that we could add. We’re not going to sit here and change everything that we’ve done, we’ve done stuff that I think is working, it’s been great. We’re not going to have something so much different for Ronda. Have we been doing everything wrong? No, that’s not the situation. It’s a fight, Ronda got caught with a shot, and it was a little bit of a roller coaster from there.”
By Edmond’s reading of the fight, Ronda was never the same after an early shot in the first round that rattled her and stripped her of half the skills she and Edmond had worked on. It’s not a far fetched argument. As Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan … until they get punched in the mouth.” And Ronda Rousey has never been hit by someone like Holly Holm before.
But that doesn’t address Tarverdyan’s nonsensical cornering between the first and second rounds where he praised Ronda for her “beautiful work.” It was clear what she was doing wasn’t working. A good cornerman would have given her a strong wake-up call and switched to a different strategy for round two. Instead, Rousey went back out and kept doing the same thing, leading to her defeat by headkick knockout.
It’s easy for armchair coaches to speculate on what went wrong and why Ronda lost. If she caught Holm off balance once and pulled off another throw/armbar combo, we wouldn’t even be talking about Edmond Tarverdyan right now. But the spotlight of fame shines brightly on Ronda Rousey, and on Edmond by extension. Too many people in the know have said Rousey needs a massive training overhaul. It’s getting hard to ignore, or so you’d think. Based on Edmond’s comments, he seems content to keep things relatively the same.