[UFC 207 Spoilers]
The fight on December 30 between Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes did not go the way I expected. I always knew it was a possibility given Ronda’s history of partnering with poor trainers and her fragile mental state after her last lost. But she exceeded my expectations in the wrong direction. Since the fight was only 48 seconds long, there won’t be much technical analysis here, but I’ll expand further on my thoughts about the past of Rousey and the future of Nunes.
Rousey’s mother, AnnMaria De Mars, published a supportive blog post following her daughter’s second devastating loss. She lists some of Rousey’s past accomplishments and reaffirms her support for her daughter despite acknowledging some of her poor decision-making.
Considering Rousey’s poor footwork in the past and her recently seen failure to make any progress in this area, her number one poor decision is apparently staying at Glendale Fighting Club and training her MMA game under head coach Edmond Tarverdyan. Edmond is widely known for his identity fraud and sketchy bankruptcy filings. But more importantly, he seems to completely fail as a primary and striking coach.
Here’s Ronda’s corner audio with Edmond at UFC 207:
(If this gets taken down due to copyright, just Google “Ronda Corner Audio.”)
Edmond: Head Movement!
Ronda: You apparently never taught me that.
Ronda’s lack of head movement, lack of a defensive jab, and complete failure to prepare for an opponent who has plenty of footage on her and not a particularly dynamic game can only be the product of poor coaching. (Edmond’s “Nooooo!” was also the anguish of his career ending.) Ronda’s boyfriend, Travis Browne, and the only other prominent MMA fighter training under Tarverdyan is 1-3 in his last UFC outings. Ronda’s shadow-boxing is legendarily bad and Tarverdyan’s “Beautiful work, champ!” after round 1 of the Holm fight has been a long-standing meme.
Ronda trained a couple times with the Diaz brothers’ striking coach Richard Perez and this is what he said:
“You know to be honest with you, I don’t know how she is being trained over there [at Glendale Fighting Club]. I know I trained her for a couple fights before and she did really good,” Perez recalled. “I mean I trained her really hard, she loved it. She said she never had anybody train her like I did. You know, I don’t know what they do over there so I can’t give an answer on how it’s gonna come out.”
Nobody ever trained her like Richard Perez did. Being the elite of the elite, I’m sure Ronda could choose to train at any place she wanted. Even if she didn’t want to leave California, Rafael Cordeiro over at Kings MMA (trainer of former champs RDA, Machida, and Werdum) extended an invitation for her to train with them. At this point, anything seems better than Edmond “Beautiful work, champ!” Tarverdyan. Ronda’s mom said she got Ronda good at Judo as a child by having her train everywhere. But now, as an adult, Ronda seems to content to live in the echo chamber of self-congratulatory nonsense and babying that only Edmond provides.
I still feel like Ronda could have won on the ground if she had the opportunity to clinch. As pointed out in my last blog post, Nunes still has significant holes in her ground game. Nunes also did not adopt Holly Holm’s style like I thought she might. She came out orthodox and swinging her power right hand as per usual. But simply being Amanda Nunes was enough. There were a bunch of blocks, parrys, and counters available to Ronda at the distance Nunes was throwing, but her lack of knowledge was profound and fatal in the fighting sense of the word.
Rousey is still one of my favorite fighters. Her wins over Meisha Tate, Alexis Davis, and Cat Zingano were some of the most exciting seconds in her career. But she does not have a championship mindset anymore. Conor McGregor, by contrast, has a championship mindset. When he lost to Nate Diaz in an embarrassing fashion, he took half a year and a break from media to tighten his holes, gameplan for his opponent, and rededicate himself wholly. Ronda Rousey took twice as long off after her embarrassing loss and did none of those.
Unless she switches gyms and completely revolutionizes her striking game, Ronda’s time in MMA is over. The future of the bantamweight division is Amanda Nunes and there’s a couple of interesting matchups for her in the rising stars. She’s beaten most of the top 10 already, but there’s a couple women left that could give her some trouble if the fight goes all five rounds.
The first is Raquel Pennington. At #5, Pennington has some solid hands and good takedown defense, only losing recently by split decision to Holly Holm. She is sturdy and consistent and I imagine could be a durable test for Nunes if she makes it into the later rounds.
The second is #3 Julianna Peña. She is the dark horse in the division right now and became the TUF champion by exceeding everyone’s expectations. She is well-rounded and has probably just as powerful as Nunes, if not just as accurate, striking. If she wins her fight on January 28 against #2 Valentina Schevchenko, she will no doubt be next in line for a title shot.
These are the women who will carry the bantamweight division now that Ronda is no more. Ronda will always be remembered as a trailblazer and the top paid women’s MMA fighter. She has contributed more to the sport than almost anyone and deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Like Ronda’s mom, whatever bad decisions she’s made about her training, I’ll always support her. I hope she has a bright future maybe teaching or doing seminars and I will always remember her as “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.