Four days after Ronda Rousey’s highly anticipated comeback went exactly the way she had not planned, fight fans and insiders are still discussing what went wrong for the 29-year-old. How did the fighter, who had 411 days to shore up her striking skills, allow women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes to land 27 punches and beat her in a technical knockout 48 seconds into the fight?
Many blamed Rousey’s coach Edmond Tarverdyan, including Nunes, who after the UFC 207 postfight news conference accused him of doing a “crazy thing” by convincing Rousey she was a boxer.
“He like put this in her head and make the girl believe in that,” Nunes said. “I don’t know why he did that. She has great judo and then she can go more forward in this division but he put some crazy thing about her boxing and then her career started like going down. . . . I’m the real striker here. This is the only thing I want to look at him to say.”
Rousey’s mother AnnMaria De Mars, who told TMZ Sports after the fight that she hopes her daughter retires, has had her issues with Tarverdyan. Shortly before Rousey’s her first loss in November 2015 to Holly Holm, De Mars called Tarverdyan “a terrible coach.”
“I think he hit the lottery when Ronda walked in [his gym],” De Mars said. “She was winning before she ever met him. . . . I think she stays there because it’s like when someone pitches a no-hitter wearing red underwear then they wear that underwear every day. I think it’s superstition.”
On Friday, just hours after Rousey’s loss, De Mars told TMZ her opinions on Tarverdyan hadn’t changed.
UFC commentator Kenny Florian joined the cacophony of voices on his Monday night podcast when he called Tarverdyan too inexperienced to train top stars.
“I like Edmond. I spoke to him in various occasions, but he doesn’t have the experience for high-level mixed martial arts,” Florian said on his podcast on Tuesday (via Bloody Elbow). “That’s my opinion. He hasn’t been keeping up with it.”
Besides the quality of the skills training, Florian also questioned Tarverdyan’s methods after he heard “that perhaps Rousey didn’t really spar leading up to this fight.”
“I get that they’re trying to preserve her from not getting hurt. But you’ve got to have some rounds. You’ve got to ready for the worst case scenario, which is Amanda Nunes striking with you,” Florian said. “She wasn’t able to move her head, do anything defensively to avoid the striking skills of Amanda Nunes, and really paid for it.”
Rousey’s camp later contacted Florian to deny the charge, noting that the star sparred with four different people during her fight training.
Although we heard that Ronda didn't spar in preparation for Nunes, Ronda's camp informed me she had 4 different quality sparring partners.
— Kenny Florian (@kennyflorian) January 3, 2017
That Rousey crumbled when Nunes made contact just seconds into the bout doesn’t come as a surprise to some fans, who noticed something didn’t look right with the star’s strikes in a promotional video released earlier last month.
At issue is the rotation of Rousey’s wrist, which extends far beyond 90 degrees. It almost looks like she’s flicking her wrist.
“So when I was taking karate . . . they’d call strikes thrown like that during katas ‘floppy bunny’ and we were mocked relentlessly,” one critic wrote on the social media site Reddit. “Need to call up my old sensei to help her out.”
Another wrote: “I don’t really follow the women’s comp, but if Nunes has even halfway decent stand-up, she’ll look like Sugar Ray by the end of this.”
The question now remains what Rousey will do going forward. Her next 45 days are certain. She has been given a 45-day medical suspension, the Nevada Athletic Commission told MMA Fighting on Tuesday. That means that the earliest she could return is Feb. 14. While her mother wants her to retire, Rousey has avoided making rash decisions. Instead she’s asked for time to decide whether she’ll call it quits or try again.
If she returns, a coaching switch would seem to be in order. Stopping just short of inviting Rousey to train with him in Albuquerque, where Holm also trains, UFC light heavyweight contender Jon Jones suggested on Twitter that Rousey “join one of the bigger MMA teams.”
Maybe she just needs to complement her coach with an MMA family. Maybe she should join one of the bigger MMA teams
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) December 31, 2016
“Being around other bad a—- and constantly sharing your spotlight could be good for you,” Jones added.
Cindy Boren contributed to this report.