Former Rousey sparring partner: That was a lie

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ronda Rousey’s striking ability, or depending upon your point of view lack of it, has been one of the big stories in mixed martial arts over the past year. Last year boxing’s venerable The Ring magazine put Rousey on the cover, with the caption, “Rousey conquered MMA. Is boxing next?”

No.

The crazy talk was fueled by the unparalleled success Rousey had in the Octagon, and quotes from her trainer Edmond Tarverdyan about the success she was having in the training ring vs. boxing champion sparring partners. In an interview last year, the coach said she had never lost a round of sparring.

James Dielhen for England’s SKY Sports tracked down some of those former world champion boxer sparring partners, and they tell a story that is not congruent with the former coach’s description.

Mikaela Mayer, who made the boxing quarter-finalist at Rio 2016, was asked if Rousey was a top-notch boxer?

“No, of course not,” said Mayer. “I have been training for 10 years to be at this level. For her to just walk in to the Olympic level and be competitive – that’s just not probable.

“That’s not just her, it goes for anybody. The experience you need to compete at this level is just tremendous. You don’t just walk in and kick people’s a** unless you’re Claressa Shields!

“We do four two-minute rounds – it’s the pace and scoring that you need to learn. Of course [Rousey isn’t at the same level] just like I wouldn’t be at the same level in MMA or judo.”

“We went at it 100 percent. For me, as an Olympic-style boxer, it was good work because she gave me that style. She lets her hands go, she punches hard. She kept coming forwards so I had to punch in combinations, I couldn’t just throw two. When she got on the inside, I had to work her body.”

“I actually like Edmond a lot, I really like his mitt-work. … He was really good – he made me work long, straight punches which is the Olympic style. Nothing super fancy.

“You can tell their connection is so strong, they have a really tight bond. When people talk about her finding another coach, I just don’t see that. You have to take responsibility for yourself, every time you have a loss you can’t just blame your coach. You have to say, ‘What did I do wrong?’ The coach is a big part of it, but you can’t blame them every time you don’t win a fight.”

Diana Prazak is another former sparring partner. The former WBC champion was less impressed with Tarverdyan’s coaching.

“She was stiff, she’s not a striker, and you don’t punch a puncher,” said Prazak of Rousey’s loss to Nunes at UFC 207. “She’s not a boxer, that’s not something you pick up in a couple of months. I started working with Ronda over two years ago but, but when she was going to fight Holly Holm, they stopped me being her sparring partner.”

“Our spars were always battles, they were harder than the fights she was having. We had great sparring – she was getting better.

“My opinion? It wouldn’t have been good for her confidence to keep sparring me, and not being successful. Edmond made that decision. She isn’t a striker.”

Tarverdyan talked about Rousey flooring world champions with body shots.

“He was talking about me,” said Prazak. “My trainer rang him to say ‘why would you make that up?’ It’s an untruth. I hope she comes back with a totally different team around her who look after her safety.”