Firas Zahabi, who is one of the most respected coaches in Mixed Martial Arts, gave his honest assessment of Ronda Rousey’s skills following her high profile loss at UFC 207. According to the Tristar Gym head, even when the world was raving about her KO win over Bethe Correia, Rousey never really showcased a high level of striking during her career.
“I think Ronda has got power,” he said. “What Ronda doesn’t have, is fluidity, a technical speed. She doesn’t have a smooth coordination. She’s very jittery, she’s very mechanical when she punches, and she’s very wild and telegraphs very much.
“Her punching level is not at an expert level,” he said. “However, is that her coach’s fault? I would say no, it is not.”
Edmond Tarverdyan has been heavily criticized after Rousey’s back-to-back losses, and while Zahabi understands that going against the grain could get people riled up, he did his best to back up his statement.
“I know a lot of guys are blowing your tops off now, but it’s not his fault,” Zahabi explained. “She is not the first athlete in MMA to fail at developing a striking game.”
“I know what you guys are going to tell me, ‘Ben Askren is a better striker than Ronda Rousey. Maia’s striking is better than Ronda Rousey’s. Why is Rousey’s striking is very stiff and mechanical?’ Is it because of his coach? I don’t think it is.
“Before you start burning your computers, hear me out. Take for instance, Ben Askren, great fighter. His coach, Duke Roufus, is an extremely competent striking coach. No one can debate that, and he has proven himself over and over again. Why isn’t Asrken’s striking like Anthony Pettis? Is it Duke Roufus’ fault? No it is not.
“The reason why a Ben Askren or a Ronda Rousey’s striking usually — not always — doesn’t hit that high level, is because they’ve spent so much time wiring their brain and their body and their nervous system to fight in one particular way. It’s opportunity cost. Every time you do one thing, you’re costing yourself in another.”
Everything said, Zahabi still concedes that other coaches likely could’ve done a much better job molding such a great athlete in Rousey.
“Is it Edmond’s fault? I don’t think it is. But I think there are coaches out there that can do a much better job than what Edmond did. That I will agree with,” he said. “I don’t want to be negative towards anybody, but the job that he did out there against Amanda Nunes was as bad as it can be. That’s the legitimate criticism that I cannot defend.
“I don’t believe he’s incompetent. I think he’s a legitimate striker. I’ve seen his fight videos, I’ve seen him standing up. He legitimately knows what he’s doing standing up. Is his stand up style good for Ronda? Is his approach to training stand up good for Ronda? I would say it’s not.”
Overall, Zahabi believes Rousey needs to change things if she plans on continuing her career. It may or may not necessarily mean leaving Tarverdyan, but according to Firas, the entire “formula” has to go.
“Ronda needs a better approach. The approach he’s using is not working for her, and it will never work for her. This high congested style of position. This still upper body style of positioning, her footwork, all these things will just get her in trouble and knocked out again.
“People know her weakness, and she has got to change her formula. She should’ve done this after the Holly Holm fight. Change formula, change tactics,” he continued.
“This is not a critique towards Ronda. I’m really opposed to kicking someone when they’re down. I think she is a great fighter. I think she can overcome this, and there is hope for her, but a new formula needs to be taken.
“Does he suck? He doesn’t suck. Is his approach working? Obviously it’s not. No one can debate that it is. Maybe it’s time to part ways, maybe it’s not. That’s for them to decide, but the approach must change without a doubt.”
Watch the entire clip below, where Zahabi speaks more about Rousey, Tarverdyan, and the entire UFC 207 main event against Nunes.
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