The UFC 207 went down the way many suspected, and some feared it would.
Amanda Nunes, following a blueprint drawn up by former UFC Bantamwweight Champion Holly Holm, landed strikes at range to fluster the once ominously dominant Ronda Rousey, handing her a second straight loss.
Well, that dominance isn't as ominous as her opponents would like you to think.
Alexis Davis, Sara McMann, Cat Zingano were all too happy to jump into clinch range with an Olympic-level judoka -- a weak game plan to say the least. Bethe Correia just wasn't very good and was way in over her head. Rousey's impressive power ended up planting the Brazilian face-down, ass-up on a Straight Outta Compton logo.
Rousey's real kryptonite has been coaching, and subsequent execution. It's not been a secret or anything.
Holly Holm had been practicing for Ronda Rousey her entire career. Go back and watch her early fights. She'd avoid the clinch at all costs, as if every opponent were actually Rousey. She also happens to come from one of the best gameplanning camps in history, Jackson-Winkeljohn. Amanda Nunes is from American Top Team. Not too shabby.
Ronda Rousey? Well.....uhh...she has a guy she knows. Edmond Taverdyan of Glendale Fighting Club.
Edmond Taverdyan is a former MMA fighter and boxing coach that Ronda has worked with for most of her professional career. He's a volatile guy, who got into a skirmish with former UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum after he beat Rousey-boyfriend and GFC student Travis Browne. So yearh, he's a distraction.
Taverdyan came under criticism years ago when Rousey's ex-boyfriend Brendan Schaub said Browne made a mistake leaving Jackson-Winkeljohn to train at Glendale with Edmond and Rousey. For what it's worth, Browne has lost three of his last four fights.
Rousey wasn't alone in her boyfriend Browne joining her at Glendale. Her "Four Horsewomen" buddies -- pioneer Shayna Baszler, highly-touted prospect Jessamyn Duke, best friend (and now fiancee to WWE's Roderick Strong) Marina Shafir all joined her...for a while. All of them would leave Glendale for Josh Barnett and Erik Paulson's CSW, although the circumstances around the departure are unknown. Struggling UFC welterweight Jake Ellenberger also made the switch to GFC, the proceeded to struggle more.
If you see a pattern, there's a good reason.
Rousey became UFC champion off the back of her overwhelming judo skills. Judo skills that provided her with phenomenal core and leg strength that translated in the power. Videos started to emerge of her impressively hitting pads, doing boxing work -- except she still boxed like a judo player. That's to be expected. Old habits are hard to break. But so are jaws, and that happened at the hands of Holly Holm at UFC 193 in 2015.
After Rousey's knockout of Correia, she became almost mythical. You couldn't clinch with her, and now striking with her seemed like not such a hot idea. What would happen when her opponents didn't dive into her clinch range like Black Friday psychos at a flat screen TV? We found out. Then we found out again at UFC 207.
The corner audio of Taverdyan is horrifying. "MAKE HER MISS. HEAD MOVEMENT! HEAD MOVEMENT! HANDS UP CLIIIIIINCH! NOOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOO!" He sounds like he's watching his pet get run over. Instead, it was his multi-million dollar MMA student (speaking of that, he has battled major financial issues and claimed he has no income.) It was still better than his last Rousey effort.
Much of the criticism of Taverdyan hit a fever pitch in between the first and second rounds of Rousey's UFC 193 fight with Holly Holm. After a one-sided ass kicking from Holm, Taverdyan reassured Rousey that her work was beautiful. It wasn't. She was knocked out minutes later. Many called for Rousey to switch camps. Her defense looked bad, her offense looked bad, her footwork, reaction time, technique all looked bad.
Perhaps the most damning of all? Part of Amanda Nunes' game plan was that she counted on Rousey having terrible coaching. When's the last time you heard that one?
"I knew (Rousey) was going to to strike with me, because she thinks it because her boxing coach told her she has good striking," Nunes said at the UFC 207 post-fight presser. "I knew she was going to strike a little bit with me, but when I started to connect with some punches I knew she would want to start to clinch with me. He like put this thing in her head and make the girl believe in that. I don't know why he did that. She have great judo, and she can go far in this division, but he put some crazy thing about boxing, and her career started to go down. And if I win that, I am the real striker. This is the only thing I wanted to look at him, to say it."
The aforementioned Brendan Schaub stated in an interview in 2014 that he'd be much more intimidated if Ronda Rousey's mom were in someone's corner than Taverdyan. Rousey's mother is former judo champion AnnMaria De Mars, who doesn't have a favorable opinion of her daughter's coach, either. She called him a "bad person," a "terrible coach" and that she thought he hit the lottery win Rousey walked in. De Mars likened Rousey's affection for Edmond to a superstitious baseball player who wears lucky underwear after a no-hitter. Oh yeah, she said that she'd run over him with her car if she could....this was BEFORE UFC 193.
Rousey didn't listen or didn't care, one or the other.
Edmond Taverdyan is not a good coach for Ronda Rousey at the least. He's full of issues and distractions and didn't repair the gaping hole in the game of his golden goose, and he's had plenty of time to do it.
It's not too late for Rousey. You'll have plenty of people telling you she's done, washed up, anything else they can to insinuate they can get inside the mind of a former champion. The reality is that she's soon to be a 30-year old in a sport and division where women in their late 30s are still excelling. But if she wants a shot, she needs to run far, far away from Glendale Fighting Club.
Ronda Rousey's ego is a reason she may -- or may not leave GFC. Maybe she'll never fight again. Maybe if she does, she wants to prove she can succeed with her terrible coach. Maybe she wants to prove she can hang with ANY coach.
It's not likely Rousey is leaving California. Firas Zahabi, Greg Jackson, Duke Roufus, Duane Ludwig would all do her wonders, but they're scattered throughout the country. Rousey needs someone local, or at least in-state, and there are plenty of options. Team Alpha Male, Alliance MMA in San Diego, King's MMA. To be honest, traveling back in time and training with the guys from Hammer House -- or any house for that matter would be better than the chosen path.
I truly hope Rousey picks a different path. She has a lot in the tank. We'll have to see if the money in the bank outweighs that, or accentuates that.