How Count Chocula Ruined Ronda Rousey’s MMA Career
The last two fights of Ronda Rousey’s UFC career were absolutely tragic. Back to back knockout losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes. She fell victim to a common MMA trap, forgetting her bread and butter in lieu of the power in her hands.
Rousey was a naturally explosive athlete, and carried power in her hands that can’t be taught. The problem is, even if you have that power, you still have to learn proper punching technique to compete at the highest levels. Enter Count Chocula, Rousey’s con man boxing coach. He had her for two years, and what he did with the time was downright criminal.
Let’s back up a tad. Just take a look at this goofy mo fo.
Moving on. Chocula’s legal name is Edmond Tarverdyan, and he owns a gym with this boxing mural painted on the wall. In case you are wondering, the answer is yes. Yes, that is Tarverdyan side by side with the greatest, Muhammad Ali.
Are you beginning to see the picture I’m painting? Ronda Rousey entered the fight game as an olympic Judoka, tossing bitches around like a gorilla fighting human children. It was epic. Not only was she an instinctive fighter and skilled grappler, her mental game was on another level. Some may question this, but I maintain that it is not an athlete’s responsibility to down regulate their own confidence. That’s what coaches, sparring partners, and the gym is for.
A fighter is useless without an unhealthy belief in themselves. What coach wouldn’t love an athlete with Rousey’s confidence and intensity? At the same time, you have to make sure she holds a clear picture of reality. Put her in there with superior strikers, make sure she is encountering her own weaknesses in the gym and point them out to her. Don’t break her down for the sake of it, but be realistic and for the love of God, don’t be a yes man (No disrespect to Diego Sanchez, who is an absolute savage and legend of the sport).
By the time Rousey made it to the cage to fight Holm, she’d been conditioned into accepting a distorted view of reality. Holm was 33-2-3 as a professional boxer. By all accounts, she is as good of a striker as Rousey is a grappler. The fight was expected to be a clash of styles, the classic striker versus grappler match. Instead of coming into the fight with an array takedown setups built specifically for Holm, Rousey came out slangin’ ‘wingers’, the term Donald Cerrone used to describe her punches. The fight ended with a brutal head kick, and Rousey lost the world championship she worked so hard to attain.
Her final fight was extra one sided, and she was finished in 48 seconds by punches from Amanda Nunes. Rousey’s fall from grace was quick and painful, especially considering that she was 12-0 as a professional leading up to her last two MMA fights.
“Head movement! Head movement! Move! Clinch! Head movement!” is a paraphrasing of the excellent advice Ronda received from Count Chocula during her final fight. The problem was not simply that she came in with a bad game plan for both fights, it was that her technique was nowhere near as sharp as it could have been at that point in her career.
Rousey isn’t the type of athlete to miss a workout, or give anything less than 100% while training. Her learning curve should have been accelerated because of her work ethic. Yet, thanks to Edmond, she remained behind the curve technically. Because of her physical ability, she had some success standing against fellow like grapplers like Sara Mcmann. Again, there is no questioning Rousey’s natural power.
I watched some of Tarverdyan’s fights to see if he was legit as a fighter, and he was. Good hard kicks, great teep, and he threw long powerful straight punches. Definitely more of a kickboxer though, his style didn’t reflect a mastery of boxing. I agree with his strategy to have Rousey focus on her hands as opposed to kicks, but I think he bought into her hype too much and greenlighted her for pure offense too soon. Rousey never showed that she had an understanding of defensive boxing principles. She didn’t blade her shoulders, and therefore couldn’t slip, slide, or pull punches. She fell apart on her back foot, and was always stiff during her entries to punching combinations, making her predictable on offense and easy to counter.
Without getting too deep into the weirdness surrounding Chocula himself, let’s briefly summarize the details. Rousey’s mother, AnnMaria De Mars, a world judo champion, referred to Chocula as an ‘idiot’, and a ‘fraud’. Chocula also filed for bankruptcy with over $700,000 in debt. He also appeared alongside Rousey on the Joe Rogan Experience.
Words cannot explain the cringe worthy awkwardness of their athlete-coach relationship, and I wholeheartedly believe that Edmond would have married Ronda and changed his last name to Rousey if the option were available.
My overall point is that Rousey had talent when it came to striking, but lacked the high level coaching required to realize it. On top of that, her mediocre coach lacked the self awareness to help her develop an intelligent game plan that would allow her to utilize her superior takedowns, ground and pound, and submissions. Instead, he told her that she could beat up world champion boxers, in boxing, and blissfully lead her to slaughter. There were obvious warning signs, and Rousey holds responsibility for not seeing them and running as far away from Chocula as possible, but when it comes to the plateau of her technical prowess in the realm of striking, I personally place the blame squarely on the ‘Nothing is Impossible’ shoulders of Tarverdyan.
Perhaps nothing is impossible, yet some things remain highly improbable. Like for instance, the chances of Rousey losing an MMA fight when she is properly trained and hell bent on getting the takedown. Or, Rousey winning an MMA fight against two of the top strikers in the WMMA world when her gameplan is to engage them in a stand up firefight. Rousey has since successfully transitioned to the WWE under the careful tutelage of fellow Olympian Kurt Angle, further proof that with the right preparation, Rousey can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. It’s just too bad Edmond Tarverdyan didn’t receive the memo…