Boxing Coach: In Sparring, Ronda Rousey Gets Best of World Champions on the Feet


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Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is known for her judo background, but apparently her striking skills are coming along as well.

“What she has is amazing, but people don’t understand: Ronda’s boxing is so good right now,” her striking coach, Edmond Tarverdyan, told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “If I could, I’d turn that girl into a boxing professional world champion. She was sparring with girls in our gym that are like 16-1 and WBA world champions, Lucia Rijker … and Ronda gets the best out of it.”

In her recent win over Sarah Kaufman, Rousey came out throwing a jab that helped her close the distance and move the fight to the ground, where she won via armbar. Kaufman looked somewhat surprised that an Olympic bronze medalist in judo was so aggressive with her hands.

“That was exactly the game plan,” Tarverdyan said. “Ronda has a great jab. She does like six in a row when we’re doing pad work and mitt work. In the gym she’s also working that jab. It comes natural to her. She always had her left foot forward when she was doing judo tournaments, so she’s real comfortable with sticking that jab and grabbing them and taking them down.”

Tarverdyan, who works with Rousey at the Glendale Fighting Club in California, wasn’t interested in training her initially. After watching some of her judo highlights, though, and also seeing her in MMA, he changed his mind.

“I was like, ‘OK, this girl is going to be something special,’” Tarverdyan said. “I started working with her. For like six months we didn’t do any striking. Just footwork, distance, understanding. I didn’t give her hard sparring, nothing like that. Just she moved around with me. I have control of my punches and I’m not trying to swing your head off and I’m technical and I could teach her. More like drilling-sparring, like amateur style, than actual just banging like the professional style. I taught her a lot of amateur boxing. Once I got that done, I know she has a good jab. She has a good straight punch, a right straight. She knows how to move her head. She knows how to defend herself, block punches, move in and out, use her legs, and then I started just gradually raising her sparring. For the last camp we had great sparring partners. That’s how you learn.”

In addition to Rousey, Gegard Mousasi and Manny Gamburyan, Tarverdyan also works with amateur and professional boxers. Rousey has impressed them too.

“Ronda’s jab is looking really, really good,” Tarverdyan said. “All the Olympians I have in my gym, and world medalists, they just sit down and go, ‘Wow, dude. She has a great jab.’”

She’s getting more comfortable with her other punches as well, which could come in handy if she ever meets Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos.

“Now everybody knows she can strike,” Tarverdyan said. “I don’t care if people know or don’t know, to be honest with you. I know she can strike. She’s a great striker. She’s not going to have a problem with any of these fights we have in front of us.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 58:10).

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