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Rousey's judo coach Justin Flores: She'll be back!
19 Nov 2015 14:30
Justin Flores, Ronda Rousey’s longtime judo and grappling coach, had the best seat in the house for one of the worst nights of the former UFC champion’s athletic career. Days later, he insists the pain of that night is still uncomfortably fresh. “It’s been a surreal few days,” Flores told MMAjunkie. Flores was cageside in Australia for UFC 193, where Rousey was not only defeated by Holly Holm but was truly stifled from start to finish in a way no other athlete has ever been able to remotely accomplish.
In the days since, media and fans alike have taking to slamming Rousey in alarming numbers, seemingly writing off all that she accomplished during her time as a Strikeforce and UFC titleholder after one incredibly disappointing performance.
Flores, who has worked with Rousey since she was just 11 says: “I will do everything in my power to make the necessary adjustments to help her.”
Flores admits Rousey’s performance certainly wasn’t up to her high standards, nor the team’s for that matter. It was, quite certainly, an off-night for the former champ.
But Flores, who said he’s already re-watched the fight some 50 times since sitting cageside, believes there are numerous issues that factored into the final result – not some easy-to-pin smoking gun that could be corrected with a single change.
“Holly fought a great fight,” Flores said. “But there’s so many different variables with this. Ronda tried to go for takedowns. She tried to do things. She tried to incorporate her clinch. She tried to do these things.”
And, of course, that’s only breaking down what happened inside of the cage. Leading up to the fight, Rousey had been unquestionably the busiest fighter in the UFC – fighting, as Flores pointed out, three times in just nine months, but also taking additional trips to Brazil and Australia to sell her fights at UFC 190 and UFC 193, respectively, as well as multiple trips to New York for media tours the likes of which are not normally seen in the UFC. “It’s very chaotic,” Flores admitted.
Then, Flores said, there’s the problem of living up to the incredibly high bar Rousey established for herself. Rousey’s MMA career has been built upon utter domination of her opponents, not simply winning by whatever means necessary.
“She has this hype she has to live up to by winning in 12 seconds or winning in 15 seconds – something that’s like so unbelievable, it surpasses her legend that she’s built,” Flores said. “That’s so much pressure. I think that’s part of why things happened the way they did. There was so much anxiety and things circling before the fight, it kind of manifested that way.
“As a competitor, a win is a win. But for her, for how much she’s steamrolled people and how much it’s affected her psychologically – she has to outdo the last performance. That’s impossible.”
Flores said he hasn’t slept much since returning home from Australia, as he continues to process exactly what went wrong. He’s heard the criticisms of the team around Rousey, including head coach Edmond Tarverdyan, but doesn’t know what the former champ will decide to do with the people in charge of crafting her MMA game.
He also doesn’t know when Rousey will be ready to fight again, but he insists he’s not alarmed by her post-fight actions thus far, as he’s seen the incredibly driven athlete experience an incredible sadness due to previous losses, as well.
“I think the dust has to settle,” Flores admitted. “But after that, I think she has to find her motivation – and I think she will. There’s no doubt. I’ve seen her lose before, and her world was over. It didn’t make sense. Black was white. Day was night, and nothing made sense, but she was able to step back up. Obviously, that was a different stage, and she’s under a much bigger microscope now, so everything is amplified. But a loss is a loss still, if it’s getting knocked out or just having a referee say you lost in judo.
“I think she’ll be able to pull it all back together. It’s just that timeline, I think, may not be as quick as in judo past just because of the toll it’s takes physically. But there’s no doubt in my mind she’ll come back.”
And when she comes back, Flores believes she’ll again be in prime physical form, ready to silence those critics who are ready to write Rousey off after the first poor performance of her career.
“I have seen Ronda lose many times over the years at the highest level of judo competition first-hand, which is a dangerous thing for her future opponents,” Flores said. “I promise she will be back and make all the necessary adjustments after regrouping.
“Look out MMA world. Every great hero has trials and tribulations and loss – it’s how she recovers and comes back that will mark her legacy as the greatest of all time. Mark my words.”
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