As UFC Women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey readies herself for one of the biggest fights of her life against Holly Holm at UFC 193, her coach Edmond Tarverdyan has been undergoing battles of his own behind the scenes. Tarverdyan is engaged in a battle on two fronts against two formidable opponents, the IRS and his prize athlete's mother, Dr. AnnMaria De Mars.
Mr. Tarverdyan's legal troubles can be explained much more eloquently by my colleague, Paul Gift, but for me the most interesting battle going on behind the scenes is between Ronda Rousey's mother and Edmond Tarverdyan. In a recent interview with LatiNation, De Mars criticized Tarverdyan:
"I think Edmond is a terrible coach and I will say it publicly,I think he's a terrible coach. I think he hit the lottery when Ronda walked in there."
De Mars, a gifted judoka in her own right, went on to elaborate:
"She was winning before she ever met him. She probably won 99 percent of the judo matches she ever fought in. She won the judo worlds when she was 17. She got a bronze medal in the Olympics. She got a silver medal in the world championships," she explained. "She was one of the top athletes in the world when she walked in there and he wouldn't even give her the time of day for months."
While some may see De Mars' statements as harsh, I tend to agree with her. Edmond Tarverdyan may well be the luckiest man in MMA.
The world of mixed martial arts is extremely devoid of upper-echelon athletes and Ronda Rousey is most certainly one of them. On the first day that Rousey entered the doors at Glendale Fighting Club, I am willing to bet that she would have defeated 99% of the women's bantamweight division. From day one, Rousey's judo, an art which she had honed since her childhood, made her an almost impossible matchup for anyone in the game. As an amateur, Rousey relied almost exclusively on her judo while dominating featherweight fighters.
It has been Rousey's judo that has brought her to being the most paid athlete in the UFC, her famous armbar has won her all but 3 of her 12 fights and while her boxing has improved under Tarverdyan, it is ludicrous to suggest that he has been vital to her success as a MMA fighter.
Let me first say that Tarverdyan is by no means the worst coach in the world, he really isn't, but by no means is he an elite coach. I am of the belief that if Ronda Rousey would have walked into any MMA gym in the country she would have became a world champion. I find it difficult to imagine that Rousey wouldn't have been as good, if not better under the tutelage of the likes of Mark Henry, Mike Winklejohn or Duane Ludwig, all of whom have better track records at making grapplers into exceptional strikers.
Did Team Bombsquad make Jon Jones an amazing fighter? No. Some athletes are just bound for greatness, Rousey's judo background and insane athleticism meant that anywhere she went she would be successful. To further back up this claim all you need to do is look back at any one else who Tarverdyan has coached. The likes of Jake Ellenberger, Travis Browne and the Four Horsewomen, all of whom have shown slim to marginal improvements under Tarverdyan.
Some people are just bound for greatness like Ronda Rousey and some are just bound for immense fortune like Tarverdyan. On Saturday night, the greatest female fighter of all-time will earn millions of dollars and her coach will likely receive a substantial cut (or not if his tax returns are to be believed). One thing is for certain, Edmond Tarverdyan can thank his lucky stars that Ronda Rousey walked into his academy.