Georgi Karakhanyan used to train at Glendale Fighting Club. He shares a close mutual friend with Ronda Rousey in Manny Gamburyan. The Bellator featherweight contender has somewhat of a unique insight when it comes to Rousey and her situation leading up to a shocking loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193 earlier this month.
So does Karakhanyan think Rousey should leave GFC and coach Edmond Tarverdyan? He doesn't think it's up to him to say.
"I think Ronda, she makes her own choices," Karakhanyan said. "Maybe she should listen to her mother a little more. And I think whatever her mother wants her to do, she should do it. I don't think it's my call for her to leave whoever. Whatever she wants to do."
Rousey's mother, AnnMaria De Mars, blasted Tarverdyan in multiple interviews this fall in the weeks before UFC 193. De Mars said Tarverdyan is a "terrible" coach, a "bad person" and "extremely disrespectful to women." She even quipped that she'd run him over with a car if it wasn't against the law. De Mars said that her daughter is doing others a disservice by allowing Tarverdyan to promote himself and Glendale Fighting Club through her.
"Whoever she wants to date, whatever she wants to do in her career, that's her business," De Mars said. "But if you're in a situation where you're really causing harm to other people by being used as bait to lure people in there, I think somebody needs to speak out. All I did was say publicly what people have been whispering for years, but no one had the balls to speak up, because Edmond is like that gatekeeper to Ronda. It's just nauseating."
Karakhanyan, though, doesn't think Tarverdyan should be on the receiving end of all the criticism. He thinks a combination of things led to Rousey being knocked out by Holm and losing her title. Karakhanyan, who said he has no hard feelings with anyone at GFC, said he believes Rousey's training should be altered.
"You can't blame the coach all the time," Karakhanyan said. "But let me tell you one thing, too. Looking good on the mitts? Everyone can look good on the mitts. I can shadowbox for 10 hours in front of the mirror and it's like false information for myself. Like, 'Oh man, I'm ready for this fight.'
"But when you get hit with MMA gloves, it's kind of a different story. It kind of showed that, to me, that Ronda couldn't take a punch with MMA gloves. I know I'm gonna get a lot of sh*t for this. I thought Holly Holm played very smart and Ronda just couldn't even take her down."
Karakhanyan thinks Rousey would benefit from more live mixed martial arts sparring, rather than just boxing, which has been her primary focus under Tarverdyan.
"She needs more sparring with maybe MMA gloves instead of boxing gloves," said Karakhanyan, who meets Daniel Weichel in the co-main event of Bellator 147 on Dec. 4 in San Jose. "You can grab anyone from the street and mitt them up every day and in six months they'll look ridiculous on the mitts. I think MMA has its own stand up. I think if you disagree with that, you're gonna hit moments like that. I think MMA has its own stand-up and you have to respect MMA. Just like how we respect boxing, because boxing has its own science. But if a boxer comes to MMA, he'll get his ass taken down and TKO'd or submitted."
Holm was a boxer — a former three-division champion and two-time Ring magazine female boxer of the year. Rousey, a former Olympic bronze medalist in judo, struggled to find her striking range against Holm, who picked her apart with straight lefts as Rousey came charging in and then finished things off with a head kick in the second round.
Karakhanyan said he was never really a training partner of Rousey, but they have drilled together at SK Golden Boys Wrestling Club in Los Angeles. Karakhanyan, now at Millennia MMA in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has not trained at Glendale Fighting Club for years, but he said he speaks with Gamburyan on a weekly basis and was a big part in Rousey's best friend Marina Shafir doing half of her last training camp at Millennia.
Karakhanyan has nothing bad to say about Rousey, on a personal or athletic level. He thinks she has a chance to regain the belt if she makes some changes.
"I think she opened up a lot of windows for a lot of women to get into MMA," Karakhanyan said. "She did a lot of stuff. It's kind of unfair for a lot of people to criticize her this much.
"She's done a lot for this sport of MMA. I think if she trains a little differently, she'll be the champion again. But Holly Holm is on a different level."