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Kayla Harrison believes Ronda Rousey needs to change up inner circle, coaching

Olympics: Judo Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Two-time Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison believes Ronda Rousey is surrounded by people who don’t have her best interests at heart.

Rousey, who is the biggest name in women’s MMA, returned to active competition last week at UFC 207 and suffered a quick 48-second technical knockout loss to UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. The fight came after a year-long absence from competition for Rousey that followed another devastating knockout loss by Holly Holm.

Harrison, a judoka who’s known Rousey since before Rousey was a celebrity or even an MMA fighter, believes it is time for the former champ to take a good look at the people surrounding her.

“I think she has a lot of people maybe around her that don’t necessarily have Ronda’s best interest at heart,” Harrison told TMZ on Wednesday. “I think she needs to take a good, hard look at that and maybe go back to day one, maybe go back to her family, maybe go back to her original coaches who helped her be successful, and say, ‘okay, I really know these people do care about me. Not as a fighter, not as a money-making machine, not as an actress, not as a celebrity. But as Ronda.’

“She just needs to know that the people who truly care about her are going to be there no matter what happens. I mean, God forbid I ever lose or if I had lost the Olympics, I think the people who love me would still love me whether I would have won or lost. And she should know that. I think she needs to be surrounded by those people at this time. I think she really needs to do some soul searching. I think she needs to figure out what it is that she wants to do in her life, and she wants to accomplish, and what really makes Ronda happy.”

The result of Rousey’s fight against Nunes was a surprise to Harrison, who expected the best version of Rousey to date to show up at UFC 207. But Harrison also said that she would have liked to see Rousey get a tune-up fight before jumping back in to face the reigning champion of the division.

“I really expected her to come back with a vengeance and to come back bigger and better than ever,” Harrison said. “But I’m not with her now, so I don’t know what her training has been like, where her mind was at. When I talked to her a couple of weeks ago, she seemed good about it, but I think one thing I would have done differently is not have her fight for the title right away, you know?

“She probably should have had a match before that match, just to kind of get back in the swing of things. The thing about judo and when we used to fight, is like, I might lose at the Paris Grand Slam, but a month later I’m going to be fighting at the Hungary Grand Prix so I’m always in it, I’m always training. I’m always looking for that next fight. I don’t have a year to think about that loss, or to think about how bad that felt or to psych myself out to get back in the cage, or in my case, back onto the mat. So I think she should have gotten, I don’t want to call it a warm up fight, but she should have sort of eased back into it, versus jumping into a title fight like that.”

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