Edmond Tarverdyan has received his fair share of criticism over the last few years. For many MMA fans, the coach of Ronda Rousey has been solely to blame for the downturn in Rousey’s career.
On Monday, Tarverdyan told Ariel Helwani on the 400th episode of The MMA Hour that the words of fans and media don’t really bother him. But the things said by other coaches — his peers — have been “hurtful.”
There was one such incident that seemed to both Tarverdyan the most. The Glendale Fighting Club head man was very intense with Travis Browne after the first round of his fight last year with Fabricio Werdum. Browne dislocated a finger in the first and Tarverdyan wanted him to push through.
“You fucking listen to me, this motherf**ker ain’t got shit on you,” Tarverdyan said in the corner (h/t Bloody Elbow). “Listen to me! I f*cking promise you this motherf**ker’s too slow for you, alright?”
Tarverdyan said the coach of CSA Gym in Dublin, Calif., posted the corner video on his Instagram and criticized him for not taking the correct tone with Browne. Tarverdyan said he didn’t know the coach’s name, because he wasn’t well-known enough, but it was presumably head coach Kirian Fitzgibbons.
“I know how to speak to my fighter,” Tarverdyan said. “Isn’t that true? You should know how to speak to your fighter. What do you think? Don’t you think I’ve trained Travis Browne and I don’t know how to speak to Travis Browne? You do and I don’t? I train that guy every day and I don’t know how to encourage him or not encourage him or give him advice with a proper way, with a proper tone, with a proper voice?”
Tarverdyan added that Duane Ludwig, the decorated former UFC fighter and current coach of the likes of T.J. Dillashaw, commented on the CSA video mocking the coaching style. Tarverdyan said he had only positive experiences with Ludwig in the past and that surprised him.
“I have hundreds of you private messaging me saying, ‘Coach, you’ve done an amazing job with Ronda, oh my god, amazing. Happy faces,’” Tarverdyan said. “What happened to that? And I called him, he apologized. He knows what’s up, but I’m saying it in public, so they could all know. I know my shit and shut up.”
Browne ended up losing that fight against Werdum for a second straight defeat. Under Tarverdyan, Browne went 2-3, falling by TKO to both Cain Velasquez and Andrei Arlovski and beating Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione. He has two losses since then, but trained mostly in Las Vegas and not at Glendale Fighting Club for those bouts.
“A lot of times fighters get knocked out and it’s hard to come back from knockouts,” Tarverdyan said. “If you watch Travis Browne, he came, we had the Brendan Schaub fight, we won. Did he look good? He did well. He knocked him out. A lot of learning to do in the gym.
“The last two fights I didn’t coach Travis Browne. I helped him, I advised him if we spoke. The outcome was the same, correct? The outcome was the same. Correct.”
Tarverdyan acknowledged that it can be difficult building fighters back up coming off losses, especially knockouts.
“Whenever fighters come from knockout losses, I’m very powerful when I make statements, when I tell them things to do,” Tarverdyan said. “I want them to do it. I coach, but I demand. I want them to do it when I coach. I’m hard, I’m strict, I want discipline, I want work ethic. That’s what I want to see in my gym. So I give that and fighters like it. Sometimes they come from losses, it’s difficult to pick them up mentally and physically.
“Travis did well with the Mitrione fight. We had a good fight, we won. Arlovski, he got caught, so it was back and forth. The Werdum fight was, his finger got messed up in the first round. These are the fights that I coached him.”
In Tarverdyan’s mind, other coaches should know and understand this and it doesn’t make sense for them to take pot shots on social media. He felt like he was doing the right thing in being intense in the corner with Browne against Werdum.
“But if I have to shake the fighter to get up and to do it, to believe in himself, I have to give that advice, I have give him that love and give him that courage with my voice and my tone, I have to,” Tarverdyan said. “You cannot criticize me or post something on your Instagram, on your home school page, that’s disrespectful, man. You have a gym, you feed your family, too. I feed my family with that gym, OK?”
When fans and media members levy criticisms, Tarverdyan said it doesn’t affect him, because largely they cannot put themselves in his shoes and understand things on that level. But when coaches do it? That can sting.
“I did this all my life,” Tarverdyan said. “I was a professional fighter myself. What I did, what I could do, the abilities I have, I know and my fighters know. People what they think or what they say, it really doesn’t bug me. Sometimes just a little bit the coaches. If the coaches don’t understand and they make a stupid comment after they were kissing my ass when Ronda was on top, that’s a little bit hurtful. But it’s OK, we move on and it’s life. What I have to do is come out with another amazing, special fighter to prove what I could do. That’s all I could do. Really it doesn’t bug me.”