One of the biggest debates coming out of UFC Vegas 40 had to do with the coaching between rounds of the main event.
Aspen Ladd’s head coach Jim West has received criticism from the MMA community in regards to how he attempted to motivate his fighter during her unanimous decision loss to Norma Dumont. Heading into the second round, West was approaching things with a calm demeanor, but as Dumont was pushing ahead round after round using an effective jab, the intensity between rounds picked up from West, which has led to fighters and broadcasters weighing on whether any lines were crossed.
Check out the time in Ladd’s corner between every round of the 25-minute featherweight headliner below, courtesy of BT Sport:
"Please tell me what you're doing."— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) October 17, 2021
"Sit on your ****!"
Listen in on what was said by Aspen Ladd's corner during her loss to Norma Dumont at #UFCVegas40.
What did you make of it? pic.twitter.com/V9dQZSWoHK
Between the third and fourth rounds is where the comments really started to ramp up. West was letting his fighter know that Ladd was down in the scorecards, losing all three rounds.
“Please tell me what you’re doing,” West said. “You have to throw more than one punch. You have to get into the f*cking fight. It’s time to fight. It’s the fourth round, you’re down 3-0. Pick it up. Fight to win. Fight to win every second of every round. You have to finish this broad now. You’re down 3-0, you have to pick it up. That doesn’t mean be careless, but lead from the backside, set the combinations up, and change levels. Continue to try and wear her down, but if you don’t pick up the pace, she’s gonna continue to stay on the outside and try to pick you apart with a simple one-two. That’s all she’s doing. You’ve got to pick it up, you’re down 3-0.”
Ladd, who followed up some harsh criticism from West in her December 2019 fight with Yana Kunitskaya to pick up a third-round TKO finish, had a better showing in the fourth — even winning a round on the judges’ cards. Regardless, the only way for the 26-year-old to get the victory would be with a finish, which West told his fighter heading into the final stanza.
“You’ve already closed the distance,” West stated. “Honestly, I don’t know what you’re doing. You close the distance and then you’re jumping out. I don’t know what you’re waiting for. What are you waiting for? What are you waiting for? You have cardio for f*cking days, push the f*cking pace. You have to. You have to go f*cking balls to the f*cking wall, caution to the wind and you’ve gotta f*cking go. You’re down, basically, 4-0, you may have won that last round. Either way, you have to f*cking finish her. So I don’t know what you’re doing, you have to leave every ounce of you out there.
“You just f*cked around for three f*cking rounds, now you’re down 3-1, maybe. You’ve got to pick it up. Let it all go, let it go. Throw the power shots, sit on your sh*t.”
Former champion Miesha Tate immediately reacted to the corner advice, calling it “abuse.” Since then, former two-division champion and current UFC color commentator Daniel Cormier, and fellow former fighter and broadcaster Laura Sanko defended West against the criticism.
This is what I am talking about right here, now a coach has to apologize for how he talks to his athlete? I disagree!I’ve heard much worse from my coaches and the coach knows how his athlete will respond. I prefer this to some of the other cornering we’ve seen lately. #oldschool pic.twitter.com/maBIeoNOlR— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 17, 2021
Thank you @btsportufc , this is the greatest defense of a coach I’ve seen in a long time. Watching this video you see how Coach started, got frustrated, got his fighter to win a round and maybe two. If we live in a world where this is bad then I don’t know. No sorry needed! https://t.co/AMFkoWEWcZ— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 17, 2021
I’d want @TheAspenLadd coach in my corner!— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 17, 2021
Agree! I saw nothing wrong with it. Why don’t people have this reaction when coaches get after male athletes? or maybe it’s just because I’m used to @TheJamesKrause cornering …y’all might be too soft. https://t.co/CTaAFlsncW— Laura Sanko (@laura_sanko) October 18, 2021
It’s unclear whether or not Ladd will remain in the featherweight division, or if she will drop back to bantamweight where she had won four of five octagon appearances, but has also had struggles on the scale including missing weight earlier this month ahead of a cancelled bout with Macy Chiasson. West went on to apologize for perhaps being “too harsh” in the corner.
Was Jim West’s corner advice too harsh?
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