Kayla Harrison: Rousey Should Have Had Tune-Up Fight

Two-time judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison knows Ronda Rousey better than any media pundit, but she agrees with many who say that Rousey does not have the right people around her. After Rousey’s loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 207, Harrison questioned whether she has the proper team helping her progress in MMA.

Harrison knew Rousey back before the former women’s bantamweight champion was an MMA fighter, as both are two of the most elite competitors in Olympic women’s judo.

“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. “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.’”

Rousey took a long hiatus from the sport after losing by devastating knockout to Holly Holm last December. She came back against Nunes and looked to have made no improvements to her striking game. The champion dismantled Rousey and stopped the fight in under a minute.

Specifically, Rousey’s head coach Edmond Tarverdyan has received a lot of criticism for his coaching of Rousey.

Harrison, who has signed with World Series of Fighting as a brand ambassador and will make her MMA debut under the WSOF banner, sees the way Rousey’s story has played out and will learn from it when it comes to her own career.

“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.”

Rousey jumped right back into the deepest waters of the division by taking on the champion in her return fight. Given the result of the contest, many people believed that Nunes was too stiff of a challenge, especially for the first fight back after handling to loss to Holm so hard. Harrison agrees that Rousey should have taken a tune-up fight to get her confidence back before trying to recapture her belt.

“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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