Justin Flores, Ronda Rousey’s judo and grappling coach, was cageside to watch his protege’s shocking loss to Holly Holm in the main event of UFC 193 on Saturday.
“It’s been a surreal few days,” Flores said in an interview with MMAjunkie.
Flores began working with Rousey when she was just 11-years-old and is not happy with the way the media is writing off Rousey’s accomplishments just because she lost.
“These click-bait stories (they) run diminish all the hard work we do and undermine just how important her judo takedowns, transitions and submissions are,” Flores said. “Many of these publications do zero research and are now turning on her, slamming the most popular, talented and hardworking athlete I have ever known after a performance that was not to her normal standard that we all know, expect and are used to seeing.
“I will do everything in my power to make the necessary adjustments to help her.”
Flores knows that Rousey’s showing at UFC 193 wasn’t up to her standards, but also was sure to credit Holm on her strategy and execution in the biggest fight of her career.
“Holly fought a great fight,” Flores said. “But there’s so many different variables with this. Ronda tried to go for takedowns. She tried to do things. She tried to incorporate her clinch. She tried to do these things.”
And while casual fans and media outlets are quick to pile on Rousey in the wake of the upset, Flores wonders if Ronda’s hectic schedule, including three fights in the last nine months and all the travel that comes with being the promotion’s biggest star, caught up with ‘Rowdy.’ Additionally he wondered if she felt pressure to not just win, but continue to win in the outrageous fashion she had in many of her fights.
“It’s very chaotic,” Flores admitted. “She has this hype she has to live up to by winning in 12 seconds or winning in 15 seconds – something that’s like so unbelievable, it surpasses her legend that she’s built. That’s so much pressure. I think that’s part of why things happened the way they did. There was so much anxiety and things circling before the fight, it kind of manifested that way.
“As a competitor, a win is a win. But for her, for how much she’s steamrolled people and how much it’s affected her psychologically – she has to outdo the last performance. That’s impossible.”
Some of Rousey’s detractors and other MMA fighters believe that she may never fight again, but Flores believes that is not the case and that when the air clears she will be back to her normal routine.
“I think the dust has to settle,” Flores admitted. “But after that, I think she has to find her motivation – and I think she will. There’s no doubt. I’ve seen her lose before, and her world was over. It didn’t make sense. Black was white. Day was night, and nothing made sense, but she was able to step back up. Obviously, that was a different stage, and she’s under a much bigger microscope now, so everything is amplified. But a loss is a loss still, if it’s getting knocked out or just having a referee say you lost in judo.
“I think she’ll be able to pull it all back together. It’s just that timeline, I think, may not be as quick as in judo past just because of the toll it’s takes physically. But there’s no doubt in my mind she’ll come back.”
And when she does come back, Flores issued a warning to her future opponents.
“I have seen Ronda lose many times over the years at the highest level of judo competition first-hand, which is a dangerous thing for her future opponents,” Flores said. “I promise she will be back and make all the necessary adjustments after regrouping.
“Look out MMA world. Every great hero has trials and tribulations and loss – it’s how she recovers and comes back that will mark her legacy as the greatest of all time. Mark my words.”