Depending on how you view the importance of a trainer, Vanes Martirosyan’s task this Saturday (May 5) – the small matter of dethroning Gennady Golovkin – could be a whole lot tougher because of his choice of cornerman.
This is certainly the view of mixed martial arts fans who have watched Edmond Tarverdyan, Martirosyan’s trainer, coach various mixed martial artists over the years – most notably Ronda Rousey – and cruelly made the Armenian the butt of countless jokes.
To them, there is apparently no worse coach in MMA. To them, he is the man responsible for Rousey’s dramatic fall from grace and her inability to throw or avoid correct punches. To them, he is the gift that keeps on giving.
The final nail in Edmond’s coffin were the audio clips ripped from the corner the night Rousey was gobbled up by Amanda Nunes in December 2016. Chaotic and confused, these clips captured Tarverdyan in a state of panic, seemingly unable to offer his fighter anything close to advice or encouragement.
“Head movement! Head movement! Head movement!” he yelled from his position outside the UFC’s Octagon.
What followed could have been a 911 call from a woman held captive in a cellar for ten years, so palpable was the desperation.
“Hands up, hands up, hands up!” went the initial wave of panic. “Catch her! Clinch! Head movement! Move! Move! Please! Move, move, move! Clinch, clinch, clinch! Clinch, clinch, clinch, clinch! No, no, noooooooooooo!”
Alas, Rousey was dropped and defeated and Tarverdyan’s reputation, already flimsy, was left in tatters.
“He was screaming at the top of his lungs like someone was getting killed,” said Justin Buchholz, a coach at Team Alpha Male, who happened to be in the corner guiding Cody Garbrandt to the UFC bantamweight title just moments before Rousey’s capitulation.
“A coach has to be calm and cool. They can’t be emotional. It didn’t make any sense for him to be screaming like that. He’s already blown it. This is a professional bout, not a horror movie.
“Someone needed to grab him and slap him around the face. A loss is not the end of the world. But he saw his pay check disappearing and that’s the problem. You could hear it in his voice. His life was crumbling before his eyes.
“Look how unprofessional he is. Look at his corner work. Is that guy screaming the guy you want telling you what to do?
“I love all the guys I train, but if they lose my life is not over and their life is not over. We’re both at peace with that. They don’t want the weight of the world on their shoulders like Ronda had. Then you’re only going to handicap yourself. That’s what I did to myself as a fighter. But if you play basketball and lose, do you just stop playing basketball? No, you play again.
“Look, Ronda’s mom has been saying for years that Edmund is not the coach for her and that he hit the jackpot with her. You get these guys in martial arts who convince fighters they know this secret move. But that’s all bulls**t. You’re not going to have some secret technique. There are too many charlatans out there.”
History reveals coaches are only ever as good as the fighter they train. Or, more specifically, only as good as the form of the fighter they train.
Edmond Tarverdyan, the face of Glendale Fighting Club, is probably not the worst coach in mixed martial arts. Nor, of course, is he anywhere near the best. But his ugly demise, mercilessly played out in the public eye as a result of his star pupil’s fame, has been almighty and has brought into question his talent, however slight or significant, to such an extent that it has not only sullied his previous work but dragged a dark cloud over anybody he trains in the future, including Martirosyan, his friend, who has the mother of all assignments this weekend in Carson, California.
“Edmond is my head trainer and we have been training for fights, so when we got the (Golovkin) fight all I had to do was go to SNAC (Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning), where Danny Jacobs was while he prepared for GGG, for about a week and a half training in the high altitude,” said Martirosyan. “We came back down here with Jesse Forbes, a great strength and conditioning coach, and just got ready for Golovkin.
“I can honestly say, and I promise you guys, this is the first time in my life I have been so happy with my trainers and with my strength trainers. Everybody’s working together and nobody is arguing about anything.
“The good thing about Edmond is he is like a friend, like a brother. We are family. When you see how Gennady is with Abel (Sanchez, his coach) and his team, they are a class act. Well, for the first time in my life, everyone is so classy and everybody is together. They are working together rather than trying to take control of things.”
If Martirosyan, 36-3-1 (21), somehow does the unthinkable and stops the unstoppable this weekend, it’s not only a win for an Armenian inactive two years. It’s also redemption for Edmond.