Kayla Harrison is the first American Judoka to earn a gold medal in Judo, and she did it twice. In October she signed with World Series of Fighting, and will serve in multiple roles including brand ambassador, commentator, and, eventually, fighter. She is also a former roommate and Olympic teammate of former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey’s.
During a recent interview with TMZ Sports, Harrison had some wise words for her friend, who lost a title challenge to current champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 207.
“I really expected her to come back with a vengeance and come back bigger and better than ever,” said Harrison, as transcribed by MMAjunkie. “But I’m not with her now. I don’t know what her training has been like. I don’t know where her head’s at. When I talked to her a couple weeks ago, she seemed good about it.
“I think really one thing I’d have done differently – I wouldn’t have had her fight for the title right away. She probably should have had a match before that match, just to get back into the swing of things.”
“At the end of the day, I’m her friend, and my heart goes out to her, so I don’t want to sit here and talk about what she could’ve, would’ve, should’ve done. I really just hope she’s OK. … I think she really does need to do some soul searching. She needs to figure out what she wants to do with her life and what she wants to accomplish and what really makes Ronda happy.
“I think she has a lot of people around her who maybe don’t have Ronda’s best interests at heart. So I think she should take a good, hard look at that and maybe go back to the Day Ones. Maybe go back to her family. Maybe go back to her original coaches who helped her be successful and maybe say, ‘OK, these people I know really do care about me as Ronda – not as a fighter, not as a money-making machine, not as an actress, not as a celebrity, but as Ronda.”
Rousey’s mother, Dr. AnnMaria De Mars, has been adamant about one person around her daughter, coach Edmond Tarverdyan. The first American to win a world championship in Judo implored Ronda to switch camps in the most direct language human beings are capable of.
“Ronda trained with an idiot,” said Dr. De Mars after her daughter’s last loss. “She trained with an idiot and a fraud. … Ronda has a lot of talent. She came into that gym with a very strong background of training at the Olympic level and it carried her a long way.
“She needs to get away from some egomaniac fraud and be herself. Ronda as herself can beat anybody on the planet. I’m sad about it but you become an adult and make decisions. Sometimes you make mistakes and hopefully you learn from them.”
“The difference between me and these other fighters’ moms is that I actually was a world champion. I didn’t just make it up and put it on my website. I actually really did compete for 14 years. So when someone is talking about coaching I know if it’s bulls*** and this guy is a complete fraud.”
“I don’t claim to know everything but I know what it takes to win a world championship. I know what good coaching is. I told Ronda more than once, ‘I know what training to beat the world looks like and this isn’t it.’”
“If she changes gyms she could go dramatically further. Even if she was with a good coach I think going to a different place would really improve her. When you’re with someone who wants to keep you from going to other places, that’s a bad coach that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
“I hope [Tarverdyan] loses his license or goes to jail because either of those is a possibility. I think if she changes gyms she has an outstanding chance of winning. If she doesn’t? As a statistician, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you do the same things with the same people you can expect the same results.”