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Famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach not a fan of Fedor’s standup

He’s the current WAMMA heavyweight champion and former PRIDE heavyweight champion. He’s 28-1 lifetime in MMA with his only loss coming by way of a cut. He’s also considered by some to be “The Baddest Man on the Planet.”

But in the eyes of famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach, Fedor Emelianenko is just another MMA fighter that is lacking in standup technique.

“He’s flat-footed, has no technique,” Roach told SI.com’s Josh Gross recently, before adding, “But he can punch. That always helps. He’s accurate. He’ll follow you right to the floor, so he’s aggressive. But that aggressiveness can be used to our advantage, I think.”

By “us,” Roach is referring to him and former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, who will challenge Fedor for the WAMMA heavyweight title on January 24 in Anaheim, California during Affliction’sDay of Reckoning.”

The bruiser from Belarus has been working with Roach for the past several months as he looks to add polish to his already devestating striking skills that allowed him to record pure knockouts against three of his last five opponents.

While Roach isn’t a particular fan of Fedor’s striking style, he is fully aware of his abilities and prowess as a mixed martial artist. He even compared his reputation of dominance to that of former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.

“A lot of guys lose the fight before it starts,” Roach is quoted as saying in Gross’ article. “[Emelianenko is] like Mike Tyson. A lot of guys are scared of him. So the mental game is so important that you can’t be scared. You have to be fearless against him.”

But don’t expect Arlovski to be intimidated by Fedor in the slightest. In fact, during a recent press conference to promote the event, “The Pitbull” expressed his belief that it could be Fedor that is the one who has a crisis in confidence.

“After his loss in the Sambo tournament, I think he’s messed up a little bit,” Arlovski said. “He says it’s not important, but c’mon, let’s be serious. He was unbeatable, like, five years, six years in Sambo, and he’s not beatable in MMA. When you lose something, of course it’s (expletive) important. For me, it’s really hard to believe that he doesn’t care about it. Of course he cares. He’s not like 100 percent sure of himself.”

Gross’ article goes on to add that Roach is preparing Arlovski for a possible pro boxing debut that could come after Jan. 24. However, rumors of Arlovski taking on current seven foot WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev. The Russian giant recently defended his title against Evander Holyfield on Dec. 20, winning a controversial decision that the WBA is currently reviewing.

It’s understandable that no mention of the rumor was made, considering that there appears to be no validity to an 0-0 fighter challenging for a major heavyweight title in his pro debut. As of now, it looks like Roach has laid out a more realistic approach for Arlovski’s boxing aspirations.

“We’ll start off with a low-caliber opponent,” he told Gross. “I wouldn’t have 30 fights. I’d say five fights, then fight [Vitali or Wladimir] Klitschko.”

27 COMMENTS
  • Drewplata says:

    Wow… I’ve never heard an opposing trainer say anything like that about their fighter’s opponent. Kind of like when Manny Tapia said he wasn’t impressed with Miguel Torres’ stand up…

    I have read some analysis of Fedor’s hands that indicates that his punching style is catered specifically to MMA- that his punches are designed to go through or around small gloves. Maybe Freddie Roach should spar with some smaller gloves. Or maybe ask Tim Sylvia why he said that he’s never been hit harder than when Fedor hit him. Or maybe he should just STFU.

  • KTru says:

    Roach is the Mecca of training in boxing. He could be wrong with the evaluation of Fedor, but he would be also the only one I would believe too.

    So show some respect for a man that has plenty more experience and has the credentials to make such determinations. Or you can STFU!!!

  • dpk says:

    To someone whose whole life has been spent boxing, MMA standup is never going to compare, because it is different. There is no threat of kicks or take downs in Roach’s world, so comparing the stand-up is like Apples and Oranges. But I do think Arlovski has a point about the Sambo loss, I’m interested to see if it has played with the aura of invincibility that Fedor had. Personally, I’m still taking Fedor by 2nd round TKO, but it could just be a little doubt in Fedor’s mind that throws his game off.

  • Drewplata says:

    KTru-
    This is not boxing. If Fedor were going to box Andrei, I would never say something so audacious. However, a trainer using the press to say something negative about an opponent is nothing new in boxing or MMA. I’m sure Freddie Roach would say similar things about other great MMA strikers, Anderson Silva included, if someone he trained was fighting him. I was in no way trying to imply that I know more about boxing than Roach.

  • the Levi says:

    If Arlovski boxed I would watch,but I don’t like boxing that much.I wathched the Valuev title defense,and it a was awful.Hollyfeild should have got the decision.I think that the Pitbull would well against the 7+ foot Valuev,but not the Klitchko brothers.

  • jj says:

    Isn’t Roach the same guy that just named BJ Penn the best striker in MMA? heh heh

  • Davey D says:

    Does Freddie know something we don’t? He feel’s good about Andrei’s chances against Fedor, that is clear. I don’t know if I would have said it like that though. I hope Freddie is training Andrei the right way because once the fight start’s, Arlovski is gonna have to put it all together. I’m still picking Emelianenko but I believe we’ll see plenty of firework’s before the match is over.

    As far as Andrei boxing as a pro. I want to see it. If he went say…5-0. He’ll get some big money fight’s and that would be good for him. He is very fast and speed is what you need in boxing. Not to mention he has KO power as well. Will it work with 16 oz. gloves? I think so.

  • Imbecile says:

    Roach may be the orgasmic pinnacle of training in the boxing world, but it doesn’t mean he is an MMA striking expert. What does he know about kicking, in both offense and defense, and how that changes your fighting stance from a pure boxing standpoint? What does he know about defending a takedown, and why that makes you more flatfooted than a boxer who is able to put more weight forward? What does he know about 4 oz. gloves, and the difference in strategy that presents when there is now the potential that an especially stiff jab that is well-placed can knock you out?

    Roach may be fantastic at what he does in boxing, but none of the comments I have heard from him in assessing Fedor, or Anderson Silva, or any other MMA fighter, leads me to believe he is incredibly knowledgable about MMA.

  • G-DUB says:

    An interesting development if an MMA superstar crossed over to boxing, but personally I would miss Arlovski in the octagon ( … assuming that what Roach says about 5 pro fights is true. Sounds like a full-time commitement). Does a move to boxing make fiscal sense for The Pitbull? I guess if he eventually gets a title shot, it’ll be his largest payday yet. Also, does a move to boxing make tactical sense for Arlovski? Isn’t his oftentimes glass chin one of his weaknesses? Just wondering what the draw to boxing is for this fighter.

  • KTru says:

    Drew pardon me for my hastiness, my response was over the top.
    What I am saying(getting away from the fact Roach does not cover all facets in MMA), is that if he can find what is to be believed that Fedor has no holes in his arsenal, then I say he would know about the boxing aspect.
    It could be as simple as Roach giving his fighter (Arlovski) some hope of standing and trading with “The Last Emperor”.
    If this were a boxing match I may give AA the advantage, but it is not. I know Fedor will win, easily. But the article was what Roach had to say.If he is putting out there that Fedor, MMA versus boxing (similar as it is), shows weaknesses. Then it should be heard with respect.

    Roach never claimed to know MMA, but when he assess MMA fighters in terms of their boxing, he should get the forum.

  • Justin Van Hook says:

    why would you assess an mma fighter in terms of their boxing unless they were actually going to be boxing? Assessing an mma fighters boxing skills before an mma fight seems to be pointless given that they are two different types of striking with two different skill-sets.

    Now if Roach had been talking about Arlovski’s boxing skills that would make sense given that he intends to box at some point. But why would he talk about Fedor’s when Fedor has never been in a boxing match and to my knowledge has no intention of entering one?

    It sort of seems like talking about a soccer player’s head kicks before a soccer game. Not the greatest example but the same action can require two totally different techniques.

  • neijia says:

    Of course Freddie knows something we don’t … about BOXING. Why should he get the forum on MMA as boxers? MMA is not boxing. We all know that.

    SI said Arlovski uses “paint-by-numbers”, which to me says predictable and stupid for MMA when other shit will almost certainly happen. Why would Fedor need textbook boxing standup if his game already works for him and he finds a different way to dominate each opponent? He is writing the new textbook on mma and no one has his transitions. You can almost see some fighters take 2 seconds to transition from one “range” to another where Fedor has no gap. Freddie doesn’t seem to understand how technical Fedor actually is (if we didn’t know better, his fight against Sylvia did look like untechnical brawling). Is Arlovski suddenly going to be striking like Frank Mir now is and would that even help him? Somehow I doubt it. Nog relies too heavily on bjj rope-a-dope whereas Fedor takes the initiative in every range. I also seriously doubt the other fighters are actually afraid of Fedor like people were of Tyson. If they get armbarred, they just tap, not like taking a left from Tyson.

  • neijia says:

    This is sort of like getting the world’s best kicking trainers to say “oh, Fedor’s kicking sucks, so we’re gonna exploit that hole in his game”. Aggression is only a problem if it is wild and out of control which has never been the case in Fedor’s past fights. This is good hype, though. What else would we expect Roach and Arlovski to say? It does make me want to watch the fight more, so good job, Roach, and SI, and Five Ounces of Pain. Now I really hope Fedor keeps the fight standing.

    Oh, didn’t Tim Sylvia also claim he could go into boxing in dominant fashion?

  • James says:

    I think Fedor is great, but I think arlovski will shock the world. He’s looked good in his last couple fights, and is well-rounded. Why does anyone talk about boxing anymore? Really, it is so BORING to watch. Rarely do we see the knockouts in boxing that are standard fare in MMA. A fighter has to have a much broader skill set to make it in MMA.

  • HexRei says:

    James, Arlovski has a chance if he keeps it on the feet, but if it goes to the ground he is absolutely fucked. Fedor’s best game is subs and Arlovski was really getting worked by Big Country before he got that questionable standup. And Big Country is a decent wrestler, but a mediocre submission artist.
    If Arlovski ends up in that position with Fedor, he’s going to be tapping out.

  • ACK! says:

    I’m no expert on boxing, but how can a boxing trainer comment on MMA standup? I mean, few boxers utilize a square stance, but Fedor has proved that it’s a very effective technique in MMA.

  • truth says:

    “Is Arlovski suddenly going to be striking like Frank Mir now is and would that even help him?” What does that mean? Is Mir considered a good striker now?

  • Tyler says:

    LOL “truth” I don’t think Arlovski will be striking like Mir now. Which was run straight ahead full speed while punching. The people who think Mir was striking excellent vs. Nog are crazy. Nogueira has just fallen far from the stud he was three or four years ago.

  • neijia says:

    Did you guys watch the same Mir/Nog fight I did? Mir’s striking was stunningly spectacular. I don’t recall the last time I saw such great kickboxing in mma, especially in HW, and especially when thinking of a particular fighter as primarily a grappler. Sam did a great writeup here on this site: http://www.fiveouncesofpain.com/2008/12/28/the-biggest-star-to-emerge-out-of-ufc-92-try-frank-mirs-striking-coach/, but I disagree that Mir didn’t look like K-1 caliber. I thought he looked that good if not better.

    If you can find a video, look at the .2 sec gap between his hi/lo and lo/hi combos. Also look at his leading uppercut that seemed to land at will. His game plan to continually knock down Nog but not engage on the ground was great. I think that night’s Mir could give even Fedor a hard time. Arlovski’s past boxing since he toned down the wild approach just looks boring and unpredictable, probably easy for Fedor to pick apart, even if Fedor’s style is supposedly not “technical” from a pure boxing pov.

    Arlovski is actually a champion Sambo grappler as well. I just can’t see him in quite the same league as Fedor. On the ground, the psychological component is probably there. He may think “Fedor is an even better grappler”, so the better holes to look at are striking holes since anyone can “get caught”. Unless Arlovski is retooled as dramatically as Mir (who retooled with KICKboxing, not just boxing), though, he’ll have a hard time finding these supposed boxing deficiencies. Still, I can’t wait to see this fight.

  • ctownhood says:

    Fedor’s standup is not flawless by any means..but it is effective. And even if Arlovski’s hands are better….Fedor is better in every other department.

  • b says:

    Tim thought his standup was a lot more technical the Fedors and look how that turned out.

  • Jackyl says:

    Someone above was totally smoking crack during the Mir/Nog fight. Mir was standing at range and picking him apart the whole time. He sure as hell wasn’t blindly moving forward just swinging wildly. The wild swinging is a problem I think a lot of MMA fighters have. Even the ones considered “good” strikers. They tend to not keep their elbows tucked and seem to punch at their targets instead of through them. While it’s true that you have to be aware of takedowns and kicks. It’s also pretty clear when a guy is standing with you, it essentially becomes a boxing match. This is where proper punching technique comes in. A good example is Rampage’s knockout of Wanderlei Silva. I believe Goldie or Rogan made a comment about him working with Ricky Hatton’s coach while at the Wolf’s Lair. If you watch Rampage land the knockout blow, you will see it is a perfectly thrown punch. Elbow tucked, full weight behind. A perfect hook. I think you will see a lot more MMA fighters enlisting the help of pure boxing coaches. I think this is great and we will see strking (punching) that is a lot more clean and closer to form.

  • Tyler says:

    LOL! “neijia” says ” Mir’s striking was stunningly spectacular”.
    Yeah if you think running straight forward at full speed while throwing punches is great striking then yes it’s spectacular.

  • s00nertp says:

    Boxing is boring. To me is is about as exciting as watching bowling.

    Finding a guy who can stay at the top of his weight class that can beat the finest challengers who could be the best in a particular field of wrestling, grappling or punching. THAT is freaking exciting.

    Sure boxing is a “fighting sport”, but I dont really associate it with MMA at all. Do people do that with Field hockey vs Ice hockey? vs Street hockey? I am glad fewer and fewer people put the two together. Most people I know who watch boxing would never watch MMA and vice versa.

    If Andrei wins, he will shock he world, that is for sure.

  • Nihendo says:

    Freddie is a smart guy. Just by circulating rumors that Arlovski can compete at the highest levels of HW boxing is a great way of getting at Fedor’s confidence with his striking skills. I would think that it was said mainly to get into Fedor’s head and make Fedor think while he is punching. Fedor is offensive and reacts when he is striking if you can get him to think before he throws a punch and act defensive you gain the striking advantage. Freddie is a smart guy.

  • neijia says:

    @Jackyl, yes exactly. Mir’s punches were crisp and clean. The “running” someone referred to was good, controlled, attacking, forward movement, nice kick and punch combos, with a game plan to keep knocking Nog down (which worked beautifully).

    In contrast, what has Arlovski been doing? Fairly boring boxing. How is that gonna work against Fedor? I don’t see it. I hope Freddie and Arlovski have changed the plan… As to Fedor being too aggressive??? There are several fights where he goes backward and forward, watching out for certain strikes such as CroCops left high kick. What is he talking about? Just good hype.

    Fedor’s response “Sometimes it is a trainer’s job to point out weaknesses in his fighter’s opponents. And sometimes it is a trainer’s job to convince his fighter that his opponent has weaknesses. We will see.” says it all.

  • Mike Reilly says:

    To me this is like a hockey coach saying he is not impressed with Eli Manning’s skateing

    THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT SPORTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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