5 instances of UFC fighters who were unfortunately misled by their coaches

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The UFC has seen plenty of well-renowned coaches giving their tutelage to top fighters over the years, including the likes of Greg Jackson, Mike Winkeljohn and Firas Zahabi.

The UFC has also seen a number of more questionable coaches, who, despite having the best interests of their fighters at heart, have given out some strange advice.

Often, this advice has ended with their fighters suffering losses inside the octagon and has left some fans questioning exactly what these coaches were thinking.

With this in mind, here are five instances of UFC fighters being unfortunately misled by their coaches.


#1 Diego Sanchez – coach Joshua Fabia

Joshua Fabia
Joshua Fabia’s training methods have been widely questioned for their bizarre nature.

The obvious place to start when it comes to questionable coaching advice in the UFC is with TUF winner Diego Sanchez.

The Nightmare entered the UFC as part of Greg Jackson’s famed team from Albuquerque. After a fall-out, Sanchez went on to train with grappling legend Saulo Ribeiro.

However, after a brief return to Jackson’s gym again went sour, Sanchez hooked up with a largely unknown coach named Joshua Fabia, the proprietor of a gym named the School of Self-Awareness.

To say that this wasn’t a good move for Diego would be an understatement.

Not only did Fabia give him some outright bizarre advice during his UFC fights with Michael Chiesa, Michel Pereira and Jake Matthews, but things got just as strange outside the octagon.

Sanchez’s fight with Chiesa was nearly nixed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission when Fabia told them he’d taught the Nightmare a “death move” that could kill an opponent.

And later, bizarre footage emerged that appeared to show Fabia chasing fighters around a cage with a knife during training.

Most recently, Fabia has caused Sanchez to be released from the UFC following a demand that the promotion hand over the fighter’s medical records, bringing into question his fitness to compete in the octagon.

And this weekend, another bizarre training video has emerged showing Sanchez hanging upside down while being hit by Fabia with punches and kicks to the head.

Where this story will end is anyone’s guess, but it’s safe to say that Fabia’s impact on Sanchez’s UFC career has only been negative.


#2 Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey – coach Edmond Tarverdyan

Edmond Tarverdyan struggled to get the best out of Ronda Rousey in the UFC.
Edmond Tarverdyan struggled to get the best out of Ronda Rousey in the UFC.

Former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is undoubtedly a UFC legend.

The first holder of the UFC women’s bantamweight title, Rousey made a total of six successful title defenses and was widely considered the best female fighter in MMA in her prime.

However, things began to go downhill for Rousey when she hooked up with coach Edmond Tarverdyan at the Glendale Fighting Club.

Supposedly a high-level boxing coach, the hope was that the Armenian could close the holes in Rousey’s stand-up game to make it as deadly as her grappling.

And at first, his approach seemed to be working, as Rousey ran through Alexis Davis, Cat Zingano and Bethe Correia, knocking out the latter in under a minute.

Unfortunately, though, Tarverdyan managed to instill too much confidence in Rousey when it came to her striking – making her believe that she could outstrike far more accomplished kickboxers.

And in Rousey’s loss to Holly Holm – the first of her career – his screams of “head movement!” as well as his belief that she’d won the first round of the fight made him an instant laughing stock amongst MMA fans.

Tarverdyan oversaw the end of Rousey’s MMA career – a second KO loss, this time against Amanda Nunes. He also failed to help Travis Browne and Jake Ellenberger in their UFC careers, making him near the top of any list of coaches who offered questionable advice.


#3 Kenny Florian – coach Keith Florian

Kenny Florian
Kenny Florian’s coaches seemed out of ideas during his UFC title fight with Sean Sherk.

Arguably one of the most underrated UFC fighters of all time, Kenny Florian competed in four different weight classes in the octagon after emerging from the first season of TUF and made three unsuccessful bids for UFC titles.

However, in his first UFC title fight, he was given some unfortunate and bizarre advice by one of his coaches – older brother Keith Florian – that certainly didn’t help in his attempt to defeat Sean Sherk.

After a first-round that saw Sherk take Florian down with ease and dominate him on the ground, it was clear that Ken-Flo needed some good advice.

When he got to his corner, though, it was clear that Keith was out of ideas.

And so his advice to his brother? “Be patient. God will lead you, God will tell you what to do.”

Quite how this was supposed to help Ken-Flo defeat, Shrek remains a mystery over a decade on. Suffice to say, the advice didn’t work.

Sherk ended up dominating the fight, winning via unanimous decision despite suffering a terrible cut midway through the fight.

As for Florian? He moved training camps shortly after this and hooked up with Mark Dellagrotte at his Sityodtong gym, where he went on to pick up his biggest UFC wins.


#4 Former UFC champion BJ Penn – coach Jason Parillo

Jason Parillo didn
Jason Parillo didn’t offer BJ Penn much sage advice during his fight with Frankie Edgar at UFC 118.

Jason Parillo is undoubtedly one of the greatest coaches not just in the UFC right now, but in MMA history, period.

The famed striking guru has coached the likes of Michael Bisping, Cris Cyborg and Tito Ortiz, all of whom held UFC titles during their tenures with the promotion.

But perhaps Parillo’s most well-renowned student was former UFC lightweight champion BJ Penn, who held UFC gold under his tutelage from 2008 through to 2010.

It would be thoroughly unfair to criticize Parillo’s coaching approach overall, particularly as he’s had so much success.

However, it’s safe to say that despite being responsible for a lot of Penn’s best moments, the advice he gave the Prodigy at UFC 118 was definitely lacking.

Finding himself being out-pointed by Frankie Edgar in his attempt to regain his UFC lightweight crown, Penn needed some serious coaching. But instead, Parillo and his other cornermen simply labeled Edgar a “c********r” and told Penn to go out and hit him.

Naturally, the advice didn’t work, and Penn went on to comfortably lose a decision. Parillo has, of course, gone onto far more success coaching in the UFC, but this wasn’t his crowning moment by a long way.


#5 Bryan Caraway – coach Miesha Tate

Miesha Tate
Miesha Tate’s coaching may have cost Bryan Caraway a UFC win in 2013.

Once considered one of MMA’s power couples, former UFC bantamweight champion Miesha Tate and her then-partner Bryan Caraway would often act as one another’s coaches during their fights inside the octagon.

Despite the duo largely finding a way to win their UFC fights, it could be argued that it was a questionable piece of coaching from Tate that cost Caraway his fight with Takeya Mizugaki in 2013.

The fight saw Caraway seemingly win the first two rounds by largely using his superior ground game against his Japanese foe.

And going into the third round, Tate’s sage advice for Kid Lightning was to “coast” the final five minutes, as she felt that he was far ahead on the scorecards.

Caraway’s version of coasting the round, though, involved him keeping the fight standing and largely taking a beatdown from Mizugaki, a far superior striker.

Mizugaki couldn’t finish the fight. But when the judges’ scorecards were read, it transpired that two of the three judges had awarded him the first round – giving him a win via split decision.

Essentially, had Caraway ignored Tate’s coaching advice, he would probably have won the fight – making this one of the greatest examples of a UFC fighter being unfortunately misled by their coach.




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