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Marloes Coenen: we had to talk to Gundarenko with the help of hands and feet

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Photo by Susumu Tebayashi

She has beaten a Gundarenko's beater!

Русская версия

December 5, 2000. Tokyo, Japan. "Re-Mix" World Cup. Semi-final of the "no holds barred" world championship… The audience blew up with screaming and yelping – it remembered how the giant Russian fighter Svetlana Gundarenko (330lb) just chopped all her opponents on the ring here. But now a tiny Japanese girl managed to defeat her. It was Megumi Yabushita (5’2"/123lb) who almost three times lighter than her toppled opponent. By the way, in a qualification bout another Russian giantess Irina Rodina was toppled by Erin Toughill (5’10"/165lb) who then in turn lost to Gundarenko. The audience might remember how Rodina trashed all her opponents on one of the previous tournaments. So, it turned out that there are instruments to give heavyweighters no peace – probably the lighter participants had analyzed fighting styles of the Russian giantesses and had found antidotes.

Then the final. Victorious Megumi Yabushita stood into the ring against Dutch Marloes Coenen (5'9"/154lb). The bout was very intense The more solid Marloes dominated in this bout and dropped Megumi on the canvas several times, broke her joints and also choked her. But the stubborn Japanese didn’t give up and judges made their decision. After the decision announcement stocky Japanese was crying and the tall Dutch was celebrating. On the pictures on the right you can see how this bout was running.

So, Rodina lost to to Tafill; Tafill lost to Gundarenko; Gundarenko lost to Yabushita; Yabushita lost to Coenen.

Rodina Toughill Gundarenko Yabushita Coenen

Rodina

Taughill

Gundarenko

Yabushita

Coenen

This is an interview which Marloes Coenen gave to Jeroen Winters represented the "MAN-magazine.

We have an appointment on a beautiful sunny Thursday afternoon in Sonsbeek Park in Arnhem (Netherlands) for an in-depth interview with one of the best female fighters in the world: Marloes Coenen.

We also asked one of her biggest fans to ask her some questions. Ronald Eckringa turned out to be well prepared as he pulled out a piece of paper with about 30 or so questions on it.

Coenen

First of all I’m interested to what you were thinking when you won the MAN-magazine poll?

Hehehe… I heard from someone at the gym where I train that there was a poll, "Who would you like to go out to dinner with?" and that I was at the top of the list. I didn’t know what to think when I saw the people on the list. They were all top fighters in my opinion and I didn’t even know whether people even knew me or whether I had fans here in the Netherlands. It took some getting used to, but it sure was a big boost for my ego.

In the world of martial arts there are of course more men than women, which one can understand. Do you have some kind of connection with the other female fighters? Do you do things together as a group?

Well, you know, I’ve been to Japan a couple of times and there were two girls who train with Gerard Gordeau (Kamakura dojo, The Hague) and they are really swell. We really hit it off well with each other, chit chatting etc. The same I have with the Japanese fighters, always a lot of fun. Of course, as soon as you enter the ring, you’re opponents. We give each other small gifts now and then. I bring some typical Dutch items with me sometimes and the Japanese women love that.

You have started immediately with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, not with kickboxing or something like that, but straight away with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, do you think that’s a good basis?

Yes, in the town I grew up was nothing else to do, so that's when I 'met' BJJ. What you often see with beginning MMA fighters is that fighters with a wrestling background often are more intimidating by standup fighters, they may get a couple of punches, but then they pull you to the ground. I think it’s a very good basis, sure. Especially for young people it’s better, because you may have an injury now and then, but you don’t get punches to the head while you’re young, which you are exposed to right away with Muay Thai and similar martial arts.

Do you often train "standing" techniques?

Absolutely, with Lucien Carbin! I’ve been following his training for about a year now.

Before you entered the ring for real, did you already know you were a huge talent?

In the beginning I was just joking around with the other girls and I didn’t really try, until Martijn (Martijn de Jong is her personal trainer) came in and then we pretended to be really busy training, hehehe… The turn-around came when the other girls started to stay away and I was left with boys, which forced me to train with them. I’d also like to point out that I don’t see myself as being good enough yet. Sometimes when I’m sparring with Ilonka Elmont, I feel like a complete doofus. She’s so much better at the game than I am, I can really learn a lot from her.

Do you ever doubt yourself while you are in the ring?

No, not at all. Actually, the complete opposite. I’m really calm and control the adrenaline rush inside me. At that time I’m focusing completely on the techniques I’ve been training with Martijn and on my opponent who I’ve been studying thoroughly.

How do you adapt to an opponent? What do your preparations look like?

In general, I know who will be my opponent and I prepare by using the information I know about my opponent. That’s what I did against Megumi Yabushita for instance. I also fought her during the finals in Japan – she used to throw me around a lot and that’s what you prepare a defense against during the training. I have used knee techniques against her and not all of them may have struck home, but it made things a lot easier for me than normal. Within a few minutes I had her down on the canvas.

In the "Remix" you had to fight Svetlana Gundarenko, what are your thoughts on that?

Well, in the beginning I thought hm…, basically what most people would think at first: What is that standing over there? She is really a giant when you see her standing in the ring. I met her again later and it’s such a great person! She’s really sweet and very funny. Her English isn’t too good, unfortunately, so we had to use hands and feet, but we had a lot of fun.

Were you happy that you didn’t have to fight her or do you think it’s a pity you didn’t get the chance?

Gosh, I’m not even considering that kind of thing. I was sick at the time and I was preoccupied with myself to try and prevent that I would get even more sick. I would like to fight her sometime, though.

Who else would be on your list to fight?

Erin, a girl from the U.S. She’s the personification of arrogance! You know, she called me arrogant just because of the fact that I asked her if she would mind that I would make a picture of the two of us. That type of behavior is something I can’t stand at all and when the time is there I’ll be sure to put her back in place.

Your match against Irma Verhoef on October 13th in Ahoy, what do you expect will happen there?

Irma was the first woman I saw fighting in the ring and she has made a very deep impression on me. Since that time I felt that ‘I want that too… I want to be in that ring!’ feeling. I’m really looking forward to it. Normally, I only fight in Japan, but now I have the chance to fight at a major Dutch event.

When you step into the ring, do you have your tactics ready?

Yes, I train certain techniques extensively with Martijn and when I have stepped into the ring he’ll give me some signals when to start using a certain technique. It’s like he’s remote controlling me, because I have a real connection with him. Martijn really has enormous insight. When he says punch, I punch… it’s that simple. I can really hear him while I’m fighting.

Have you ever fought a match without Martijn standing in the corner?

No, I won’t fight without him there! I know Marijn since I was 14 years old and I have a very close bond with him – I trust him completely. That is something I really need when I step into the ring. I have learned a lot from him, like not to hate my opponent, but look at the match as sports. Fighting is something you do for pleasure.

How many matches have you had so far?

Ten matches, 8 won by KO (submission) and 2 by judges’ decision.

Are you afraid of breaking something, your nose for example?

Not for my looks or something like that. When you’re really into sports, you don’t think much about those things.

What does your training schedule look like?

After the summer break I’m moving to Amsterdam and then I will train weekdays with Lucien Carbin and weekends with Martijn de Jong. So, I’ll be training seven days a week.

What is it like to fight in Japan?

Yes, that’s like a dream! You fight in a room which can easily have 10,000 people in it… and every seat is taken.

Do you have a career besides fighting?

Yes, I’m going to study communications sciences in Amsterdam and I hope to find a good job in that sector later on.

As the daughter of an art teacher and professional artist, Marloes has given us a marvelous sketch of her fighting career. It was very pleasant to have lunch with a candy and spontaneous woman and to have an interview with her. We wish Marlous the best of luck with the rest of her career and we will watch her closely, like during her monster match against Irma Verhoef on October 13th.



Pictures of Coenen vs Yabushita made by Susumu - by the courtesy of Marloes Coenen

Jeroen Winters

"MAN Magazine", July 2002




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