If you ever make a phone call to Amsterdam, be sure to have enough Skype credit to cover the duration of an hour long interview. Half way in our interview with Strikeforce’s number one woman’s contender, the connection just dropped. Our interviewer D**k ‘Starscream’ Grayson frantically called me with ‘Dude, dude…something went wrong’. We rushed to deposit as much money as we could possibly afford into MiddleEasy’s Skype account. The site said there was a 15 minute delay between deposit and international reactivation. 15 minutes! It only took John Travolta 9 minutes to take over the entire planet in Battlefield Earth. Anything could happen. As we stared at the clock, D**k ‘Starscream’ Grayson said we need to send a MiddleEasy shirt to Morgan Webb so she can model it. That was a great idea, definitely a lot better than when we decided to smuggle pharmaceuticals across the US-Mexican border at 10am in the morning (true story). Starscream also told me that Marloes Coenen had a boyfriend. I could hear the dude’s heart literally break over my garbage AT&T connection. I told him to look on the bright side, at least she knows you exist. That’s always step number one.
Marloes Coenen is next in line to battle Cris Cyborg for the Strikeforce Women’s Lightweight title. She trains out of the same camp that Alistair Overeem bashes heads (and bicycles) at so it goes without saying that Coenen is beyond hardcore. Check out our exclusive interview with Marloes Coenen done by MiddleEasy’s ‘D**k ‘Starscream’ Grayson, only at MiddleEasy.com – Because MMA is everything.
You work in a marketing internet agency. Do people at work know you fight?Yeah they do because when I was job interviewing, I told them that I didn’t want to work 5 days a week because of my sport. And then of course they wanted to know “What kind of sport are you doing?”; but I think they already know because—there was also another person working out there that was a teacher of mine who—he probably already told them. And my brother was also working there and when I start working there they told me, “Oh you’re the sister of Rolf” and uh “You’re the fighter” blah blah blah. So they found out pretty quick.
Do they accept it? What’s their reaction? No, no, no they really like it because like in the ring I was maybe a little bit uh, aggressive haha. But in daily life I’m looking like a normal girl so they’re always like uh, they are in shock—shock and awe. And then they think like, “Ah she probably cannot fight and that I’m a girly girl and you know sometimes the whole problem was watching fights of me, so they are surprised—that a girl fights; it’s the thing here.
Growing up as a teenager, what type of person were you? Did you read a lot?Oh, no, no, no, no, I grew up in the east of Netherlands in a small village, so I started drinking quite early, hahaha.
You started what? I started drinking quite early.
That sounds a lot like my childhood. That’s awesome.
Hahaha, oh watch out! So um, I was always playing tennis and volleyball and I started doing self-defense and the first thing that was closest to my home was Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Because I went to a school and all of my friends from my hometown, they went to different education so I always had to bike through the woods by myself often—and there’s all these stories of you know, dirty men—so I wanted to learn to defend myself and then I started doing Jiu-Jitsu and my trainer became vice president of Shooto
, so I became more and more serious. So I started drinking less and working out more and now I’m at a point that I hardly drink and I’m only working out so uh, yea. I started out as a normal girl in the east of the Netherlands and now I’m serious athlete.
So yesterday, can you describe what your schedule was like?Um, well I had a really busy week—last week because we had a really big event so I was sick the whole weekend from Friday on. So yesterday I had to work, but I quit work early because I was still sick and then I took my rest and I went to bed early and today I woke up, I did my strength and conditioning and now I just came home from a class of MMA.
What do you do on your time off to relax?I like to shop, haha. I like to eat. That’s always a battle to lose weight. I really like to go to the movies. Uh, just like normal stuff, like every girl does.
Do you have a date or an idea of when that fight is going to be possibly?
Well I think that it can be in November already
, it’s not finite yet, so I cannot really say that it is, but there is a big chance, haha.
You’re pretty hot, how do you think that you will be represented by American media?
Well thank you, haha. I don’t know because if I look to Gina she’s really well-known. She’s got two strong points that I do not have
, ha, so I don’t know. I don’t think they will see me like Gina because I really think she’s a really pretty girl, maybe they—I’m like an average girl. I think, that will be, you know—a lot of girls can relate to Gina, she’s really pretty with her big breasts and her cute face and I’m more like average I think uh, yea maybe from the old world, I don’t know exactly. I want to fight for a couple more years and then I wanna become more—what I want in the end is, I want to be in the Netherlands at least; if I can be in America that would be great, I can only dream of a thing like that. I want normal girls to relate with me and I want normal girls to realize that they are capable of way more than they think they can. Cause when I grew up, I’m the youngest of a family with 3 kids. I’ve got 2 older brothers and my father was always like um, keeping me like his ‘little girl’—so he was a soccer trainer. In the Netherlands it’s not a posh sport it’s like for the masses. And I always wanted to play soccer, I really thought it would be fun and both my brothers played, they had to play and they really stink at it. And uh, I never told that to my father because it just didn’t cross my mind to say it out loud, and it never crossed his mind to put his girl in soccer because I was a girl. It’s exactly the same thing because I started fighting—I never planned on being a fighter because I never thought I could be a fighter. That’s what I want to be for like normal girls, you know. Not girls who grew up in difficult circumstances, just normal girls, then they can be like, “Ok, a normal girl is fighting, then I can do it as well.” If I can be that, then I’m really happy. That was a long answer, haha.
What are your top four, pound-for-pound female fighters out there?
Well first of all I really think—I know everyone’s using it but Women’s MMA is a really stupid label
because it implicates that we are doing different techniques than the guys, you know. We’re just doing MMA and we’re women so I think that these people need to rephrase or re-label it or something like that. But in top 5, Megumi Fuji—is not that excellent anymore but she really has put on amazing fights in the past. And there’s another Megumi
. Oh no I’m sorry, Yabushita
was my first answer; Megumi Fuji is from ADCC, she’s a really really amazing fighter. Then—yeah Cyborg is really good. And—who is fourth, um? Well Gina—not because I think that she is the best out there but she’s the only girl that really gained a big audience for the women in MMA. She enabled it so that’s why I think she should be number four.
What are two drawbacks for being a female mixed martial artist?I think the focus on appearance, because so many ugly fighters are male fighters and they are still big heroes and when it’s about girls it’s all of a sudden about the looks. But on the other hand, if you watch tennis it’s exactly the same. And um, for the rest [of the question]–I don’t think— I think that female fighters are often more exciting because when women fight, they really um, it’s an all out fight, you know. Sometimes when you see guys fight and they wait a little bit, with the women they will go for it.
What are two benefits of being a woman MMA fighter?I think we put up a better fight than the guys, hahaha. And uh, well there are more guys fighting so the competition is more heavy than with the girls. You’ve got more chances of fighting abroad and in America.
Women: 5 minute rounds or 3 minute rounds?No, 5 minutes is fine because I really like the Shooto rules: 3×5 minutes. I think 2×5 minutes is like when you’re a B fighter; you know, but if you’re professional, you should fight 3×5 minutes. On the other end if you to like K-1, even the you know, the big guys are fighting just 3×3 minutes. The other thing is that they know they’ve got so much condition that the pace of the fight is really high. That’s also a good thing, but not just for women, it can also be for men as well.
What does female MMA need to do in order to maintain progress? I think there should be more like Gina to be honest. In like every soap opera or whatever, you’ve always got the good girl and the bad girl. Gina is the good girl and Cyborg is the bad girl. If you’ve got too many bad girls and the focus is on appearance, as it is, and I don’t that will change, then it will stagnate and I think it will decrease instead of increase. I think there need to be more girls like Gina; and second thing is maybe there should be teaching schools as well. Because if normal girls have to follow a class of self-defense, and it’s not called self-defense but MMA, then they learn about the techniques and it isn’t as brutal as it may look at first hand and then they can relate to it better. It’s also good for the girls as well. But if that will work? I don’t know if that will ever happen, haha.
If you cornered Gina, what would you advise if the fight continued to the 2nd round?I think that she should forget about everything and just go for it because if you look at her fighting skill she’s pinpointing way better than Cyborg is. Cyborg really just looks fast and uh—because she is giving so much she will hit you, you know? And um, Gina, um, she was too much intimidated by her aggression—I think because I never talked to her obviously. And the second thing is there was too much expectations of her and I think she expected too much of herself and then you forget to enjoy about fighting; and if you’re only busy with the end goal and not with the action before that, the actual fight then I don’t think you can succeed. So just forget about everything and go for it. Not too much about the technical stuff it’s more like—it wasn’t good in her head, that’s why she lost.
You have an ADCC background, am I correct?Yup.
As a grappler, pinpoint anything which makes it easier to translate to MMA? Uh, well I think that the next generation of fighters will be more all-round. They will not start with only doing Jiu-Jitsu but they will start out doing MMA and uh, be good at striking, as well as wrestling, as well as on the ground. So um, what I always see is that if you got a striker, they forget to play their game because they have too much respect for the shoot. On the other hand, I see so many classic fighting in Netherlands where striker versus grappler were fighting and if you knee the grappler when in the shoot, you take away all their guts so—I don’t really see a difference between um, the benefits of being a grappler over being a standup fighter. You can just look at— what’s the Croatian guy called? Cro Cop, I’m really bad at names haha, if you saw him, he really took over at one point. He really was dominating everyone and everybody was afraid of his kicking and that’s the thing—if you’ve got too much respect for the other—nevertheless what the style is, then you always lose I think. So I do not agree with you exactly, hahaha.
Kyra Gracie: If she was to transition into MMA, how do you think it would go?
To be honest, the last time in ADCC when she was fighting, I really was bored
because she’s got too much Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu style, you know like a turtle
. What I really like, if you see Megumi Fuji fighting also in grappling, they’ve got a really Japanese style. It’s like “doing this or doesn’t work out then I do this” it’s got a really high pace. And what I saw it was like 2 times 10 minutes and the only thing she—it was against an American girl; a really sweet girl—she’s very famous also –135 um, oh I forgot her name but she’s really famous, haha. She also competed in 2007 and she was fighting her and the only thing, Kyra got a really good position then she knew she got points but she didn’t do anything anymore for the whole fight, so I’m not too impressed by her to be honest. But to go into MMA, I think she really has to learn to fight like a fighter and learn how to strike.
Is there a camp any other camp you would be interested in training with?Xtreme Couture’s gym I really would like to work there. I met Ray Sefo in San Jose last time so they got good strikers over there. But I’m happy with the Golden Glory team, I’ve got amazing trainers so I will stay in the Netherlands.
Now do you watch men’s MMA? Or MMA for guys?Because my boyfriend is also a fighter and most of the times its ‘Marloes, oh look at this fight‘ and I’m like ‘Oh no no, I want to read a magazine‘, so I do not watch that many fights, haha. I only pick out the really good ones like really famous guys and everything like George St. Pierre and stuff like that. But I don’t know that many fighters.
Did you see the most recent fight between Vitor Belfort and Rich Franklin? Nope.
Did you hear about it?My management was like ‘ooooh’. Vitor Belfort was great he [boyfriend] said.
Do you have any thoughts on him maybe fighting Anderson Silva? Uh, well I know that Vitor Belfort was like a good boxer right? He fought also Alistair, I don’t know. I really don’t know because the last fight I saw of Silva it wasn’t like in his Pride or prime time you know—he was so amazing so—Vitor Belfort also was really good in the past then declined and now he’s well— I heard it was really good, I think it could be a really interesting fight for two guys who have been in the game for quite a while and um, coming back again. Maybe I should watch that fight, haha.
What do you think of Fedor vs. Brett Rogers? Oh, Fedor is my hero, so every fight of him—if I fight in the 7th of November he will be the main fight of course, and I will be a really happy girl. I trained for a while in Amsterdam at a Thai boxing school and then also when he was in the Netherlands he also worked out there but I always missed him—I did see his trainers and I did see his brother and everyone but never saw or met Fedor, it’s a big dream of mine.
Well you guys are both under Strikeforce, so you might get your chance. Hahaha, even if it’s just a weigh-in, I don’t mind.
What are your thoughts are on the upcoming fight of BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez?BJ Penn all the way. I’m a really big fan of BJ Penn. And I met Diego Sanchez, he’s a nice guy, so nothing bad about him. But BJ Penn he’s got something that uh—I don’t know. He’s got some kind of magic in his game and I’m a big fan of him.
Who do you think is the best pound for pound fighter?
Um, it would be Ramon Dekker
but he’s not an MMA fighter, haha. He’s like my all time favorite fighter, but he’s a retired Thai boxer, but the way he was striking and kicking, do you know him? You really have to Google him, his highlight
, he’s also from the Golden Glory team
, but before I became a member of the Golden Glory team my brother was always talking about him and everybody that I know really respects him as well, he’s not that tall but…it’s vicious to see him strike and kick and he was really the king of his game in his time. MMA fighter: Fedor and George St. Pierre of course.
Do you think the men should split the heavyweight class?Yea you mean like the really big guys? I think so. Yeah because there is a big difference between if you are like 220 pounds or 330 pounds, you know, haha. I think that there should be because the classes are really old, but then people became taller and all different stuff came into fashion so they became bigger as well. And uh, it’s just old fashioned to have just one weight class above 205 pounds. I think there should be a different weight class.
Do you watch the show Dancing with the Stars?We’ve got it in the Netherlands—the Dutch version over here, so I don’t know uh, we cannot get it over here.
He didn’t do bad, but it was cool. Check it out on the internet.I definitely will.
Can you describe what the fight culture is like in the Netherlands? Well we’ve got a big Thai boxing scene here in the Netherlands, so every week there are a couple of really small events, so uh, that’s our level, Thai boxing is really high here. MMA is starting to become bigger because it’s now also broadcast on television, but still if you tell people that you’re fighting then they’re really like “Huh? You’re fighting? Huh?” you know; it’s like you play soccer in the Netherlands you can play tennis, you can play golf or hockey whatever, hockey was a big sport in the Netherlands but fighting is still too much underground but it will become bigger because everything that’s big in America comes to the Netherlands and then we adopt it. So it’s a good process. My vocabulary is not that wide, so…
No! Your vocabulary is better than mine sadly. I still need to work on my English.Hahaha
How did the Netherlands become such a strong place for Thai boxing?Yea and also it’s a really small country, I don’t know, we also discuss about it a lot, about difficult topic just like weight class that you just asked. But um, I just think we do not have a fight culture where like they have in Japan or Korea or like in America with the wrestling in the schools. But the thing is we were really early in adopting it. The high level of fighting is because we’ve got so many fights over here. I was, in, I think in May or maybe before that, I was at an event and there were children of—I think 9 years old, they were Thai boxing. I think that’s a bad thing because little kids should not be strike each other to the head but that’s why at like 16 years old they’ve got already 50 fights
I met an undercover cop from Amsterdam. Is it a rite of passage to smoke underage? No. It’s legal, but it’s not legal by law; it’s really strange here in Amsterdam, just like the prostitution, eh, well prostitution is legal in the Netherlands so—they have to pay tax as well. But um, marijuana it’s sold at coffee shops not like the coffee shops you’ve got there in America, and they can only have a small amount of hash or weed or whatever in store. But if I look in my group of friends, the people I know, only a few people use it. But it’s because I’m with a lot of athletes and in the Netherlands, it’s not a cool thing to do. [The idea]if you’re brought up and think it’s sneaky and cool—if you want to smoke here a joint its fine you can do it you know, just go to the coffee shop or do it at home. But um, it’s not like in the lunch break at my work the people are—ha—I haven’t had a joint over their coffee you should know—it’s not used that much.
Alright last marijuana question, haha. Hey you’re from the Netherlands, I have to ask.Hahaha, always—I don’t mind.
Do you think marijuana helps, hinders or is neutral in MMA?Oh no, don’t use the stuff for that. Because in the Netherlands they think that we are so liberal and everything but there has been a lot of scientific research about it and it’s not that good for your body. It’s even more cancer activating than like 50 times in a normal cigarette if you’re doing it with shag, you know. So if you do it, do it with a water thing [water bong], haha. But I’ve tried it when I was younger you know like in my teens, but I’ve only did it a few times, I’m totally not interested in it. It’s not good for your body it’s not good for anything. Only if you’re like a cancer patient and you are really in agony, then they prescribe it as a tea—so you get less pain. In the Netherlands it’s not that a big deal, it’s more for people abroad who are really like “Oh” you know. They have like world championships of marijuana but they are organized, if I am correct by Americans, hahaha.
So there is not that stereotype that we associate with it?Well there are guys who are only smoking—sitting in a coffee shops and spending all their money over there and they are always like really pale and really, not like—very slow and everything and people look down on them. If you look in like our normal population, there’s not that many people using it.
But in MMA does it help performance? Before a fight?
I don’t think so. Of course not. I think they would get KOd, ha. You’re like “Hey maaaan…how are you doinnngg
you know, ha—KO
. Gah, stupidest thing to do
You’re an emissary from another planet, compare US, Europe & Japan.All three MMA. Um, ooooh. That’s really, ugh. they eat chocolate, I don’t know, they’ve got Democracy. Oh man, because we look like each other, but the cultures are so—diverse. To be honest you cannot compare; you can like compare Dutch and America people, you can compare Dutch and Japanese people but the three of them? Haha, you’re giving me a hard time.
You’re an alien and you have to research the fight culture between the three.
Ok, Japanese, they will fight for their home country, like till death, just look at Sakuraba
. The Dutch–they are really, not modest, but they’re really like um—no show and just go fight out there you know, we don’t’ have the big entrance, it’s getting better though in the Netherlands but it’s not like we’re making a big show. The Americans are the best at making a good entrance
. And—everyone has got the same heart. I don’t see the difference in the heart of an American, Dutch fighter or Japanese. Phew that would be it; sorry I cannot give you a final answer.
What is the nerdiest of geekiest thing that you are in to? Do you play video games?
Uh..ooh. Oh yeah I know! I really like anime from Miyazaki
. Is it nerdy enough?
Hahaha. That’s cool I’m actually reading an anime… oh I meant a manga.
Yea, anime, it’s from Miyazaki, I’m a really big fan of him. I also went with my boyfriend to Japan. We went to his theme park
with Japanese friends and his little kids and another friend and I had the time of my life, hahaha.
What anime do you follow?
No, its Miyazaki the director of—yea just Google it. I’ve got all of his movies and I really wanna see ‘Ponyo
‘. Just Google that and you’ll know enough.
When you go out with your friends what type of person are you?It depends if I am drinking or not, haha.
Ha, ok if you are drinking, what type of person?Haha, awful things. I’m becoming more mature now, but well you know it happened often I’m wrestling with my male friends from the gym and we’re fighting on the dance floor, stuff like that. Not quite feminine, but it does happen.
That’s awesome, that’s how I get kicked out. Now, not drinking what are you like?Well that doesn’t happen—no, haha. To be honest…
HAHAHAHAHAHA, I like that answer, we have more similarities than differences. Haha, we should drink, ha—No, I do not go out that often. Like once every few months because of my health and my sport, but when I go out, I go out all the way.
That’s exactly my thought process, next time you’re in America, I’ll take you out.Oh we will, haha. I only drink beer and champagne, nothing else.
I drink anything, as long as somebody puts it’s in my hands. What beer do you drink? [For me] That’s after like 5 beers but start out with beer. Well we’ve got really good beers here in the Netherlands because we’re close to Germany and it’s a big country, it’s got a really high quality of beer. And below us on the south, we’ve got Belgium and they’ve got also great beers so, but if I cannot choose, I always drink Heineken. But I really like white beer you know? You know that?
White beer?Yea, it’s from Belgium. In Germany they say “weizen”, it’s a beer I really like. Yea that’s my kind of beer, in a big glass, cold.
When a fighter gets injured, what happens with their medical bill? Yea. In the Netherlands, we’ve got a really good health system, so it doesn’t matter what happens to me, they always take care of it.
What if you are in another country?Also you get an extra insurance, but it doesn’t cost anything just like a few euros a month on top of like your normal insurance. It doesn’t matter what happened, they will take care of it. But if you have to go to like—its not like in Scandinavia where they do everything because if you go to like—the guy who massages you and can also fix stuff, I don’t know how to translate, less than a chiropractor, better than a masseuse, haha—yea well—you cannot have like a few treatment. But to be honest, I do not go to the doctor; really if you like break something and otherwise—I want to keep on training and the doctor will only tell me that I cannot train for a while so—that’s what I see happening around me. Like if it’s not too bad you just don’t go, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the health insurance, more with like wanting to train.
Are you a morning person? Or do you get work done past midnight?I’m not a morning person and I really like to sleep so I go to bed early, haha, and sleep really long.
If you transition into music, what type of musician would you be?
Ahh well, I think it would be really—I really like Hip Hop
—also like Everlast
, from House of Pain. I really like Everlast for the slow beat and the really low, male voice, so I don’t think that I could do that, but I would like to tour with Everlast. I really like his music. And also, I really like dance too but a little bit less. Gyption
is an artist I also really like.
How famous is Dennis Bergkamp?
Ha, oh he’s really famous because you know him. He is retired. He is a soccer player of course but he’s still in the Netherlands really famous. If you’re a soccer player in the Netherlands, then you‘re famous.
Choose between 3 super hero powers: fly, breathe under water or teleport?Oh teleport.
Teleport, wow that was fast.
Yea I saw that move. What is it called, American movie—Jumper
. I would rob a bank, ha.
Hahaha, alright. Is there anyone you would like to thank?Yeah Scott Coker for inviting me to Strikeforce. He’s a really nice guy, yea I was really impressed because he’s got such a big organization, and being such a kind man, yea, I really want to thank him. And you of course!