Even after 11 years in MMA, Strikeforce women’s 135-pound champion Marloes Coenen realizes that she can’t be complacent and has to continue to grow or be left behind in the modern fight scene.
“I feel I still have so much to learn,” Coenen admitted to MMAWeekly.com. “The sport is developing fast, and stuff we used to do 5 years ago is now outdated.
“I learn the most in my fights; therefore I hope I can fight a lot this year.”
As Coenen recalls, when she first got involved in combat sports, the term “Mixed Martial Arts” had not yet even been coined.
“When I started, the term ‘MMA’ wasn’t there yet,” chuckled Coenen. “In the Netherlands it was called ‘Free Fight’ and the politicians and media were in shock and awe.
“I was looking for some self defense and it was my trainer, Martijn de Jong, who asked me a few years later to fight at the first amateur Shooto event in Europe. There and then I was infected with the MMA bug.”
And even though she recently became a champion in a major promotion, Coenen insists she will approach the sport the way she always has.
“All I can do is my best, as usual,” commented Coenen. “Living the life of a pro MMA fighter is my dream. Therefore I will do all it takes to keep living like a fighter. I hope Scott (Coker, Strikeforce CEO) and Showtime are happy with my performance and behavior.”
As has been the case all too often of late, Coenen’s return to fighting this Saturday has been affected by a late change in opponent. Top contender Meisha Tate has been replaced with promotional newcomer Liz Carmouche.
“It would have been disappointing when I couldn’t fight due to (Tate’s) injury,” stated Coenen. “I am a fighter, therefore I always want to get into the cage. Liz is a worthy replacement and I am looking forward to this fight.
“I’ll take Miesha on the next time. It is a little curious to me, though, that she is already in training again even before my fight and she’ll be okay and recovered in the week after my fight. I hope she ‘womans-up’ and fights me next time.”
While Carmouche’s game mirrors Tate’s in that she is primarily a ground-based fighter, Coenen does see a difference between the two.
“I believe Liz’s stand-up is better than Tate’s,” said Coenen. “She is tough and looks like an honorable fighter.”
Even though a successful defense of her title would add to her accomplishments, Coenen is not content with just making headway in one division.
“I would like to fight a few times at 135 pounds first and then fight Cris (Santos, Strikeforce women’s 145-pound champion) again,” announced Coenen.
“I can beat her, but need more strength, and my technique has to be much better than hers to beat her. With the dieting for 135 pounds and then growing muscles and dieting for 145 pounds, it’ll be too much for my body at once, so I’ll take my time and will prepare well (before challenging Santos again).”
As Coenen moves forward with her career, it’s clear that complacency is not a pitfall she will encounter any time soon.
“(I will take things as they come,) though I am excited,” she concluded. “But I do not underestimate anyone. I have made my faults with that, (but that is) in the past.”