It’s not uncommon for interviewers to broach the subject of MMA with world-class boxing coach Freddie Roach, who has helped train several of the sports stars in recent years.
It’s rare to get him to talk about the sport for the whole interview however, but that’s just what Ron Kruk of HDNet has managed to do, and as always with Roach it’s enjoyable to hear his thoughts.
First off Roach gave his impressions on some of the MMA fighters he has worked with.
BJ Penn: “My first MMA fighter to train with was Penn. Great guy, I think he’s one of the best strikers I’ve ever worked with…he can really punch.”
Anderson Silva: “I couldn’t figure him out completely at first. He is one of those guys, in the gym he goes at 30 to 40 percent, you know? He’s just getting his timing, getting his thing going. I had him spar with a couple of my guys, young heavyweights, and it was about even. I said, uh, maybe he not as good..maybe he shouldn’t fight Roy Jones,” says Roach.
“Then I watch him on TV and I said, you know what? That’s a whole different guy. Now’s he’s got his A-game, he’s giving it 100% on the TV fight. I see him measure people, set things up. He’s a very intelligent guy, he knows distance, he knows where his comfort zone is.”
Andrei Arlovski: “Andrei I liked a lot because he went from a ground guy to a stand up guy, he loves stand-up. I thought he could do well as a heavyweight.”
Roach also mentioned several other fighters who he would like to work with one day.
GSP: “GSP I’ve never met, but I’d like to work with him though, because he’s a talented guy and he’s a very intelligent fighter.”
Fedor Emelianenko: “Fedor, I would like to work with him. His balance is not good – he’s flat footed a lot and he’s heavy – easy to box if you use in-and-out or side-to-side motion. He can be outboxed but the thing is he’s such a good puncher, you’ve got to be careful of that. And of course he’s a Sambo guy as well so he does have a good ground also. He’s one of the most complete fighters out there.”
In the wide-ranging interview Roach also admitted there was no doubt that it was tougher to switch from boxing to MMA than the other way around since boxers had no previous experience of fighting on the ground, and mixed martial arts is a more complicated sport.
“Boxing is a fight, it’s a complicated sport on it’s own, but then you take the ground game into effect also, and you’ve got to learn like five different sports to be good a good MMA fighter,” he says.
When asked which boxer he believed would have the best chance in MMA he suggest a fighter he trains,Manny Pacquiao, since he believed he had the speed and movement to keep out of danger, and noted that the pound-for-pound great had some muay-thai experience.
As for who hit harder, a boxer or an MMA fighter, Roach was certain it is the boxer since they train exclusively with their hands.
Finally he was asked which sport had the brighter future.
“I think that in about 10 years – if everything keeps going the way it is – boxing’s going to decline a bit with the audience, and MMA’s going to have that young audience. I think the boxing promoters have really lost sight of entertaining the people.”
Be sure to watch the full interview below to hear more of Roach’s thoughts on the sport.