Afgelopen vrijdagnacht stond de Nederlandse Marloes Coenen ingeroosterd om te vechten voor de Bellator MMA Featherweight titel. Tegenover haar stond de sterke Julia Budd die de partij in de vierde ronde wist te beëindigen met een technische knock-out. Terwijl Budd met het goud de kooi verliet, hing Coenen haar handschoenen aan de wilgen. Met een professioneel MMA record van 23 win partijen en acht verliespartijen verlaat ze het wedstrijdvechten.
Als je vraagt naar de opmerkelijkste en spectaculairste momenten van Marloes haar carrière, zullen de gevechten tegen Cristiane Justino Cyborg zeker genoemd worden. Tijdens de Strikeforce en Invicta FC promoties hebben beide dames elkaar twee keer mogen ontmoeten op het canvas. Zowel Coenen als Cyborg hebben tijdens deze momenten bewezen zeer effectieve en sterke techniek te hebben. Uiteindelijk wist Cyborg beide partijen met een technische knock-out te beëindigen.
Terwijl Cyborg zeer spoedig in aanmerking komt voor het goud bij de Ultimate Fighting Championship, heeft ze via social media gereageerd op het nieuws van Coenen:
WMMA legend Marloes Coenen and myself have shared something special that I don’t think the average person will ever be able to understand, but I’m going to try my best to explain.
My first fight after beating Gina Carano was against Marloes in Strikeforce Miami. Over 517,000 households watched Showtime as the two of us fought an intense 3 round war with ref eventually stopping the fight to give me the win over 7 years ago.
Before our first fight she was already a big name in the sport having been competing in Japan and winning the 2000 ReMix World Cup to become the first recognized female MMA world champion.
3 years after my first fight against Marloes Coenen, after winning the Strikeforce World title at 135lbs, she made a return to the Featherweight division to face me for the inaugural Invicta Fighting Championships Belt.
It is during my second fight against Marloes where we shared a moment as competitors that will link us together forever.
This was my first fight back after my suspension and one where I had a lot of emotion trying to win back my world title.
4 rounds we shared blood and sweat as we met inside the cage. During this fight I landed some of the hardest punches I’ve ever connected with in a fight. big shot after big shot she continued fighting through every bad situation until Big John finally ended the bout.
While most fans saw the fight as entertainment, I see that fight as an experience where both Marloes and myself gave a part of our spirit to the fans who were lucky enough to watch that display of true martial arts, both leaving some of ourselves in the arena that night.
That fight displayed the honor, respect, heart, determination, and skill that separate a fighter from a martial artist, and an athlete from a warrior.
Promoters have always had a problem finding girls to fight me. Fighters suddenly have injuries, start requesting rematches of fights they’ve already won, or just run to a new weight class when the reality of fighting me starts to materialize. Marloes is the only woman I’ve ever fought to ask for a rematch!
After 7 rounds of battle with Marloes Coenen and the type of fights we had she has forever earned my respect, and I hope the sport will forever recognize her for the contributions she has given as a pioneer of equal opportunity.
Fights against legends like Yoko Takahashi, Megumi Yabushita, Becky Levi, Erin Toughill, Roxanne Modafferi, Liz Carmouche, Sarah Kaufman, and Miesha Tate helped create opportunities for all the ladies competing and earning a living from fighting today.
While a part of me was sad to see her retire today, I found it amazing that 17 years after making her debut and winning the first wmma world title, Marloes was again pioneering the sport and helping women get an equal opportunity to compete, and while she lost she never lost her warrior spirit, and the new generation of fighters like Julia Budd and Alexis Dufresne now have a division in Bellator MMA to call home.
It wasn’t that long ago promoters were saying there weren’t enough women in the world to create a 145lbs division.
Thank You Marloes for what opportunities you’ve helped create in the sport. I know that when I step into the UFC octagon to get my belt, it is because of the pioneers like you who helped create a situation where girls like me can finally call the #ufc home.
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