In the 15 years that Edmond Tarverdyan has been training fighters, he's learned no greater lesson about fight nights than this: he should never drive himself to events.
It's a lesson he learned the hard way recently, when he sat behind the wheel en route to a fight. With his mind occupied by thoughts of punches kicks, and takedowns, he ended up hitting another car on the notorious Los Angeles roadways. "I've learned that when my mind is focused on fights, I might not pay attention to the road," he says.
Which is why Tarverdyan, the fulltime trainer at the Glendale Fighting Club, plans to enlist the services of a friend to drive him the 70 miles separating his cornering duties for boxer Art Hovhannisyan, who headlines Friday night's ShoBox on SHOWTIME fight card, from the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, Calif. to Anaheim's Honda Center the next night, where he'll direct Ronda Rousey in her UFC main event against Liz Carmouche. It's a rarity that a trainer will coach headlining athletes in both boxing and mixed martial arts. And on two consecutive nights, to boot.
"The hardest part is to go from one fight to the other without [mixing] it together, without letting my emotions get in the way," Tarverdyan says.
The first stop of the trainer's whirlwind fight week will be in Anaheim today, where he'll stick by Rousey's side as she makes her final weight cuts. Meanwhile, a co-manager will accompany Hovhannisyan to his weigh-in. On Friday morning, after Tarverdyan has checked in to make sure Rousey is spot-on for her weight check later in the day, the trainer will jump back on the freeway and head to the casino where he'll work his Hovhannisyan's corner. After Hovhannisyan's fight, Tarverdyan's driver will chauffeur him back to Anaheim, where he'll sleep (briefly) and make final preparations for Rousey's UFC debut on Saturday night.
Neither fighter, Tarverdyan said, showed the slightest concern that the trainer would be splitting time during fight week. "Ronda said, 'Don't even worry about it.' She said that right away," Tarverdyan recalls. "Art doesn't feel bad at all that I won't be there for the weigh-in. I am putting in 100 percent effort into both of them. I don't think they've had any distractions who I should be working with, more or less. ... There haven't been any kinds of distractions to the training camp."
Tarverdyan, 31, has perfected the balancing act since the Armenian-American began training fighters when he was 16. It was then that he laid the foundation of what would become Glendale Fighting Club, a premier gym for both boxing and mixed martial artists looking to improve their striking skills. As a young trainer, he squeezed in his own workouts that would lead him to various muay Thai titles between sparring sessions with fighters in his growing stable of fighters. As his list of fighters seeking his guidance grew longer, his nights of sleep grew shorter, with Tarverdyan leading swimming workouts at 5:30 in the morning and often taking calls and answering texts from nervous fighters until late at night. Those years of multitasking helped him develop a schedule that accommodated both Rousey and Hovhannisyan -- while one rested the other trained, and vice versa.
Training other fighters hampered his own athletic ambitions, though he's nabbed two wins in his two mixed martial arts bouts. Though Rousey called him early one morning after watching an Anderson Silva fight to tell him she was certain that her trainer could attain Silva status in the sport, Tarverdyan is more pragmatic. "I can't train all these fighters and fight and expect so much [of myself]," he says.
While he's slowly learned to rein in his expectations when he's inside the cage, he's not one to do so as he stands in the corner of it, coaching his fighters. "I just keep going because I love this sport," he says. "It's just in me."
This weekend, he'll have a little over an hour to switch gears, fighters, towns and sports as he toggles between events. And though he'll be in the backseat -- thankfully -- it's clear Tarverdyan isn't just going along for the ride.