Marloes Coenen is currently putting the finishing touches on her training camp in the Netherlands in preparation for the most important fight of her career.
On January 30 at the Strikeforce: "Miami" event, she will get the opportunity to accomplish what no female fighter has been able to do since 2005, that is, defeat the Brazilian Muay Thai machine and current Strikeforce Women's Champion known as Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos.
Coenen is coming off an impressive win over Roxanne Modafferi at the Strikeforce: "Fedor vs. Rogers" event last November, earning the right to face Santos in order to determine the best female 145-pound fighter on the planet.
Coenen took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss adjusting to the U.S., her Fedor vs. Overeem dilemma and her plan of attack for the seemingly indestructible Cyborg.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): You're coming off an impressive performance in Chicago against Roxanne Modafferi. Did that fight go as you had envisioned and were you happy with your performance?
Marloes Coenen: Well, I had put in my mind that I would KO her in the first round. The strange thing was that my coach told me just before I had to enter the cage that he (all of a sudden) thought I would win on an armbar. I didn't respond to him and thought by myself, "Nope, it'll be a KO." But then after I knocked her down and wanted to do a side choke I tripped over her and into the guard. Before I knew it I pulled the armbar out.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Was that your first trip to US? If so, how did you like Chicago and how does it compare to where you live in the Netherlands?
Marloes Coenen: No, I have competed before in ADCC in LA and Philadelphia. I was also in San Jose as a stand in for the Gina Carano/Cyborg fight. To be honest the only thing you see are the airport, hotel, venue, and pharmacy - I forget nine out of ten times my toothbrush. I haven't seen anything from Chicago, too bad because the city looked very nice from inside the van.
The difference with the Netherlands is mostly size. Not only for the size of the dishes of food but also for the size of cars or distances. For instance, living in Amsterdam you do not need a car. I do everything by bike or public transport. When I go to my parents in the east of the Netherlands, from west to east it only takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. You say that everything is bigger in Texas. Well compared to the Netherlands everything is bigger in the US.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): I wanted to ask you about fighting on the same card with Fedor Emelianenko. Obviously, all the fighters spend some time together prior to an event whether it's an open media workout or press conference or whatever. What was your first impression of him and did you get a chance to speak with him at all?
Marloes Coenen: This picture says more than a 1000 words, doesn't it?
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): You train at the same gym, Golden Glory, that Alistair Overeem trains at as well. If Alistair and Fedor fought each other who would win and why?
Marloes Coenen: Oh that's a nasty question! I know Alistair for years and am very happy for him that he is doing so well right know. He is really talented and dedicated, so much discipline. But I'm also for years a big fan of Fedor too. Okay, if Fedor wins it'll be after a beatdown given by Alistair, that Alistair will walk into a lucky punch. If Alistair can avoid that he'll remain the Strikeforce champion.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Of course, you're fighting Cyborg Santos for her Strikeforce championship belt on 1/30. First of all, are you happy to be fighting on the main televised card on Showtime?
Marloes Coenen: Yes, most of all because it is recognition for the females in the sport.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): What can potential fans of yours in the US expect from you? How would you describe your fighting style to a fan in this country who may not have seen you fight before?
Marloes Coenen: Shooto, although I started out doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu. That was because there was nothing else in the town I grew up. The Japanese style of always going for the submission or knockout like Rumina Sato and "Mach" Sakurai have really influenced me. When I won my world title in 1999 one of the fights was against Becky Levi on a flying armbar. It was Rumina Sato who inspired me to do that. But I am from the Netherlands with a lot of K1-champions, so yes, I do like to strike and kick too.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): What would winning a Strikeforce championship belt mean to you?
Marloes Coenen: Being regarded as number one in the world. But to me it is more the challenge fighting a fighter of Cristiane's caliber that is triggering me.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): What is the key to defeating Cyborg?
Marloes Coenen: Keep your calm and be aggressive at the right time.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Does she have any weaknesses?
Marloes Coenen: For sure she has. She's only human; two arms and two legs.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Twelve of your seventeen victories are by submission. Do you feel like you have the advantage if the fight goes to the ground?
Marloes Coenen: Let's put it like this, I'm very comfortable on the ground.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Do you have to get the fight to the ground to be able to win the fight?
Marloes Coenen: No, I know people see me as the underdog. I like that. But from all my wins by submission I also had my opponents knocked down too before I made them tap. Maybe that can better stay a secret. Cristiane will find out about my striking power when we are in the cage.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): If you are fortunate enough to defeat Cyborg are there any other fighters you would like to face in the near future?
Marloes Coenen: Yes, I would like to face Erin Toughill and Gina Carano too.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Would you like to thank any sponsors at this time?
Marloes Coenen: Well, I believe my management is working on that! (laughs)
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Thank you for the time Marloes. We appreciate it.