HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Boxing trainer Freddie Roach has cornered world champion boxers throughout his career. Being in his position, Roach has dissected what many call “the sweet science” with a watchful eye, and been able to point out advantages and flaws by fighters for years. As much experience as he has, Roach’s opinion on technique is widely respected by many of the sport’s aficionados.
Roach has also worked with MMA fighters, such as UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. St-Pierre defends his title against Nick Diaz this Saturday at UFC 158, and Roach told GracieMag.com that he and GSP have devised a game plan to counter whatever Diaz throws.
“For the hands, we’ve already set a good game plan and we know how we’re going to fight with Diaz’s so-called best [boxing] in UFC,” Roach recently said at his gym, Wild Card Boxing. “To make an adjustment to fight Diaz is not hard.”
Diaz, a Cesar Gracie black belt, is known not only for his Jiu-Jitsu, but also his stand-up game. His boxing is regarded by many in the MMA community as being some of the best in the UFC. However, when asked of what he thinks of Diaz’s boxing prowess, Roach was quick to shoot down any notion that he has the best hands in the UFC.
“Bulls**t. I know it’s bulls**t,” Roach said. “He fires arm punches … walks forward and crosses his legs, his balance is off. I’m not impressed.”
Diaz is durable and tough, he added, but the thought that Diaz has the best boxing in MMA is something Roach doesn’t believe. He was equally as critical, however, about Rua and St-Pierre when the MMA fighters first arrived at Wild Card.
“When Georges St-Pierre first came here his technique wasn’t that good, but it’s getting better and better now,” he explained. “The thing is that most of the guys in MMA or the UFC have history in the ground game and so on, so it’s more new to them. A lot of times they’ve never been taught on how to do it correctly.”
Now Roach says GSP is more than ready to counter Diaz’s striking when the two face off Saturday in Montreal. Also, Roach said Rua is already getting wowed by his coaching, saying that the fighter is pivoting the right way and punching off the correct foot.
But as far as Diaz goes, Roach has no impression that the fighter’s boxing is world-class.
“He’s very durable, got a lot of balls,” he said of Diaz. “But the thing is his boxing ability — It’s okay.”