Marloes Coenen Discusses Post-Strikeforce Plans, FutureOn July 30th, Dutch standout Marloes Coenen suffered the first submission defeat of her storied mixed martial arts career. A mere four days later, the former Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion received notice that her tenure with Strikeforce had come to an abrupt and shocking end.

As she processed her thoughts, Coenen was overwhelmed by supportive messages from fans who questioned her release and looked forward to her return to action. Coenen believes that her future in MMA remains bright and welcomes the responsibility of being a leader and role model in the sport.

Currently on vacation at Table Rock Lake in The Ozarks region of Missouri and Arkansas, Coenen believes that this is a perfect time for her to reflect on her career and plan out her future. Immediately after her release from Strikeforce, which seemed to cast Coenen as an innocent bystander in a dispute between Zuffa, LLC and management for her team, Golden Glory, the submission specialist was faced with multiple fight offers from a variety of promotions.

Together with close friend and former Strikeforce matchmaker Shannon Knapp, who now works as a representative for Golden Glory, Coenen will plot out her next move in MMA. It is a decision that may have a significant impact on other female athletes in the sport, and particularly those who remain in Strikeforce. The promotion is expected to shut down in early 2012 and UFC President Dana White has given no indication that women will be brought into the Octagon.

Fans and insiders alike, feeling that Coenen may be the one to lead a charge for female fights in a new promotion, are awaiting a decision on where she may end up next. It is not something that Coenen takes lightly.

“Several people have reached out with offers, but we are going to wait and see first how everything will develop and continue from now,” she tells “I have a break now and want to do some thinking. After I’m done and back in the Netherlands, I’ll be training again and I’ll be ready to fight soon. I want to be with a promotion that really appreciates female fighters. I think that that is most important. I think that the next promotion that I end up with might be the next big platform for women [in MMA], so I am going to really think about what I’m going to do because I think that it is a very important next step.”


As Coenen notes, she is not new to MMA and understands how the sport works. First making her pro debut nearly 11 years ago as a 19-year-old, Coenen (now 19-5-0) understands that there will be a new generation of female fighters that comes after her and she knows that women are looking to her to potentially lead the way. She also believes that a key to the growth of female fights in MMA comes in improving the sport’s marketability and better relating to women who are watching at home.

“I understand that, after me, there will be a new generation,” she says. “I want that next generation to be good. I want women to look at fighters like Gina, Cyborg, Liz Carmouche, Sarah Kaufman and me, and see that we are just normal girls. I want them to see that they have power in themselves and can relate to us. If we can do this, so can they. I think that we’re beginning the next [chapter] in women’s fighting, and my goal is that MMA will be accepted as a mainstream sport.

“I think that a lot of people view MMA as really aggressive and not really a family sport,” Coenen adds. “If you see a man [fighting] and it’s really tough and aggressive, it’s not really a family thing. If even women can do the sport, it takes some of the aggression out of the image of MMA, and if that happens, all of a sudden it becomes more of a family event to watch. I really do think that it will also become mainstream that way.

“I think that there are good organisations out there and there is room for even more. Spike TV really increased the popularity of the UFC, and I think that it is really important to have that platform on television. Once you have that, people will get to know the fighters better. Just like with The Ultimate Fighter shows, and how Zuffa creates a lot of buzz for their fighters. Women need to have a good platform and be [marketed] as humans that people who are watching can relate to.”

Coenen had hoped that Zuffa management would take note of this following the recent acquisition of Strikeforce, a leading promoter of female fights on television. However, following her release, Coenen believes that an opportunity to promote and develop women’s divisions under the Zuffa banner may have passed by for now.

“Zuffa are really intelligent businessmen, and I had hoped that they would see this opportunity and take it. Cutting me shows how they look at [women] fighting and it seems like a missed opportunity for them.”


While she has not yet decided where she will fight next, Coenen is maintaining a positive outlook and also understands that a movement to bring female fights into the mainstream will not happen overnight. She compares the current situation in mixed martial arts to that of female competition in other sports, as well as elsewhere in society. As women continue to become stronger and more competitive, Coenen believes that female sports will gain in popularity and acceptance.

“[MMA] is still a very young sport,” she says. “If you look at the NBA [for basketball], there is a male league and a female league. It’s the same thing for tennis. Then soccer has been the biggest sport in Europe for decades, but the female branch of it is just now finally starting to be accepted and is now becoming bigger and bigger. I do not think that it is only in MMA where women aren’t being [featured prominently], but women are becoming stronger and more physically active, and you even see that with celebrities in Hollywood.”

Coenen’s primary focus now is on inspiring others through her positive attitude, which is something that she attributes to the warm reception that she has received when travelling to the United States to compete since her Strikeforce debut in 2009. She considers herself fortunate to be able to compete in mixed martial arts and live out a dream.

“I only set short-term goals, but for [at least] the next two years I will be fighting and I hope that I can attract a large audience,” Coenen says. “I hope that I can be a positive spokesperson and a role model for people. At this point, I am living my dream. I was [formerly] working and training and that was really hard for me. Now, to be able to only train and fight, that is a luxury.

“If you do something with your heart and it is your passion that you can do on a daily basis, that’s a special thing in life. That’s what is happening with me now. I’m travelling a lot and meeting new people. There are opportunities everywhere. Now, even though I’ve been cut [from Strikeforce], I’m still trying to remain positive and I’m still living that dream. People can always see things as a glass half-empty or half-full. I see it half-full.”


Coenen also has a message for those who have supported her throughout her career, and especially during the past week since she received news of her release from Strikeforce.

“When I came to the United States for the first time two years ago, I was very insecure,” she says. “I was a foreigner and I thought that people might not like me because I’m not a native American. After everything that has happened now, I feel the love that the fans show me on Facebook and on Twitter. I am really astonished and I never expected that they would listen the way that they do.

“I also think that if someone asks for an autograph or something like that, the least that you can do is show them the same respect back. To me, it’s very logical for me to behave the way that I do. I’m not perfect and I will mess up because I’m a human being like everybody else, but I try to live my life as a positive person. I am really thankful for all of the support from the fans and for the positive comments that they have sent to me.”

Coenen plans to stay in the United States until August 15th and may extend her trip for one week before returning home to the Netherlands to resume training. As fight offers continue to pour in, the former Strikeforce champion may be back in action very soon.



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  1. Classy lady.

  2. Marloes is a true woman.. We as your fans love you.

  3. Great interview. She’s awesome. Hopefully she’ll be on the main stage in no time.

  4. Marloes rocks.

    Gotta love her!

    Hope to see her fight again soon. And I also hope that she improves her wrestling, so she can avenge her loss against Miesha in no time;-).

  5. marloes is a class act , very respectful and articulate, good looking , and has lots of heart . marloes will always gain fans because of the way she fights. she never gives up , never stalls a fight and is always trying to be exciting. miesha might have a win over her , but anyone watchiong the fight couls see that marloes actually was beating tate pretty easy , so easy that marloes got overconfident and got caught. considering how tate said so much shiot about killing marloes etc, as soon as marloes punched her in the face in the start of rd 1 , that was it for tate trying to kill her , the rest of the fight was tate trying to stay alive . wherever marloes decxides to fight , the fans will follow , i agree with marloes for zuffa to cut her regardless of the situation with overeem ( hell they cut fitch not the rest of aka ,) it definately doesn’t bode well for wmma under zuffa. i wish tate would of least tried to make the fight exciting ( and yes i blame the fighter who pushes for the takedown , when they stall out for 2:20 sec in the guard while not even tring to pass or deliver strikes. hell marloes when she took tate down in rd 2 she had her back mounted and outstruck her 20-0 . in rd 3 when tate stalled out in guard marloes outsrtuck her 11-3 . so yes i call delivering only 3 strikes while in guard for 2:20 sec stalling.marloes would take this title back if she ever had the chance to re-match tate. but really tate will lose it to kaufman , all tate has is good wrestling , she has very limited standup.