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Cancelled fight leaves Coenen with many questions to answer

Marloes Coenen Bellator
(Kristian Ibarra, Today's Knockout)

As seasoned a female mixed martial artist as they come, Marloes Coenen has never quite been here before.

Highly regarded as one of the greatest ladies to ever strap on a pair of fingerless combat gloves, the 35-year-old Dutch grappler has lost seven times in 30 tries throughout her career. But never like she did at Bellator 155. A -720 favorite against Alexis Dufresne — a 5-2 replacement fighter for Julia Budd — Coenen gave up a submission defeat uncharacteristic of her a career accolades.

Having previously suffered defeat to Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino (twice), former UFC and Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, as well as Invicta FC standouts Roxanne Modafferi and Cindy Dandois, this was arguably the biggest, most devastating L “Rumina” has been forced to accept.

“It was really hard for me,” Coenen told MMAjunkie. “I’ve lost before but I’ve always had an excuse for myself. I never said it on social media or anything, but I always knew why I lost. This time it was really my own fault. It really hurt to my core. It hurt a very long time. Not only my arm, but mentally it hurt a really long time.”

One minute Coenen is expected to be on the doorstep of winning a major promotional championship for the second time in her professional career, the next she’s tapping out to a fighter who’s past two outings saw her lose to Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras and Marion Reneau.

Dufresne isn’t necessarily considered a can in the grand scheme of things, but she certainly wasn’t believed to be on the level of Coenen or the sport’s best 145-pound fighters. Despite locking in an armbar against the sport’s second-ranked featherweight, she still isn’t. And that says quite a bit, especially considering the lack of talent available in the division present day.

“As a human being it helped me to grow, because when you have so much pain you finally learn,” Coenen said. “All the fighters have big losses. Ronda Rousey hurt her jaw, Miesha Tate lost her title to [Amanda] Nunes. As a person it helps you to grow and as a fighter it gave a lot of motivation. It was the kind of motivation I didn’t have for years because I’ve been doing this for 16 years on a professional level. Sometimes the motivation goes. I’m so motivated to redeem myself and that’s the upside of the loss.”

But was her loss to Dufresne a fluke or a sign of things to come for the Dutch fighter?

Coenen was set to answer that question at Bellator 163 Friday, originally scheduled to face undefeated Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Talita Nogueira. Hoping to prove her most recent loss was a fluke, the grappler’s equivalent of getting clipped by a punch that lands right on the button, Coenen now has to wait longer.

Nogueira, four submission victories and one IBJJF World Championship to her name, failed to make weight Thursday by more than five pounds. Coenen, unwilling to give her opponent a weight advantage for the second straight contest, declined the opportunity for a catchweight fight.

Unfortunately for Coenen however, this would have been a decent opportunity to turn things around. While Nogueira’s resume lacks noteworthy success, she’s got the grappling pedigree to prove Coenen hasn’t lost a step in MMA. A win over a former world BJJ champion does that much.

“Rumina” has hopes of a “bad blood” rematch with Dufresne down the line, likely the final step before taking on Budd for the featherweight title they were promised earlier this year. The former will likely need to precede the latter; but at 35, waiting around is hardly what it once was.

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