One of the best striking coaches in the business, Eddie Cha, just lost his best fighter. After helping to coach ‘Triple C’ Henry Cejudo to a second-round TKO victory over Dominick Cruz at UFC 249, Cejudo announced his retirement in the cage during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
Good thing Fight Ready has a deep talent pool of fighters for him to work with. Many of whom left the MMA Lab to continue training with Cha after he moved across town. The list of current and former fighters he’s worked with include: Benson Henderson, ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung, Drakkar Klose, Hunter Azure, Cortney Casey, Alex Caceres, Mackenzie Dern, and Darrion Caldwell, to name a few.
Originally from California, Cha grew up training traditional martial arts. His first instructor was his Father:
” I started training martial arts pretty much my whole life. My dad was my first instructor around five-years-old. I took traditional style martial arts. I got into kickboxing and boxing at seventeen. I competed in kickboxing and Muay Thai, I was (10-0) and (2-0) in amateur boxing. I competed in Tae Kwon Do and a couple of other sports.”
Speaking of Tae Kwon Do, have you ever seen the movie Best of the Best?
” That’s a classic, I love that movie. I think every martial artist and martial arts fan has definitely seen that one, and Blood Sport, too.”
When did you begin coaching?
” In my early twenties or so — helping out teammates. I started coaching MMA around twenty-seven, my first student was Chris Saunders, he got to Bellator and then to The Ultimate Fighter show, and that’s how I met Francisco Rivera, he broke top-ten in the UFC.”
What brought you out to Arizona?
” The MMA Lab. So, I met John Crouch and Benson Henderson in England, for a UFC event. We were in the same corner they kind of asked about me a little bit. A good friend of mine, Jason House, is a manager, and he linked us up together. We came out here to help Benson with a camp, and they offered me a job as the head striking coaching over there. ” Sold my gym, and wanted to train a couple of world champions, so I moved out here.”
How did the lack of crowd noise affect your coaching in Jacksonville?
” I thought it was great. You could clearly hear the instructions. We didn’t have to yell over the crowd. There was no adrenaline dump or anything like that. I think it might have affected other fighters. You look at guys like Justin Gaethje they kind of rise to the occasion of the crowd, but Henry’s just cool, calm, and collected. I don’t think the crowd bothers him. It wouldn’t have been a factor anyway. “
What did you think about fighters possibly making in fight adjustments based on what the announcers were saying in the empty arena?
” If you are making adjustments off the announcers as opposed to your coaching staff, maybe you can hear everybody, but I think that is the wrong thing to be focusing on. ‘DC’ does a great job, Rogan, and Anik and everybody, but they don’t know your game plan. “
Who’s up next for Fight Ready regardless of promotion, does the Korean Zombie have a fight on the horizon?
” Zombie does have a fight, it’s not announced yet. It’s not till I think past summer. I can’t really say. Cortney Casey got another short-notice fight.”
Do you think Henry Cejudo is truly retired?
” I do. I get that question asked a lot. If he says he’s retired, he’s retired. I know we hung out at the hotel room after and he was telling me he’s just a little burnt out. He’s been training since he was seven years old. He’s competed in over a thousand wrestling matches. You know sometimes people just need a little bit of a break. I would definitely want him for two, three, four more fights I think he’s something special. Captian Eric and I call him ‘The Unicorn’, he is very rare. “
How physically taxing is it to hold pads? On an average day, how long are you holding pads for?
“Before this COVID stuff, I would hold for probably four guys a day. My arms are shot, my legs are shot, my shoulders — my elbows have tennis elbow. Every coach that I talk to it’s the same thing — they’ve gone through elbow surgery, shoulder surgery. There’s not a day goes by that you wake up, and you are not in pain. When they win, all that is forgotten, and it’s all worth it!”
Anything you want to leave us with?
” I appreciate the time. Just always shouting out my team, Fight Ready in Scottsdale, Arizona, and my coaches. Santino Defranco he’s our ace in the hole we call him the ‘Wizard.’ Coach Alan Viers, he’s our boxing coach, and Angel Cejudo is our wrestling coach. “