For coach Mark Henry, you might say the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on MMA has been a positive one.
Henry, who will be in former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar’s corner Saturday against Pedro Munhoz in the UFC on ESPN 15 main event, actually prefers fights taking place inside an empty UFC Apex.
Known for cornering his fighters through code-based language, Henry explains that, with no fans in the stands, the quiet helps him communicate better with his fighters.
“I love the MMA situation that we’re dealing with now where there’s no fans,” Henry told MMA Junkie. “We’re 4-0 in COVID, so I’m almost having conversations with our fighters, like I’m talking to Cody (Garbrandt) and Sijara (Eubanks) and Claudia (Gadelha) and Katlyn (Chookagian). They’re talking back to me in the octagon.”
He continued, “Even Sijara’s fight, she’s like mid-talking to me, and it’s great that I’m able to expand on what I’m saying. So let’s say I’m going head, body, head and that the code for that is ‘pizza’ and a left hook is a ‘slice.’ I could say go pizza and go hard on the slice, and I can expand. Just touch the right hand could be ‘straw’ and go hard on the ‘slice.’ You get to expand because you could hear things so clearly that you could expand on what you’re saying in there, and everything with us is code-based, so it’s been great.”
Since the pandemic hit, Henry has cornered Eubanks, Garbrandt, Gadelha and Chookagian all to victory and will look to continue capitalizing on the situation with Edgar, who’s making his debut at bantamweight.
“Nobody knows what the heck I’m talking about, so it’s been great for us with this quiet arena,” Henry said, “and I’m really looking forward to it with Frankie, because I’ve been with him for 15 years, so it’s been great for us, and thank goodness everything has worked out for us in that way.”