Exclusive | AKA Founder Javier Mendez opens up about Cain Velasquez | UFC NEWS
Javier Mendez is one of the best trainers in the history of MMA. He is the legendary founder of the American Kickboxing Academy and former kickboxing world champion himself. He has produced many notable fighters and coached them to championships. Mendez’s credentials speak for themselves so it should be no surprise when one of his fighters wins a UFC championship.
Cain Velasquez’s demolition of Brock Lesnar gained him the UFC Heavyweight Championship, and announced to the world that he was top of the food chain. Cain displayed aggressiveness, ring generalship, and an unmatched will to win. It was one fight later that he found himself on the losing side of a championship bout with current UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos.
Cain’s next fight was supposed to be with Frank Mir, but Mir was shuffled around to face Junior Dos Santos when Alistair Overeem was removed from the bout. Stepping in for Mir was Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva who had recently made a name for himself by dispatching Fedor Emilianenko in 2011. Despite getting knocked out by Daniel Cormier in his next fight, Silva is still one of the best heavyweights in the world.
Cain won his fight with Silva at 3:36 of round 1 by technical knockout. While Cain was favored going in to the fight no one expected it to end as quickly and decisively as it did. Well, no one except Javier Mendez.
“We saw it going that way”, Javier said. “The plan was to take him down. The whole idea was this – no matter what the risk we were going to take him down. That was our goal. We felt his stand up game was pretty decent and we thought that was the one area he had the best chance to survive with Cain. We didn’t think he could survive that with Cain either, but it was his best chance if he could. I honestly don’t think they expected Cain to take him down”.
When a fighter loses there are many reasons that are brought up in hindsight, but Mendez laid it out plainly why Antonio came up short.
“I think they expected it to be a standup war”, Javier continued. “Our number one thing was to take him down. We even said right before we went out there if he does try to kick grab the leg and take him down. It just so happens that the first thing he did was kick. Cain was ready to grab it and take him down. We prepared Cain for that and the goal was to take him down, beat on him, try to submit him, and then take him down again. If he managed to survive all of the beatdowns he was going to get then we were going to pick him apart stand-up wise”.
With his win over Silva, Cain has positioned himself near the top of the heavyweight division once more. Some would say next in line for a shot at Junior Dos Santos’s belt – Mendez agreed.
“According to some sources it’s 100% that Cain will get his rematch with Junior. We don’t have a date, but I’m thinking the fall. The sooner the better for the UFC I think and for both of these guys”.
The first fight was over in 1:04 of round 1 on November 12, 2011 with Cain on the receiving end of a technical knockout from Dos Santos. It was the UFC’s first outing on the Fox network and unfortunately not representative of what Velasquez was capable of. It was revealed later that Cain wasn’t at full speed going in to the fight. Javier doesn’t think it was that big of a deal looking back stating, “Cain was not one hundred percent and neither was Junior so it was fair”.
When it comes to the rematch between the two, AKA is confident, but still cautious.
“You would assume that you are one hundred percent you would like to think you would be really confident in things. Especially with a guy like Cain”, Mendez said. “The bottom line is that if you lost to a guy you need to be more aware of his strengths. At the same time you’re confidence is at a high – your radar is on alert so to speak because this guy put you out last time. You can’t take the chance with a guy like Dos Santos and go in overconfident”.
Some experts have said that Cain’s striking needs to improve before he can win a fight with Junior, but Javier does not. He believes that Cain’s performance against Bigfoot showed what he can do when he is healthy.
“I don’t think Cain’s striking has improved significantly like some have said”, Mendez said. “It has a little bit. What I do think is that Cain is 100% healthy and that’s what’s important. Healthy wins fights. He was able to pull the trigger with no hesitations. If you are going to win that is what you have to do”.