EXCLUSIVE | Javier Mendez on AKA: “My Goal is to always be in the Top 5 in the World Rankings” | BJPenn.com Radio
By JAKE CHASTAIN
| Legendary AKA Coach Javier Mendez joined our boys in shop over at BJPenn.com Radio on Wednesday night and discussed several topics surrounding the MMA world, most specifically his gym, which has three fighters competing on this Saturday’s UFC 160 card. Mendez, who has been with AKA through and entire transition of the its old identity with the like of fighters like Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch gracing its stables to the newest chapter of AKA , which plays home to fighters like Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, Josh Thompson, and Gray Maynard.
Mendez first talked about the rise of AKA’s success and how his ‘new dynasty of championship fighters’ have built a lasting expectation for greatness. Mendez talked about that success and what has contributed to that consistency of training champions:
“I think the reason why we excel is because we all have a roll and we all play the role that we’re supposed to. And we’re a team. We’re actually a team that you can call it a team. Even though our sport, really it’s not a team sport but we are a team. And based on that, we help each other. You know, we help each other and get better.”
Mendez also touched on the fact that AKA has built a legitimate team rather than just a training facility for fighters to come workout at when they want. He attributes a lot of AKA’s success to the stability and brotherhood that each fighter feels inside the camp. Mendez feels that this is what has kept AKA at the top of the MMA world for such a long period of time and his continuation of that mentality is what he feels will keep them at the very top for years to come:
“We all help each other keep going and improving and as long as we maintain that I think that, you know, my goal is to always be in the top 5, you know, in the world rankings, forever, as long as I’m in the sport and so far I’ve managed to do that and I don’t see me stopping any time soon.”
There are plenty of good camps that many fighters have praised following great performances but AKA has been a staple in the MMA community for a long time and has helped several fighters at the top level of the game improve and grow. The UFC is a shark tank of talent but AKA time and time again has shown that they have a formula for success. The talent and success of its fighters speaks for itself but behind the scenes Mendez explained that other camps just don’t give the fighters the same opportunities to succeed. He then gave some of the differences that stand out between his gym and the other fight camps around the country and told us why he feels AKA is more successful on a consistent basis:
“What we are is a one-stop-shop. You come in you get you jiu-jitsu, you get your boxing, you know, you get your team training, all under one roof. And you get weights, you get a swimming pool, you get the whole nine yards in one place. And then, you know, you don’t have to worry about who you’re sparring. I arrange all of that. Myself, Crazy Bob, you know, we take care of the guys, with Leandro Viera our jiu-jitsu coach and Daniel Cormier our wrestling coach. We have the whole system down. So that’s the big difference. You don’t have to do any of the thinking; you have to do the training.”
Mendez continued to speak about the system that AKA has maintained in order to stay at the top of the game. He spoke about how each fighter has a voice inside the gym, regardless of ranking, and that the hierarchy that they have in place has led to a stable, successful gym:
“That’s why we keep maintaining our strength because these guys know that their voice is heard and they’re important. They’re not just being shoved aside. Even the lower ranked guys their voice is still important. It’s not like, ‘well only the top guys talk, everybody shut up.’ No, everybody gets to talk. And, you know, I think that’s what works. As long as we continue to maintain that and there’s one ruler, I mean, not ruler…excuse my word…one chief, which is me, and if I’m not there it’s Crazy Bob, he’s the chief. And if Crazy Bob and I aren’t there its Leandro Viera, and if Leandro is not there it’s Daniel Cormie. You know, as long as we maintain that I think that we’ll keep maintaining a top level of talent coming through.”
And any time a gym experiences the type of success that AKA has shown in its fighters there is going to come a point in time when the question of teammates fighting teammates arises. Mendez talked about the state of that dilemma inside AKA, a gym that has several top ranked fighters in each weight class, and how they plan on handling title fights amongst teammates if that situation comes about:
“I think that the likelihood of it happening is going to be pretty strong. We’ve discussed it amongst each other. It’s a fighters decision not mine, if they want to fight each other for the title, as long as one is the champion and one is the number one mandatory contender that’s offered the title shot there’s nothing that I can do or say about it, we’ll just have to do what we need to do and help both guys the best we can to make sure it’s done right. It’s not fair that we say, ‘well, he’s the champion and you can’t fight him or you’re out of the gym.’ It’s not fair because everybody is striving to get to that goal of being the champ. To not let him have that opportunity to take the fight or refuse the fight, it’s not fair on myself or any of the coaches.”
To listen to the entire interview from Javier Mendez on BJPenn.com Radio click here
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