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Javier Mendez: If Cain Velasquez had never got injured he’d be the greatest heavyweight of all time right now

American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez discusses his star heavyweight pupil’s recent injury, and whether this impacts his quest to become the greatest of all time.

Not only will Cain Velasquez have to work hard to regain his health in time to defend his title next year, he will also need to find a way to regain the trust of the fans who no longer trust his ability to stay healthy.

In this particular case, what started as a "slight tear in the meniscus" eventually escalated to an MCL tear, which required immediate surgery. The original pan was that Velasquez would nurse the knee injury during the training camp in hopes of being ready to defend his title on Nov. 15.

However, things simply went from bad to worse, and soon afterwards, Velasquez went under the knife to repair his knee.

"The surgery went well, but there was more damage than anticipated, which didn't make sense to me because he's so freaking tough," Velasquez's coach, Javier Mendez, told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. "If Cain says ‘oww' it must be a lot worse than he's making it out to be, because that guy can take pain like I've never seen. So when it turned out that his MCL was worse, they put two anchors on it, it turns out he'll be out a little longer than anticipated.

"[Velasquez]'s on crutches right now," he said. "Two weeks on crutches, and then he'll be on the knee brace for I believe six weeks. So, if you count all that, you can't figure out the numbers."

In light of Velasquez's recent injury, Mendez was brutally honest about the heavyweight's position amongst the greatest of all time in MMA.

"If he had never got injured he'd be the greatest heavyweight of all time right now because of what the guy can do," he said. "What I do believe is that it's just going to take longer for people to recognize him as the greatest. Even if he doesn't get injured going forward, he still has a good...depending on him, he still has a good six to seven or eight years -- even ten years of fighting, if that's what he chooses to do. So he's still going to hit that goal of being the greatest of all time. Obviously, we can't label him there. Not yet, because he needs more fights I think. He will get there. It's just going to take a little longer."

Transcription taken from