Hailed as the most well conditioned fighter at heavyweight, former UFC champion Cain Velasquez was exhausted by the third round of his title fight against Fabricio Werdum at UFC 188. The Brazilian snagged a guillotine choke 12 minutes into the fight after battering Velasquez from pillar to post. According to the Mexican-American's head coach Javier Mendez, it may have all been his fault.
Many have cited the high altitude of Mexico City as the reason for Cain's underwhelming performance, but Javier Mendez insisted that his star pupil was in great shape heading into his fight with Werdum on UFC embedded. Now, two months on from the loss, the American Kickboxing Academy owner has taken full responsibility for Velasquez' defeat.
In an interview with Talking Brawls last week, Mendez says he failed at his job by not aptly preparing Velasquez for the altitude change in Mexico.
"I screwed up," Mendez said. "I screwed up the last time. The bottom line is it was my responsibility to prepare my fighter in the best possible way and that night I didn't. I failed. I failed at my job. Regardless of Cain saying it was his fault, it wasn't. It was my fault. It was my responsibility to look into the altitude and all that. I screwed up and I won't make that mistake again."
While the long-time coach credits Werdum for his performance, he feels the high altitude was the main reason for his student's loss. According to Mendez, back at AKA in California, Velasquez looked phenomenal and showed no signs of fatigue.
"Fabricio is a really, really good fighter and you can't make a mistake. Obviously, it showed. They didn't make mistakes and we made plenty."
"For me, 100 percent [altitude] was the main factor," said Mendez. "It was the best Cain I've ever had. He was 100 percent healthy. He was in the greatest shape. He was going through everyone here no problem. No injures, no nothing. Then to go over there and he looks like the worst Cain I've ever had. I don't know how to explain it."
Velasquez is set for an immediate rematch with Fabricio Werdum at an upcoming event and Mendez feels the second fight will tell a different story. The proud Mexican also lost in devastating fashion to Junior dos Santos at UFC on FOX's debut show in 2011, but came back to dominate the Brazilian in both rematches.
"We just have to come in in condition," said Mendez. "We've got to come in the way we were last time. We're fighting in a different place now. The fight will showcase itself. We'll see who did their homework that night. In my opinion, we don't need to do anything other than what we did last time. The only difference was the altitude training. We screwed up there, but it's not going to happen in the second one because I don't think we're fighting in Mexico or in high elevation. We'll be fine. We'll just do the same thing we did."
Also read: MMA Fighting Morning Report: Javier Mendez takes full responsibility for Cain Velasquez's loss to Fabricio Werdum, 'I failed at my job'