Cormier’s coach on fight delay, eye pokes, gameplan

On August 18, 2014 By

Head Coach at AKA, Javier Mendez also makes his second appearance on Submission Radio to talk all things Jones/Cormier, Vitor Belfort, Luke Rockhold, Cain Velasquez, and Jon Fitch.

Javier talks about the game plan for the DC/Jones fight, how the delay will affect Daniel, Jon Jones’ eye pokes, and why they’re the two biggest alpha males in the jungle that is the UFC light heavyweight division. Speaking of jungles, Javier talks about returning lion Vitor Belfort and how he think he’ll do upon his TRT free return. In a very candid chat, Mendez also weighs in on the Fitch/Palhares matchup, Josh Thompson’s disappointing fight against Bobby Green, and even his own grappling game.

Interview highlights below

On the truth about how bad Daniel Cormier’s knees really where going into the Jones fight

“They weren’t super bad, you know, but it’s a pre-existing injury that he’s had for years, you know. And he had different opinions, you know some of the doctors say he must have surgery, other doctors where iffy, and others where like ‘no you can rehab it’, you know. So it was kinda one of those situations that he had to weigh out, what did he wanna do. Does he wanna have surgery? Does he not wanna have surgery? Does he listen to this expert? Should he listen to that expert? So it’s kinda one of those deals where you know, I just figure how long is it gonna take you out if you have surgery, you know? If it’s gonna be quite a while I go ‘shoot, if it hasn’t been bothering you too much, then why don’t you just continue that way and then ride it out?’ And then he felt that was the right idea too.”

“It wasn’t a real super, you know big problem. There was no need you know”

On if Cormier will have the time to get his knee’s fixed and get surgery before the Jones fight Jan 3rd

“He’d have to still look to delay this, because if he went into surgery, he won’t even make the fight, you know there’s no way. He just has to make sure he’s rehabbing it and the doing the best he can with the best doctors that he’s got available, to make sure he’s on track, and I believe he’ll be fine. I don’t think there’s gonna be an issue come fight time.”

“Will it be a 100% of course not, but you know what, based on what it was before, he wasn’t 100% going into any of his fights anyways. So we’re still gonna see the best Daniel Cormier we’ve ever seen, because he’s gonna need to be the best Daniel Cormier. Because to be the best Daniel, you have to be, to be able to beat the best Jon Jones.”

“Instead of closing his fist he opens up his finger and that’s a motherfucker to deal with “

(Javier Mendez comes on at the [48:51] mark)

On if the delay in the fight benefits Daniel Cormier’s preparation for the Jon Jones fight?

“Well absolutely. When Daniel came up to me and he goes ‘hey Jav, I got something to tell you’ and I go ‘what?’, and he goes ‘I got the fight’. And I go ‘what fight?’. He goes ‘the Jones fight’. I go ‘errr, OK. When?’. He goes ‘September 27th’. I go ‘ah, couldn’t we have a little bit more time?’. He goes ‘Jav what do you think we should do?’ I said ‘man you gotta take the fight, you know. You have to take the fight. You cannot not take the fight. It’s ridiculous because you’ll never know what’s gonna happen.”

“So now that we have a longer training camp it’s better for us, you know. And I’m sure it may be better for him (Jon Jones) too, maybe not. Who knows? but it’s definitely better for us.”

On Alexander Gustafsson claiming he deserves the next shot at Jones

“Well for me Gustafsson, you know the way I feel if he’s gonna want to fight for that title, he’s gonna have to fight Daniel. That’s the way I view this, and that’s the way our mentality has always been that way. I mean how can I not come in with a guy who’s never lost a freakin round, who’s 15-0, who’s just destroyed everybody. You know, how can I feel any different.”

What areas Daniel has an advantage and the issue with Jon Jones’ eye pokes

“We’ll see, I mean Daniel’s a little faster than he is, I think Daniel hits a little harder than he does. You know the biggest obstacle is going to be that 5 finger, you know deal he sticks out all the time. Instead of closing his fist he opens up his finger and that’s a motherfucker to deal with you know. Because fighters have to deal with being poked in the eyes running into that all the time, so that’s a major issue for me”

“If Jones has time, I hope he can practice closing his hand when he sticks it out. It’s ok to measure a fighter, but it’s not ok to stick your hands out open like he does all the time. And you watch you watch all of his fights, he does it in every freakin fight, it’s just unbelievable how many times he does it. And with Glover, he poked him in the eye ’cause Glover came in on him and he got poked in the eye. So think about it, the next time Glover is thinking about coming in, he’s thinking about getting poked in the eye because he has open fingers out there.”

“That’s a very dangerous tool. I think he should be warned before the fight, I think he should be warned during the fight, and I think he should get points taken away if he continues to do it, because you know, I’ve even seen John McCarthy warn him about ‘don’t open your hands, don’t open your hands!’ But he’s not been warned enough. He does it way more than I’ve seen anybody ever do. I personally feel he’s such a great fighter, he is pound of pound the best fighter in the world, why does he need to do it? He doesn’t need to do that, and he says it’s an old habit and it’s not intentional, well I believe him, but please work on it. Please work on correcting that. Because you know, I would hate a fight of this magnitude to be ended because of an accidental eye poke, and because he has the habit of doing that. That would be ridiculous.”

“All these people spending good money to watch a great fight and then that could end because of an eye poke? I think he needs to work on that.”

Thoughts on Jones unorthodox techniques

“I can’t mock him on how great he is, because he is that great. The only issues I have, is the eye poke. That’s for sure an issue with me, and then of course, I’m not sure if going for the knees all the time – because he goes for the knees so dam much. Side kick to the knee all the time. – I don’t know if that’s such good sportsmanship. I guess it’s legal, so he’s within the rules, but I wish they would outlaw that too, because he does, he’s so good at it now that one good-placed shot at one point is gonna end a fighters career.”
” like I said, he’s a great fighter. Daniel’s advantages I believe are gonna be in the clinch, on the ground. Jones’ ability, I think on top Jones is gonna have the advantages and I think standing Jones is gonna have the advantages. But I don’t think it’s gonna be as easy he thinks it is, because Daniel is very tricky, you know. So you may be shocked to see that he’s not doing as well as he thinks he’s doing in the stand up with Daniel. Daniel ain’t no joke.”

“If it wasn’t for the referee stepping in and grabbing him…..he wouldn’t have let go once the fighter taps”

On if Javier was surprised at the scuffle Jones and Cormier got into during the media press conference.

“No not at all, because they’ve been brewing for a while. It started two years ago with Jones you know, I guess. I don’t think it was meant as a disrespect, but I think it was takes as that, and so one thing led to another and somehow here we are and it’s legit. They have a legit dislike for each other. One tit, one tat, you do this, I do that, you do this, I do that, so they’re going back and forth. And one thing is, you know when you got two alpha males, and these are two kings of the jungle alpha males, what do you think is going to happen? They’re not gonna give in.”

On if some of the hype for the fight is lost due to the fight being moved to Jan 3rd

“Come closer to the fight you’re gonna see it flair back up, and that’s just gonna add more fuel to the fire. I think that what they already accomplished they’re gonna reuse, and then there’s gonna be new stuff that’s gonna come up that they’re going to be doing to each other. I guarantee you. Just that little simple thing I saw just the other day that I didn’t know was happening between Luke Rockhold, where he goes out there and does the eye poke protection thing and they’re practicing and trying to lurk at Daniel and get him prepared for the eye poke. That was funny as hell. So they’re gonna do more like that, and you think that Jon is gonna stop that happening to him and him not coming back? Trust me, he’s gonna come back and when he’s gonna do his thing he’s gonna come back at Daniel. When have we seen Jon Jones not come back at somebody that’s kinda made fun of him or attacked him. He always comes back and he comes back with something pretty good or something pretty stupid, but regardless he comes back.”

On who Javier believes is a good fight for Luke Rockhold next

“Well honestly I’ve always believed that the best fight for Luke Rockhold is the one Luke Rockhold wants most, because that’s when he gets fired up, that’s when he’s at his best, is (when he gets) the fight that he wants most. So to me it’s up in the air. If he’s got his sights set on Bisping, then it’s Bisping. If it happens to be Chris Weidman, if he gets an opportunity then it’s Chris. If it’s Belfort, it’s Belfort. You know, but I think at one time or another he’s gonna wanna fight Belfort again, regardless whether it’s now or after he gets the title shot, or if he wins the title shot, which I am very confident that I believe he will.”

“People are sleeping on him a little bit but not as much now, because he’s shown within the last two fights what he can really do. And even though the opposition wasn’t as high, they were still pretty high. And to do what he did to them that no one else has done to them, it better wake people up because this kid’s for real, and you better take him serious, and he’s coming. Luke Rockhold’s coming, and I don’t see him not having that belt around his waist.”

On if Javier believes we will see the same Vitor Belfort when he returns to face Weidman with no TRT

“Absolutely not. I don’t care what anybody says, he’s not gonna be able to maintain that. They never do, and anybody that says ‘oh I’m the same, I’m stronger’ you’re bullshitting. You’re not. With anyone that’s been on the PED’s I’ve seen, I’ve been in this business 30 something years, I’ve seen it all, and trust me they’re not stronger, you know. They’re not stronger, they’re not stronger. Maybe the one thing they can say is ‘my cardio’s better’, but you’re not stronger, you’re not faster, you’re not as aggressive. No.”

“There’s a reason why these kids get on the stuff and there’s a reason they destroy people. If you remember the early UFC days, look at what was going on then. Those guys where monsters who were destroying everybody. You know, the only thing that killed them was what? Cardio. You know, cardio, cardio. If someone could out last them in the cardio then that’s where they eventually started getting tired, but before that, man it’s like guys where demolishing people.”

On Jon Fitch and Rousimar Palhares fight

“The only concern I have with that guy (Palhares) is when he gets that move, if he does get is please let go when someone taps, because he still has a tendency to hold on a little bit. If it wasn’t for the referee stepping in and grabbing him, you know he wouldn’t have let go once the fighter taps. I’m a little concerned about that for Fitch, because of that, you know. But like I said, you know we are yet to see if he is able to get Fitch there you know? Fitch is a seasoned veteran, he’s been through it all. We’re yet to see if he can do that you know, but I’m just saying my big concern is that you know, hopefully we’ll never have that concern because he won’t him there but just in case you know.”

Thoughts on Josh Thompsons performance against Bobby Green

“You know, that was a tough fight for him. He went from fighting a southpaw to a right handed guy in the last two weeks or three weeks or so and they kinda changed everything. I think that he didn’t adjust the way he needed to.”

“I personally thought he won the fight but I’m being biased of course because, you know. I thought he won (rounds) 1 and 2, but you know 1 was close. So I thought he won and there was a problem where I didn’t think he was coming forward enough, and I think Bobby playing the act like it didn’t hurt played on the judges minds, and I think he did a great job of doing that. Because every time Josh would connect he would like laugh ‘Nah, nah that didn’t hurt’ and then Bobby was the aggressor. Bobby was the aggressor so it depends on what the judges see.”

On if Thompson needs to get in the cage as soon as possible

“I think he should get back in the cage as soon as possible. This fight didn’t prove to me that he’s still not one of the best. He’s still one of the best, you know. It just proved that he had an off night, but in the off night you know it was still a split decision, a little controversial, you know and it just means that he’s one fight away from again being in title contention. All he needs is one good win and there you go here’s your title shot again. I see that happening to him ’cause his next fight was gonna be, it was gonna be against a top 10 guy you know, and if he wins that fight then it could very well be ‘there you go, you’re fighting for the title’. So all those guys within the top 10 are within one fight away, one good fight away.”

On Thompson’s spirits after the loss

“He’s motivated to come back and he’s not talking retirement. He didn’t talk retirement before this fight. He said no he’s going to hang in there and continue. So had a little bit of injuries, you know little nagging injuries, but he’s back training yesterday. So no, he’s back, he’s back.”

On how Velasquez’s training is going for Werdum

“Cain is going great. He’s doing fantastic, he’s on track. You know, we started (training) on Ultimate Fighter, when we were filming TUF is when I first started training him over there. You know his timing is coming back, everything is coming back so, you know I’m expecting a great fight, and I think The Ultimate Fighter is gonna be a huge hit in Latin America. It’s gonna be a huge hit. I think they got the two perfect guys to spring board MMA into Latin America with Fabricio being able to speak fluent Spanish like he does and Cain. Fabricio’s Spanish is better than Cain’s. Actually Fabricio’s Spanish is better than all of us. He made us look silly.”

On how they match up

“I think with Fabricio we have to be worried about every single thing. We have to worry about kicks, knees, punches, elbows. The only area that we are not gonna be as concerned with is wrestling, that’s it. He can practice his wrestling all he wants, although he doesn’t have enough time to be competitive in that area. So we have to respect him in every area, we definitely have to give him the utmost respect on the ground because he could very well be and probably is the best heavyweight Jiu Jitsu player on the ground. So we have to give him his credit there, and of course we’ll probably have to be there too. It’s not gonna be like we’re not, but we have to give him his dues and his respect. He’s gonna be dangerous everywhere but the wrestling.”

On Cain planning to use his wrestling in the fight regardless of Fabricio’s BJJ

“If you’ve watched all of Cain’s fights, with the exception of Nogueira, he’s utilized his wrestling in every one of them. So you know, unless Fabricio gets knocked out or Cain gets knocked out which ain’t gonna happen, then I see him using his wrestling. He’s used it in every fight you know, and I don’t see this one being any different. Unless he’s taken out early.”

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