Head trainer at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), Javier Mendez, knows a thing or two about game planning.
Training top mixed martial arts (MMA) stars such as B.J. Penn, Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Daniel Cormier and former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in San Jose, Calif., Mendez's successful track record of his past and present pupils speaks for itself.
So it may come as a surprise if one if his star students strays away from a structured gameplan during an important fight.
However, that's exactly what Cain Velasquez did in his first title defense against Junior dos Santos back on Nov. 12, 2011, in the inaugural UFC on Fox 1 show. Velasquez -- an accomplished collegiate wrestler -- chose to go toe-to-toe with arguably one of the greatest strikers in the UFC's heavyweight division.
It turned out to be a terrible idea.
"Cigano" connected a well-placed right hand to the back of Velasquez' ear that sent him tumbling to the canvas and proceeded to follow up with several fight-ending strikes just for good measure. In A matter of 64 seconds, dos Santos ended Velasquez's short-lived reign atop the UFC's heavyweight division, sending the previously unbeaten Mexican heavyweight back to the blackboard.
A blackboard that, according to Mendez, didn't include plans of trading punches in the first place with the Brazilian heavyweight.
As Mendez tells Tatame.com, Velasquez knows what he did wrong, as well as what he has to do to remedy the issues should he get the opportunity to reclaim his title.
Check it out:
"Cain knows he blew it, that he stopped before the guy (Junior), but he's confident that he'll have the chance to fight for the championship again. Possibly in two or three fights from now. He first has to prove he deserves that chance, so he'll have to defeat his two next opponents, or at least one in a convincing way so that Zuffa says "ok, you deserve another shot". When Zuffa offer us that fight, we'll work on it. When we started training, the first thing I told him was not to trade punches with Junior. I told him not to stand before him because the guy's a great boxer, the best in activity. Once you do that, you're screwed. I did my job. The fight presented itself, Cain stood in front of him for a seconds and Junior landed a powerful right hand. Junior came prepared, Cain was prepared, but the win went to the one who imposed first his game, and that was Junior."
With the planned addition of the Strikeforce heavyweight roster in early 2012, the UFC will now have a deeper talent pool waiting for Velasquez once he returns to the Octagon, meaning his climb back to the top could be a little tougher (and perhaps longer) than initially expected.
There is no timetable set for Velasquez's return to action at this time. When it is time to consider it, however, perhaps a fight with the streaking Frank Mir could be a good test for the former heavyweight kingpin, which is actually a fight Mir isn't necessarily opposed to.
It would certainly get him on the fast track back to a rematch with the Brazilian champion. And perhaps at that point he'd be able to utilize his proficient wrestling abilities to exact revenge.
Unless, of course, dos Santos can serve up another gameplan-smashing right hand before "Brown Pride" can get going.