clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

AKA injury rate has dropped 50% according to head coach Javier Mendez

New, comments
UFC 200: Tate v Nunes Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

American Kickboxing Academy (aka AKA) has a reputation for churning out some of the toughest fighters in mixed martial arts. It’s also developed a less positive rep for its fighters getting injured in training. Cain Velasquez, Luke Rockhold, and Daniel Cormier are just some of the gym’s big names who have been pulled after mishaps preparing for fights. It’s a common problem in MMA, but at a certain point it seemed much more common with AKA.

But according to AKA head coach Javier Mendez, they’ve turned a corner regarding training camp casualties, dropping the number of injuries down by as much as 50 percent.

“It is the nature of the sport,” Mendez told BJ Penn Radio. “You know, there’s a lot of injuries involved in the sport. It’s not something that we have mastered yet, but I’ll tell you what, it is something that we’ve gotten better at. This is still a relatively new sport and we’re still learning.”

“I was still trying to figure out how do we save us from getting injured all the damn time?” he continued. “Why are we getting injured? It’s nuts. Well little simple things ... from having the guys talk to me when they don’t want to spar. They have issues with their girlfriend or their family, you know, they didn’t get enough sleep, or they have a little injury.”

“I want them to point it out to me. I want them to tell me what’s going on. So this way I’ll say, ‘okay, you’re just boxing today or okay, you’re not sparring today.’ Let me tell you something. Our injury rate has dropped almost over 50 percent.”

But then Mendez went on to admit a decent amount of that percentage was from his guys fighting injured.

”[Blagoy Ivanov], he came to me, I took him on to start training, being his head coach for the Junior dos Santos fight, right?”

“So I said, this what you need to do,” he continued. “I need you running five, six days a week. [He said] ‘What? Why?’ [I said] ‘Yes. I need you to do it hard six days a week.’ He goes, ‘Okay coach.’ So next thing you know, two weeks into this whole thing, the poor guy rips his meniscus running on the street. He ripped his meniscus in two spots. How he’s going into the fight with Junior dos Santos with a torn meniscus in two spots. Now guess what? All you can really do is box.”

“So I had told them to cancel the fight, call the UFC, cancel the fight. So he had already scheduled surgery, he was canceling the fight, but over the weekend, he just felt like, no, I’m gonna fight. And that’s what fighters do. They fight injured. He’s not the only example. There’s tons of examples that go out there.”

That ... that doesn’t sound good at all. Hindsight is 20/20, but maybe telling the fireplug Blagoi to run nonstop wasn’t a great idea? I’m no longer feeling so great about this 50% figure. What do all you Maniacs feel about AKA’s training methods following this new glimpse into their camp?