(Uncoachable? Who wouldda thunk it? PicProps: SBNation)
If we had to take a wild guess, we’d bet that the dudes from the American Kickboxing Academy have no problem being brutally honest with each other. Something about that particular facility’s blend of top-level MMA training and high concentration of amateur wrestlers leads us to believe this team as a whole will probably let you know when you need to clip your toenails, if the girl you’re dating ain’t all that or if you come to the gym wearing a faggy T-shirt. For that reason, we were not at all surprised that when MMA Junkie asked Javier Mendez this week about Josh Koscheck’s UFC 124 loss to Georges St. Pierre, the AKA trainer didn’t mince words.
"Josh fought crappy," Mendez told the Junkie. "He knows it. If we told him he fought great, we’d be lying. He didn’t do anything what he was supposed to do.”
As has been noted on this website before, there must be no more frustrating job in all of sports than MMA trainer/corner man. To be put in the strangely important and impotent position of standing outside a cage trying to "coach" a fighter engaged in combat has got to be uniquely maddening. To be so emotionally close yet so physically far away from the action … frankly, we don’t know how they do it. Just goes to show, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him implement the game plan you spent weeks devising, perfecting and fine-tuning.
Mendez, himself a former world champion kickboxer, must know this better than most. That’s why when he talks about Koscheck crapping the bed against GSP at UFC 124, we’re inclined to take it more as a disappointed father figure showing his pupil some tough love than a guy just trying to be a dick. His heart is obviously in the right place.
“Josh is similar to what I was like,” Mendez says. “I never did what my coaches wanted to do; I did what I wanted to do. Some people like to guide themselves, and others like people guiding them. Let’s not discount the fact that GSP is a great fighter."
Also, in the case of Koscheck, he was fighting with an orbital bone that was likely broken during the fight’s first couple of minutes. The simple fact that he survived for the entire five rounds is remarkable in and of itself. Whether or not he was able to implement his game plan is secondary in our minds. Additionally, we’re not sure what possibly could have been done to outfight GSP on this night. Medez, naturally, probably doesn’t see it that way. Of course, he also doesn’t sound that psyched about putting any more of his guys up against the champ. At least not right now.
"(St-Pierre) beat the No. 2 guy, which is my guy Fitch, and Fitch has gotten better, but he’s beat him already," he says. "He’s beat Thiago (Alves) and destroyed him. He’s pretty much done it. Sure, everybody has another opportunity to come at him because they’ve gotten better, but how can you deny the fact that he hasn’t cleaned out the division?"