Coach Mendez Explains Why AKA Is One Of The Best Gyms In The World
American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) was for many, the MMA gym of 2018. With Daniel Cormier the double champion for a spell, AKA held three UFC belts at one point. With Khabib Nurmagomedov holding the other. Along with Cain Velasquez, who returns next month after a lengthy lay off, they are certainly one of the stand out gyms in the MMA world.
AKA Head Coach Javier Mendez recently spoke to BJPenn.com, about the gym’s success.
“A lot of it is luck. A lot of it is by design and DeWayne Zinkin and ‘Crazy’ Bob Cook bringing me top level wrestlers. Some I have sought out myself but the vast majority come from Zinkin and ‘Crazy’ Bob.
“It is very important. It is also very important to have a real teammate like Daniel Cormier who is a real team captain. He takes care of the guys. Do you know how many guys he has gotten into the UFC just by talking? I get the calls, and they go, ‘how is this guy Daniel said he was good’ and I go ‘oh he is really good,’ but they want to hear it from me. Like no, Daniel is correct. He helps everyone and that is why we are close because there is real care there. He cares about his teammates and does whatever he can to help them out.”
Although AKA is regarded as one of the best gyms out there, their success has often been over shadowed by the high frequency of injuries, to it’s best fighters. Mendez doesn’t believe that the problem was ever has bad as it was made out to be though.
“It was just somebody doing a statistic on injuries and he never did it correctly. He put down a lot who never trained at my gym or got hurt but weren’t training at my gym at the time. The fact that we had some main event guys get injured and Dana [White] talked about it.
“You know what, it was good though. We needed to get better. Our sport is still young and injuries will happen, we just need to continue to try and make it better. Injuries were happening not just in my gym but every gym. We need to be careful about what we do because this is a very demanding sport and there are so many things that can go wrong, and they do. We just need to make sure we take care of the athletes. That is what we have been doing. A reason why the rate of injuries dropped is because we are paying attention.”
Mendez is honoured that AKA has one of the best reputations in the sport. But insists he won’t be resting on his laurels any time soon.
“I guess it is a great honour, I just love what I am doing. I just try to get better. When I accomplish a goal, I don’t look back at the goal I look forward to the next goal.”