Since Velasquez hadn’t fought in nearly two years, some questioned whether the heavyweight was suffering from cage rust. Others conceded that could have played a factor, but many questioned whether he headed to Mexico City earlier enough, to acclimatize to the high altitude of the region. Werdum headed to the nation over a month out from the June 13th bout, while Velasquez didn’t arrive until a couple weeks prior.
“I screwed up,” Mendez said. “I screwed up the last time. The bottom line is it was my responsibility to prepare my fighter in the best possible way and that night I didn’t. I failed. I failed at my job. Regardless of Cain saying it was his fault, it wasn’t. It was my fault. It was my responsibility to look into the altitude and all that. I screwed up and I won’t make that mistake again.”
“For me, 100 percent [altitude] was the main factor,” Mendez furthered. “It was the best Cain I’ve ever had. He was 100 percent healthy. He was in the greatest shape. He was going through everyone here no problem. No injures, no nothing. Then to go over there and he looks like the worst Cain I’ve ever had. I don’t know how to explain it.”
Now sure, Werdum and his supporters have noted, and rightfully so, that this shouldn’t take away from the new champ’s performance. Fighting is very much about preparation, and Werdum deserves full credit for being better equipped to deal with the conditions both men faced at UFC 188. It’s not like Velasquez got tapped on one week’s notice to take the fight right?
It will be interesting to see, however, how Velasquez looks in the rematch. Don’t be surprised if round two is a much, much more competitive fight. Werdum-Velasquez II doesn’t have a date yet, but it’s expected to take place in early 2016. It should be a doozy.