Oddsmakers were left stunned once again on Saturday night, when Fabricio Werdum, heavyweight's perennial underdog, battered Travis Browne for 25 minutes at UFC on FOX 11, earning the right to challenge UFC kingpin Cain Velasquez in late-2014 once the champ recovers from shoulder surgery.
Although the books weren't alone in their disbelief. Go ahead and count Velasquez's head coach, American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) founder Javier Mendez, among those surprised by the lopsided and multi-faceted nature of Werdum's coming out party.
"I thought he could win, but like everybody else, I thought it would be on the ground," Mendez admitted on Monday's episode of The MMA Hour. "I didn't really give him a big chance in the stand-up, though. Not at all.
"I think it's actually a more exciting match-up. It excites me because it just means that we can't underestimate any part of what he has. I didn't come in respecting his stand-up as much as I'm going into this fight respecting his stand-up, I'll tell you that."
Velasquez and Werdum are now tentatively scheduled to headline the UFC's debut journey into Mexico this November, a bout with local blockbuster potential considering Velasquez's Mexican heritage and Werdum's role as an analyst and commentator for the UFC Network in Latin America.
Both fighters are also expected to coach on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, which begins filming this May in Las Vegas, according to Mendez.
No fight date can be set in stone, however, until Velasquez receives clearance to return to the gym 100-percent. The 31-year-old underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in mid-December, three years after undergoing a similar procedure on his right shoulder, and he still has a ways to go in his recovery.
"About two weeks ago the doctor gave him permission to be able to use his right hand," Mendez said.
"I'll tell you what, he was as motivated as the first day I ever had him, so the hunger is still there. The drive for him to excel and still prove himself is still there, so I'm excited about the outcome come November if he's healthy against Fabricio."
The UFC's first foray into Mexico has been a long time coming, and Velasquez has always been the centerpiece of the discussion.
In the champ's only career loss, a 2011 first-round knockout at the hands of Junior dos Santos, Velasquez entered the cage battling a torn meniscus, however he refused to pull out of the fight because of another significant opportunity -- the chance to headline the first ever UFC event aired on FOX.
This time around though, despite the magnitude of the stakes, Mendez isn't concerned with Velasquez ignoring his body and history repeating itself.
"That is one thing I'm not worried about," Mendez said. "Because in the past when the Junior situation happened, the first fight, Cain said to me that he will never ever do that again, no matter what. No matter who says what, if he's not ready, he's not going. So, if Cain says something, he means it. I believe 100-percent, if he said he's ready in November, nobody pushed him, he's ready to go."
There's no doubt that even despite Werdum's impressive performance on Saturday night, the Brazilian will inevitably be instilled as an overwhelming underdog opposite Velasquez.
Werdum's formidable submission skills once downed one of the greatest fighters of all-time, Fedor Emelianenko, and many will see those same skills as Werdum's only clear path to victory against Velasquez. Although, Mendez warns, Werdum may not have as much of an advantage on the mat as he may believe.
"I think a lot of people underestimate Cain's jiu-jitsu," he said. "He is a legit black belt under Leandro Vieira, and he does train with the best grappler on the planet at the present time, which is ‘Buchecha' (Marcus Almeida). So, me, I watch those guys go, I'm not afraid of Cain going to the ground with anybody, especially in MMA."