Werdum moved his entire training camp to Mexico to spend five weeks acclimating to the high altitude. Velasquez arrived just two weeks before fight night.
"I told Cain we needed to come down early to get used to the altitude," Mendez said during the first episode of the UFC 188 Embedded series. "He said, 'No.' He's trained here before and he's fine. I kept pushing the issue and he gave in and decided, 'OK, I'll go two weeks early. It worked out great. He's in great, great cardio shape."
Well, that wasn't the case. Werdum would go on to submit an exhausted Velasquez in the third round to become the undisputed UFC heavyweight champ.
Now, Mendez is taking full responsibility for the ill planning.
"I screwed up," Mendez told Talking Brawls. "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.
"Fabricio is a really, really good fighter and you can't make a mistake. Obviously, it showed. They didn't make mistakes and we made plenty."
A surprise to no one, Mendez is attributing much of Velasquez's performance on the high elevation.
"For me, 100 percent [altitude] was the main factor," said Mendez. "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."
In his years spent training Velasquez, Mendez says he's never seen 'Cardio Cain' sucking wind like he was that night.
"Going into the fight, one minute into it, when he took Fabricio down, then he gets up and I notice he was breathing pretty heavy and I'm like, 'Oh, s**t.' I knew there was problems right there. I went, 'Oh my god.' I've never seen that from him. I was very concerned going through the fight, he was in trouble the whole time. Nothing we were doing was working. His legs were gone. It was like Fabricio was Superman. 'Hit me with everything you got, he aint hurting me.'
"That's exactly what it looked like to me. There was nothing we could have done on that night to win. It was just a matter of time of when Fabricio was going to take that belt that night. Cudos to him. They did the work. That's what the fight game is all about. You've got to be prepared. He did his job. His coaches did their jobs. I didn't."
Despite the one-side performance, Velasquez was awarded a rematch against Werdum penciled in for early next year. A date and venue hasn't been set, but Werdum told reporters in Brazil that the particulars would be announced this week following a meeting with UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta.
As for the rematch, Mendez doesn't sound like he'll be doing much tinkering.
"We just have to come in in condition," said Mendez. "We've got to come in the way we were last time. We're fighting in a different place now. The fight will showcase itself. We'll see who did their homework that night. In my opinion, we don't need to do anything other than what we did last time. The only difference was the altitude training. We screwed up there, but it's not going to happen in the second one because I don't think we're fighting in Mexico or in high elevation. We'll be fine. We'll just do the same thing we did."
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Frankie Edgar (@FrankieEdgar) August 24, 2015
@TeamFrankieP yeah yeah good one. Hey, ur the one who said it wasn't worth the pain ur body went through. Anyway, great ko, Good luck to you— michael (@bisping) August 25, 2015
Alistair Overeem (@Alistairovereem) August 24, 2015
Miesha Tate (@MieshaTate) August 24, 2015
Don't send this to Rumble.
I think we should be best friends... https://t.co/kuHOhlCEJS— chad mendes (@chadmendes) August 25, 2015
Urijah Faber (@UrijahFaber) August 25, 2015
@MeansTim pleasure— Dana White (@danawhite) August 25, 2015
Paul Felder (@felderpaul) August 24, 2015
Announced yesterday (Aug. 24 2015)
Nate Diaz vs. Michael Johnson at UFC on FOX 17
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day comes via TimBizzle.
Six-hundred-and-ninety-eight fighters, and counting, have competed on The Ultimate Fighter since its debut in 2005. The hybrid reality show/athletic competition has produced heroes who have clinched UFC gold and been involved in the most important octagon moments in history. It has also produced villains whose names are reviled in the MMA community and beyond. However, for every fighter who became a recognizable character in combat sports after the cameras stopped rolling on their season of TUF, there is a legion of competitors who faded into obscurity. Life After TUF catches up with individuals who did not find fame and fortune in the UFC after their time on TUF. In the first of this series of posts I tracked down Noah Inhofer from The Ultimate Fighter 3.
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me up on Twitter @SaintMMA and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.