Javier Mendez, a trainer with American Kickboxing Academy, saw Daniel Cormier spar with UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and knew his prospect had a chance against Antonio Silva.
Cormier defeated Silva in the semifinal round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix to advance into the finals against Josh Barnett. That match will take place sometime in 2012 after Cormier’s broken hand heals.
Mendez, though, knew to continually Cormier had to fight just like he did against Velasquez in practice to be successful vs. “Bigfoot.”
“He did exactly what I needed to see,” said Mendez in an interview with Sherdog Radio Network’s “Rewind” Show recently, “so I kept hitting on him that I want to see that first round with Cain continuously when you go through this fight. That was the game plan going into it; being fast, being fast on the inside and moving to the right (and throwing) quick, fast combinations. We felt that Silva was going to underestimate Daniel’s speed. I think that’s what happened.”
As for Cormier’s next opponent, Barnett, well, Mendez had only positive words to say about the former champion.
“I was crossing my fingers (Barnett) wouldn’t win,” Mendez laughed. “He’s so damn dangerous. There’s really not much weakness (with) him. We’re going to have to really, really do our homework with his one.”
For now, though, Mendez just wants the former Olympic wrestler to enjoy his win over Silva and get 100-percent healthy.
“He got what he needed from that fight (with Silva),” Mendez said. “I think for him, he’s not focusing on Barnett right now. He’s going to be focused on healing himself and getting ready to go. He’s been through this before. Come fight time, he’ll be ready to go.”