Refusal to Accept Khabib’s Coach’s Advice Killed ‘Overconfident’ Luke Rockhold’s Career, Javier Mendez Comes Clean on Ex-Champ

Published 04/01/2024, 2:48 PM EDT

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Coach Javier Mendez is one of the best MMA coaches with a wealth of experience at his disposal. He has coached some of the best fighters in the UFC and helped them win titles. Mendez recently appeared on the London Real by Brian Rose show to discuss the art of coaching. During the conversation, he pointed out the problems faced by a coach.

Mendez pointed out the problem he once faced while coaching former champion Luke Rockhold. Rockhold was one of the most skillful fighters in the UFC. However, Coach Mendez pointed out a mistake that forced him to lose the title. Let us find out what the legendary coach had to say.

Javier Mendez reveals the real reason for Luke Rockhold’s loss


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Luke Rockhold is a former UFC middleweight division who trained under Javier Mendez during his fighting days. However, Mendez in his recent interview revealed how he didn’t listen to him once, which cost him a fight. Rockhold lost his title to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 and the reason was overconfidence. Mendez, while speaking to Brian Rose, shared how the former champion took on the fight despite being injured and got knocked out.

The 53-year-old said, “Luke Rockhold who I loved to death . You know he was difficult to show things. Like I told him one time. I go Luke listen we need to learn how to fight on the inside. Inside fighting. He says to me no I don’t need to fight in the inside no one’s going to get me in this . I go Luke there was a point where you need to learn how to fight in the inside. He goes no I don’t want to fight in the inside. I said, I tried. He was the UFC champ at that time. He said no I don’t want to do it and he’s fighting Michael Bisping and he couldn’t use his left leg cuz his shin was all jacked up. “

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Mendez further added as to how Rockhold entered the fight with a lot of confidence after beating Bisping the first time round. However, refusing to learn to fight on the inside cost him his match and his legacy. During the same interview, he shared how the former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov fought Justin Gaethje despite facing multiple issues in the buildup.

Javier Mendez points out the elite mentality of ‘The Eagle’ in his interview


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Khabib Nurmagomedov is undoubtedly one of the legends of the sport. He retired from the sport with a perfect record of 29-0. However, it was not all smooth for the former lightweight champion during his fighting days. In the build-up to his UFC 254 fight against Justin Gaethje, ‘The Eagle’ lost his father because of Covid. This was not the only problem he faced during his fight camp. He also suffered from mumps, a viral illness which hampered his preparation. Mendez termed the camp as the worst for the former lightweight champion as he suffered a lot before his fight. 

Talking about all these adversities, Mendez said, “He had the mumps. His chin was all like this (swollen) and I’m like ‘Oh, crap, how are we gonna go fight, you got the mumps, when can you train?’ [Khabib said] ‘I don’t know coach, give me a couple of days, I’ll be good to go’. We train a couple of days and he gets it again,” ‘The Eagle’ then broke his toe, and coach Mendez was not in favor of getting into the fight. However, the Dagestani not only overcame the obstacles but also won his fight at UFC  254. Since then he has retired from the sport but is remembered by many to date. How highly do you rate Khabib Nurmagomedov as a fighter? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by:

Anirban Chatterjee


One take at a time

Anirban Chatterjee is a UFC writer at EssentiallySports. Anirban holds an MBA in Sports Management and is an athlete himself. After stints in notable organizations as a professional writer, Anirban pivoted to covering UFC, ONE Championship, and other premiere MMA promoters.
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Edited by:

Smrutisnat Jena