How important is coaching in MMA?
In general, I believe that we place too much importance on coaching, especially in MMA. In studying the Top 10 Fight Team’s records against each other I discovered that there is a chicken and egg type scenario with “elite” MMA coaches.
That is to say, it’s impossible to find a statistical way to tell if “elite” fight camps are elite because they happened to have a transcendent star who buoys their record like a Jon Jones or if the coach had a hand in creating that kind of star.
It’s difficult to tell exactly how good any particular MMA coach or camp is. What is not nearly as difficult is seeing when a coach or team is not helping a fighter, at all. So in this article, we’re going to take a look at five times a coach was to blame for a fighter’s downfall.
#5 Josh Thompson and Javier Mendez
There are many ways a coach or fight camp can cause a fighter’s career to fall apart, there are coaches who are outright incompetent, (cough, Edmund, cough) coaches who spread themselves too thin or aren’t the right fit for a particular star and there are those old school coaches that think “Iron sharpens Iron” even though the actual process to sharpen iron involves no such thing.
Javier Mendez and the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) are of that old school mentality and, as a result, AKA has more fighters pull out of fights than any other gym. According to a study done by Bloody Elbow’s Michael Hutchinson, AKA fighters pull out of a whopping 18.43% of their fights compared to a 10.26% average.
That’s almost twice as many fighters failing to make it to fight night! Of all the fighters who have suffered from this including Cain Velasquez, Josh Thompson’s has suffered the most. For years it was believed that Thompson, Eddie Alvarez and Gilbert Melendez were the best Lightweight fighters outside the UFC.
Both Alvarez and Melendez were able to make it to UFC title fights, while Thompson never seemed to be healthy enough to put it all together. It also didn’t help that the judges totally messed up in his loss to Benson Henderson.
While Mendez and AKA were certainly partially responsible for Thompson becoming a world class fighter, you have to wonder if he would have been able to capture UFC gold if he wasn’t sparring with Luke Rockhold, Daniel Cormier and others.