A Wednesday report on fiveouncesofpain.com revealed that Strikeforce matchmaker Javier Mendez was leaving his job to focus on his fighters at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif.
Strikeforce representative Mike Afromowitz confirmed Mendez’s departure and said no replacement had tapped for his position as of yet.
MMAInsider caught up with Mendez Thursday morning, where he explained his decision to leave and what his future holds.
MMAInsider: Why did you decide to leave?
Mendez: I couldn’t handle it all. My fighters were suffering. I wasn’t around. I had to make a decision to go with what I love to do. I love being around the fighters more. Also, I’m working on a clothing line for AKA. I couldn’t do both.
MMAInsider: Did the new Showtime deal and new schedule prove to be the breaking point?
Mendez: Yeah, it just got so overwhelming. And I could see it in my fighters. They asked, ‘hey, Javi, you going to be around?’ And I’d say no. They’d say, ‘who’s going to be coaching us today?’ Those kinds of things would be coming up. If I’m not around, things would have a tendency to fall apart. I’ve worked too hard to get where we’re at as a team, I didn’t want that to go away.
MMAInsider: How long had you been with Strikeforce?
Mendez: I’ve been with them since the beginning. We’d sit at Noah’s Bagels and discuss match-ups. I never used to call on the other guy. In the end there, this one here, I was doing things for them. Because it was all based on what Showtime wanted, too. Showtime makes the final decision. But of course, it’s up to the promoter puts together intriguing match-ups that Showtime decides if they want to use or not.
MMAInsider: What’s in the future for American Kickboxing Academy?
Mendez: Building more stars. I feel that by the end of this year, we’re going to have a new one in Cain Velasquez. He just has to materialize into what I think he is. I think Luke Rockhold is going to be another one from here. I’ve got a few other up and coming guys that I think are going to be something too.
MMAInsider: A lot of your fighters have made their way to Strikeforce, will AKA continue to be sort of a pipeline to the promotion?
Mendez: American Kickboxing Academy is available for any good promotion. It’s not about Strikeforce, it’s not about any promotion. It’s about the fighters getting good fights and getting into a good organization that has something of value that the fighters are looking for. Even though I worked for Strikeforce, I was never pro-Strikeforce. I was pro-fighters. Whatever organization is out there producing a top talent show, I would definitely want my fighters involved.