It’s been several months since we last saw Cain Velasquez inside the Octagon. The former Arizona State University wrestling standout suffered his first career loss at the hands of Junior dos Santos, costing him the UFC heavyweight title in the process.

Now, Velasquez is preparing to meet another former champion – Frank Mir – in a battle to determine the next contender to the title at UFC 146 on May 26.

At the same card, dos Santos will defend his crown against Alistair Overeem, setting up the next heavyweight championship match for possibly later this year if both winners avoid any serious injuries.

One man that is thankful for the opportunity Velasquez is set to receive is head trainer at American Kickboxing Academy, Javier Mendez. During a recent interview with ChokeOut TV, Mendez talked about his appreciation for the UFC in putting one of his star pupils in such a high-profile match following a loss.

I’d like to thank the UFC for giving us the No. 1 contendership on his first fight back. It’s a great honor that they believe in Cain like that and a great challenge for us. Frank is great on the ground, has great stand up and all-around; it’s a great fight for us.

Mir displayed his ruthless attitude late in 2011, snapping the arm of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to earn another victory. Velasquez will have been out of action for several months by the time this match rolls around, so finding a quick rhythm against an experienced fighter such as Mir will be key.

Photo credit: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting