One of the most successful coaches in MMA, Mike Winkeljohn came on Submission Radio to discuss his students Jon Jones, Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem, Carlos Condit and Holly Holm.
Most notably when it comes to Jon Jones Coach Wink isn't sure the former UFC champion will fight again "I’m looking forward to Jon turning his life around and becoming a better person. If he fights again or not, I’m not sure"
According to Wink Jon Jones is working hard on helping his team while dealing with his current situation "He was in the gym helping Andrei Arlovski for his fight, he’s in the gym helping others right now. So he’s gone back to help others, stop doing those things that get you in trouble and go forward." The relationship between a fighter and a trainer is an important one so when Coach Wink was asked about if he's had a chance to talk with Jon and how it went he told Submission Radio “Oh yeah. Yeah, very good. He knows what we expect out of him, and you know right now it’s...I expect him just to continue doing what he’s doing and that’s take care of himself, do the right thing, take care of his family, and he is. I’m real happy on what he’s being doing so far.”
When asked about star pupil Holly Holm and how many fights he'd like her to have before taking on Ronda Rousey Coach Wink was clear 2 more fights is what he'd like to see “I’d like 2 fights. I really would. Just because the injury situation put us behind a little bit and in the last fight with Raquel, it was the first time she’d been hitting things really, really, really hard since her injury, and you’re still worried about it. No matter what people think, you always worry about the injuries, how you can perform. So that and getting rid of the jitters and starting to let loose. I gotta get her a bit more comfortable before she goes in there and fights Ronda, because Ronda’s scary. And Ronda’s going to come at Holly, and we don’t need the Octagon jitters and the nerves to be part of our worry in that game plan.”
And according to Wink him and Holly already have the game plan for Rousey even thought it's still a few fights away "We already have a plan on what we would do to Ronda. You know we’re working on it all the time."
Coach Wink was also asked about how he plans on handling Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem if a fight is announced between the tip UFC heavyweights "If you have to fight each other at the top, what a terrible, good problem to have. You know? Now you can make a lot of money. 'Cause you gotta fight somebody at the top. And it just sucks that it’s your friend, your training partner, but you wouldn’t have been there without you each helping the other out. So it’s better to be there, even if you have to fight the guy, than not to be there at all."
Finally after the return of Carlos Condit 's dominant return to the octagon Coach Wink told us how he thinks he would do against current Welterweight champion Robbie Lawler "Carlos has the foot work on him, Carlos has the length on him, I think Carlos has the speed on him. I think Robbie is another Thiago Alves; as tough as they come."
Listen to the full interview here: http://bit.ly/1Kkhf71(Starts at 2 minutes 51 seconds)
Reaction to Jon Jones Hit and Run
“Well, disappointment. But Jon is gonna make the best of it. He’s doing all the right things. He was in the gym helping Andrei Arlovski for his fight, he’s in the gym helping others right now. So he’s gone back to help others, stop doing those things that get you in trouble and go forward. And so I’m looking forward to Jon turning his life around and becoming a better person. If he fights again or not, I’m not sure, but that’s not important. What’s real important right now is Jon getting help for himself and his family.”
On if Jackson/Winkeljohn’s have had a good chat with Jones and know where each party stands?
“Oh yeah. Yeah, very good. He knows what we expect out of him, and you know right now it’s...I expect him just to continue doing what he’s doing and that’s take care of himself, do the right thing, take care of his family, and he is. I’m real happy on what he’s being doing so far.”
On if there's any possibility that Jon Jones wouldn’t fight again
“Oh yeah. You know what, because to us the most important thing is Jon Jones. Everybody seems to forget other things, but at the end of the day it's about Jon Jones becoming the best person he can. The fighting is secondary. And we lose sight of it. A lot of people lose sight of that and stuff. So there’s a possibility that he might not fight, there’s a possibility he might fight. I know right now he’s staying busy helping others in the gym and that’s very important.”
Coach Wink’s thoughts on people calling Daniel Cormier a paper champion because he never beat Jon Jones
“You know what, he's got the belt. That’s it. Jon was the champ, he’s no longer the champ. Daniel Cormier got the belt. And I saw his fight with Rumble, he deserves to be champion. He took a heck of a shot. They don’t come any tougher than that. Coming back, staying composed enough to slip under that punch and take him down and go into his world. He deserves to be champion. You know what, Daniel Cormier has been nothing but respectful and courteous when I’ve talked to him, as has been Rumble [Anthony Johnson]. These guys are great and there’s no reason to take any of that away from him. He’s the champ right now. He’s the UFC champ and I wish him all the luck.”
On Holly Holm and how many more fights Wink would like Holly to fight before fighting Ronda Rousey
“I’d like 2 fights. I really would. Just because the injury situation put us behind a little bit and in the last fight with Raquel, it was the first time she’d been hitting things really, really, really hard since her injury, and you’re still worried about it. No matter what people think, you always worry about the injuries, how you can perform. So that and getting rid of the jitters and starting to let loose. I gotta get her a bit more comfortable before she goes in there and fights Ronda, because Ronda’s scary. And Ronda’s going to come at Holly, and we don’t need the Octagon jitters and the nerves to be part of our worry in that game plan.”
“So we already have a plan on what we would do to Ronda. You know we’re working on it all the time. But Ronda’s at tough nut. She’s the best in the world at what she does, and we’re going to come forward and Holly’s gonna get her. That’s our goal. But I’d like to see a couple of fights first.”
On what Coach Wink makes of the whole Cyborg Rousey situation
“Well you know it’s...that’s a little WWE-ish. But I think Cyborg has a lot going for her, in that she can throw down, she hits very, very, very hard. But with that being said, she also has the foot work of someone who just plods and throws very hard. I think Ronda will be able to slip underneath the punches and get to her quite easily. I don’t think that’s the way to beat Ronda Rousey if you have one shot at it and then it’s over. But my money would go on Ronda for that fight If she [Cyborg] does make weight because I think she’d be weaker than she’d ever had been before due to the weight cut. Last time I saw her she looked very big, but I’d like to see it. She’s very skilled and I’d like to see how Ronda responds to maybe getting hit hard.”
On if Condit not using as much footwork and standing in the pocket with Thiago was the game plan for the fight
“Well you know, what we weren’t supposed to do is what happened in the first round. Of course a lot of that has to do with ring rust. Carlos would hit him with a couple of shots and then stand right in front of him; not a lot of footwork but kind of talking to himself about "uh oh, here I am again". But honestly, Carlos sat down, he looked at me after the first round and says "Coach, I know". And he knew what he had to do, what we had worked on. And I reiterated it a couple of times, and a lot of that had to do with that rising elbow. 'Cause the way Thiago [Alves] always covers when you throw your right hand at him, he always leaves that door way open. And Carlos just jumped on it right away and we were successful. I was real happy.”
On Elbows in MMA and how they're being utilized a lot more now
"Oh yeah, and it's nice because I've been trying to get guys to do it for years. And you know, Jon Jones is so successful at it, Carlos [Condit] might be better now."
"There's no padding there and they have that tendency to find those holes, and if you throw them at the proper angles and you understand what's going on, it's very hard to defend. Boxers have no defence because basically the elbow can either find the hole and or can pull the actual defence, the actual frame out of the way. It's just a neat thing, it's finding it's home, and I think that and forearms are gonna become the next big weapon in MMA."
If hypothetically Carlos Condit fought Robbie Lawler next, if Coach Wink sees Carlos beating him and how the fight would play out
“Oh yeah, I would love that fight. There’s no doubt about it. I think Robbie Lawler is great, he’s been around a long time, and we fought him before in the past with Joey Villaseñor, but Carlos has the foot work on him, Carlos has the length on him, I think Carlos has the speed on him. I think Robbie is another Thiago Alves; as tough as they come. I mean he would just throw down with anybody. But I think the technique is there for Carlos. I think he’s matured, I think he’d be coming in with his knees bent, he’s avoiding the takedown. Even with Johny Hendricks I think we were on, and it’s time for a title shot. It really is.”
On if it was awkward having to coach current student Andrei Arlovski against former student and friend Travis Browne
“You know what, Travis actually brought a lot to the gym. He’s very athletic and very mobile, and at that long range, using his kicks, I was very worried about him fighting Andrei. But he went to a boxing gym coach, and so I figured they were going to try to make him box, which worked out well for us because once we put him on his heels, it became all Andrei.”
What he thought about Travis’ style in the fight and if it's changed in general
“Well it seems like it. Again, he was very successful against Brendan Schuab though. Holy crap, you know he had a great counter there. So there’s no doubt he’s gotten better at what he does, that he's more confident at that range, but honestly it can be mitigated and defeated if you know what the guy is going to do. You know? It’s the person that has more options, more tools in his tool box that they're willing to use, I think is the guy that’s successful in MMA now.”
What exactly happened to Andrei before the fight that almost caused the fight to be called off?
“Well in Andrei’s mind it’s never close to being called off. It was the doctors that went to call it off. Honestly, he kind off tore his calf a little bit, in that he did a warm up a couple days before weigh-in and he kind of cooled down and then got back up to do a little more, and just moved quickly. It was just a stupid little thing, and all of a sudden he couldn’t put his foot down. And the doctors came in and had to look at it, and they said it was ripped up pretty bad. And it was one of those things where they went to put some ice on it and make it feel better and see how it was the next day, but I do know there were a lot of people concerned the day of the fight; even higher up in the UFC that were worried the fight wasn’t gonna happen. And Andrei just looked at them and said “I’m fighting” and that was kind of it. Andrei’s that guy, he’s as stoic as they come and he’s game.”
On if the door would still be open for Travis to return to Jackson/Winkeljohns
“Oh yeah. Yeah, I mean I think so. You know one of the good things about Travis is he was always willing to help other people, and that’s real important at our camp; is when a guy stops sometimes and goes and helps the guys that need help with whatever it is. That’s real important. I think that’s why we're so successful at what we do. If a guy's a real big narcissist and is all about himself and he comes in and acts better than others, not only the coaches ostracize him and we tell him just he’s an idiot, but the fighters will either thump them, and or do the same. So people understand It’s kind of the unwritten law of our gym is help others, and Travis was always willing to help other people.”
On why it’s taken so long for Arlovski to come into his own, and how far Coach Wink thinks he can go?
“I think he wins the big one. Andrei Arlovski is very athletic, he’s very tough, he’s overcome so much. I think he’s on a roll, and I think I would love to see a title shot. I really would. Some people think that might be crazy, but Andrei’s right there and he has a tendency to step up now, and I think it's belief, not worrying about his chin, not worrying about things. And we were adjusting some things; understanding, get him out of that boxing style that he went with, and you know, MMA’s not boxing. It’s not the same in the slightest. And I think when you start thinking about a lot of boxing, I think that’s when we saw all of his failures. Just some little things that were missing in his game that we brought back and added to.”
On working to change Arlovski, who after training with Freddie Roach became a boxer, to an MMA striker
“Freddie Roach is one of the best in the world at what he does, if not the best, but it’s not MMA and it’s a different range, it’s a different distance, it’s a different sized glove. Just so much more going on. I hope everybody else, other trainers and people sparring the fighters, think it is about boxing, because we seem to be successful against those.”
On how the camp will handle Overeem and Arlovski both being around the same rankings and possibly having to fight each other soon
“It’s the same thing as Travis and Andrei. They helped each other get better and it worked out. They both became two of the best in the division. So in my mind I think, continue, help each other get to the top. If you have to fight each other at the top, what a terrible, good problem to have. You know? Now you can make a lot of money. 'Cause you gotta fight somebody at the top. And it just sucks that it’s your friend, your training partner, but you wouldn’t have been there without you each helping the other out. So it’s better to be there, even if you have to fight the guy, than not to be there at all. So I think you keep working with each other and get to the top. That’s the key.”