Can trainer Winkeljohn help Jon Jones defend his title against Machida? The first time Mike Winkeljohn helped prepare a fighter to take on Lyoto Machida, it didn’t go well.
Winkeljohn and Greg Jackson trained Rashad Evans for his May 2009 bout against Machida, who won by knockout. Now Winkeljohn is training Jon Jones to defend his light heavyweight title against the Brazilian on Dec. 10 at UFC 140.
Ahead of the fight, Winkeljohn joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to discuss the matchup and more.
Winkeljohn on how much better Jones could become: “Oh, he’s going to be scary. In fact I think he’s already got people scared. There’s no doubt about it. He’s an anomaly with his length and the fact that he believes in himself. The neat thing about Jon is you can show him something and he goes OK, and five minutes later, you’ll put him in sparring and he’ll be trying it. He’ll just be doing it. Most of the time he pulls it off. He does the same thing in fights. He’s just a believer in his skills and his abilities, and that’s so huge in the fight game. It’s so mental. You’ve got to believe in yourself and have the confidence to incorporate these moves and these techniques into your game.”
On Rashad Evans’ loss to Machida: “Machida was kind of one of those puzzles that with Rashad, I think Greg [Jackson] and I had it figured out. Rashad just had one of those nights, bless his heart. Rashad is so much better than that night. … He didn’t do what Greg and I had planned for him to do by any means, and that’s not a putdown toward him by any means. It’s the pressure, the pressure of the fight, overthinking where you’re at, people around you telling you all these other things. They get in your head. Sometimes fighters, they walk in there and the door shuts and they don’t even know their own name. They’re kind of lost. Everybody has those nights. To fight Machida again with Jon Jones, I think it’s going to be great. I know Jon’s a believer. He’ll pull it off. He can make this fight very, very easy if he’d like to. Jon has those abilities.”
On Evans no longer training with the team: “After he lost to [Lyoto] Machida, he kind of went his own way a little bit. That’s inherent with everybody, it seems, that wins a title and then loses. Everybody else gets in their head a little bit. They’re not sure what’s going on, and it just unfolds that way. We like Rashad, but right now I’m with Jon Jones. Right now Jon Jones is my number one guy in that division. Jon’s done everything right. He came to camp. He didn’t do anything wrong. That’s where we’re at right now. Rashad’s more than welcome to come back, but if he was to come back, he would be the outsider as far as I’m concerned. I would still work Jon Jones’ corner.”
On whether the game plan for Machida will be similar with Jones: “There’s no doubt that Machida is kind of a linear fighter. He’s in and out. He makes space and then he attacks back. But Rashad brought different tools to the game than Jon Jones will. With Rashad we were definitely working some different angles and sliding, working the things [for] someone who’s shorter and explosive in the way that Rashad is, to defeat Machida. Jon’s different. Jon’s got this length. Jon is capable of tossing people when they get underneath him. He’s got all these other tools. The game plan as far as worrying about certain things that Machida does, that doesn’t change too much. But as far as what we can do, it changes quite a bit. It’s definitely a different game plan.”
Source: Winkeljohn: Jones Can Make Machida Fight ‘Very, Very’ Easy