Picture UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones sitting on his stool between rounds, his back against the Octagon. Now, besides Jones, what other individual do you picture in that scenario? Odds are good that the first person that comes to mind is Jones' coach Greg Jackson. It's also very likely that in your head you hear Jackson telling Jones to calm down and control his breath in a tone that has become Jackson's trademark.
Some may also picture Jones' other coach, Mike Winkeljohn, and according to Jones, it's Winkeljohn that he works with more often than Jackson while training in Albuquerque, NM, "I work with coach Winkeljohn three times as much as I work with coach Jackson," Jones told Bloody Elbow.
Jones said of his training time with Winkeljohn, "Winkeljohn is the guy who's putting in a lot of grunt work when it comes to me and my kickboxing. Wink's all day every day hitting pads. He's just a phenomenal athlete to do rounds all day with elite level fighters."
As for what he gets with his time with Jackson, Jones said, he's more focused on the mental side of the game, "Greg Jackson is more the guy that's going to talk to you to make sure you have the right attitude going into the fight, make sure that you believe that you're going to win, he's more of an attitude guy, which is very important - to have a winning attitude."
When listening to Jones speak, one can't help but hear Jackson's influence. A great deal of what the UFC champion says sounds as if it could be coming from the mouth of Jackson himself. Jones acknowledged that to be true, saying, "Greg has been a tremendous influence on me. He's been like a sports psychologist. He teaches me a lot of things about just being tough, the warrior spirit, pushing through and one of Greg's favorite quotes is ‘Be comfortable being uncomfortable.'"
Jones said that quote isn't just an empty phrase; it's something that Jackson puts into practice while the fighters train inside the gym that bears Jackson's name, "If you watch the corner, Greg will say, ‘Jon, breathe, relax.' Just his voice, you know? We do drills where he'll get us extremely exhausted and he'll give us a one minute break to calm ourselves down, and he'll sit us down in the chair in the Octagon and he'll just say breathe and relax, and when he says breathe and relax it just takes you back to the practice room and makes you forget that this guy's waiting to kill you on the other side of the room, and it helps you calm yourself."
Once Jackson has Jones calmed down, that's when Winkeljohn or Jackson will begin dispensing between round advice, "Winkeljohn will tell you what to do, or if it's a ground fight Greg will start telling you what to do. But every time it always starts with Greg re-centering us and keep from that panic feeling from kicking in."
The entire process is something to see play out during the one minute the two trainers have between rounds with Jones. The next time Jones, Jackson and Winkeljohn will be inside the Octagon together will be April 26 when Jones defends his title against Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC 172.