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Greg Jackson talks Alistair Overeem, Donald Cerrone & temper flare-ups in the gym

In a recent interview with the Three Amigos Podcast, respected trainer, Greg Jackson discusses Alistair Overeem, Donald Cerrone and what it takes to keep tempers and egos in check in the gym.

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Greg Jackson has been coaching MMA fighters and helping them achieve elite level status for close to two decades, and done so with an amazing amount of success. His calm, zen-like approach has earned him the nickname, "Yoda" and more importantly, the respect of his fighters and the MMA community.

Recently, the Three Amigos Podcast caught up with Jackson for an in-depth interview that spanned a variety of topics. We've been transcribing and publishing chunks of it over the last week and a half, and this feature will serve as another installment from that interview. In this segment, Greg discusses Alistair Overeem's entry to the team, Donald Cerrone's athletic gifts and what it's like having so many elite fighters in one facility when tempers run high.

TAP: Alistair Overeem bounced around from gym to gym a good bit before he settled in at your camp, and he has definitely made the most of your instruction. We interviewed him recently, and he said the relaxed atmosphere, the family vibe and the overall willingness of everyone to help their peers out is why he chose you. Was he an instant fit in the Jackson-Winkeljohn family?

Greg Jackson: He really was. We had a lot of people warning us, too. ‘Oh, watch out for Alistair,' but I believe in giving people chances because people gave me chances when they probably shouldn't have, so I try to pass that on whenever I get the opportunity.

Alistair was an immediate fit, completely 180 degrees from what people were telling me was going to happen. He's a super team-player, a really nice guy...he fit right in immediately. Everybody loves him. -Greg Jackson

Alistair was an immediate fit, completely 180 degrees from what people were telling me was going to happen. He's a super team-player, a really nice guy...he fit right in immediately. Everybody loves him. I don't know if he just didn't fit in at those other places, if he wanted to reinvent himself, whatever the reason is, but I love that guy. He's also very funny, and he and Cowboy are great at talking mess and keeping everyone entertained. He challenges people to FIFA soccer on the video games. He keeps everyone entertained.

*UFC 191 interview: Greg Jackson on Johnson vs. Dodson 2, impending IV ban*

*UFC 191 - Greg Jackson: 'Andrei's a guy you wouldn't mind kicking down a door with'*

TAP: Alistair has had his own ups and downs in the last 5 years, but has seen a big turnaround since joining your team. What do you find to be his biggest asset?

Greg Jackson: His biggest asset is that he understands combat really well, because a lot of fighters don't. They understand how they fight, but if you ask them, ‘How did you do that?' or ‘Why did you do this?' they'll be like, ‘I just do it.' That's a really cool place to be, really connected to your technique, but what I like about Alistair is he's very analytical. He understands why he's going to do the things he's going to do, how he's going to do them and the overall purpose.

Some fighters can do that and some can't. I always get along really well with the ones that do, because I can dive a little bit deeper into why we're doing the techniques, especially with people like Alistair.

TAP: Rounding out your quintet of mega-fights is Cowboy facing off with dos Anjos. What do you think will be the deciding factor in Donald winning where others have failed?

Greg Jackson: I think when Donald turns on his mental game, which he's finally done, it's really hard to beat him. Obviously, we have a game plan, and we're looking for specific things, but Cowboy has always been his own biggest opponent. He's a slow starter, it takes him a little while to get going, but when he goes out there and just flips the switch and just goes for it, that's when he's the best. Half of my coaching for him is just yelling at him to go out there and get the guy. I would say he's turned a corner. It's Donald's time.

TAP: You jokingly said "we'll handcuff him to a chair if he tries to fight again" with regards to Donald Cerrone, but in all seriousness, how hard was it to convince Donald Cerrone to actually wait for his title shot vs. Rafael dos Anjos?

Greg Jackson: Holy cow, you're not lying. I think, and you can't quote me this, but I actually think he called Dana and said, ‘I need to fight,' and Dana was like, ‘You're not gonna fight' I don't know if that's true or not, but I wouldn't doubt it for a minute. That's just Cowboy. I think we'd have to come in with the whole team and hogtie him or something. It would be a tough task, no joke, because that guy can fight [laughs].

TAP: In a gym with so many high level athletes, how hard is it to keep everyone in line without friction and tension? Do you even have any flare-ups like that in your gym?

Greg Jackson: Of course we do. It's a full time job, and some people say I'm a professional babysitter. We have a great coaching staff, and as a team, we try to work together, because there's always going to be flare-ups. We have 60-70 fighters in there and most of them are pro, high-level guys, so it takes a lot of effort to keep everyone on the same page and not mad at each other. ‘This guy hit me too hard,' or whatever it may be. It's a full time job, for sure.

Follow our Twitter accounts: Stephie HaynesThree Amigos PodcastIain Kidd and Mookie Alexander. The show is available right here or via the embedded player below. The interview starts at the 37:10 mark of the audio.

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