Revered MMA trainer Greg Jackson will be in the corner of John Dodson in the UFC 191 main event tonight in Las Vegas. It marks a stretch for Jackson where he'll be cornering four title challengers: Dodson at 191, Holly Holm at UFC 193, Donald Cerrone at UFC on FOX 17, and Carlos Condit at UFC 195.
Earlier this week, Bloody Elbow's Three Amigos Podcast team caught up with Jackson to discuss John Dodson, Andrei Arlovski, and his thoughts on the impending IV ban. This is just a sampler on a host of topics we discussed with him, but we will have more transcriptions of the Jackson interview for you throughout the next several days.The complete interview starts at the 37:10 mark of the audio, which is embedded at the bottom of the page.
TAP: You have quite a schedule on your hands with a good percentage of your top tier athletes all fighting back to back. How do you maintain such a frenetic schedule without burning yourself out?
Jackson: Well the schedule doesn't change much, actually. The level of fights I guess does, but the schedule is pretty full on all the time. You look for inspiration, you look for little things that can keep you going ... good friends or family, stuff like that. I read a lot, so I try to find inspiration there, but that's my big war. My personal war is just to make sure I find inspiration so I can fight that grind. It's a serious grind so I need serious inspiration.
TAP: First up on your calendar is this weekend's card. You have Dodson fighting for the belt. With John being a phenomenal natural athlete, but a living ball of Pikachu energy, how do you get a guy like that centered and focused and is that a difficult task?
Jackson: Well for him, the focus is just staying relaxed and being Pikachu, you know what I mean? It's not too hard with John, just because the frenetic energy is his focus. I wouldn't call it a duality but it's certainly who he is, so it's a calm but it's a frenetic calm, I'll put it that way.
TAP: Following up on that, is there an added level of difficulty when personal circumstances are also at the forefront of a fighter's conscientiousness, as with Dodson, who just welcomed a new baby earlier this week?
Jackson: I think for some people it could be stressful, but he loves kids and John's a big kid himself. I think if anything that's going to help him get more motivation and more focus. It's a blessing and I think it's going to allow him to push even harder.
TAP: Cowboy recently posted a video of he and Dodson having a bit of friendly competition at a local obstacle course that's based on the American Ninja Warrior course. Both guys were neck and neck until the last challenge that saw John lose out to Donald because of his height advantage. What is the most important tool a fighter can utilize when their opponent has a significant height/reach advantage?
Jackson: Well that depends on the fighter, the gameplan, what the tools are, what the larger fighter brings in. Certainly people that would try to get around [Jon] Jones' reach find themselves in more trouble on the inside than they do on the outside. It's a stylistic dependency much more than a physical dependency. I think when you overthink things or when you're looking at the physical structure of things instead of the utility of the fighter, you can get kind of misled a little bit. Certainly if a fighter has long reach and they're very good at using that, then obviously you could get good footwork, good head movement to get inside. But not every long fighter uses their reach effectively or even like to use their reach. So it's a fight-to-fight and fighter-to-fighter deal. I think people get caught up too much in the "Well this guy has a 76" reach, that's a huge advantage!" And definitely in boxing when you don't have a lot of other tools, it can be. But in MMA it can or it can be not nearly as relevant.
TAP: What did you guys take from the first fight with Mighty Mouse that can be utilized in this upcoming fight?
Jackson: Well we learned a lot in that. The thing I really like about Demetrious is he's just nasty. He gets knocked down, he gets beaten down, and he keeps coming. Just being able to mentally deal with that -- no matter what you do this guy he's just going to keep coming and keep coming and keep coming, I think that was the biggest lesson that we took from that fight. When you knock somebody down and you're doing extremely well, you can kinda coast a little bit or expect a fight to continue to go that way. One thing that Demetrious has shown is that he's got tremendous heart, so we just have to be mentally ready for that grind, for that battle.
TAP: Do you agree with the upcoming IV re-hydration ban, and will you have fighters that may end up moving around in weight divisions due to that ban?
Jackson: I don't think we'll probably move around in weight divisions. So, it's a horns of a dilemma there -- that's actually the wrong term, sorry I'm still a little tired -- I don't know where I land on that right now. Part of it is that you know you want your guy to go in there rehydrated. Fighters are going to cut weight, and what they say is "Well you shouldn't cut weight, because that's silly." But getting in a cage and punching people in the face, some people would consider silly, so you're not dealing with people who are following the rational lines of life, especially from a doctor's point of view. But there are people using that to mask EPO and other stuff, so is it more dangerous to send your person in there a little dehydrated, or against somebody who is on EPO who's in the 5th round isn't tired at all and just keeps smashing away at your guy? I mean, that's a lot of brain damage there too. It's the trend, it's the way things are going, and we'll figure out how to hydrate the best we can. There's certainly no easy answers and that's a bit of a dilemma.
I think I am for the ban if it gets rid of [especially things like] EPO. They're always coming up with new stuff, and [you have] fighters that all of a sudden never gas out and can go all day long when they never used to be able to do that. Certainly either they've changed their training regimen, or maybe they're experimenting with that kind of stuff, so if that takes that way and evens the playing field out, then I am for it.
TAP: You will have Andrei Arlovski fighting next in what will likely be the next title eliminator. Did it bother you that they chose to have Cain fight Werdum in an immediate rematch, despite being soundly beaten and stopped rather than have Andrei get the next shot?
Jackson: No, I'm not a promoter -- well, certainly not any good one anyway. They have their choices and I think Cain, if he had a bad performance and wants to redeem himself, he should be able to go for it. Andrei's just trying to get better and do his time and work his way back up there. They're keeping Andrei really busy so it's not a huge time-sensitive issue, and I believe in Andrei 100%, so I'm not too worried about it and it'll be interesting to see how the rematch goes.
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