The Jackson Wink MMA Academy — home to a long list of past and present UFC champions — has come under sharp criticism for harbouring far-right conspiracy theorists, most recently after a QAnon flag was discovered on the roof of the gym’s building.
The flag was first revealed by Albuquerque city councillor Pat Davis, who posted a picture of a white flag with a black Q perched the academy’s roof and visible for all to see. The flag is used by QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe there is an ongoing secret plot by the “deep state” against U.S. President Donald Trump.
Shortly following Davis’s post, the Jackson Wink Academy released a statement on social media addressing the controversial flag.
“It was brought to our attention an unknown individual put a flag on the roof of Jackson Wink Academy. As soon as it came to our attention we removed it.”
QAnon emerged in October 2017 following an anonymous post on the 4chan forum by someone who went by the name Q. The poster alleged to have access to classified information involving the Trump administration, which included false accusations of Democratic politicians and Hollywood actors participating in an international child sex trafficking ring. The baseless theory, which lacks in any evidence whatsoever, also goes by the name The Storm and The Great Awakening.
In case you hadn’t noticed or didn’t recognize it, the huge “Q” just added to @JacksonWinkMMA (hub for armed militia crew) is a nod to QAnon, right-wing conspiracy grp taking up arms to stop ‘deep state’ against Trump. #nmpol pic.twitter.com/p3Wiv3hoVi— Pat Davis (@PatDavisNM) June 16, 2020
Davis’s post also contained a caption that referred to the Jackson Wink MMA Academy as a “hub for armed militia crew,” referring to a video from earlier this month of UFC champion Jon Jones standing alongside an armed group dressed in Jackson Wink shirts and camouflage fatigues while communicating with several police officers outside Jackson Wink in Downtown Albuquerque. The interaction led to speculation that the two groups were working together, and is being investigated by the Albuquerque Police Department.
The Jackson Wink statement also addressed this potential association:
“We denounce all hate groups, alt-right groups, and militia violence. We equally denounce those bad actors who keep trying to falsely portray our extremely diverse and accepting MMA gym as anything other than that for their own shameful politics and agendas.”
This is not the first time that the Jackson Wink MMA Academy has come under fire for controversial posts. Co-founder and renowned striking coach Mike Winkeljohn was recently criticized for comparing the COVID-19 lockdown in the United States to Nazi Germany. His post use fake quotes attributed to Adolf Hitler and used a photo of former UK Prime Minister David Cameron photoshopped with a moustache. The coach has also been reposting conspiracy theories on his Instagram.
When asked to address the controversial Hitler post, Winkeljohn acknowledged his error but also added that the point he was trying to make remained valid.
“There’s no doubt I made a mistake, “ Winkeljohn told ABQJournal. “in that I (misattributed) a quote that’s been used many, many times on the internet. Yeah, I was wrong, so sorry about that. But my point is that there are other things which are more important. A lot of people aren’t going to talk about that.”