Mike Winkeljohn has experienced a lot in his years as one of the most notable coaches in mixed martial arts, but he’s not quite sure he’s ever pondered a decision as difficult as the the one he recently made.
In the wake of Jon Jones‘ recent arrest for an alleged domestic violence incident against his fiancee, the former UFC light heavyweight champion is no longer allowed to step foot inside Jackson Wink MMA, Winkeljohn revealed Wednesday.
“This is a tough one,” Winkeljohn said on The MMA Hour. “There’s definitely no doubt about it. It’s one of the toughest ones. It broke my heart that I was even put in that position where I felt I had to do it. But it’s OK. It’s OK. What’s important to me might not be what’s important to others. I will stick by my guns and stay true to the guy that I want to be.”
Jones, 34, was arrested Sept. 24 on charges of misdemeanor domestic violence and felony injuring and/or tampering with a vehicle after an alleged physical altercation with his fiancee, Jessie Moses, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
The news was a major disappointment for Winkeljohn, who has three daughters and even teaches a women’s self-defense class out of the famed Jackson Wink gym in Albuquerque, N.M.
The close relationship between Jones and Winkeljohn, along with fellow coach Greg Jackson, has been well documented since Jones started training at the gym in 2009. Winkeljohn went as far as to say he considers Jones to be like family. However, the continued years-long trend of Jones’ legal troubles hit its boiling point with the most recent incident, even for a coach who has long stuck by Jones’ side.
“I just had a conversation with him. I said, ‘Jon, here’s the deal, man. You’re like my little brother. You have to stop drinking and fix these things for a certain period of time until you come back to the gym.’ So at the moment, he’s out of the gym. He’s not allowed to come in the gym because I feel I had to do that. Ignoring it and expecting different results is insanity.”
Winklejohn did not reveal what exactly Jones will have to do in order for him to be welcomed back to Jackson Wink. However, the coach said he made his longtime fighter aware of what he needs to do – and is confident the changes can be made.
“I’m hoping after a certain period of time he wants to come back to the gym, he does it,” Winklejohn said. “Even if he doesn’t come back to the gym, I’m OK with it. In my own heart, I know that he might go on to win the heavyweight title. I’ll take myself out of a little bit of money. Whatever. That’s just not where my values are at right now. I just want to set the precedent for the rest of my guys in the gym and people as a whole. I’m all about forgiveness, but let’s go forward. Let’s fix these things. I know he can. I’m optimistic he can do that.”