Spotlight: Mike Winkeljohn
You know the name Greg Jackson of Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His training facility is widely regarded as one of the top MMA training camps in the United States. And right beside Jackson, is the gym’s premier standup coach, Mike Winkeljohn. And though the name may not be familiar now, it soon should be. He’s credited as being the master game planner behind Keith Jardine’s decision wins against Chuck Liddell and Brandon Vera, as well as Rashad Evan’s headkick KO of Sean Salmon and more recently the overhand right KO of Chuck Liddell.
As a former two-time Muay Thai and one-time kickboxing world champion, Mike Winkeljohn knows a thing or two about standing and striking. After closing his own kickboxing and karate school after 20 years, Winkeljohn’s transition to Jackson’s MMA was a natural one. The two have known each other for 15 years, and at this point, says Jackson, “ We’re a welloiled machine.” “He’s very very creative and just a great trainer. The fi ghters are lucky to have him that’s for sure. He’s got a heart of gold. You just won’t meet a better guy than this guy—you just won’t.”
As Rashad Evans indicates, Winkeljohn adds something to his fi ghters, having had a wealth of fi ght experience under his belt. “He knows what it’s like to be in there, so he knows the little feeling you may be having, the nervousness, and he kind of helps you through that. He knows how to bring it out in you and the things to say to you to kind of ease your mind so you can go out there and perform.”
Outside of training, adds Evans, “He really cares about what you do after fi ghting. He asks questions like, ‘how are you managing your fi nances, what kind of plans do you have and what do you see yourself doing after fi ghting,’ because that’s one thing that he had to do as a fi ghter.”
A dynamic training duo for nearly two years, Jackson says, “We’ve always been a team… he had his school and I had my school and now it’s all under one roof so it’s a huge advantage for me because he’s always here. His fi nger’s right on the pulse, he’s really able to see a lot of things that I can’t see, so it’s just great for me.” Says Jackson, “A lot of people [call our school] Jackson’s, but to me it’s always Jackson’s/ Winkeljohn’s. There just absolutely would not be a school without him.”