Greg Jackson Not Concerned About UFC Blowback for New Job at Bellator
If you look in the corner of almost every major event in mixed martial arts, you are likely to see Greg Jackson poised like a hawk watching over one of his fighters.
The famed trainer and coach from New Mexico has literally worked with the best of the best over the years, from UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones to welterweight king Georges St-Pierre.
And rarely does an event go by— whether it's the UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce, WEC, etc.—where Jackson doesn't have at least one fighter on the card.
Over the last year, Jackson has somehow come under the ire of UFC President Dana White for numerous reasons, maybe none bigger than the apparent hand he played in advising Jon Jones to turn down a late-notice fight against Chael Sonnen, ultimately leading to the cancellation of UFC 151.
"Greg Jackson told Jones there's no way you take the Chael Sonnen fight on eight days notice. Said it would be the biggest mistake of his career. Greg Jackson is a f--king sport killer," White said when speaking about the event's cancellation in 2012.
White continued his tirade on Jackson until later in the year, when he admitted that he made an agreement with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones to leave his coach alone when it came to negative reactions for whatever he may or may not be doing.
Jackson's latest move may entice a reaction from White again, however, because now the much-sought-after coach will serve as a mentor to a group of 32 athletes as part of the new Fight Master: Bellator MMA reality show coming to Spike TV this summer.
Jackson joins UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock and former Bellator champion Joe Warren as the coaches on the new show that begins filming in the next few weeks.
The question of blowback from the UFC was a legitimate concern when the announcement was made, but Jackson isn't worried about being involved with the show, because it's no different than his appearances in any number of promotions when he's worked with his fighters in the past.
"No, I don't think so because like Randy (Couture) I've worked with Bellator before, and I don't think it should be a problem. My fighters are my fighters, and I'm me and like Frank (Shamrock) said as well, I think it's good for the sport," Jackson said when speaking to the media during a conference call on Tuesday.
"Even Dana (White) would admit that it's good for the sport to have other organizations around. So I don't foresee any problems."
Jackson doesn't work for the UFC or receive a paycheck in any way from the UFC, and his corner duties for fighters are approved by the athletic commissions in each state or country, again not by the UFC, so his appearance at UFC events won't change, regardless.
What could be different, however, is the UFC's willingness to feature Jackson on shows like UFC Primetime or UFC Countdown, where he has routinely made appearances when his fighters have high-profile bouts coming up.
The UFC, and more particularly Dana White, have not made any comment about Jackson's involvement in the new Bellator reality show, so it's unclear if this is even a concern for them at this time.
Jackson says he never had time to inform the UFC about the move because of a non-disclosure agreement that all of the people involved with the show had to sign, but he sees this as just a personal opportunity and nothing that affects his working relationship with other promotions.
"No, I had to keep it hush-hush, so they might have figured it out by now," Jackson said about the UFC's knowledge about his involvement with Bellator. "The important thing is that you can help as many people as you can help for me. So it gives me the opportunity to kind of help these young fighters up-and-coming that really work hard and deserve to have a place to showcase their skills, and it's great that they have this place."
If there was another concern about Jackson's involvement in the Bellator reality show it's how thin his time will be spread regarding his work with fighters at his home camp in New Mexico. Jackson has actually turned down opportunities to leave and help coach other shows in the past.
This year, with Jon Jones coaching The Ultimate Fighter in Las Vegas, Jackson opted not to be a part of his staff, due to the sheer amount of competitors getting ready for fights who needed his undivided attention.
Jackson explains that now he's able to do this particular reality show and leave the team in New Mexico in good hands. He will still be able to travel to shows on weekends and help corner his fighters, and even when the show is filming, his time commitment isn't so serious that he will be away for long stretches.
"When we get where we are in this business you are basically a master juggler, just making sure everything stays organized and I can help out as strongly as I can both places was very important. It's very doable," Jackson stated.
"The great thing is you know you have great assistant coaches and that's always been one of my strengths as a team are the coaches around me, they're much better than I am, but just having that support system allows me the freedom to kind of move around a little bit. So I'm very, very blessed and lucky for that."
Jackson will begin filming for the Bellator reality show in the coming weeks, with Fight Master expected to debut in summer 2013.
Damon Martin is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.
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