If coaching one of the most talented and accomplished stables of MMA fighters ever gets old, Mike Winkeljohn and Greg Jackson have a decent shot, if they should choose, at being the MMA equivalent of Click and Clack, aka the Tappet Brothers, hosts of the radio show Car Talk. They could call themselves the Tapout Brothers.
I learned this about them the hard way, when I showed up at their Albuquerque gym to chat about fighters and fights. I wanted to talk about Jon Jones’ kicks to Quinton Jackson’s knees, and how Brian Stann is going to stop Chael Sonnen’s double-leg, and Leonard Garcia’s first injury-free fight in as long as anyone can remember. And we did. We also talked about a whole bunch of things I wasn’t expecting, like aliens, spies and the place of stripper poles at Team Jackson Winkeljohn.
As with the Tappet Brothers, when you ask the two legendary coaches a serious question, they proceed to clown you, laugh until they’re out of breath, and provide spot-on insight into your question—all at the same time.
Did I endure humiliation, confusion and ridicule the other morning in Winkeljohn's office, in order to get you answers to some of MMA’s most burning questions? Yes, I did. But hey, at least this time Winkeljohn was kind enough to put his pants on, unlike the last time I spoke with the Tapout Brothers after UFC 128.
Those who want to see the Tapout Brothers’ unique charms, feel free to click on the two embedded videos. For those of you who don’t have time for the comedy act and just want your sound bites, here you go.
On Jon Jones’ hurt foot during his title defense against Quinton Jackson at UFC 135
Winkeljohn: Rampage checked one of the kicks that caught him on top of his foot. It happens to everybody that throws a lot of kicks. Fighters just deal with it.
Jackson: I think it was aliens shooting laser beams at his feet.
Winkeljohn: I thought the aliens told us not to tell anyone.
On Jones starting out that fight by walking from his corner on all fours
Winkeljohn: I thought that was your idea.
Jackson: For the first 30 seconds I turned to my big brother and said something to the effect of “what is he doing?”
Winkeljohn: I was just hoping he wasn’t picking up that hand and getting kicked in the face.
Jackson: But you know I love that stuff. Anything artistic and creative that puts your opponent a little off like “uh what’s gonna happen,” I like that.
On Jones' multiple kicks to "Rampage’s" knee
Winkeljohn: People keep thinking that stuff’s illegal. You know what, you’re allowed to give someone brain damage but you can’t hurt their knee? It just doesn’t make sense to me. I knew we had the fight when [Jackson] was looking at the referee like, “um, um, he’s hurting my knee.” That was…
Jackson: …definitely a tell.
Winkeljohn: That was a great moment.
Jackson: Cross kicks to the knee are legal. And we’ll do whatever’s legal. If you make the technique illegal we’ll no longer use it.
On Steven Seagal’s attempt to visit Jones’ dressing room before the fight
Winkeljohn I don’t understand the reason for wanting to come last minute. If you want to help Jon out, you know, two months before the fight come talk to him if you have something important. IF. But right before the fight, that doesn’t make sense to me at all.
On Leonard Garcia vs Nam Phan at UFC 136
Jackson: This is the first fight in like six fights Leonard hasn’t had some severe injury. It will be fun to see what he can do.
Winkeljohn: Leonard is in his best shape ever.
Jackson: Nam Phan is super tricky and super crafty, and hopefully we can get around it.
(Jackson also acknowledged the judges got it wrong in the first fight, but has been on the other end of a bad decision enough times to not feel the least bit bad about it.)
On how Brian Stann will stop Chael Sonnen’s takedowns
Jackson: Groin strikes
Winkeljohn: I told him to turn and run. Get Chael tired
Winkeljohn: Stopping Chael’s takedown, that’s tough. That’s the crux. That’s huge. There’s no doubt about it. But we plan on putting some pain on him on the way.
Jackson: The other thing about Chael is that he’s got really good kickboxing. If you notice when he fought Okami, he didn’t really ground and pound Okami. Okami was able to get up every time. But [Sonnen] out-did him on his feet. So he’s a dangerous guy all the way around. And hopefully big bro and I have done our job enough where we’ll be able to shut that down.
On Melvin Guillard spending a week at Imperial Athletics in Florida.
Jackson: It’s odd to me that everyone’s like “oh my god.” A lot of our guys go other places and train.
Winkeljohn: I told Melvin if he learns something cool come back and show me, and he did.
We ended with a round of picks for upcoming fights:
Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard III
Jackson: I think a 155 pounder will win.
Winkeljohn: Flip a coin.
Jose Aldo vs Kenny Florian
Winkeljohn: From day one I’ve always thought Aldo was fantastic, but I think he’s been a little exposed a bit as of late. And Florian is definitely a smart guy. So if anybody can take advantage of looking at tape that would be Kenny.
Anthony Pettis vs Jeremy Stephens
Jackson: That’s two very talented guys. Stephens hits hard, and Pettis is slick. And Duke Rufus is a great trainer.
Winkeljohn: I’m a go with Pettis to out-point Stephens in that one. I think Pettis can move around and avoid the power.
Brock Lesnar vs Alistair Overeem
Jackson: That’s the classic striker vs grappler. If Lesnar can get him down, might be Lesnar. If Overeem can either get up or hit him…
Winkeljohn: I think if Overeem can stuff a couple takedowns or avoid a couple first takedowns…
Junior dos Santos vs Cain Velasquez
Jackson: Dos Santos has that jab. It’s a beautiful thing. Cain’s got great combos. As usual I have know idea. I don’t even watch fighting.
Winkeljohn: It depends on how tight Cain can stay, and get in there. I’m leaning towards Junior on that one. Ever so slightly.
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