Jon Jones, left, and trainer Mike Winkeljohn joke around during an open house at the Jackson Winkeljohn Gym in October 2015. (Roberto E. Rosales / Journal)
Jon Jones has been banned from the Jackson-Wink Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Albuquerque until further notice, JW co-owner and co-head coach Mike Winkeljohn said on Wednesday.
Winkeljohn said in an interview with mmafighting.com’s Ariel Helwani that the details of the September 24th arrest of the former UFC light heavyweight champion on domestic violence charges were too disturbing to overlook.
For Winkeljohn, what he had seen and heard about the incident almost applied to home. A police report filed by the Las Vegas, Nevada Police Department described Jones’ fiancée as bleeding from her nose and mouth. According to the report, there was also blood on the sheets in the couple’s hotel room.
“I have a wife, three daughters, a mother,” Winkeljohn said to Helwani. “I teach women’s self-defense (a class called ‘Smart Girls Self-Defense’).
“It just makes it hard when (Jones) keeps getting into trouble.”
Jones has had a series of legal trips in Albuquerque and has had his UFC title revoked twice – once after a hit and run accident in Albuquerque, the second time after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
He had never before been criminally charged for beating anyone outside of the competition.
In a now-deleted social media post, Jones expressed grief over Winkeljohn’s decision to, at least temporarily, banned him from the Albuquerque gym, where he has been training for more than a decade.
“Had a heartbreaking phone conversation with one of my longtime coaches,” wrote Jones. “It really hurts to lose the support of someone I respect so much. Many thanks to the rest of the coaches for staying with me in the fight. The trip goes on.”
Winkeljohn said he had no control over what others at the gym think of his decision, and he couldn’t stop them – and would not if he could – work with Jones elsewhere.
If Jones decided never to return to Jackson-Wink, Winkeljohn said, he could live with it.
“Even if he doesn’t come back to the gym, I’ll be fine,” he said. “In my own heart I know that he could go ahead and win the heavyweight title. I would take some money or whatever. These are just not my values at the moment.
“He might hate me for it, but I had to tell him the truth.”
Even so, Winkeljohn said he was optimistic that Jones can overcome his problems and that once he does, he will return to Jackson-Wink.
“In my heart I do,” he said, “as soon as he is ready to accept the truth, and if he has no others out there (are) ‘yes people’. … But in the end it is nobody else’s fault. “
In the September 24 police report, Jones did not admit to beating his fiancée. In his Twitter feed on Wednesday, he flatly denied having done so.
But days after his arrest in Las Vegas, he published the following: “I have far too much trauma to consume alcohol. My brain just can’t handle it anymore. I will leave alcohol in my past forever. … Turn this nightmare into the best thing that has ever happened to me. “
Winkeljohn said he agrees that alcohol is the root of Jones’ problems.
“Jon would never do anything bad if he wasn’t drunk,” he said to Helwani. “Honestly, it is. But with that said, he has to fix it, that’s all. “
His affection for Jones and respect for his talent and potential, Winkeljohn said, made his decision even more difficult.
“Oh, my goodness, he’s so charismatic and so damn smart,” said Winkeljohn. “… He’s able to do much bigger things than (in) just this MMA world.
“So here we are, and we’ll see what happens in the future. I hope it’s for the best. “