Jon Jones has been banned from Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink Mixed Martial Arts Academy until further notice, J-W co-owner and co-head coach Mike Winkeljohn said on Wednesday.
Winkeljohn, in an interview with Ariel Helwani of mmafighting.com, said the details of former UFC light heavyweight champion’s Sept. 24 arrest on domestic-violence charges were too disturbing to overlook.
For Winkeljohn, what he’d seen and heard about the incident hit close to home. A police report filed by Las Vegas (Nevada) police described Jones’ fiancée as bleeding from the nose and mouth. There was blood as well on the sheets in the couple’s hotel room, according to the report.
“I feel I had to do that. … He might hate me for it, but I had to tell him the truth.”
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) October 13, 2021
“I have a wife, three daughters, a mom,” Winkeljohn told Helwani. “I teach women’s self-defense, (a class called) ‘Smart Girls Self-Defense.’
“It just makes it hard when (Jones) keeps getting in trouble.”
Jones has had a number of brushes with the law in Albuquerque and twice has been stripped of his UFC title – once after a hit-and-run incident in Albuquerque, the second time after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
He never before had been criminally charged with striking someone outside of competition.
In a social-media post that since has been deleted, Jones expressed sadness regarding Winkeljohn’s decision to at least temporarily ban him from the Albuquerque gym where he has trained for more than a decade.
“Had a heartbreaking conversation over the phone with one of my longtime coaches,” Jones wrote. “Really hurts to lose the support of someone I respect so much. Sincere thank you to the rest of the coaches for staying in the fight with me. The journey continues.”
Winkeljohn said he can’t control what others in the gym might think of his decision and can’t stop them – nor would he if he could – from working with Jones elsewhere.
If Jones were to choose never to return to Jackson-Wink, Winkeljohn said, he could live with it.
“Even if he doesn’t come back to the gym, I’m OK with it,” he said. “In my own heart, I know he might go on and win the heavyweight title. I’d take myself out of a little bit of money, or whatever. That’s just not where my values are right now.
“He might hate me for it, but I had to tell him the truth.”
Still, Winkeljohn said he’s optimistic that Jones can overcome his problems and, that once he does, he’ll return to Jackson-Wink.
“In my heart I do,” he said, “once he’s willing to accept the truth, and if he doesn’t have others out there (being) ‘yes people’. … But ultimately, it’s no one else’s fault.”
In the Sept. 24 police report, Jones did not admit to having struck his fiancée. Wednesday, on his Twitter feed, he flatly denied having done so.
But days after his arrest in Las Vegas, he posted the following: “I have way too much trauma to consume alcohol. My brain simply can’t handle it anymore. I will leave alcohol in my past forever. … Turn this nightmare into the best thing to ever happen in my life.”
Winkeljohn said he agreed that alcohol is at the root of Jones’ problems.
“Jon would never do anything bad if he wasn’t drunk,” he told Helwani. “Honestly, that’s it. But with that being said, he’s got to fix it, that’s all.”
His affection for Jones and respect for his talent and potential, Winkeljohn said, made his decision that much more difficult.
“Oh, my goodness, he’s so charismatic and so dang smart,” Winkeljohn said. “… He’s capable of doing much bigger things than (in) just this MMA world.
“So that’s where we are right now, and we’ll see what happens in the future. I hope it’s for the best.”