MMA

The Top Fighters at Jackson Wink MMA Academy

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Jackson Wink MMA, formerly known as Jackson Submission Fighting and Jackson Fighting Systems during its heyday, is considered to be one of the staple gyms in mixed martial arts. Greg Jackson, the gym’s founder may be more of a silent partner these days than a full-blown coach, but the Albuquerque, N.M. native won Coach of the Year at the World MMA Awards three years running and is considered to be one of the great game plan architects in the sport.

Nowadays, Mike Winkeljohn, a former pupil of Jackson’s and longtime striking coach at the gym has taken over the controlling stick, and while the gym is not what it used to be, it is still a destination gym for mixed martial artists looking to take their careers to the next level. Bellator phenom Aaron Pico trains there, after all, and has all the makings of a future champion in the sport. The recently retired Carlos Condit won the interim welterweight championship in the UFC, and one of the greatest fighters of all time Georges St-Pierre also frequented Jackson Wink, with Jackson typically being utilized to help the former champion craft his gameplans.

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As a result, some of the great fighters to have come out of the gym in past years would have no doubt been popular on a site such as PicksForTonight, which uses a computer model to deliver betting picks in a variety of sports.

Here are five of the greatest fighters to ever step through the doors of Jackson Wink MMA.

Jon Jones

What more needs to be said about Jon Jones that has not been said already, both positive and negative? The former light heavyweight champion’s career has been marred by personal issues outside the Octagon as well as a small handful of negative USADA tests, yet is still a valid option as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, depending on who you ask. Jones is the owner of one of the sport’s most dominant skill sets, combining excellent MMA wrestling with freakish physical intangibles such as his height, reach, and strength.

He may not have the knockout power present in some of the current pound-f0r-pound greats such as Kamaru Usman and Alexander Volkanovski, but Jones has shown he can get the job down in a variety of ways and do so in a dominant fashion. Jones is expected to make his long-anticipated heavyweight debut against Stipe Miocic in either late 2022 or early 2023.

Holly Holm

The former women’s bantamweight champion of the UFC, Holly Holm compiled a 32-2-3 record as a professional boxer before even stepping foot in an MMA cage. In spite of this, Holm boasts a complete MMA skillset that has largely followed her throughout her career. “The Preacher’s Daughter” did take three kickboxing fights between 2002 and 2003, but largely cultivated her skill set in between boxing camps with an eye on eventually getting into the world of MMA.

Holm made her MMA debut in 2011 and went on to win her next 10 fights, the 10th of which came in the form of a knockout over inaugural women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. Up to that point, Rousey had an aura to her rivaled by few in company history, but Holm was nonplussed. Holm went on to knock Rousey out in front of 56,214 people in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, a record crowd for the UFC and became one of the most recognizable faces in women’s MMA.

Rashad Evans

“Suga” Rashad Evans boasted one of the most all-around skill sets of his time at 205 pounds, and only continued to improve after Jones became a primary training partner of his. As a result, it is no coincidence that Jones would ultimately be the one to knock him off his pedestal, but not before Evans won Season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter and later the light heavyweight championship. Evans found himself as part of a carousel of several different 205-pound UFC champions at the time but his comfortability with wherever the fight went caused him to stand out amongst his peers who largely favored the standup aspect.

Evans also gained popularity for being a colorful personality in the division. “Suga” coached against Quinton Jackson in one of the most memorable seasons in TUF history, one which featured viral internet star Kimbo Slice and future fan favorite Roy Nelson, the eventual winner. Evans would go on to have a falling out with Jackson Wink over the perception they had chosen Jones over him after Jones seized the opportunity and won the belt following an injury to Evans, though the two seem to be on better terms these days.

Diego Sanchez

Diego Sanchez is recognized as the very first winner of TUF with his fight having occurred minutes before the famed Forrest GriffinStephan Bonnar clash that helped put the show on the map. Unlike Griffin and Bonnar, however, Sanchez’ fight with two-time title challenger Kenny Florian was not as competitive, with Sanchez running through Florian with pure ruthless aggression.

Though Sanchez would go on to challenge BJ Penn for the lightweight title, he became a fan favorite on the back of his wild, violent performances against action fighters like Nick Diaz, Clay Guida and Gilbert Melendez. He has gone on to have a 20-plus year career in the sport and is not yet officially retired. Despite a weird turn of events that saw Sanchez leave the confines of Jackson Wink for “guru” Joshua Fabia, the two have since parted ways.

Donald Cerrone

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone might be the biggest fan favorite from a long line of popular fighters to come out of Jackson Wink. Like four of the five fighters on this list, Cerrone would eventually have a falling out with the gym, but not before he had fought in the UFC more than 20 times and earned seven Fight of the Night performances under the Zuffa banner. Though he never tasted UFC or WEC gold, Cerrone became a familiar face for fight fans and always delivered the excitement, whether in victory or defeat.

Cerrone eventually opened his own training ground known as the BMF Ranch where he has hosted fighters such as Yair Rodriguez. Cerrone has also displayed the versatility that has come to be associated with Jackson Wink fighters over the years, owning 10 knockout wins and 17 by submission over his career. Cerrone retired from the sport in 2022 but should be a no-brainer UFC Hall of Famer for all the exciting fights he delivered to fight fans over the years.

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