Jon Jones is back on top of the world after knocking out Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 but it turns out the new light heavyweight champion was far from 100-percent on the night of the fight.
Jones’ coach Mike Winkeljohn revealed in a new interview that he suffered an arm injury from wrestling practice just days away from his highly anticipated return to action.
According to Winkeljohn, Jones’ injury was so bad that he couldn’t even lift his arm above his head and that obviously led to some major concern from the coaches who spent months getting him ready for the rematch with Cormier.
“A couple of nights before the fight, he couldn’t lift his arm. He had hurt it wrestling,” Winkeljohn revealed when speaking to Submission Radio. “He wrestled a little too hard with his partner and maybe from a lack of warm up, I’m not sure, but it was kind scary. It was one of those situations where when I was warming him up I’d ask the coaches and they had agreed, they were ahead of me on this, that we shouldn’t be doing a lot wrestling because I didn’t want Jon to try and have to underhook and lift with his one arm because it could potentially cause it to be hurt again and mess with his mindset.
“I wanted to keep that out of it and hopefully so that way if it got reinjured in the fight, the adrenaline would take over. So it was kind of scary that nobody knew about it. There was an injury behind the scenes, but Jon is who he is, he’s as tough as they come and like I said, nobody beats Jon Jones but himself. Once he decides he wants to win a fight, he’s going to win.”
Despite the injury, Winkeljohn said Jones never once contemplating pulling out of the fight much less allowing his arm to prevent him from returning to the cage to face Cormier at UFC 214.
It was a long road back for Jones after dealing with two separate suspensions following a hit-and-run accident in 2015 coupled with a year long layoff after testing positive for a banned substance last year.
By the time fight week rolled around for the rematch with Cormier, nothing was going to stop Jones from making the walk to the Octagon to get back the title he never actually lost during competition.
“You know, in my mind, I’m thinking, “are you going to be able to underhook with that arm? Or if not, you have to use a lot more frames and more downward pressure and circle the opposite direction, so game plan might have to be changed a little bit if it doesn’t get healed”. So there’s a lot of things that are going through the coaches’ minds. Who knows what was going through Jon’s mind. He basically didn’t say anything other than he’s fighting,” Winkeljohn said.
“He didn’t say anything about it. Let me put it that way, no matter what, how much it hurt, whether it was tingling or felt weak, Jon didn’t say anything, he just went and fought. And that’s why Jon Jones is a champion, he has that mindset.”
The result paid off as Jones earned a third round knockout to recapture the light heavyweight title while dispatching Cormier for a second time, which effectively brought to an end their long simmering rivalry that spanned several years.