Everything went according to plan for Jon Jones at UFC 214 as he finally won back his light-heavyweight title courtesy with a spectacular KO stoppage against Daniel Cormier, but according to his coach Mike Winkeljohn, it was anything but plain sailing for the star leading up to the fight.
“A couple of nights before the fight, he couldn’t lift his arm. He had hurt it wrestling,” Winkeljohn told 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 re-injured 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 having to struggle through that last minute adversity, Winkeljohn says Jones never complained and didn’t even contemplate the possibility that he might not be able to compete.
“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,’ Winkeljohn recalled.
“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.”