While Jon Jones looked better than ever in regaining the light heavyweight crown at UFC 214, “Bones” wasn’t 100 percent going into his rematch with Daniel Cormier.
According to striking coach Mike Winkeljohn, Jones had limited movement in one of his arms after injuring it shortly before the July 29 bout.
“A couple of nights before the fight, he couldn’t lift his arm. He had hurt it wrestling. 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,” Winkeljohn told Submission Radio. “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.”
While the Jones camp was able to keep the ailment under wraps leading into the matchup, there was still that feeling of uncertainty as Jones stood across from Cormier in the Octagon at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
“So it was kind of scary that nobody knew about it. There was an injury behind the scenes, but Jon is who he is,” Winkeljohn said. “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.”
It was difficult to tell if the injury bothered Jones at all during the fight. The Jackson-Wink MMA member countered Cormier’s forward pressure with a volume based offensive attack for the opening two frames before stunning “DC” with a perfectly placed head kick in the third round. From there, Jones pursued his opponent, tripped him to the canvas and finished the fight with punches and elbows from above at the 3:01 mark of round three. Through it all, Jones never said a word about his arm.
“He just couldn’t lift it basically over his head and stuff. Of course, it’s definitely concerning,” Winkeljohn said. “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.”
As it turned out, wrestling wasn’t much of a factor in the bout, as both Jones and Cormier failed on three takedown attempts apiece. However, Jones was able to outland his foe by a 95-to-58 count in significant strikes, so the injury didn’t hinder him at all in that aspect of the fight.
“No matter how much it hurt, Jon didn’t say anything — he just went and fought,” Winkeljohn said. “That’s why he is the champion.”