While Rashad Evans maintains that he just recently left Team Jackson, his former striking coach, Mike WInkeljohn, says that the former UFC light heavyweight champion hasn’t worked full time in New Mexico for over a year, but he’ll always be part of the family.
“I’m not sure I should be out of a job because I used to train somebody, and he decided not to use me anymore,” Winkeljohn explained in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio.
“I’m a little bit different than Greg. I’m going to work with Jon Jones. If Jon Jones wants me there, I’m going to continue to work with him. It’s going to be very hard coaching against Rashad Evans, but that’s kind of how I looked at it.”
“There’s two sides to every story. What I saw was, I had an eye injury and came back, and Rashad had been doing ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ show after he lost to Machida, and I wasn’t involved in that show at all. I told Rashad I’m going to stay and train fighters, and if you need me let me know."
“He lost to Machida and he was a little down, and I think I made a mistake in that I didn’t console him enough cause I didn’t know Rashad worked that way. Back when I was fighting, the last thing I wanted was someone to come console me after I fought. I said stay away, but it might have been the way we talked the next day. After that, I lost contact with the guy, so he shows up and says, ‘I don’t know, I’m not real comfortable with Jon Jones being here,’ and I said, ‘well, I just got back, I just lost my eye in the accident,’ and I said, ‘have you talked to Greg (Jackson) about it,’ and he says, ‘yeah, I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes.’ So I know they had talked about it, but I don’t think anyone actually made a positive (statement) like ‘Greg, I don’t want him here.’
“All I know is how it unfolded in my eyes as all of a sudden Rashad Evans goes to Denver. He says he wanted to work on his wrestling and they have some great wrestlers up there. I never told him to go away from his wrestling, I was just trying to turn him into the best striker in the light heavyweight division, and I wasn’t involved in his next few camps."
“Greg would go up there and work the corner, I’m not sure how much he actually worked with him in the meantime. So in my eyes, Rashad kind of left the camp, well he kind of left me at least.”
“He’s got a lot of people in his ear, he lost the fight (to Machida), and I think he lost the fight before he ever got in there. Bless his heart, everybody has those days. Rashad Evans is so much better than when he fought Machida, but he had that day where he hit that funk. He didn’t do anything in the game plan that Greg and I had put together for him, and he was just looking for something else.”
“In the meantime, I texted him and said what do you want me to do? Do you want me to teach Jon Jones? I called him. He didn’t answer my phone calls. So I’m honestly going to still train this kid. He’s a great kid. Jon Jones didn’t do anything wrong. He comes to camp and just learns and tries hard and studies."
“Maybe Rashad Evans left for a lot of different reasons, maybe Jon Jones is part of it, but I also think he left because he was looking for something else. He was maybe not as comfortable with Greg and I after losing to Machida, but all I know is here we are and we have two of the greatest fighters ever that are going to fight each other, and it’s unfortunate, I’d rather not see them fight each other except they have to fight each other."