In a sport where one of the most common nicknames is 'Pitbull' it is perhaps no surprise that dogs play an outsized role at the leading gym.
Albuquerque Journal recently profiled several Jackson's MMA notables, and their dogs.
Andrei Arlovski extends his right hand directly toward his target, pointing his index finger forward and thumb in the air.
Staring back at the bearded, stone-faced Arlovski is a silver-coated, 7-year-old American pit bull terrier with a large chain around his neck.
Maximus, knowing what’s next, immediately sits up on his hind legs, arches his back, and sticks his paws skyward.
Maximus crumbles to the ground, rolling over to play dead, acting out with perfect dramatic timing the scene that brings light laughs and a smattering of applause from a handful of the world class athletes gathered on this August morning at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA gym in southeast Albuquerque.
“The family side of it is huge and having dogs around here just adds to that family atmosphere,” said UFC lightheavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Jones, who occasionally brings BJ, his German shepherd/Rotweiller mix, to training sessions at the gym, says having his family – dog included – around his training sessions has always been important.
“It makes the journey seem a little easier,” Jones said.
“They’re part of the gym,” Jackson said. “They’re definitely a part of the team here.”
The unofficial mascot of Jackson-Winkeljohn is a golden chow/Labrador retriever/Rhodesian ridgeback named Bailey, owned by veteran female MMA fighter Julie Kedzie.
“All the fighters love her,” Greg Jackson said of Bailey. “This is her family. If you had a bad day of sparring, you can go over there and she’ll lick you. She doesn’t care. She’s a really snuggly dog.”
“You want to be on (top of your game) when you’re sparring and when you’re fighting,” said Kedzie. “You want to be tough and have that warrior mentality, but it’s also important for us to have a calming force to balance us out.”
Jackson's MMA approach has always been one more about the cerebral, tactical approach to fighting, which flies in the face of a common perception that MMA fighters are merely pumped full of adrenaline and in constant pursuit of hurting their opponent.
“It’s calming,” said Jackson, a self-proclaimed “dog guy” who has two dogs of his own – Indiana Bones and Joan of Bark. “And calm is important in here.”
“I can’t tell you how it helps morale. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have a dog around.”
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