B.J. Penn (16-10-2) has a big fight coming up against Yair Rodriguez (9-1) at UFC Fight Night 103 in Phoenix, Arizona this weekend and he has had a rough recent history in the octagon. This will be his first fight since he moved his training to Jackson Wink MMA. He joined up with this gym in January 2016 to resurrect his career and it will be interesting to see how he performs in the upcoming match-up.
MMA legend Penn had previously felt the need to retire after suffering his third loss to Frankie Edgar in a lopsided TKO result back in July 2014 at The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale. This was his third consecutive loss and signalled the right time to call it a day on the two-division champion’s storied career.
Enter Jackson Wink MMA and B.J. Penn’s career has new life breathed into it. This gym has a history of improving and extending fighter’s careers and the latest project is MMA legend Penn. “He’s such a talented and great athlete, once he finds himself and his love for it, I think he has a good two or three more years in him,” head coach Greg Jackson told MMAjunkie.
The mental aspect of fighting is so important, and this is where Jackson feels he can make a difference to Penn. “I have just one word for him: talented. His sense of how he can find rhythm, how he sees fighting, there’s a reason he’s one of the greatest fighters. If he’s happy and productive and pushed mentally, I think he’s going to do great things,” Jackson said.
Jackson Wink MMA is home to some of the best mixed martial artists that currently exist, including Jon Jones, Donald Cerrone, Carlos Condit, Holly Holm and Michelle Waterson. The formula that head coaches Jackson and Mike Winklejohn employ clearly works and this leads to a slew of fighters wanting to hook up with the Alberquerque, New Mexico gym to change their fortunes in the cage.
B.J .Penn isn’t the first and in the last few years experienced mixed martial artists such as Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski have become full-time members of Jackson Wink MMA. In more recent times no.1 middleweight contender Yoel Romero and ex-strawweight title challenger Claudia Gadelha have spent time making the most of the high-level training facility.
The results from a move to Jackson Wink have been impressive.
Alistair Overeem recently fought for the UFC Heavyweight Title and had his chances in the fight before being stopped by Stipe Miocic. He put on a four-fight win streak during his time in Albuquerque that took him to the title shot. Overeem noticeably had a more measured, strategic approach that brought him success and nearly reached the pinnacle of MMA.
Andrei Arlovski built a six-fight winning streak that revitalised a fading career and this run was only broken when he was matched up with Stipe Miocic, during Miocic’s journey to the heavyweight title.
Yoel Romero spent time at Jackson Wink MMA before his latest bout with Chris Weidman and continued on his dominant form. The regular American Top Team member looked even more impressive than usual, registering a flying knee knockout against the former middleweight champion.
Claudia Gadelha recently lost to strawweight powerhouse Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the second time and moved her training to the USA from Brazil, to see if she can make the improvements necessary to challenge for the title in the future. Jackson Wink MMA was one of the gyms she chose, as well as Luttrell’s MMA in Alberquerque, to try and take her game to the next level. Her most recent bout was a three round shutout against Cortney Casey that showed some good movement with her striking.
Will the same theme of improvement happen for B.J. Penn? It is one of the most fascinating storylines running into this weekend’s event. There is nothing better than seeing ‘The Prodigy’ in top form and it feels like a long time ago. The magic of Jackson Wink MMA is going to try to turn his luck around and relive some of the glory days against a high-quality opponent in Yair Rodriquez.