Outgrinding an Olympian: Jon Jones’ Secret Weapon Brandon Gibson Explains How They Beat Daniel Cormier

00BrandonGibsonBehind every great fighter is a great coach. While Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn get the majority of the credit for Jon “Bones” Jones’ emergence as the top pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world, a man behind the scenes has been doing tremendous work in helping add to Jones’ incredible creativity in the stand-up realm. That man is Brandon Gibson. Jones has repeatedly referred to Gibson as his “secret weapon” and both men share a significant bond forged in the gym. Gibson helps Jones perfect the old and innovate the new while constantly studying his upcoming opponents and searching for new ways for the dominant UFC Light Heavyweight Champion to continue to retain his title in convincing fashion. Nowhere was Gibson more important than this past Saturday night when Jones battled what many felt was his biggest challenge yet in the 15-0 former two-time Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier. While the bout was hotly contested in the first three frames, Jones pulled away in the championship rounds to walk away with a unanimous decision victory, his eighth consecutive title defense. “Bones” displayed several new wrinkles in his game which helped him cap off the grudge match with yet another “W.” Gibson spoke to MMAOddsBreaker.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission this past Sunday night about the gameplan for Cormier, Jones’ room for improvement as a fighter and even getting left hanging after the fight in this exclusive interview. Check it out: Brian Hemminger: I have to start this interview by busting your balls a little bit. There’s a popular gif circulating around on the internet from right after the Jones/Cormier fight where you walk up to Jon looking to get a high five and he completely leaves you hanging not once but twice to instead shake Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White’s hands. Have you seen it? What were you thinking when it happened live? Brandon Gibson: (laughs) Really, I don’t even know if Jon saw me. I had gone out and shook DC’s hand and everybody from AKA so I wasn’t with the group of Izzy, Wink and Greg. Jon kind of celebrated with them and I went and congratulated everyone else first and when I came over, I don’t even think Jon saw me. He went right to Lorenzo and Dana and yeah, I don’t know. It gets crazy there in those couple seconds after the fight’s over but that was pretty funny. Brian Hemminger: Ok, back to more serious stuff. One of the most interesting things about Jon Jones to me is he kind of absorbs the talents of the people he’s fighting during preparation. He stands and trades with Rampage, he wrestles Chael Sonnen, he fights Glover Teixeira in the clinch and he goes into the pocket and trades toe-to-toe with Daniel Cormier on the inside and also wants to take Cormier down. Is there just something about him where he just thrives on beating his opponents at their own game? Brandon Gibson: Absolutely. It’s a very demoralizing thing for his opponents for them to be right where they want to be and then start getting outdone. It really chips away at their psychology and weakens them and when Jon’s ready to explode back into a different area, he can, but he does have a chameleon-like repertoire of tools that he can apply to a variety of opponents. Brian Hemminger: Something I found very interesting in that fight was even though the first three rounds were definitely the toughest for Jon, that’s where he put in all the work that paid off later. He was able to get inside and he was pounding Cormier with knees to the body, left hooks to the body and combinations where he’d finish them off with a body shot. He was still going to the head, but there definitely seemed like there was an intent to take the wind out of Cormier’s sails early on. Was that a big part of the gameplan, to break down Cormier from the inside out? Brandon Gibson: Exactly. 100 percent. That was something we’d seen in some of DC’s past fights. We felt he was vulnerable there and we felt it could pay dividends in the later rounds. DC is king of the grind and we knew he was going to be well-conditioned and tough and durable but we knew if we started chipping away at the legs and the body, we’d take away some of his explosiveness, it would slow him down and he’d most likely want to take some time off in the clinch just to recover a bit and we could continue to change rhythms and explode so that was something we really worked on going in. Brian Hemminger: What was really interesting to me was right in the beginning of the fight, Jon was actually utilizing his reach more. He was popping the jab, utilizing straight punches and working kicks and frustrating Cormier. That was the main way he was able to win that first round, but then he switched to going after him on the inside. Was there a shift mid-fight or was that part of the gameplan? Brandon Gibson: It was such a long camp and such a grueling camp. DC was such a big opponent and there was so much hype behind this and Jon was so hungry about it. We worked out butts off. I think we did have a gameplan for every area of the fight whether it was long range or boxing range or close clinching. We had specific tools that Jon was well-rehearsed with. Sometimes it was us countering into that range, other times it was Jon initiating into certain ranges, but the strikes at long range were super powerful. The long range cross I think he was 100 percent effective with. And then we were switching that up, complimenting with hooks to the body. It was just a great demonstration of Jon’s skill and repertoire and there was never a moment in the corner where we were worried about where Jon was going. We just made quick adjustments so it was good to see.   Brian Hemminger: Jon was able to do so many creative little innovative things in the fight. When they were clinching with each other and Cormier was leaning forward, Jon would drop back and then pop him in the chin with his shoulder. I dont’ think I’ve ever seen him do that in a fight ,but then again, he’s never faced a fighter like Cormier who was looking to grind and enter that clinch position. Was that a part of pre-fight preparation or was that just him being innovative? Brandon Gibson: Well a little of both. Jon has that tool in his repertoire for a while. He got Rashad with it a few times and it’s one he rehearses in practice. We knew that the handfighting was gonna be key. Jon and DC were going to fight for wrists and hands and underhooks were going to be a constant battle. Being able to add those shoulder strikes was a great way to disrupt DC’s rhythm. That’s just part of Jon being like water. Going throughout that fight and being dynamic. Brian Hemminger: Something stood out to me from the post-fight press conference. Daniel Cormier said Jon did something in the fight that he’d never seen him do during his film study and preparation for the fight. He said he did a really good job of countering while moving backwards, being able to dish out some damage while being pressured. Was that something you guys focused on in training, to add to Jones’ game? Brandon Gibson: Oh yes, absolutely. Some of our past opponents we knew were more range fighters but we knew DC was gonna be pressuring hard. A big part of his game was to continue to help Jon evolve as a striker and a better martial artist and we wanted him to be able to attack both offensively and defensively. That was key for this fight to have Jon build that up and we know it’ll be a key for future fights. It’s an important tool to have and just continue to use so I was glad that Jon was able to showcase that side of his game. Brian Hemminger: Something boggled my mind with Jon Jones. He said after fights he’d go back to New York, play video games, put on a lot of weight and then get back into training mode after taking a lot of time off. But now, he said because he moved to Albuquerque permanently, he’ll be able to get right back into training. So how much better can Jon Jones get especially now that he can be full-time, all the time, 100 percent motivated to be the best? Brandon Gibson: I think the sky is the limit. It’s been a challenge for us, for as much talent as Jon has, we still want to develop and build him up in his offseason. Guys like Carlos Condit and John Dodson and Tim Kennedy are training year-round and they’re getting stronger, smarter and faster. They’re adding more tools and Jon likes to take a mental break from things and I think this could be a mental challenge for him. He’s entering a part of his career now where he needs to dedicate himself and immerse himself in this game. I look forward to working with him on a regular basis and there are still a lot of things that coach Jackson, coach Winklejohn, coach Martinez and myself want to work on. Along with that, he’ll gonna keep doing his strength and conditioning and I look forward to seeing Jon get stronger and stronger. His weight cuts have been getting easier because Jon’s been so disciplined so I know there’s room for him to put on added strength and be even better at 205. I’m also just happy to have my friend here in Albuquerque. I look forward to going to movies and barbecues and doing regular buddy stuff as well. Brandon would like to thank everyone for their support. UFC 182 was the most challenging coach event of his career and he had a lot of help with family, friends and everyone at the gym stepping up. He’d also like to thank his sponsor Booster. You can follow him on Twitter @SixGunGibson.

Written by Brian Hemminger

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