- Associated Press - Friday, March 13, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Jackson Wink MMA Academy, the storied mixed martial arts gym that has trained UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones, said Friday it’s adjusting its training amid rising cases of the new coronavirus.

The Albuquerque, New Mexico-based gym announced it is moving to “more striking-based training” to curtail contact among fighters.

“JacksonWink Academy continues to train the world’s best fighters. However, we have moved to a more striking-based training to reduce close contact,” gym spokesman James Hallinan said. “We are continuously cleaning and disinfecting the facility.

Hallinan said fighters who are sick or who may have had exposure to COVID-19 won’t be allowed to train at the facility.

The announcement comes after the UFC - one of the world’s largest combat sports organizations - said Friday it would proceed with its plans to hold a fan-free event Saturday night in Brasilia, Brazil. Next weekend, the promotion still plans to stage a full fight card with fans inside London’s O2 Arena.

The UFC hasn’t canceled any competitions, even those previously scheduled for areas where large gatherings are now banned.

UFC President Dana White attributes his decision to go against the sports world’s collective mindset partly to a conversation Thursday with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. White and Trump are longtime friends and business associates.

New Mexico is closing K-12 schools for three weeks in its effort to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Officials also have banned mass gatherings that involve 100 or more people in spaces such as stadiums or auditoriums as a way to limit the spread of the virus.

The state confirmed Friday the 10th positive test for coronavirus.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Jackson Wink MMA Academy is sought out by mixed martial artists in the U.S. and from around the world. In addition to Jones (26-1-0), the gym has trained former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm (13-4) and former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.

The gym has been featured in several sports documentaries and has been called one of the best MMA gyms in the world by various MMA magazines. Fighters come to the gym to train with gym co-owners Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, who use New Mexico’s high altitude for conditioning and the mountains for seclusion.


Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras

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