It's often said in the sports world that it all ends and begins with the head coach.
Phil Jackson, who is considered perhaps the greatest coach in NBA history, won 11 world titles as a head coach with his triangle offense and holistic/zen-like approach to the game. Of course, he had Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal running the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively.
However, one can't deny that without the guidance and direction of Jackson, those teams may have not won as many titles as they did.
In mixed martial arts (MMA), the spoils of victory, sometimes, but rarely go to the trainers and/or coaches responsible for instituting certain gameplans for their fighters and breaking down films of an upcoming opponent in order to achieve the result of victory.
The negative criticism, however, whether it's warranted or not, is often aimed towards trainers.
At least, that's the case when it comes to perhaps the most well-known trainer in MMA today, Greg Jackson, head guru at Jackson-Winkeljohn's Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which houses elite stars such as current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit, among others.
Most recently, UFC President Dana White expressed his dislike for the gameplan of Clay Guida, a Greg Jackson-trained fighter, used in his main event fight against Gray Maynard at UFC on FX 4 this past Friday (June 22, 2012). Instilling a stick-and-move gameplan which some saw as "running," referee Dan Miragliotta warned "The Carpenter" that he would take away a point for timidity.
That, however, isn't the first time White blasted Jackson’s gameplans.
In 2010, he voiced his displeasure after Marquardt’s loss against Yushin Okami at UFC 122, labeling "The Great" a "choker" and criticizing Jackson in the process.
Now, Luke Rockhold, who will face Jackson-trained Tim Kennedy on July 14, 2012 for his Strikeforce Middleweight championship in Portland, Oregon, is among those who are not a fan of the styles and gameplans implemented by head trainer Greg Jackson. He even goes as far as saying the way he yells out his fighters name during fights is a form of cheating.
"I'm not the biggest fan of Greg Jackson gameplans. I quit wrestling for a reason. I hope he (Kennedy) meets me in the middle and we can scrap it out. It's across the board. There are a lot of fighters that come out of that camp that have a smart gameplan, but it's not the most exciting. It wins fights but it doesn't excite me much. He yells the fighter's names in the corner like "Great job, beautiful kick Tim Kennedy!" and I think that can affect the judges. It's a form of cheating. I'm going to do my fight."
Tim Kennedy, who was also on the conference call, came to the defense of his trainer, saying those comments are "asinine" and also brings up the fact that no one hailed Jackson's "gameplan" that was used when Cub Swanson earned "Knockout of the Night" honors by finishing Ross Pearson via second round knockout the same night Guida was booed out of the arena:
"It's toilet. It's unfounded criticism. It's asinine. That same night where people were harassing Clay Guida for his performance, we had the Knockout of the Night with Cub Swanson. Was anybody congratulating Greg for helping Cub do that? Gray Maynard hits hard and Clay Guida needed to utilize a gameplan of sticking and moving. With Carlos vs. Nick Diaz, if I was going to fight Nick Diaz, I would have fought like Carlos did. I think it's people lashing out at someone very good at coaching fighters."
In his defense, Greg Jackson himself has responded to criticism aimed his way in the past, throwing out some very impressive numbers to back up his camps success. If that's not enough for you, Jackson has won three World MMA Awards: "Best Coach" and "Best Gym" in 2009 as well as "Coach of the Year" in 2010.
How's that for credentials?
Either way, when the Hexagon doors slam shut in Portland, Oregon, it will be up to Kennedy and Rockhold to determine who's game plan is superior.
What's your take Maniacs?
Do trainers, specifically Greg Jackson, get too much criticism when it comes to the gameplans and performances their fighters put on during a fight ... win, lose or draw? Do they not get enough credit when things go right, or too much?